Hell Asylum DVD Review

Written by James Ferguson

DVD released by Tempe Video



Directed by Danny Draven
Written by Trent Haaga
2002, 72 Minutes, Rated R
DVD Released on September 16th, 2003

Debra Mayer as Paige
Tanya Dempsey as Amber
Sunny Lombardo as Rainbow
Stacey Scowley as Stacey
Olimpia Fernandez as Marti
Timothy Muskatell as Max





Some would say that reality television is enough of a horror show as it is, but the guys behind Hell Asylum look to amp it up a bit.  Take five stereotypical babes and toss them into a haunted house; whomever lasts through the night gets a million dollar prize.  There's a problem though!  The house is actually haunted!  

The premise seems like it's taken right from an episode of Scooby Doo.  Unfortunately, a talking dog would have made this movie a lot better.  Max (Timothy Muskatell), the sleazy producer, tries so hard to be a cool host, but just can't pull it off.  We're introduced to the five contestants with phony interviews.  Each one looks like they're taken right from every other horror movie out there.  You have the goth chick, the innocent farm girl, the bitchy brunette, the uptight blonde, and of course, the jive-talking black athlete (who is the first of the bunch to die).  They're ushered into the haunted house, which looks more like a community center in a crappy part of town, and given the rules and the time frame.  Each of them will be called away at different times to get the shit scared out of them.  Of course this plan backfires when the weird zombie demon things start eating everyone.



Usually with a low-budget movie like this, they at least splurge on the gore.  That is not the case here.  The deaths are pretty unimaginative and look more like someone borrowed their kid's Play-Doh spaghetti maker to pump out all the guts and intestines that just sort of fall out of people when the demons start attacking.  Seriously, there's a scene where one of them picks up a girl and shakes her a lot.  The guts just pile up on the floor beneath her.  

The killers in Hell Asylum aren't defined.  The house that the movie takes place was formerly owned by a cruel businessman who killed and/or experimented on all his wives.  You'd expect a ghost or maybe some shuffling zombies.  Instead we get a group of dark-hooded guys slowly walking around the place.  They look like an anti-KKK rally.

Hell Asylum could have been an alright movie, even with its Scooby Doo premise.  Although the film was made in only eight days, whatever funds they had were wasted on...well, I'm not really sure exactly.  Maybe the cast and crew just went out to a really big dinner and then used the leftovers and whatever ketchup they could grab to make the movie.  That makes more sense.



Video and Audio:


The bulk of Hell Asylum takes place in the haunted house with some dim lighting.  You can see everything, but the video is pretty grainy.  There are numerous instances where there is obvious dubbing and any scene that takes place outside is tough to hear with all the background noise that's going on.  The filmmakers actually comment on that in the behind-the-scenes footage.



Special Features:


Despite the film's shortfalls, there are quite a few special features included on this DVD.  There are two commentary tracks, one with director Danny Draven and another with Draven and music composer Josephine Soegiganty.  I don't see a need for the second commentary as the music was one of the more annoying parts of the movie.  There's a 23 minute behind-the-scenes featurette that doesn't add anything to the movie.  It's mostly the cast and crew members hanging out between takes shooting the shit.  Also included is a compilation of footage showing how the makeup effects were applied.  It's not informative, but more of a fly on the wall type scene.  There are also interviews with the cast and crew, bloopers, a production diary, and a music video.










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James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
Other articles by this writer



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