Blu-ray Review: Hellhole



Judy Landers represents time time I lost my faith in Playboy magazine. She was an actress who along with her sister Audrey Landers seemed to be on every TV show in the late ’70s and early ’80s including Love Boat, Fantasy Island, B.J. and the Bear and Charlie’s Angels. So when Hef announced the sisters were posing for Playboy, imaginations ran wild. Sadly that turned out to be all the wildness. Their pictorial had them wearing lingerie and feathers. It was like People magazine. Eventually with a lot of therapy, I came to grips with this tease. Watching Judy’s time on Vega$ healed the wound. Upon finding out that Judy starred in an exploitation film about a poorly run women’s insane asylum, I feared Hellhole would drive me nuts.

Susan (Judy Landers) hides something for her mother (Walking Tall‘s Lynn Borden) that might get boss in trouble. While Susan cleans up and puts on her spicy workout clothes, Silk (The Lords of Flatbush‘s Ray Sharkey) and tortures mom to find the evidence. When she proves no help, Silk chases after Susan. This ends with what seems like a fatal accident. Except Susan survives with a dose of amnesia. She’s checked into the Ashland Sanitarium for Women. You know this isn’t a traditional drama about psychiatry when Dr. Fletcher (Eating Raoul‘s Mary Woronov) arrives on the scene. This place is run like any other women’s prison found in an exploitation movie. Susan’s not going to have a Freudian break through to recover her precious memories. The place is filled with naughty inmates including Vera (Beyond the Valley of the Dolls‘ Edy Williams) with a phobia of wearing clothes. She makes up for the fact that Susan has a phobia of losing her top. What is the Hellhole? Turns out that any inmates that get out of control get sent over to an older building by Dr. Fletcher. What’s done in there? Turns out she and Dr. Dane (Food of the Gods‘ Marjoe Gortner) are conducting human experiments. She’s eager to get Susan over there. To make matters worse, Silk has arrived looking to jar Susan’s memory and nab the evidence.

Hellhole is one of those films that has a cast that screams out for a Love Boat opening. Among the cast is Terry Moore from Mighty Joe Young and Cruising‘s Richard Cox. They even have an appearance from the Queen of Prison Exploitation films Dyanne Thorne (Ilsa: She-Wolf of the S.S.. Brilliantly trashy is the best way to describe the low budget film that must have saved a lot of money by refusing to hire a technical adviser to how a mental health institute is run. There’s so much weirdness from actors who just turn it all up to 11 in their performances. Sure Judy Landers teases us with promises of showering, but at least the rest of the cast chips in to give us an honest R-rated Hellhole.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The movie is constructed of two prints since a few moments were clipped from the better print. These are mostly the more R-rated scenes. You might notice the roughness, but it’s merely a little rough. The resolution on the better print allows you to enjoy the soda cups that feature the Los Angeles Olympics.

DVD contains the movie and bonus features at a lower resolution.

Interview with Mary Woronov (4:54) has her surprised that anyone knows Hellhole exists. She made the film to get paid under the idea that it would never get released. She does remember the shoot and enjoyed being able to ad lib some lines. Woronov deserves a Kennedy Center Honor.

Trailer (1:54) features nudity.

Scream Factory presents Hellhole. Directed by: Pierre De Moro. Screenplay by: Aaron Butler, Lance Dickson & Mark Evan Schwartz. Starring: Ray Sharkey, Judy Landers, Marjoe Gortner & Mary Woronov. Running Time: 95 minutes. Rated: R. Released: July 19, 2016.

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