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By Rachel Morgan | July 24, 2004

I have respect for individuals who try to turn comic books into motion pictures. Look at what they have to face: tons of role playing, comic book geeks complaining (“the trim on his cape wasn’t navy blue until after he died the second time” or “everyone knows you can only become invisible in the shadow world”) and these people have lots of time and know how to use a computer, yes they are a scary bunch.

I’m sure there will be many Michael Allred fans that find problems with “G-Men From Hell”, but it does seem to stick pretty closely to the content of the comic book. The story is that of two federal agents, Mattress (Tate Donovan) and Crept (William Forsythe), who meet an untimely death at the hands of an evil villain. They are then stuck in hell, which is apparently a fairly easy place to escape. They steal a magic crystal and are able to penetrate through the walls (or gates if you prefer) of hell and land back on earth in a bathtub owned by the vixen Gloria Lake (Vanessa Angel). The G-Men’s plan is to complete a multitude of good deeds and through such claim their desired position in heaven alongside Crept’s wife and child who also perished thanks to the evildoer. Of course there is the tricky business of revenging their wrongful death and they are G-Men so they do what they know how and take on a sympathetic case in an effort to make right. Coincidentally, the case that lands in their lap is that of the Jessica Rabbit-like Gloria Lake and the antics ensue. In the meantime, the devil (Robert Goulet) is pretty pissed and with the help of Weenie Man (Paul Rodriguez) he attempts to reclaim Mattress and Crept and drag them back to hell. The G-Men strike a deal with the devil, as so many people do, and agree to bring him the magic devil crystal within two days in exchange for allowing them to remain on earth, of course even more antics ensue. There are also many sub plots (there’s a lot going on in this film), including a wannabe super hero in a cheetah suit and a mad scientist who is busy cloning humans.

“G-Men From Hell” is directed by Christopher Coppola, who I’m sure is tired of being referred to as Nicolas Cage’s brother, but he can go cry into a bag of money. The mis-en-scene (I’ve been wanting to use that word since I graduated from art school) in “G-Men From Hell” is reminiscent of the original Batman TV show, crooked camera angles and all. Not since “Dick Tracy” has a cinematographer used so many blue and green lighting gels, but it actually works. The film is super campy, but fun to watch. There are tons of small details (like the “Snob Hill” bourbon bottle) that deserve a second look. The acting is handled well, especially by “Dick Tracy” veteran William Forsythe, as well as by Gary Busey and Robert Goulet. The performances are a bit over-the-top, but appropriately so. Busey plays a “sadistic, leather clad homosexual”, which is reason enough to take a look at the film. “G-Men From Hell” is as good as “Dick Tracy”, but with half the budget.

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