I love Punk music. Always have, always will. I love punk movies. Repo Man, Suburbia, Rock N Roll High School, you name it. Actually I named most. There is a strong shortage of punk films out there mostly because punk, no matter what anyone says was an underground trend that crashed and burned fast. Sure there are lots of fake punk bands out there, but I’m talking about good old DIY Punk style. Gritty, Hard, Fast, Sounds like crap, really hardcore punk music. In that same sense I have respect for DIY movies. Good old shot on video skimp on the budget cheap style. Well luckily director Richard Casey, the man behind Horror House on Highway 5 was able to combine both of these elements into one big shot on video punk/horror movie titled Hellbent.
It’s the story of a punk band called The High Lonesome and there lead singer, Lemmy. TO say this band is struggling to make it big is an understatement. They basically stink. Gig after gig the flop. But Lemmy is confident they can be the greatest band in the history of music. He’s is the only guy who thinks this, because like I said they stink. They end up playing a gig at some seedy LA Club and its yet again another failed venture. However this time they are in luck as the owner just fired his main house band and would like to sign them exclusively.
The owners name is Tanas (you know supposed to be Satan but spelled backwards, and wrong) Anyway he offers a Faust like deal. Sign my contract, become famous, I get your soul yadda yadda yadd. He has underlings so they start working on the other members of the band. While all this is going on we encounter a young woman, who was recently widowed by Tanas. She’s got a gun and she is sort of out for revenge.
The weird subplot aside the film does work, and fires on every cylinder. The atmosphere is dirty and dank just like punk music is supposed to be. I personally dig the red lighting used throughout. It set the tone of horror club/hell perfectly. The acting is a bit corny at times but it also fits the tone, as this one doesn’t take itself too seriously. Parts of it in fact are very tongue and cheek to say the least.
Director Richard Casey who has directed videos for Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult was able to get so really good local bands for the soundtrack. Trotsky, Icepick, Angst, and The Angry Samoans all contributed to it. That score alone makes the film worth watching.
For years this only had a really crappy out of print VHS release but Vinegar Syndrome has managed to acquire the rights and release it in both standard and limited edition Blu Ray releases. The limited 2 disc set with alternate cover art is very limited. Only 2000 copies are being made, and they can only be purchased directly through Vinegar Syndrome or DiabolikDVD. The features include
• Region free Blu-ray and DVD combo pack
• Scanned and restored in 2k from 35mm original camera negative
• “A Little Chaos” – making of featurette
• Commentary track with director Richard Casey
• Original cover artwork by Cody Brown
• Reversible cover artwork
Like I said there is a definite shortage of punk films, so if you like punk and or horror this is a great addition to your collection. The style mixes perfectly making this a film I would definitely recommend.
Overall 3 out of 5 Stars.