There’s a reason Tor Johnson’s colossal conk produced a best-selling Halloween mask. Bald men – especially portly, grimacing bald men – are inherently menacing. Would you feel entirely comfortable stuck in a broken elevator with Lawrence Tierney?
“Hell to Pay” features the ultimate balding baddy – a boorish, misogynist husband named Herb (Robert Campbell). Sporting the puffy jowls and fleshy bean of a low-rent Mickey Rooney, this bloated, slovenly villain is made all the more reprehensible when contrasted to Agnus (Jeanne Averill), his angelic wife. A kind-eyed redhead with the intelligent, instantly likable presence of Jamie Lee Curtis, she obediently fetches the surly spouse’s keys and fixes him dinner.
Does her old man acknowledge this devotion? Hell, no. “You might want to skip dessert,” he suggests during mealtime. “Your ass is getting kinda big.”
Overloaded with this demeaning verbal abuse, Agnus begins entertaining violent fantasies. Removing a knife from the cherry pie she’s been slaving over all day, Herb’s under-appreciated wife daydreams about doing hubby in, via some home-front hack ‘n slash. Later, she takes a special interest in a televised “how-to” program on voodoo doll fabrication.
Tightly directed by Patrick Rea, “Hell to Pay” is a clever, well-shot short that benefits from ideal casting. Its lead actor and actress make one sympathize with the latter’s plight. And when Agnus avenges herself with a sewn-together likeness of Horrible Herb, anyone having lived through similar marital discord will certainly chuckle in wicked, vicarious delight.
“Hell to Pay” is one helluva tribute to female empowerment, and essential viewing for loutish, disrespectful husbands. Watch out!