Monday, February 27, 2017

Hellmaster, The Forgotten Ghouls

Remember how unsettled John Carpenter's "Prince of Darkness" made you feel?  Well, take that film, add in a couple of teaspoons of David Cronenberg and we have 1992's "Hellmaster." Key ingredients of the Carpenter near classic were a dying church, which may have in part symbolized the faith we have lost as a culture, and some creepy street people, which perhaps reminded us of neglect for the more needy in our society.  In "Hellmaster," our inability to deal with homelessness comes back to haunt us.  Sure...throw in a mad scientist or two and some occult of the satanic nature...oh yes, lots of gore, and some gratuitous nudity and kills...and we're off!
Robert (David Emge, "Dawn of the Dead") is an investigative reporter covering the plight of the homelessness.  He finds that a Professor Jones (John Saxon) has given them a drug that has killed most of them and turned the survivors into slavish ghouls.  Jones, who has developed a drug in his study of clairvoyance, plans to conquer the world with his army.  First stop...the college he used to teach at.  He not only taught there but murdered lots of students during human experimentation. The campus church these killings took place in is now boarded up. In a school bus from The Happy Face Bible School, him and his ghouls head to the college.  On the way he meets up with the pretty Tracy (Melissa Zafarana)...and what he does to her'll see.
Once at the college, he sets his ghouls loose on a handful of students.  The ghouls are murderous and are armed with syringes with a formula that will turn pretty and handsome college kids into ghouls. Shelly (Amy Raasch) is a pretty coed that captures Jones' attention.  Robert will meet up with Shelly and fill her in on who exactly they are dealing with.  After seeing her friends meet horrible deaths, and realizing there is no escaping Jones' ghoulish army, she comes up with a horrific plan to beat Jones at his own game.  She's determined, but does she have what it takes to go up against a satanic monster?
This is an uncomfortable film as many of the ghouls are children.  Our protagonists must defend themselves, which will include killing the child ghouls. The gore is also intense, as director Douglas Schulze held nothing to the imagination.  Will Robert and Shelly survive the murderous onslaught? Is Professor Jones' army a fitting reaction to a society that has stopped caring for forgotten souls? "Hellmaster" is the perfect companion piece to "Prince of Darkness." Warning, if you do watch both these films in one sitting, you will be mired in an unsettled place...psychologically.

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