I remember the first time I watched a made-for-TV movie. I was 10-years-old and my dad wanted to take my brother and me to see Twister with Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton. I was so excited. It was going to be the first time my dad had taken us to the movies in awhile and I couldn’t wait. On the day we were going to go, I got so sick that I couldn’t leave the house. So, my dad took my brother and I stayed at home with my mom.
It just so happened that ABC Family, in their infinite wisdom, was showing their own tornado movie that night, Night of the Twisters starring John Schneider. At my mom’s suggestion I turned it on and sat on the couch not expecting much. What I got was a handful of awesome. I’m sure if I watched the movie now I’d find all sorts of things I hate about it but, at the time, between the genuine moments of suspense and my mom pointing out how stupid the people in the movie were, it was a blast. As it turned out, Twister was sold out that night so my dad and my brother had to go see something else. I think it was Matilda.
Hellhounds is the type of film whose box description and cover make the movie seem awesome. The cover is a legitimate work of art. It’s probably the most artistic thing about the film now that I think about it, but I digress. The movie is set in ancient Roman times — the heyday of polytheism, seers, and chicks with cool sandals. Being a fan of Xena: Warrior Princess, I feel like I’ve gotten to know the low budget ancient times pretty well. Hellhounds exists in a similar universe.
Plot goes something like this: Kleitos (the hero) is all set to marry Demetria (the dame) but, on her wedding night, she is poisoned and dies. She goes to Hades where Hades (the bad guy) intends to make her his bride. Kleitos decides that the idea is terrible so he goes to Hell to get Demetria. When he comes back Hades’ Hellhounds are in hot pursuit and they must be defeated.
I could see why the film is titled Hellhounds. It’s a great title with really cool alliteration, but it promises more than the film delivers. An actual Hellhound doesn’t pop up until about halfway through and we don’t see some Hellhound fighting until Act Three; with a runtime of 87 minutes that is simply not enough Hellhound to go around.
The plot itself isn’t half bad. There are some twists in there that were surprising enough to get me interested for a moment or two. But, don’t sell me Hellhound action if you don’t intend to provide it. I wish I could say that there were some genuine moments of good acting, but for a film that takes itself entirely seriously there just was not. The one exception would be the girl tied to a bed of spikes in Hades who begs for water. She looks wickedly disturbing and sells the role well.
If there were any gems of dialogue brilliance I must have missed them. I believe the films finest moment might have been when one of the characters was having his intestines pulled out and they were quite obviously sausage. Most of the film is people wandering, bad dialogue with mediocre fight scenes, and terrible special effects. In fact, imagine a homemade version of Lord of the Rings without any of the charm that comes with a homemade movie. That’s Hellhounds.
DVD Special Features:
Starring: Scott Elrod, Adam Butcher, Amanda Brooks, Oltin Hurezeanu, James A. Woods
Director: Rick Schroder
Runtime: 87 Minutes