Thursday, May 6, 2010

Review: Hellblock 13

Hellblock 13 (1999)
Genre: Horror
Format: Netflix Stream
Director: Paul Talbot

You got to love Troma Entertainment's independent productions. When I am in need for some laughs, there's never a better choice than to watch one of their movies. I was definitely desperate for some much needed humor when I watched Hellblock 13 last night - I haven't been in the best of moods these past several days - and thankfully, I wasn't disappointed.

Despite what could have been the perfect setting for some raunchy fun - a filthy looking female prison - Hellblock 13 decided to go for the horror trilogy route to deliver its guilty pleasures instead. A female serial killer is awaiting her execution and the executioner - played by Gunnar Hansen nonetheless - thinks that it is a good idea to remind the psycho of her impending death by stopping by her cell and harassing her. It is during this time that she offers to read the executioner tales from the book she's been writing. This whole nonsense is surely not the best setup to frame the three short stories within the movie but the interaction between the two characters are so stupidly funny that you really don't mind it. In fact, I actually looked forward to the tales within the tale to end so that I could get back to the two weirdos. Though all of them are not terribly original, two of the three stories told are actually quite effective: the first one involves a single mother's "search" for her missing children and the second tells the story of an interesting resolution to an abusive relationship. The third story - a biker gang's road trip to Mexico - is really disappointing and anti-climactic that it should have been placed as the first tale to make the movie flow a bit better.

Overall, Hellbock 13 is thoroughly entertaining. From the bad special effects, the terrible acting, the awkward lines, and all the way to the offbeat delivery, this movie is pure camp magic. There are many so many small moments in the movie that I will remember for a long time to come because they are so just so ridiculous. Though a bit restraint compared to Troma's own high standard for super-cheese, there's much to love here if you are looking for something trippy and different.

RATING: 4 out of 5

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