Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Scott Elrod, Amanda Brooks, James A. Woods, Adam Butcher, Ben Cross
Directed by Ricky Schroder
Ancient Greece: the royal wedding between lovebirds Kleitos (vanilla generi-hunk Scott Elrod) and Demetria (Amanda Brooks, determined to prove her lifeless performance in Dragon Wars was not just the fault of an inept Korean filmmaker) takes a tragic turn when the bride-to-be is poisoned by a jealous rival. Demetria now finds herself imprisoned in the underworld where she walks around an awful lot looking more confused than frightened. The evil god of the Underworld, Hades, dressed in his finest Rancor Monster Trainer attire, wants to keep Demetria as his own personal virgin love slave.
With the blessing of Demetria’s kingly father (Ben Cross, long removed from his Chariots of Fire glory days), Kleitos embarks on a treacherous rescue mission into the Underworld that could end in his and a few loyal comrades-in-arms, including his Greek god know-it-all scholarly wimp of a kid brother, being trapped in an afterlife of eternal torment.
This is the sort of movie that Ray Harryhausen could make in his sleep. I wish he would watch Hellhounds; the film is so boring it would probably put him to sleep, and during that period he might take me up on that previous sentence. This is also the same type of fantasy-adventure-horror hybrid that “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” and “Xena: Warrior Princess” pulled off with considerably more enthusiasm and excitement on a weekly basis. To watch Hellhounds is to wonder if director Ricky Schroder (yes, that Ricky Schroder!) or anyone else involved on the production side had ever seen a Harryhausen movie or a single episode of “Hercules” and “Xena” … or any sword & sandal fantasy film for that matter. Hellhounds should have been titled “Lack of the Titans” because it lacks everything that makes a Greek mythology movie fun to watch.
Bad actors in togas walk to the Underworld, and then they walk about the Underworld. Confrontations that require more physicality than mere walking are few and far between. Locating the princess in this cavernous afterlife on this quest that was hyped up as allegedly perilous proves surprisingly simple. Then they return to the surface world to walk around some more. An annoyed Hades stands around and orders his canine minions to go after them. A few brief sword fights and fleeing from the brief appearances of the titular hellhounds are the only times when any of these characters appear to even break a sweat.
I won’t point fingers at the screenwriters because I know the film was produced in part by RHI Entertainment, and given my experience watching their contributions to the Sci-Fi Channel’s canon, it would appear they mandate screenwriters adhere to a strict policy of keeping their films as simplistically formulaic as possible in order to guarantee maximum blandness. After sitting through this latest dog of theirs, I’m strongly considering boycotting any future films that I know RHI had a hand in the production of outside of merely serving as a distributor. I’ll take a poorly made b-movie that makes me roll my eyes over a dull workmanlike production so hopelessly banal it makes my eyes glaze over.
As for the lame title creatures, Hades’ non-three-headed canine minions are abysmally computer animated hounds with saber-toothed fangs and glowing eyes. A pack of satanic Marmadukes would have been more frightening.
0 out of 5
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