Directed By: Denis Héroux
Starring: Mathieu Carriere, Debra Berger, Christine Boisson
Disclaimer: Severin Films has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections.
Denis Héroux isn't exactly subtle when it comes to this movie having a lot to say about politics and the state of the world, specially in Belfast Ireland and the IRA. In fact, it drives this point home from the very title card and pretty overtly from there, depicting a bombing at a church. And it doesn't get any subtler from here on out. The film not only has these over-tones of Irish politics but also US ones as the movie features a character that is a Vietnam vet. Couple this with obvious references to real-life murderer Richard Speck and you have a pretty strange sleazy flick.
I was prepared for a pretty brutal film ala The Last House on the Beach (1978) (a obscure sicko movie not to be confused with the similar Craven titled film) which has a pretty similar set-up (though this came out first). I will say that the movie does have a really grimy, unnerving, almost documentary like approach and Denis's film has a coldness to it. The movie isn't as outrageous in its gore but when the murders do take place they have a raw and disturbing quality that I think gives the movie its impact. Moreover the movie is relentless in its savageness towards women which I found incredibly hard to watch at times. If I had to lobby a complaint I think the movie does some heavy-lifting that it doesn't need to. What I mean is, the entire political landscape of the film doesn't really add much if anything to the narrative. Also, I think it would have been much creepier if we gave almost no backstory of motivation for the killer. They also weirdly introduce characters that feel important but are dropped.
Its pretty wild to think that Denis Héroux gone onto be nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture for Atlantic City (1980) just four years after Born for Hell was released. The movie does aim high with social and political pinning's but honestly I think that its window dressing for a solid, grimy and mean little film.
A sleazy, unflinching film that will make you want to take a shower afterwards.
Picture: Once again Severin does a fantastic job at providing fans with a pretty stellar looking picture. The movie is a noticeable brightness yet doesn't look overly processed or washed out. For the most part the print is sharp looking with only some minor artifacts present. Overall, a really nice looking presentation.
Sound: Born for Hell has a DTS 2.0 track. The film has a really nice clean track and dialogue, sound design and music comes through quite strong.
Extras: Born for Hell is loaded with some great extras. Included is: The Other Side of the Mirror (14mins) a New interview with lead actor Mathieu Carriere. A really engaging interview that is well worth checking out. Also included is: Nightmare in Chicago: Remembering the Richard Speck Murders w/Filmmakers John McNaughton (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer) and Gary Sherman (Vice Squad) (12mins) A fascinating look at Speck from two vet. Grindhouse filmmakers. Both filmmakers lived in Chicago in the same stomping ground as the infamous Speck, A New Kind of Crime: The Richard Speck Story w/Once Upon a Crime Podcaster Ester Ludlow (38mins) A second feature which gets in more detail with Speck and his ghastly crimes, Bombing here, shooting there: A Video Essay on Born for Hell by Filmmaker Chris O' Neill (17mins), Artist Joe Coleman on Speck (14mins), Inside the Odditorium with Joe Cole (9mins) Naked Massacre US Video Release Cut (85min) and rounding out the features is a rare Italian Trailer.