STUDIO: Rhi Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes
This Sci-Fi (oh, excuse me, “SYFY”) Channel Original finally delivers the ‘Man on a Mission’ film Tarintino teased but never made good on with Basterds, by following Greek warrior Kleitos as he leads an expedition into the Underwold in an effort to save the recently deceased Demetria from becoming Hades’ love slave. Ricky Schroder from Silver Spoons directs the whole damn thing.
Ben Cross, Adam Butcher, Scott Elrod, J.A Woods. Directed by Ricky Schroder
“After his bride is poisoned at their wedding, a young Greek warrior risks a journey to Hades to rescue her from the God of the Underworld and bring her back to life. What he doesn’t know is that the best friend who accompanies him is the man who killed her in a jealous rage.”
SPOILER ALERT: This dude gets shot in the neck with an arrow.
These SyFy Channel movies are in a lot of ways the modern day equivalent of the old Corman flicks. Churned out with expert speed and proficiency by industry newcomers (with a “name” or two thrown in when applicable) working on the cheap. RHI’s Canadian based Maneater series are no exception. So how high of a standard do you hold to a made for tv movie whose sole purpose is two fill two hours of programming during a Sunday afternoon? Thankfully, having sat through my fair share of this crap hungover on the couch, I feel fairly well qualified to say this one ain’t as bad as it could be.
Choosing to root itself in the world of “Intro to Western Humanities” Greek Mythology, the plot of Hellhounds moves along fairly quickly as Kleitos and his band of merry men traverse the Underworld in an attempt to find and bring his new bride home. The writers are smart enough to keep things moving along at a brisk pace, pausing only for the occasional commercial break. The film is also devoid of comic relief, sparing us the excruciating agony of poor jokes that fall flat.
And what of the titular Hellhounds? Thankfully they’re used few and far between. While the practical FX are fairly decent, the CGI is horrible. The design is even horrible, as it’s hard to tell the Hellhound or how many
of them there actually are. It would’ve worked better if they gave them
each distinct personalities or looks, like The Gremlins or something.
You know, one could have a mohawk. One could be the “urban” hellhound.
Instead, they all look the same and spend most of their time off camera.apart
Schroder shows Cameron who’s boss in a bit of Avatar/Hellhoud slash fic.
Overall Schroder (channeling more Ron Howard in Grand Theft Auto than Clooney in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) does a pretty solid job behind the camera. You figure spending all those years on sets had to amount for something. Actually some of the smaller Man vs Man fight sequences aren’t half bad as Schroder is able to go handheld and convey a great sense of movement and action with only a few scarcely trained actors. It also stands to mention that while the CGI is horrible, most of the practical effects are pretty tight. They get away with a bit more gore than you’d expect by using black blood, and it’s actually kind of refreshing to see the casting of actual cripples as people missing appendages instead of taking normal folks and photoshopping off their limbs. As any horror fan worth their salt knows a handful of really decent practical effects can make up for a entire made-for-tv’s movie worth of shitty CGI.
The third act of the film takes the Hellhounds out of Hell and back into what passed for civilization back then, in a move that recalls the last twenty minutes of Jurassic Park 2. Only shooting during the daytime brings even more attention to the horrendous CGI. And then, after awhile, the movie’s over. And it’s time to move on…
The disc has the square root of dick in the special features department, which is a little disappointing as a commentary track from Schroder might have been kinda cool. There are, however, 3 trailers from upcoming “Maneater” releases, with Sand Serpents (US military in Iraq vs Giant Sand Worms) showing the most promise.
Big tall mcfisty punch.
4.0 out of 10