September 24, 2021

Hellmaster: Saxon Unleashed!

Title: Hellmaster (aka Them)
Director: Douglas Schulze
Stars: John Saxon, David Emge
Year: 1992
Length: 96 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Format Viewed: Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray

I remember watching this once before, I also remember liking it but I did not remember a whole lot of it. It is for good reason, and I am kind of glad that I didn't. Watching it this time was like watching it again for the first time. Let me tell you, this movie is batsh*t, bonkers and mesmerizing.

Hellmaster makes very little narrative sense. John Saxon plays a professor who was experimenting with a drug that turned people into these crazy creatures. There was a fire and a bunch of students died. Now, twenty years later, Saxon's Professor Jones is back to take over the college campus and is ready to continue his experiments with a handful of of his follower horde in tow. Toss in a bunch of college kids, including a handicapped fellow, and a whip carrying bully, and stir into psychotronic madness.

Plot is completely secondary to style and look. lights are heavily gelled and the look of the film becomes more and more surreal the deeper we get, going into full on Suspiria mode during the final act. It really helps that both John Saxon (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Cannibal Apocalypse, Enter the Dragon) and David Emge (Dawn of the Dead's Flyboy) play it completely straight.

Hellmaster has creatures galore, plenty of bad acting, some really good practical effects, and a surprisingly interesting story if you can dig it out of the "style as substance" film-making. I mean, I am not exactly sure what the story or bad guy's end game is, but it certainly seemed worthwhile.

Rating: 3.5/5


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