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Sunday, October 16, 2016

HELLBENT (#VinegarSyndrome Blu-ray) - Post Punk Gun Play on Cough Syrup


I have a double feature for you. Hellbent and Phantom of the Paradise. It would seem that there are movies inspired by Faust that seem to focus in on the music industry as the big old devil signing deals with musicians. By pairing these two movies I do not mean to draw other similarities between the two. Phantom of the Paradise is something of a genuine cult classic with songs so catchy, the characters so delicious and a story so heartbreaking that watching it is like watching actual opera that can bring you to tears. There is no other movie like it (and you Rocky Horror fans of which I am one can keep your snatch, clean and jerk to yourself).

Hellbent on the other hand is gonzo trash, low budget, filled with holes and characters that may get on your nerves just a little bit. You'll still love it though. You'll love the characters and root for them albeit in turns as they do stupid and heroic things in cyclical fashion. The music is forgettable, but it's also not the focal point of the movie. The guns are not forgettable nor is the cough syrup. You may need some of both to make it through the picture, but I mean that in a loving way.

When you turn on Hellbent you prepare for the kind of over the top tale that only folks on drugs are prepare to tell you, and, in kind, only a person on drugs can be expected to enjoy. I don't feel bad telling you that I enjoyed this picture in a hospital bed receiving chemo. It made sense and really gave me perspective especially when trying to tune into the motivations of our protagonist. He's a lover and a musician and somehow a nihilist. Or maybe he's just the cough syrup addict with a half a brain filled with peppermint Nyquil and the other bathing in red tussin.

Hellbent comes to you from the gutter. It is the mark of a different time in filmmaking and almost felt like the work of a film student. Richard Kern working in color with a different band than Sonic Youth or actress like Lydia Lunch. Director Richard Casey who also directed Horror House on Highway 5 works well at creating mindfucking experience without much money, without trying to special effect you to oblivion. He focuses on the natural crazy in his performers. His only other directorial work was Horror House on Highway 6, but in both releases he captured a fringe vibe that embodies the perfect chaos of the mid 80's punk and metal scene.

Hellbent looks damn good for what original material Vinegar Syndrome was working with. It wasn't shot well, and it was clearly not a well loved or taken care of piece of film, but it held up well and the restorative efforts of V.S. have generated a very watchable product in HD. You get a commentary track with the director and a making of featurette. I kind of can't believe I'm saying you're getting a making of featurette for this one. Cody Brown... you do great artwork, and I love what you did with this one. This is another example of V.S. teaming up with the artist community to create a special product. It's another reason to support them.

Pour your cough syrup. Drink the lien and find your kid's toy guns. Have a ball in your own living room. Make sure to spike what hair you have left with Elmer's.

Order this cough syrup filled Blu from Vinegar Syndrome:

From Vinegar Syndrome:

Note: This release is limited to 2,000 units and is currently only available on VinegarSyndrome.com and through select retail partners (DiabolikDVD).

Director Richard Casey’s (HORROR HOUSE ON HIGHWAY 5) second feature is an ambitious and at times dreamlike Faustian story, set in the rough underworld of LA’s heavy metal and punk music scene. Lemmy (Phil Ward) is the front man for an unsuccessful band, who’s willing to do anything to make it. After a chance meeting with Mr. Tanas, a music promoter, Lemmy is offered the deal of a lifetime: fame for nothing more than his soul. The young singer doesn’t believe in such things and accepts the offer, but quickly learns that this sleazy promoter has more in store for Lemmy than just the stardom he’s dreamed of. Directed and photographed like a surreal documentary, and co-starring David Marciano (HOMELAND) and Darcy Nichols (CAFE FLESH), HELLBENT is a blood soaked document of late 80s Los Angeles, as seen through the eyes of outcasts and derelicts. Vinegar Syndrome proudly presents this forgotten gem of independent horror newly restored from its original 35mm negative and on Blu-ray and DVD for the first time. Directed by: Richard Casey 1988 / 88 minutes / Color / 1.85:1 Actors: Phil Ward, Lyn Levand, David Marciano, Steve DeVorkin, Darcy Nichols, Brad Slaight, Cheryl Slean Features Include: • All extras on both formats • 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

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