(Written for The Ain’t It Cool News, but they never put it up.)

Dear Harry and Moriarty,

I saw a new movie you guys might be interested in, called HELLBOY. It’s about this guy with a giant hand. He is red but he works for the government. Then he fights monsters because he’s in love with the girl from STORYTELLING, but she catches on fire. etc.

Actually come to think of it it’s based on a comic strip so I would not be surprised at all if you boys heard of it already. This is NOT the Punishing guy, this is a different guy, named Hellboy.

HellboyWhat I liked about this movie was the character of Hellboy, who is played by Ron Perlman (BLADE II). He is a guy from Hell who decides he’s not into being evil. So he does other stuff. I always thought Perlman was funny when he was on that Beauty and the Beast show with the gal from TERMINATOR. Because he is this scary lion man and the women loved him because he was sensitive and wore a blouse and because it was only a TV show so they didn’t have to face the reality of what a guy smells like if he lives in the sewer. Believe me man, you ever spend more than two days in a sewer, hiding out or whatever, it’s curtains for your love life for at least a year. Not to brag or nothin. I guess that is not a brag though. Just my 2 cents.

Anyway the point I was getting at was that when he took the makeup off, he still looked like a fuckin beast. This is a grizzled looking dude. He plays in makeup all the time so I guess it’s no big deal for him to be painted red and have a tail and horns and a giant hand and whatever other shit they pasted onto the dude. He doesn’t even notice, to him it’s just like wearing pants. So he is able to give a real acting performance and make this a great character.

He goes around with his giant hand and he punches through things and gets thrown through things and blows things up. He makes some smartass comments occasionally. It’s real good to see such a combination of makeup and acting to make a classic monster character, like Frankenstein’s monster meets Dirty Harry.

Perlman has made some bad movies before, in my opinion. In this category I would include OPERATION SANDMAN, POLICE ACADEMY: MISSION TO MOSCOW and SLEEPWALKERS. When Mario Van Peebles and Ice-T are put into the Straight to Video Hall of Fame, Perlman will probaly be invited. But I also think he was truly great in CRONOS, CITY OF LOST CHILREN, ALIEN RESURRECTION (as the dumb tough guy) and of course BLADE II. So as long as he’s working with a French or Mexican director he’s good. This one will obviously be one of his signature roles. I hope we get to see him in this makeup again.

Seriously though about that sewer thing, there were legitimate reasons to stay out of sight, I know it sounds paranoid. This was a long time ago when I was young, I would not usually have to do that kind of thing now.

There was nothing I really hated about this movie, but I was not as crazy about the world around Hellboy as I was Hellboy himself. They spend alot of time trying to explain who he is and how he is hidden from the world and what not. My one question about that would be, who the fuck cares. So he is a demon guy – lay off. He doesn’t really look THAT weird. Michael Jackson, for example, is a weirder looking dude than Hellboy. Also, those freaky “chicks” in the trailer for WHITE CHICKS that played before HELLBOY. Thay are WAY scarier looking than Hellboy and nobody locks them up in a room and goes on talk shows to try to create a smokescreen. Just let the dude walk around and fight monsters and shit. He’s obviously good at it.

The director is Guillermo del Toro (BLADE II) and I would HIGHLY recommend checking out this guy’s work. CRONOS and DEVIL’S BACKBONE proved that he was a genius. MIMIC was his worst movie and I still liked that one. And obviously we all agree on BLADE II, except for a couple hotshots in the talkbacks. I would not say that HELLBOY is Mr. Del Toro’s best movie. I don’t think it has quite the crowdpleasing action, asskicking and oneliners that BLADE II did. But that’s not a fair comparison. It is a lot of fun and also has a little bit more emotion in the nice love subplot. And kids will definitely like this movie because it is about a cool monster who fights cool monsters. Plus the bad guys are Nazis, and everybody hates Nazis, except Nazis. And Nazis don’t deserve this movie anyway. I don’t want to be controversial but I hate fucking Nazis. Fuck ’em.

Like the Nazis though, if you are a comic strip guy you might have some trouble with this picture. I talked with my geek culture correspondent, a guy in my Wednesday night creative writing class. I’m not sure what the guy’s spy name would be, maybe Darth Superman. Or Harry maybe you could make up some stupid Dungeons and Dragons type bullshit like Gandalf the Elfmaster or Attack of the Hobbits or something like that, this guy would eat that shit up.

According to my notes here, he has some complaints. He says that in the comics Hellboy is more of a detective who travels around to little European villages, going to old churches, castles and graveyard to investigate ghosts and werewolves and shit. He says there is alot more mythology and ghost stories involved. More atmosphere. Not as much American cities and bureaucrats and product placement. He doesn’t get locked in a room and have agents following him around unless he needs them for the mission.

Also this guy says Abe Sapien (the fishman) should walk around in regular clothes and a fake beard, he should not be locked up in a fish tank. And Kronen is just a scientist in a mask, he is not made of sand and windups (Vern note: who fuckin cares). Also it says something here about pancakes. Can’t read my handwriting.

I guess this guy is probaly right, they could probaly do up a better story if there is a part 2, where Hellboy just steps on and you already know who he is and what he’s gonna do to the stupid tentacled or ghostly motherfucker that gets in his way. None of this explaining bullshit. But still I enjoyed this picture and I got a hunch you might like it better, wetting your pants right and left over this thing, or at the very least wetting them in the front. Good job Ron Perlman and Guillermo Del Toro keep it up fellas.

See ya boys,


This entry was posted on Friday, April 2nd, 2004 at 3:56 pm and is filed under Action, Comic strips/Super heroes, Fantasy/Swords, 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.

43 Responses to “Hellboy”

  1. Did you ever see or review Hellboy II, Vern? Reading this just gave me much amusement but I can’t find any evidence you sat through the next one even though I know you totally must have.

  2. Yeh, hope you write about Hellboy 2.

  3. I saw Chronos and I thought it was really depressing. I suspect there is some real story from Del Toro’s childhood about his grandpa reflected here because there was a similar plotline in Mimic. Anyone know?

  4. CrustaceanLove

    May 8th, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    Which one of you fuckers wished for HELLBOY 3 on a monkey’s paw?

  5. I swear it wasn’t me. I would never ask for a Hellboy movie without any involvement of GDT or Perlman.

  6. Yeah, it’s a strange and unexpected development. It’s understandable that they never made HELLBOY 3 – neither 1 or 2 made much money, if any. But it’s weird if that wasn’t economically feasible that they think THIS is. To most people, HELLBOY is those movies starring Ron Perlman, it’s not a character they want to see a different version of.

    On the other hand, it’s an R-rated movie, so it’s a lower budget, and it might be interesting to see a smaller scale Hellboy where he’s just fighting a vampire or some shit and not saving the world – I understand that’s what the comics are like. Maybe this is better for a PUNISHER or GHOST RIDER sized movie. If it wasn’t from Millennium Films I might have high hopes for it.

  7. I’m actually not okay with the R-rating. The comics don’t shy away from graphic violence, but it doesn’t define them and it’s not exessive. Every few books you get a panel of a guy getting ripped in half or something like that, but this isn’t SIN CITY or something, that wouldn’t work in PG-13. The whole project is so completely misguided, I don’t know where to start, but I hope Mike Mignola gets a shitton of money out of it.

  8. grimgrinningchris

    May 9th, 2017 at 5:18 am

    There has never been a more perfect marriage of actor, director and material than with the Hellboy movies. And CJ is right, there is no reason for this to be Rated R.

    Funny after years of the WRONG shit being sanitized down to PG-13 for a (supposedly) broader audience, now we’re looking at the opposite.

    This is what you get after the geekification of America and years of dull nitwits begging and hoping for “Hard R” versions of everything from He-Man to Power Rangers. Did these people even really like this shit in its original incarnation? Why does stuff need to be made into something its not just to dislike your continued love of it as an adult?

    Don’t get me wrong, Hellboy is far more “adult” (and literate) than a lot of comics but there is still no reason for it to be Rated R. Other than a marketing ploy.

  9. grimgrinningchris

    May 9th, 2017 at 5:19 am

    just to JUSTIFY… not just to DISLIKE… Dunno how THAT came out wrong. Durr…

  10. I never expected a third HELLBOY with Del Toro/Ron perlman matchup. But this seems to be made by completely generic Hollywood people starring Human McBland and yes-saying television person John Who? ( can´t recall his name and don´t actually care). Too bad.

  11. I think Perlman as Hellboy was some perfect casting, and those movies are fun, but I was never one of those guys clamoring for a third movie. Those movies have great scenes and characters but they don’t really add up to much. And I won’t claim to be a HELLBOY expert, but the five or six graphic novels I read feel NOTHING like del Toro’s conception of the character and his world. The tone is just completely different. Which is totally fine with me, since what you do when you hire an auteur (French for “author”) like del Toro is you get him to author new shit, not just remake old shit. You want that, you hire Neil Marshall (DOOMSDAY, derivative but still underrated), who’s good at that sort of thing.

    And I never would have thought anyone but Perlman could play that character but I have to admit that the STRANGER THINGS dude is an inspired choice. I never thought much of that actor but he was one of the few things about that show that impressed me. He’s got the jaw and the world-weariness to pull it off.

    This still seems like a terrible idea guaranteed to lose a lot of money, and it seems like it should probably be a TV show I’d watch the first season of and then get tired of, but it could be okay. I like watching monsters get punched, and PACIFIC RIM proved that maybe del Toro’s not the best guy for that job anymore, so whatever. Life goes on.

    I’m sure this is just the kind of breathless excitement the producers were expecting when they made this announcement.

  12. I have no horse in this race. I actually had no idea the GDT Hellboy joints had this many fans. I saw people on a hip hop forum of all places bitch about this being made over a HELLBOY 3.

    Like where they even that good? Pretty serviceable but nowhere as quirky and off kilter as the source material. GDT’s 2nd Hellboy was too cute at points for my taste. I don’t think the answer is an R rating either but a little more grit and weirdness to contrast how ironically normal Hellboy himself could seem and less jokes and sitcom moments could be ok with me. Mignola needs to steer this creatively. Marshall is a decent journeyman with the right guidance.

  13. zero-mentality

    May 9th, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Neither has any reason to exist beyond C.R.E.A.M./temporary distraction from the gaping ethical/emotional/ideological hole at the center of Western civilization, but I’d watch a Mignola-guided Hellboy redux over a GDT-guided Pacific Rim 2 any day.

  14. I gotta say it’s kinda a shame, because HELLBOY 2 really did seem to be a rare genre movie which legitimately cried out for a concluding sequel. I get that Mignola wasn’t too fond of Del Toro’s (admittedly pretty free-handed) take on the character, but I wish he’d have let them do one more to conclude the trilogy before rebooting. Particularly since it’s hard to argue that it wasn’t Del Toro’s efforts to get a third one off the ground that made this reboot even remotely feasible in the first place.

  15. I don’t know, I think this could be a good thing. The previous HB films are well crafted with lavish art direction, and some enjoyible performances but they never hit the mark for me.

  16. If I understand correctly, they were trying to make a HELLBOY 3, but couldn’t get the budget Del Toro wanted, so they declared it not-gonna-happen and creator Mike Mignola decided to go another direction. This project was first announced by Mignola, who is co-writing it along with Christopher Golden, who he has written other Hellboy things with. So although it’s a weird development it seems unfair to act like it’s some knock off.

  17. Has anyone else seen HELLBOY AGENT 47 REFUELLED: SPIRIT OF VENGANCE yet?

    It was marginally better than I anticipated; i.e. not quite in the ASSASSIN’S CREED/UNDERWORLD/I, FRANKENSTEIN depths of the simultaneously bland, vapid and tedious. There was just enough residual interest from the general concept and world to stop my eyes from glazing over. That doesn’t mean it’s getting any kind of bum rap though. It squeezes by as coherent storytelling but clearly was sent into theatres just about held together with tape. As unappetising as the trailers seemed, in retrospect whoever edited them deserves some major kudos for managing to hide just how cheap looking and poorly staged the majority of this is. Most of the action is flat and uninteresting, despite some appealing concepts; there’s a snappy and well-edited action coda at the end of the film which hints at how a DREDD-ish HELLBOY might have had some pulpy appeal and is probably the best part of the film, but even that ends on the sour note of some “as if” sequelbaiting.

    Given how poorly this has fared, I wouldn’t be half-surprised if at some point in the next ten years they ‘Busters it and greenlight a third del Torro film, although I suppose that would hinge on a lot of people being willing, ready and able.

  18. Yes, I mostly agree with you.

    A review of Hellboy (2019)

    Prologue: I used to stan hard for del Toro but after four terrible movies in a row, I had to cancel my membership to the club. It was very hard because I was there from the beginning with CHRONOS via a screener tape sent to my local mom & pop video shop they let me have. I vouched for MIMIC and got to see BLADE II and DEVIL'S BACKBONE in theaters the same weekend. Then he got attached to THE HOBBIT to a bunch of years with nothing to show for it and then or at the same time a whole

    I thought it was better than its reputation but didn’t have enough fun with it to really recommend anyone else watch it. Basically, it’s a JONAH HEX not LONE RANGER in the realm of poorly received movies for me: a few fun and interesting bits but not enough to truly go to bat for it.

  19. Good review geoffreyjar

  20. Franchise Fred approves geoffreyjar’s take inn Hellboy. Good to know the gratuitous r-rated stuff wasnt even in the comics.

  21. But it’S incredible how many people think it was. I spent too much time correcting people on this over the weekend.

  22. I don’t know, I enjoyed the new Hellboy. Nowadays most films try pretty hard to seem clever while also trying to appeal to everybody. So a film that’s blantantly dumb and appeals to seemingly nobody is a breath of fresh air, in a HUDSON HAWK kinda way.

  23. They do both have jaw-dropping decapitation-based one liners

  24. “Best decapitation-based one liner” should be a new Oscar category.

  25. geoffreyjar – I’m with you on the frustration with del Toro. I love the way his movies look and I *want* to like all of them, but the storytelling is always just so…I dunno, basic I guess? That really works in something like PAN’S LABYRINTH where it’s meant to be kind of a fairy tale, but it’s less fun in something like PACIFIC RIM, where it just hits the most basic beats of a war story mixed with giant monsters.

    Ironically, I think that style *should* have served his HELLBOY movies really well, since a lot of the comics have a similar dreamy, fairy tale logic to them but for me they don’t really play that way. They’re just kind of generic action movies with good makeup. All the enjoyment I get from them is courtesy of Ron Perlman, an all-time great casting choice for the role.

  26. My frustrations with Del Toro became crystalized when I realized the main thing he wants to talk about regarding his films are his color choices, even though his color choices are almost always the same. Green and blue in one part, red and gold in the other. Which, you know, who cares? Filmmakers are allowed to have visual trademarks. The problem is, he seems to think that choosing symbolic colors is pretty much all the storytelling that is required. I don’t really respond to that shit on more than a subconscious level, and even then not enough to consider it a viable substitute for a story that tracks thematically and emotionally. So even though we seem to have a lot of interests in common, we’re coming at them from diametrically opposed directions. I could give a shit what color Mako’s fucking umbrella is. I would rather focus on her behavior and how that illustrates her character and her arc. Unfortunately, there isn’t a dramatic beat in that movie that isn’t horribly botched. But hey, that red really popped, didn’t it?

    It’s all PACIFIC RIM’s fault. That movie is so shitty that it formed a line of demarcation in my appraisal of Del Toro’s work. There’s how I felt about it before and there’s how I feel about it afterward, and there is little resemblance between the two points of view. He remains a charming and lovable presence, but he gets no benefit of the doubt from me anymore. Anybody who can fuck up “Big robots punch big monsters” that badly has run out of lifetime passes. CRIMSON PEAK was meh and I didn’t even bother seeing his Oscar movie so he’s got a ways to go before he earns my trust back. I’m not really holding my breath.

  27. Turns out the umbrella wasn’t even red. That’s how much those color choices meant to me. So glad they spent more time on that than on figuring out how the story’s themes of cooperation and teamwork were explicated by the climax in which two manly men save the world by stoically going it alone. What kind of storytelling is that? Why even bother with the whole drift compatibility bullshit if all it comes down to is a condescending white guy deciding his female copilot is actually a damsel who needs saving? In what way was the story building to this? It’s like if THE KARATE KID ended with Daniel doing the crane kick and falling flat on his ass.

  28. Majestyk – that’s why (hottest take) I totally like Pacific Rim 2 better than 1. The main characters are more fun and likable and the story actually pays off character and emotional beats that it sets up. The action isn’t quite as expensive-looking but it’s big and ambitious and not as DTV as I thought it would be.

    I’ve been a little down on Del Toro too lately (underwhelmed by Shape of Water and I thought Crimson Peak was actually kinda terrible), but I really don’t understand how they didn’t let him finish the Hellboy Trilogy – I mean, maybe I’m misremembering but didn’t Hellboy 2 leave you on a HUGE cliffhanger? I really hope they can piece together a Del Toro and Perlman Part 3 soon (even though Perlman is pushing 70!)

  29. Yeah, I enjoyed PACIFIC RIM: RIMLOADED for what it was: a dumb, broad, international co-production that did exactly what it says it’s gonna do. The action was clear and colorful (the controversial decision to shoot in daylight every now and then really paid off), the story, while not exactly high drama, did not shoot itself in the dick at any point, and I didn’t want to murder anybody except Charlie Day, which is okay because they finally figured out that he’s the bad guy. I suspect the best version of this premise would be somewhere between Del Toro’s lugubrious grandeur and the sequel’s lightweight approach, but of the two I will take the latter. Like a lover who can’t rely on physical beauty to arouse their partner, it didn’t look as good but it moved a lot better.

  30. Not for nothing, I hate when people use the term “dumb” to describe movies.

  31. I use it as a descriptor, not as an insult. Some movies should be dumb. It’s a feature, not a bug.

  32. Krautsalat, there’s Hudson Hawk and then there’s Bonfire of the Vanities. I think New Hellboy is sort of like DTV Bruce.

  33. That’s fair, still don’t like it but I like you Mr M

  34. BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES is better than its reputation, the opening shot alone makes it worth seeing. I don’t think the DTV Bruce comparison is fair, there’s plenty of memorable stuff going on in the new HELLBOY, even if the parts are just half-assedly duct-taped together.

  35. so i’ve been meaning to broach this for a while now but could never find a way to articulate it so that it made sense to anyone but me but fuck it – GDT’s movies, for the most part, make me want to throw up.

    like, they make me feel literally seasick and it’s because of this visual technique he’s been going ham on more and more lately and it’s a technique that i would like to refer to as “steady cam” which is kind of like shaky cam but with stabilisation set to a 1000.

    so a lotta folks draw a lot of attention to how beautiful and rich GDT’s visuals are and rightfully so but only if we’re talking about sets and costumes and monster shit etc because good fucking lord does a lot of his cinematography fucking suck. from what i can gather he spends untold hours designing and perfecting the practical visual aspects of his movies so that he can then strap a Steadicam rig to a camera operator and have them arbitrarily waltz around the set take after take after take with no consistency or direction and regardless of what the emotional or narrative core of the scene might be and then in editing, rather than trying to cut the different takes together so that one image naturally and organically flows into the next he instead cuts for performance, regardless of what a total fucking mess that will make of 90% of the visual language of the film (his match cuts, in CRIMSON PEAK in particular, are a fucking nightmare).

    like there were simple conversation scenes in CRIMSON PEAK that i had to watch with an “opening chase sequence from QUANTUM OF SOLACE” level of concentration just to try to figure out what in the visual fuck i was supposed to be paying attention to from edit to edit. there is just a huge lack of consistency and internal logic to GDT’s visual storytelling aside from the occasional blessed moments where he just locks his camera down and focuses on a single thing for more than five goddamned seconds without cutting to a shot of someone’s fingers playing piano but only for .5 seconds before the camera floats up to their face so they can deliver half a line of dialogue before then cutting to a shot from behind the other participant in this conversation as the camera moves around the back of their head and then just as it reaches their face cuts away again but to the other side of the person at the piano and is already moving away from them and circling back towards the other person in the scene and all of the steady camming and anti-match cutting make it impossible to tell just how many lines this motherfucker has jumped within the space of five edits but all i know is my eyes are exhausted and i feel genuinely ill.

    i know that i explained this really poorly and i should have waited until i wasn’t in so much of a rush to even get into it but does anybody else know what i’m talking about here?

  36. an overabundance of tracking or dolly shots cut to ribbons in editing in a way that proves no one involved gave a fuck whether any of the interlocking images actually matched or not is obviously a problem, but those shots by their nature are all very lateral and at least have a fixed axis. my eyes can follow up or down and left to right relatively easily and make some sort of visual connection between a bunch of random shots even if after a while it does start to make my head hurt. there’s a queasiness in applying that same technique to a bunch of steady cam shots though. that thing can move all over the fucking place on a whim, and often does, and often in conflicting directions between cuts (in GDT’s joints at least). hence the seasickness.

  37. Stacy Livitsanis

    April 17th, 2019 at 5:40 am

    Further to the recent comments here about Del Toro in general, I keep hearing from everyone, from critics to fans, about how wonderful and magical and special his movies are, and…I’ve tried, really I have. I’ve had a go at every single movie he’s directed, but I just can’t stand any of them. There’s nothing in them I connect with, believe in or feel part of. Except Blade II. That was okay, but I think that’s more because of Donnie Yen’s action than Del Toro. But whatever magical quality that’s in his movies that’s entrancing people is completely lost on me. Del Toro is clearly sincere about what’s he’s doing. He believes in it, but I can’t see anything there. I don’t feel bad or good about it, it’s just the truth. You can’t make yourself like something.

  38. Doubel-hot-take? How can it be controversial or a hot take to say that PACIFIC RIMLOADED is better than PACRIM when it’s not even debatable? RIMLOADED actually delivered on the concept and RIM1 dropped the ball at every single area.

    I’ll still go to bat for del Toro’s CHRONOS to PAN’S LABYRINTH films.

    CHRONOS – a good weird take on a vampire movie

    MIMIC – a decent fun monster movie

    DEVIL’S BACKBONE – arguably my favorite of his

    BLADE II – masterpiece obviously

    HELLBOY – not as in love with it as I once was but I still dig that super nerdy heart on it’s sleeve movie

    PAN’S LABYRNTH – Really love it still

    HELLBOY II – the beginning of his downward spiral. Has good moments but never comes together as an actual story. But hey that Troll market set was nice!

    PACIFIC RIM – absolutely terrible in just about every respect. Makes me laugh that the nerds who complain about STAR WARS prequels and AVATAR give a pass to it and insist it is a superior Hollywood blockbuster the likes we have never seen before.

    CRIMSON PEAK – absolutely terrible AND boring. takes forever to get to the house (seriously they could have started with them moving in) and then thinks it’s shocking twist is shocking when everyone just assumed from the get-go that’s what was happening. But hey that house set was nice!

    SHAPE OF WATER – please…

  39. Krautsalat, I just think Hudson Hawk is wonderful and Hellboy is no Hudson Hawk.

    I don’t hate Bonfire but I’ve also never read the book so I don’t know how great it could’ve been.

  40. Few movies can be HUDSON HAWK… Most dare not even try!

  41. Hudson Hawk is an EVIL EVIL man!

  42. I think the HUDSON HAWK vs BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES point makes a degree of sense insofar as I think as many production problems as there were on the former, they ended up with a film they wanted to make, they just found out it was something a much smaller fraction of the movie-going public would ever be interested in than they realised. I don’t think BONFIRE (which I found perfectly watchable) was what anyone really wanted it to be by the time it hit theatres, and I think the same is true of HELLBOY 2019.

    Although I think De Palma stands by or at least partially defends some of the decisions made on BONFIRE, so maybe not. Still waiting for the DEVIL’S CANDY/FINAL CUT-style book on FANT4STIC.

  43. I really need to rewatch HUDSON HAWK.

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