Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Final Girl Film Club - Hellbound (1994)

Cody is endeavoring to write about all of the Final Girl Film Club entries he missed over the years. The movies will be covered in the original Film Club order in most cases, while some of the articles will be posted to coincide with certain dates.

Cody reminisces about a childhood viewing of Hellbound to get through a modern viewing.

The 1994 Aaron Norris film Hellbound is one of the few horror films I ever watched with my father, who once told me that he avoided watching most horror because he found it about as interesting as "watching flies f--k". There was the occasional exception that he would watch - the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Tremors, Dog Soldiers, From Dusk Till Dawn - but overall my love for the horror genre was kept entirely separate from the time I spent watching movies with my father. The only reason he watched Hellbound was because it starred the director's older brother Chuck Norris, and since my father's preferred genre was action that meant anything action hero Chuck Norris made got screen time in our household.

It's unfortunate that Hellbound was one of the rare exceptions he made when it came to watching horror, because it's not the type of horror movie that would win anybody over. If someone were to put this movie on already believing that horror movies were trash, it would only confirm that belief for them.

The elder Norris stars as Chicago police officer Frank Shatter, and that last name is quite appropriate for the lead character in this particular film. When I say that I don't mean it's appropriate the character's name is the word for what happens to busted glass and/or bones, I mean it's appropriate that the "Shat" part of the character's name brings to mind feces.

In the line of duty, Shatter crosses paths with the seemingly immortal madman Prosatanos (Christopher Neame), an emissary of Satan who has been wreaking havoc on Earth off and on since the days of the Crusades. Shatter's quest to figure out why this murderer he pumped bullets into didn't die, and to bring the criminal to justice, takes him and his comic relief partner Calvin Jackson (Calvin Levels) to Israel, where an archaeological dig just happens to be headed up by Prosatanos himself, masquerading as a professor.

There's some action here and there, but most of all Hellbound just feels like it's meandering toward its climax, dragging itself through uninteresting scene after uninteresting scene, filling time until we can get to the final battle between Shatter and his lackluster adversary. Along the way, Norris gives his Walker, Texas Ranger co-star Sheree J. Wilson an appearance in a small role. When her character first shows up you might think she's going to be Shatter's love interest, but this movie can't even be bothered to properly go down that path. It's too busy showing Shatter and Jackson wandering around... It's a tough movie to keep your attention on.

The story for Hellbound was crafted by Ian Rabin, Anthony Ridio, and Brent V. Friedman, with Friedman then writing the screenplay with Galen Thompson. I'm not sure why it took four writers to put this together, because there's nothing much going on in it.

Hellbound is cheap and low quality, but I could easily overlook that if there it was more interesting. The concept is fantastic - Chuck Norris vs. a demonic being. That's right up my alley, I should be a fan of a movie that could be described in that way. It's just so bad and dull, I can't find it entertaining. As it turns out, when Chuck Norris goes up against a demon it's not nearly as fun to watch as you would expect.

At least I can feel good about the fact that my father and I watched it together. I have that memory to hold on to, and I'll always remember that he pointed out that the floor bounces when Norris hits the ground at one point during his ending tussle with Prosatanos. Some noticeable movie trickery; they weren't going to have Chuck Norris jump onto a hard floor. That's really all I have to hold on to regarding Hellbound, because neither of us liked what we were seeing. Spotting the bouncy floor was the best thing about watching this movie.

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