In the 2004 film Hellbent, director Paul Etheredge put all his energy into creating a true slasher that just happened to have gay characters instead of going for farce or camp. This is simply the tale of four “dudes” who are hitting up the big Halloween carnival in West Hollywood, where they are stalked by a killer with a rockin’ bod, a devil mask, and a sickle.
This is a fun and attractive group of guys: the cute leading man who didn’t exactly make the police force; the hunky model who does drag then regrets it; the insecure boyish guy who’s afraid to be the aggressor; the super studly bi-sexual party dude; and the mysterious bad boy who attracts the attention of the leading man. Thankfully, there’s no typical obnoxious character!
In classic horror tradition, Hellbent opens with a couple parked in the woods. But instead of getting head, they lose them! Our killer is a head collector, so there is plenty of traditional slasher gore on par with a Friday the 13th movie, as well as excellent camera angles, killer POVs, stalking shots, and atmosphere. And the dance club setting brings in the ever-effective eerie neon red, orange, green, and purple lighting.
The film is perfectly paced and we get the always crucial chase scene. As an added bonus, there’s a small cameo by delicious Colton Ford, as well as a cameo of his slammin’ club song “Everything” (which you can get on the soundtrack to his documentary Naked Fame).
Hellbent walks on shaky ground in the last few minutes. In its need to isolate the final guy, it relocates from the carnival, which changes the feel of the film. While the suspense is great, there’s also some need for suspension of disbelief—most of it involving handcuffs. And there’s no official resolution. We never learn who the killer is, why he was cutting off his victims heads, or why he seemed to be targeting the leading man. Of course, that’s the case in the original Halloween, but at the end of that film, Michael Myers disappears. Here, the killer is wheeled off on a gurney! It’s very clear that a sequel was intended, but it never materialized.
Even if we never got the sequel that Hellbent deserved, it is most definitely a goodie to show on Halloween night. I’d love to see more gay slashers of this quality made. Actually, I’d like to see my novella “Scream, Queen” from my book Horny Devils made into a movie; it would kick ass! Any amazing gay horror directors out there looking for a script?