So once again we have survived.

Hellbound

“Either this guy is nuttier than a Snickers, or there is some real heavy shit goin down.”

I’ve had this idea for years that one Halloween I should try to honor my two most covered genres by trying to review a bunch of action/horror crossovers. I knew Chuck Norris had done one, so HELLBOUND was at the top of my list. Unfortunately if this is any indication this is not gonna be one of my more worthwhile expeditions.

Our story begins in 1186 AD when Richard the Lionheart (David Robb, who in my opinion was cast in Downton Abbey based entirely on having this one his resume) battles an evil sorcerer called Prosatanos (Christopher Neame, LUST FOR A VAMPIRE, SUBURBAN COMMANDO) and locks him in a tomb using magic daggers. Then it continues in 1951 when some bandits who might’ve been professional acquaintances of Indiana Jones discover the tomb and think it would be a good idea to steal the magic daggers, releasing a force of pure evil that will, you know, cause trouble in 40-some years after he gets all the broken pieces of his shattered Magic Scepter Thing of Evil. Now he wants to conquer the world and presumably plunge it into that “1,000 Years of Darkness” Chuck Norris’s wife warned about in their anti-Obama video.

It’s about 15 lifeless syndicated TV style minutes into the movie before we get to the 1994 part of the story. You bastards – how did you make me anxious to see Chuck Norris in a movie?

Sgt. Frank Shatter (Norris) gets involved when a dead hooker (Zoe Trilling) lands on the hood of his Trans Am. She got thrown out a hotel window by Prosatanos because she walked in on him right after he pulled the heart out of a rabbi (Ori Levy). Long story.

This Sgt. Shatter (obviously a great name by the way) lives all the expected cop movie cliches. He plays by his own rules and dresses how he wants and has an angry chief (“Your attitude pisses me off! GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!”) and a minstrel, er I mean partner named Calvin Jackson (Calvin Levels from ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING, also played “Head of Jamal” in 8 HEADS IN A DUFFEL BAG). Jackson has kind of a Rick James look but more of a Jimmy J.J. Walker demeanor.

Shatter likes to play little jokes and pranks, like getting Jackson tickets to a Chicago Bulls play-off game and then making him go to Israel instead. Get it? The Israeli police wanted to talk to them briefly about what they knew about this rabbi murder in Chicago, so they had to fly there. Standard procedure.

Most of the hijinks in the movie are Jackson complaining about being hungry, or needing the air conditioning on, or getting his wallet stolen by a kid while Shatter watched because he thought it was funny, and hilarious stuff like that. See, he didn’t know they were going to a part of the world that’s different from Chicago. Shatter takes it all in stride but Jackson is a total baby about it. And a lady talks to Shatter but ignores Jackson like he’s not even a person. ha ha.

Eventually Jackson gets fed up with this demeaning treatment, and flips out. “Why don’t you just cut my nuts off with a damn dull butter knife? I’m you’re partner, man. I deserve respect!”

“If I didn’t respect you you wouldn’t be my partner,” Shatter says. See, so you should be honored by this asshole going out of his way to make you feel worthless. It’s because he loves you! He just expresses it more like cruelty. That’s all. We’re cool now, right?

Prosatanos – living in the ’90s as “Professor Lockley” – is cheesy, like a reject from a BEAST MASTER sequel. Sometimes he gets that distorted low voice that was popular in the ’80s (think the first NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET) and talks about “your passage to eternity,” “I prepare to unite my spirit with this royal blood” and shit like that. He’s trying to sacrifice a lady archaeology expert (Sheree J. Wilson, also on Walker Texas Ranger apparently), who Shatter likes after running into her in two different countries.

I gotta at least give them credit for the weird contacts Prosatanos wears sometimes that make his irises look all squooshed. It’s a simple but very effective way to make him look weird and otherworldly.

Here’s a dumb little dialogue exchange that amused me:

“Aren’t you a trifle off your beaten path?”

“A little.”

I wanted him to say “A little? No, I asked if you were a trifle off. Is a little the same as a trifle? I’m not sure.”

Of course, being a 1994 Chuck Norris movie, the action is completely dull and generic, even when it has the minor horror touch of taking place in a dark room with lighting striking outside the window. Maybe the closest thing to a pure horror/Chuck Norris collision is when Prosatanos is in a robe in a big tomb filled with torches and candleabras, spooky statues and fog machines and shit. He’s holding Jackson up by the neck, about to stab him with a ritual dagger made of bones. Shatter says “Hey!” and it cuts to a shot of him in his jeans and cowboy boots running and jump-kicking toward the camera. Then there’s overblown scoring with a choir and everything as they punch each other and toss each other around for a while.

Prosatanos has super-strength, disappearing powers and can levitate down from the ceiling like a Dracula. His death scene (spoiler) is pretty funny. He roars, turns into a skeleton, opens up a crack in the earth, turns into a monster, explodes into sparks, etc.

The rabbi’s murder takes place on “Polanski Street,” proving that the writers are familiar with the horror cliche of making obvious references to the directors of favorite horror movies. There is no originality in this movie, and more importantly no inspired executions of unoriginal ideas. The formulas of a Chuck Norris movie and a demonic sorcerer movie oughta be able to combine in ways that would make both fresh and more absurd than ever, but they don’t really find a way to do that.

To me the most distinctive thing in the movie is a scene where Jackson’s reading USA Today with a cover story on Ross Perot, and he says, “Ah, Shatter, take a look at this. Perot says he’ll run again for president in 1996. You know, I like this guy, man. I really do.” It’s so random and out of place I gotta assume it was Norris being really excited about Perot, reading about him in USA Today that morning and deciding it was his patriotic duty to share that enthusiasm with whoever watched Chuck Norris movies in 1994.

HELLBOUND is directed by Chuck’s brother Aaron (founder of Actionfest) and written by Brent V. Friedman (HOLLYWOOD HOT TUBS 2: EDUCATING CRYSTAL, PREHYSTERIA 2-3, MORTAL KOMBAT ANNIHILATION) along with two other dudes. I guess if Schwarzenegger and Peter Hyams couldn’t do that much with the action hero vs. devil concept I shouldn’t have expected these guys to pull it off.


VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 10th, 2012 at 1:18 am and is filed under Action, Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

28 Responses to “Hellbound”

  1. Horrible movie, but strangely entertaining. That’s the Yoram Globus signature, alright. Fuckin Cannon.

    Pretty sure I was drunk when I watched this, as I occasionally use the presence of Chuck Norris in the more inexplicable section of my NetFlix queue as an excuse to hit the sauce. Or maybe the buzz comes first and then I get the idea that it’s a good idea to watch 1990s Norris.

    Anyway, I’m pretty sure Ruthless combined with Grey Goose to send me to this movie: http://www.ruthlessreviews.com/10898/hellbound/

    Funny shit. I can’t resist a movie described to me as having ripped off STAR WARS *and* multiple Akira Kurosawa movies.

    The black cop’s minstrelness might have mostly eluded me because I was too distracted by the comical fashions and the out of place lighthearted tone of this thing. I just figured he was a bad, unfunny character trying to be funny and failing because of bad writing, not race-based insults/insinuations. I reckon I’d have to re-watch HELLBOUND to sort it out, but oh well, that’s not happening.

    Man, even the Amazon widget thing (3 pack dvd for $3.71) at the end of this review is somehow sad & insulting.

  2. Now I will go to bat for a little Chuck Norris semi-gem called SILENT RAGE. The synopsis blurb is:
    A small-town sheriff shoots a killer in the act of murder and takes his corpse to three doctors, who seize the opportunity to secretly test an experimental serum that has the ability to reanimate the dead. The serum works in spades, and the murderer is back on another killing spree — but this time he’s invincible. Now, if the sheriff wants to save innocent lives, he must bring down the madman turned monster for good.

    IIRC, there are at least 1-2 impressive scenes where the camera lingers without cutting and the atmosphere, indeed enhanced by the titular silence, tricks you into thinking you’re watching a legitimately good movie. Not VISITING HOURS good, but close. This good feeling is undercut somewhat by the fact that the doctors seem to kind of sit around talking & diddling for most of the story, as side characters in side plots of shitty low budget movies tend to do, but overall SILENT RAGE surprised me with its competence & fun.

    Chuck Norris is playing a little against type as a small town sheriff; I know it’s difficult to fathom him in such a role, but if you can accept that casting quirk then I think most of you would enjoy SILENT RAGE.

  3. I was also going to point to SILENT RAGE as a semi-compentent Norris horror/action mashup. It scared me when I was 7 yrs old, anyway, in a TERMINATOR (1984) sort of way.

  4. Best action/horror cross-over I’ve seen recently is Osombie, in which Osama Bin Ladan infects himself with zombie juice just before SEAL Team six ice him. It’s one of the most fun films I’ve seen in ages, which some really good character moments and inventive set-pieces. It does take about 5-10 minutes to settle in, when the main cast shows up but is well worth a look.

  5. Everybody knows that HOLLYWOOD HOT TUBS 2 is a major step down from the original so it’s no surprise this movie sucks.

  6. I should see this some day. Worthless trivia: There is also a character named Reverend Polanski in BRADDOCK: MISSING IN ACTION III. Obviously, this means that “Polanski Street” is not a reference to that occult movie by Roman Polanski, but rather a case of the auteur Aaron Norris self-conciously referencing himself.

  7. “Prosatanos has super-strength, disappearing powers and can levitate down from the ceiling like a Dracula. His death scene (spoiler) is pretty funny. He roars, turns into a skeleton, opens up a crack in the earth, turns into a monster, explodes into sparks, etc.”

    I gotta admit I never get tired of Vern’s spoiler alerts. It’s a pretty familiar conceit by now, but damn if it isn’t still completely hilarious.

  8. Vern, I can’t believe you chose this over the actually really good Silent Rage. You’ve gotta stop hurting yourself like this.

  9. Aaron Norris has to be the worst director to ever direct as many movies as he did. Nepotism is a bitch because this guy wouldn’t have gotten a directors job in any other reality then the one where he is Chuck Norris brother. I vaguely remember watching this movie when it was on VHS and wondering why the fuck I even bothered to try watching another Chuck Norris movie. Again I ask how the fuck did this guy have a 40 year movie and TV career? Who the fuck enjoys this stale and bland bullshit?

  10. Is Aaron Norris worse than Albert Pyun? He’s directed heaps of terrible movies.

  11. Chuck Norris’s seeming popularity is a completely inexplicable tear in the space time continuum.

    I’ve never understood it and I never will.

    No one can.

  12. Hilariously bad movie, but not one I would like to watch again. SILENT RAGE is pretty funny in a bad movie sort of way, too. A Golan-Globus action/horror mesh-up that I think is underrated is the Charles Bronson vehicle 10 TO MIDNIGHT. Then again, I could be wrong.

  13. Albert Pyun has made one or two great b-movies. DOLLMAN,NEMESIS and SWORD AND THE SORCERER i would like to call great. Aaron Norris has to my knowledge not even come close to that.

  14. Vern, Chuck Norris movies may be shit but your reviews of them make it all worthwhile.

  15. Agree with the positive comments concerning Silent Rage. I did a little Norris marathon when Expendables 2 came out and Silent Rage was the “best” of the bunch. Hero and the Terror was the worst easily, it commits the mortal sin of being boring as hell.

  16. Henry, I would say Aaron Norris is a lot worse than Albert Pyun, because Pyun has at least ambition and comes up with some cool ideas. (even though the movies that surround them never hold up to them.) And he seems like an unbelievable humble and nice guy He even commented here and on other websites from time to time. (In all fairness, maybe Aaron Norris is nice too. I never talked to him or read an interview with him, so I don’t know.)

  17. Vern, you may have missed a subtle piece of wordplay here, but Prosatanos includes the name Satan. I think that’s meant to mean he’s evil.

  18. nabroleon dynamite

    October 11th, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Silent Rage is definitely the only Chuck I can fuck with.

    Mainly for all the gratuitous boobs.

    Damn near Cinemax worthy.

  19. wait, Chuck “Mr Born Again Christian” Norris starred in a movie with boobs in it?

  20. Back before your time, Griff, it was illegal to release an R-rated action film without boobs in it. Chuck was just falling in line. He’s nothing if not law-abiding, as long as those laws don’t give inalienable rights to groups of people he dislikes.

  21. “it was illegal to release an R-rated action film without boobs in it”

    gee, I miss those days

  22. Poor Albert Pyun being unfairly compared to Aaron Norris. You guys are right, compared to Aaron, Albert is a visionary.

    I really liked Nemesis and Cyborg when I was 12 years old.

    I probably would like them now after 12 drinks.

  23. MORTAL KOMBAT ANNIHILATION is by far the worst thing I ever saw in a movie theater. I’ve seen NORTH, SUPER MARIO BROS. and THINNER in the movie theater and that still didn’t compare. Holy shit. I always wondered why I didn’t like this movie. I mean aside from being a boring Chuck movie from the 90’s it’s because it comes from the same mastermind.

  24. Henry Swanson – I think NEMESIS aged better than CYBORG.

  25. NEMESIS 2 is not that bad either.

  26. Hey Vern, just wanted to make you aware that Joblo.com ripped you off. I was surprised when I saw a review of this movie in the Awfully Good section of joblo. I was wondering how a crappy movie like this could be reviewed on 2 of my favorite sites within a week. Then I read the review and it’s straight up theft or everyone who’s watched this movie has the same exact thoughts. http://www.joblo.com/movie-news/awfully-good-hellbound

  27. I appreciate you looking out for me Chitown, but it doesn’t seem like a ripoff to me. I think we just both noted some of the more notable parts, and not all of the same ones. They didn’t even mention the Ross Perot scene or how shitty Chuck treats his sidekick.

  28. Vern, you must have only read a portion of that article. They absolutely say the same points you made about how Chuck treated his partner. From the article:

    “The only amusing thing is how much of a complete dick Norris’ character is to his “friend.” He gives him tickets to the NBA Finals and, when he gets excited, tells him they’re actually flying to Israel that night to hunt down Prosatanos. He sees some kid stealing Calvin’s wallet but doesn’t say anything.”

    That’s actually the line that made me post this. It’s a strange coincidence that anyone not named Norris would happen to watch this shitty movie and write a review right after yours. It is the internet so who knows.

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