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Hell on Earth


And it feels like it.

Rod Lott February 24th, 2012

In simplest terms, producer Ted Bohus’ new-to-DVD “Hell on Earth” reads a lot like his most famous film, the new-to-Blu “The Deadly Spawn”: Most of it takes place in one house, with a family and a few invited friends menaced by an otherworldly force.

hellonearth

But as the old saying goes, lightning doesn’t strike twice — “Hell” is as dreadful to watch as “Spawn” is fun.

“Based on a true story … sort of,” the horror comedy with a cast of unknowns focuses on Bobby (Brett Fallon), a young man who, despite being handicapped, is clearly the older version of “Spawn”’s monster-obsessed kid, Charles. When we first meet Bobby, he’s imagining zombies bringing him a birthday cake.

He lives a miserable life with a miserable family, comprised of his ponytailed, beer-drinking dad (Terry Shane); an uncaring homemaker mom (Teresa Vicario); and a "a real bitch" of a sister (Kristin Woodburn). The only family member who pays any attention to him is Aunt Sadie (Pat Caesar), a wheezing former owner of an occult bookstore who walks with a satanic stick.

She’s to blame for having the Book of the Dead in the house, which brings about that ol’ black magic in the form of demons who molest friends of Bobby’s sister, create general chaos, and act like the late “Macho Man” Randy Savage in the Slim Jim commercials.

This dysfunctional family story is played for laughs — despite acts of near-rape — like a fractured fairy tale. In many ways, it reminded me of 1985’s “Ghoulies,” right down to the tiredness of it all. Bohus ladles self-deprecating references to his other films, from the aforementioned “Deadly Spawn" to his softcore Skinemax mainstay, "Vampire Vixens from Venus."

Like that best forgotten T&A effort, “Hell on Earth” is intended to be a comedy, but tries too hard at it, as if to mask a knowing lack of genuine jokes. Unless the idea of a zombie playing film trivia strikes you as hysterical, you’ll find the humor level stuck as leaden, lowbrow and all too broad. It did manage to get one smile out of me, when the worthless dad uses his son's crutches to open a beer bottle. “Hell” could use scads more of that dark humor.

The ending threatens a sequel. God help us. —Rod Lott


 
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