Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Hell Asylum

"Hell Asylum" (2002, Full Moon Pictures, Danny Draven) is one of my favourite comparison films. It is just a wild mix of promising and terrible!

On one hand the ghosts appearing on camera during set up in the background is excellently done (minus first shitty attack scene), the 'pop-up' and 'pop-out' action of the ghosts throughout the film is actually jumpy and the actors inside the big hoods have really got the spooky movements down! The story behind the film is ok, as far as reality TV style haunted house stories go, and just generally some things it does do well!

On the other hand, they only had two special effects for gore; fake leg bones in blood and non-descript tendrils. Someone's head gets eaten? Tendrils. Someone's guts get ripped open? Tendrils! Back of the head opened so the ghost can use you as a ventriloquist dummy? Tendrils all over the place! You get eaten off screen up a chimney? Many leg bones all come falling out along with a bucket of blood and, for good measure, tendrils! Hm... I could be wrong but I thought I only had two legs... and I'm pretty sure that brains look like brains not tendrils!

But I get ahead of myself: the plot! The plot is simple, Max (Tim Muskatell) has pitched, and been allowed to pilot, a new Reality TV show called 'Chill Challenge'. Taking the idea behind 'House on Haunted Hill' and others of that ilk... the aim of the game is to survive the night in the haunted house and receive $1 million! Wow!

Max's plan to make the thing marketable is to use only sexy female competitors and have a diversity by selecting 'different' kinds of girls to appeal to the whole demograph. Clever...

So we have:
  • Goth Girl, Rainbow (Sunny Lombardo) who's aim is to see real ghosts and not to die a slow agonising death...
  • Bitchy 2-faced chick, Paige (Debra Mayer) who's aim is to shag her boyfriend, Max, and use him to become famous
  • Scaredy Blonde, Stacey (Stacey Scowley) who's main aim is to please her mother by being an attention whore on TV
  • Bimbo slut chick, Amber (Tanya Dempsey) who's main aim is to be noticed on TV and walk off with the money
  • Sporty chick, Marti (Olimpia Fernandez) who was there to win
See? Diverse! Not...

Ok, so they get to the house... which is my main problem with this film. It's not a house. It's not even a mansion. It's clearly a municipal-church-building-thingy or perhaps a high school. It's not the 'country manor' that they wanted, and I think they should have changed the script to reflect the surroundings, rather than try to pretend that it matched and hope we didn't notice.

They're introduced to the game and told the horrid story of the house's history (always a fun little adder) and then left in a weird painted hall on some uncomfortable looking furniture.

Max's mouth on a TV screen calls out each girl at a time to complete a challenge. But things don't go to plan and it turns out the house really is haunted! Dun dun dun! Just not by tortured Chinese mail order brides as the story suggested. Actually more by some angry cloaked dudes with blue faces... who like to eat people... unconvincingly....

The dialogue is better than some low-to-no-budget films I've seen, but the acting is typical of this calibre of film. I like to claim this as the worst movie I've seen because it actually had some promise, it just didn't have the gusto or the props budget to quite make it a reality. Also, when watching it with other horror-loving buddies, we usually (unfairly) pair it with a classic horror, this is an error. This film should be watched alongside schlocky goodness like 'Puppet Master Vs Demonic Toys' and 'Switchblade Romance' because it touches on the qualities of both; it's funny and crappy (in an awesome way) and it's got lots of blood sprays and jumpy stuff going on.

Be prepared for dodgy camera work, remember this is meant to be a 'caught on cam' Reality Show. And the ending with the fat cats liking the film and deciding to air is tacky. Surely the film would be in some evidence file somewhere, considering no one survived the house? (I'm presuming the last remaining character eventually dies from her injuries..., of course).

So give it a go. It may annoy you as much as I that this cheesey, and frankly terrible film, could have made more of itself had it had better funding...and a better name.... and a better location. Ok, it could have been better! A lot better! But hey, it was worth 20p in the 'Pound Shop'!

[Picture: Fool Moon Pictures]
Oh, and I forgot to mention that one girl has to strip down and get soaked in true B-Movie style

Hani