“Hell Asylum” takes the haunted house concept and combines it with the kind of reality television show Fox would air. All sarcasm aside, “Hell Asylum” not only fails to skewer reality shows, it also implodes as a horror film.
“Hell Asylum,” directed by Danny Draven (“Horrorvision”), centers around five nubile women who want to win a reality television show called “Chill Challenge.” The women have to spend one night in a genuinely creepy building supposedly overrun with spirits all while completing tasks that pit them against their greatest fears. As to be expected, many of the people involved meet absurdly bloody deaths.
The stars of “Chill Challenge” fit all the usual stereotypes, just like on real television shows. You have the sassy black woman, the bitchy starlet, the virginal sacrifice and Tanya Dempsey (who was the only redeeming factor in another Tempe Entertainment horror fiasco, “Witchouse 3”). The producer of “Chill Challenge” (played by a twitchy Sunny Lombardo) is a sleaze, and his investor (Martin Sheen’s brother, Joe Estevez) is a greedy chap whose main concern is having a ratings smash. The surprising character twists keep coming.
“Hell Asylum” writer, Troma regular Trent Haaga, understands what a low budget horror movie needs in order to work. Viewers have to care about the characters, and there has to be something that will frighten people (or at least have them gagging in disgust). These aspects are flirted with, but never reach climax, as the characters are little more than bait, and substandard gore shots are substituted for honest jolts of terror.
The “Hell Asylum” DVD isn’t a total disaster, though. Found on the disk is the short film “Mulva: Zombie A*s Kicker!,” a low budget beauty from Low Budget Pictures that makes up for everything that “Hell Asylum” did wrong. It is this movie that makes the “Hell Asylum” Limited Special Edition DVD worth seeking out.
“Mulva: Zombie A*s Kicker!” is one of the funniest movies of all time, ranking up there with “Caddyshack,” which is no small feat. So, just how does a forty-five minute film about zombies that was shot on what looks like a budget of two hundred and fifty-four dollars qualify as a comedic triumph? Insane characters played by fittingly repulsive actors and some of the best dialogue ever written.
Mulva the Sack (Missy Donatutie), who speaks like a mouse with a lisp and wears her hair like Brian Grazer’s mentally challenged son, is a female comic geek addicted to chocolate. On a Halloween night many years ago, Mulva was traumatized by her sworn enemies McLargehuge and his sidekick, Takateru (whose dialogue is dubbed in the standard Japanese-to-American style). Mulva decides that it is time to go trick-or-treating again, so she dresses like a Ghostbuster and hits the streets with her friend Cassie (a wonderful actress billed only as “Calli the Hut”). The evening’s festivities are interrupted, however, by McLargehuge, Takateru and flesh-eating zombies. Mulva, as the title indicates, kicks a*s with the help of her neighbor, Mr. Bonejack (writer/director Chris Seaver in a Don King wig and a bad Cosby-style sweater). And while a zombie attack is the staple of many B horror flicks, Seaver actually creates something that is just short of genius.
Mulva is the perfect maladjusted heroine. Donatuti’s superb performance makes this girl seem disturbingly real, and her lines are some of the best to ever be heard on film. As if that isn’t enough, the comedy is only strengthened by guest appearances galore. There’s Debbie Rochon (“Witchouse 3”) as a demented housewife, Trent Haaga (“Terror Firmer”) as her multiple-personality laden husband, and Troma head Lloyd Kaufman (along with Sgt. Kabuki Man, N.Y.P.D. and the Toxic Avenger). There are also numerous parodies, including some of “American Beauty” and Prince; horrible special effects; dialogue that will cause many a bladder to burst (“Cassie, run! He’s gonna show us his wang!”); and a foul-mouthed pseudomidget. This is comedy gold.
“Mulva: Zombie A*s Kicker!” combines all the elements that made movies like “Airplane!” and many of Troma’s films work. Silly sight gags, ridiculous characters and on-the-fly gore can destroy a horror comedy quicker than Pauly Shore, but Seaver doesn’t mishandle a single second of it. Of course, it is an amateur film, so there are a few rough edges that need to be ironed out, but they are few and far between. In the end, this flick is far more entertaining than any of the gross-out comedies that Hollywood’s been vomiting out lately.
“Hell Asylum” – ** ^ “Mulva: Zombie A*s Kicker!” – ****