Rather than the usual straightforward slasher comedy, Hell Town takes a novel approach. Horror queen Debbie Rochon is the “host,” introducing 3 surviving episodes of a destroyed, never-aired, horror comedy TV show…3 episodes that fall smack dab in the middle of the second season of a 3-season series.
The gimmick plays all the way through the 90-minute movie: each “episode” begins with a “previously on” recap, opening credits, closing credits, and commercial break. One of the commercial breaks even happens to be a trailer for Model Hunger, an actual film directed by Debbie Rochon!
Hey, while I appreciate the unique structure, I’ll admit, I fast-forwarded through the repetitive parts – just like you do when you binge watch a show on Netflix. Who wants to have the flow interrupted by opening credits, closing credits, and “previously on” scenes we just saw?
However, the campy, mock prime time soap structure pretty much makes this one ripe for gay midnight movie cult status…especially since the movie is really gay. It concerns two wealthy, warring families, each filled with young offspring kissing ass for an inheritance. Among the quirky cast of kids is a guy just back from juvy, a geeky girl totally hot for him, a blonde bimbo, an outcast goth, a flamboyant gay guy, a closeted jock, a bitch hung up on her looks…all our faves.
Meanwhile, someone is killing off the school jocks and stealing the letters from their jackets. Overall, the film weighs more towards the teen sex comedy genre, but we do get some classic teen slasher setups and death scenes that are presented seriously rather than as total spoof.
Unfortunately, although these moments deliver brutality and some standard gore, they often miss the mark on delivering a genuine slasher feel. Perhaps the soundtrack is a little too horror melodramatic – a more intense score may have better enhanced the suspense of the scenes. Or maybe prolonged shots, varying camera angles, and killer POV could have amplified the horror atmosphere.
As is, the kills seem rushed and don’t deliver any sense of dread or fear, so they end up feeling like they are in place just to ensure the film fits the horror comedy genre.
What doesn’t disappoint is the campy comedy, most of it deliciously sexual. What makes it even better is that the cast knows how to work the material for maximum comic effect. What makes it best of all is that much of it is of the gay persuasion. And I’m not talking about the obligatory lesbian kiss for ogling high school straight boys.
Let’s face it, when the plot of a slasher has a killer targeting jocks, it is pretty much made for a gay audience, so this one is definitely going on my homo horror movies page. The first “previously on” scene alone has a guy doing the penguin in the woods to escape a killer…that gets him where it counts.
And of course the flamboyant gay guy has a secret crush.
But more important is the in-your-face, homoerotic subplot about the closeted jock. He’s fixated on an always shirtless jock.
He beats off to a muscle magazine.
In a wonderfully lengthy locker room scene, he spies on a guy wearing a jockstrap.
And eventually, he looks for action at a glory hole…and gets it.
Yes indeed, his sexual struggle is my favorite part of the entire film. It’s a reminder of what gay guys went through in the days before it was okay to be gay. Which I guess will be a bright side of Trump’s America – the return of the sizzling hot, self-loathing closet queen!