SGM favourites Tempe Entertainment continue their bombardment on the special edition DVD market with yet another cool new independent feature, this time being Danny Draven and Trent Haaga's 'Hell Asylum'. Yes indeedy, the always cool Haaga has jumped ship from Tromaville to Tempe with tale of the undead on the rampage.
'Hell Asylum' slyly jumps on the reality TV bandwagon with this tale of five gorgeous young women who are being challenged to spend the night in an old abandoned haunted house. There are secret cameras all over the building to monitor their progress and the one that makes it through the night will be the recipient of a cool one million dollars. Well they would if the TV producer hadn't rigged the show so that they unwitting contestants can't possibly win, and the fact that the house is indeed possessed by the undead who are out to brutally slaughter the inhabitants one by one as the night progresses! Bloody mayhem ensues in this knowingly witty take on the multitude of real life fright shows that have recently been popping up on satellite television.
As well as scripting this simple but fun story Haaga pops up in a fun cameo appearance early on the movie when he quite literally loses his head. But it is likely that the real star of the show here is director Danny Draven who has delivered yet another fine genre romp. Readers should be familiar with his previous work on 'Horror Vision' and so will be familiar also with Draven's fast paced fluid directing style. There are some great atmospheric moments in this film with the highlights without doubt being the scenes with the hovering demons that have a genuinely creepy presence. The atmosphere is also enhanced by the brooding score by Josephine Soegijanty throughout and there's some nice additional rock music by impressive bands like Three Sixes (with their Phantasm inspired Lord of the Undead being a stand out track). Cast wise it's a solid performance by the pretty much in-house cast of Tempe regulars like Tanya Dempsey. But for me the standout performance comes from Sunny Lombardo in the role of goth babe Rainbow, check out her scenes when she's lying there broken and beaten pleading to die - great stuff. There's also some nice gory moments in this one too and the old blood flows thick and fast with some nice low budget splatter effects.
But as ever with these Tempe DVD editions there's a lot more to this than the movie itself...sure you get the film presented lovingly in anarmorphic widescreen with an awesome 5.1 audio surround (that is used to great effect here) but you also get a intensely detailed into the background of low budget movie making in the form of the discs many extra features. First off (and perhaps best of all) is director Draven's 'Production Diary', this documentary gives you the opportunity to follow the films production from beginning to end - watch the director as he transforms from a keen enthusiastic guy through to being a tired wreck as the days on set go by - a priceless insight into this side of the business. There's some nice companion pieces to go with this segment in the form of Cast Interviews (which is in fact just random larking around on set), an out-takes/bloopers section (which we all love to see!) and 'Cup o' Joe' which is a brief chat with the charismatic Joe Estevez who comes across as a great fun guy to have around on set. Perhaps the most extensive companion piece to Draven's diary though would be his full length audio commentary that he delivers along with soundtrack composer Josephine Soegijanty, everything you'd need to know and more is discussed here. Along with this smorgasbord of bonus features there's all the regular extras too - including two cool trailers for the film itself, the now standard stills gallery and selection of Tempe trailers to keep you salivating for other forthcoming releases.
But hold on a minute, that's not all as Tempe are always savvy to pushing the boat out a bit with these Special Editions they've made room to include a whole bonus movie complete with intro, audio commentary and preview trailer. This time round it's the folk at Low Budget Pictures, more precisely Chris Seaver with his wild and hilariously gory 'Mulva: Zombie Ass Kicker!'. This wacky short follows cute uber geek Mulva as she heads out on Halloween trick or treating (under the guise of a ghostbuster) with her chum Cassie (dressed as a London whore - you gotta laugh). Although Mulva thinks the worst she's gonna encounter is her old bully nemesis it is in fact a horde of living dead zombies that are going to bring her grief. The bastard offspring of Troma movies, 'Mulva: Zombie Ass Kicker!' is an unexpected and hilarious treat. Not surprisingly many of Troma's entourage show up in amusing cameo appearances including honcho Lloyd Kaufman, the aforementioned Trent Haaga, even Toxie himself and lest we not mention the aptly OTT cameo by genre fave Debbie Rochon (who also appears n the audio commentary with director Chris Seaver). Don't forget to check out the teaser ad for the forthcoming (or is it) flick 'Scrotal Vengeance' - what a hoot!
So Tempe come up spades yet again with another cool addition to the low budget genre scene. Of course no one is going to declare a movie like 'Hell Asylum' as a classic but you'd be missing out on some great value entertainment in this lavish package release. Keep an eye on Danny Draven, you'll be hearing more on him and his work as time goes by and congratulations to Haaga for the wise move over to the Tempe team. Check it out!
Review by Alan Simpson
'Hell Asylum' can be ordered direct from Tempe by clicking here.
|Directed by Danny Draven|
|Released by Tempe|
|Audio commentary, Production diary, Interviews, Bloopers/Out-takes, Stills Gallery, Trailers, Bonus short film & lots more!!|