Mr. Hell (2006)

Starring Tracy Scoggins, Pavan Grover, Danny Kamin, Amy Morris, Edwin Neal, Larry Cashion

Directed by Rob McKinnon

A serial killer named Mr. Hell… A girl that constantly refers to her scientist father as Dr. Dad… An opportunistic villainess named Miss Horney… Let there be no about it – Mr. Hell is one seriously dumb slasher movie. Even a dumb slasher movie can be entertaining, but Mr. Hell has a wildly inconsistent tone that shifts from straightforward horror to brain-dead stupidity whenever it feels like it with no regard to the tale it’s trying to tell. The film seemed to be making itself up as it went along and constantly had me asking rhetorical questions like, “If they’re in a toxic waste facility, then where the hell did that chainsaw come from?” and “Am I really supposed to feel sympathy for people mourning over the loss of others that were planning to steal a bioweapon to sell to terrorists?”

This is the tale of Harold Eugene Loveless (Initials HEL – hence his nickname Mr. Hell), a serial killer we’re told had a 160 IQ, was charming like Ted Bundy and invisible like Jeffrey Dahmer, whatever the hell that last part means. The Mr. Hell you see in the movie doesn’t seem particularly smart, charming, or cunning. He’s just a white trash mass murderer flying under the radar as a maintenance worker at a toxic waste facility.

Mr. Hell opens with a prologue set 14 years earlier. This clunky prologue chugs along for nearly 25 minutes and is actually interrupted by the film’s opening credits. Much of this prologue deals with foul-mouthed Tyler, the trouble-making young daughter of, as she calls him, “Dr. Dad,” who runs the toxic waste facility that she’s allowed to run amok about freely including crawling through vents into restricted areas. Here she runs afoul of handyman Loveless, leading to him killing her father and, ultimately, his own demise in which he’s disintegrated by toxic waste. That well-executed death scene is easily the highlight of the film.

“Mr. Hell,” as he would be dubbed by the media, was no ordinary serial killer. He was big into the whole Satanism thing and working with the old adage that the eyes are the windows to the soul, he’d cut his victims’ eyes out, which he referred to as harvesting souls, and kept them for himself. He also wore an eyeball ring that apparently gave him supernatural powers despite looking like a prize you could get out of a box of Cracker Jacks. Don’t ask me to explain any of this, as the film never really tried to. What matters is that 14 years later, as the toxic waste facility is being prepped for a permanent shutdown, Mr. Hell will resurrect from a vat of the very toxic waste that dissolved him.

So now it’s 14 years later and Tyler has grown up to be an emotionally scarred young woman working as a security guard at the very toxic waste facility where her father was murdered and she had that fatal confrontation with the infamous serial killer. Other employees at the sparsely populated industrial waste dump include a Spicolli-type surfer dude gate security guard, two bumbling waste clean-up men so stupid one continues to eat a snack even after toxic green sludge has dripped on it, and her portly boss that goes from being her friend to cruelly ribbing her about her father’s murder to physically threatening her for insubordination and back again – what a great guy. Also arriving at the facility that day is a young government official assigned to oversee the final stages of the plant’s shutdown and to provide Tyler with a potential romance.

If the people working there didn’t seem ragtag enough, along comes an equally ragtag band of mercenaries for hire led by one Dominique Horney (pronounced Hor-Nay, although that doesn’t stop characters from making the obvious jokes), the young fed guy’s boss who chain smokes cigarillos while waving around a golden gun and demanding the key to the secret room in the facility containing the only remaining vial of a bioweapon described as a military manufactured flesh eating virus that makes Ebola look like chicken pox. Naturally, the plan is to sell the vial to the highest bidding terrorist organization. Why she needed over a half dozen heavily armed thugs to help her steal this from a facility so poorly guarded I’m willing to bet I could knock the place over with a 2×4 with a nail in it is another one of those rhetorical questions.

If that bioweapon ever fell into the wrong hands it could prove catastrophic. If only a growling, drooling, monosyllabic, hippie-haired, Brad Douriff look-a-like, satanic serial killer would rematerialize from a bubbling vat of toxic sludge for no particular reason, then maybe there’ll be hope for us yet. And so he does – HOORAY! Oh wait, I think he’s still supposed to be the bad guy. But most of the people he proceeds to kill are armed goons looking to make millions by stealing and selling a weapon of mass destruction. Who am I supposed to be rooting against?

One would think that the return of Mr. Hell would make the film more interesting. One would be wrong. Despite the numerous slayings, the second half of the film falls completely flat and not just because the movie has pacing issues. I didn’t care who lived or died whether they were innocent victims or equally dangerous terrorists, and I sure as hell didn’t care about the guy doing the killings. Mr. Hell himself is one of the lamest supernatural psycho slashers to come along in quite a while. Am I really supposed to be impressed by or scared by a guy that’s a dead ringer for Weird Al Yankovic’s UHF sidekick whose main personality traits are making unintelligible noises and sticking his tongue out?

Oh, did I forget to mention that the police never found what Mr. Hell did with all the eyes he cut out way back in his mortal serial killing days? Wouldn’t it be so convenient if they all just happened to be inside of a container that nobody ever found within the toxic waste facility where he once worked, and wouldn’t it be even more convenient if the only way to send Mr. Hell back to hell would be for Tyler to find this container and destroy it?

Mr. Hell is a movie that seemingly has the mentality of the Jack Frost films but lacks the willingness to fully commit to being outright silly. It’s stupid all right – hell, two of the terrorists find time from staging a bioweapon heist at a toxic waste facility to strip down and have sex – but the tone changes from silly to serious and back again with no warning or continuity. And I’m not entirely sure if the acting was truly terrible or if it was more a case of the bad dialogue the actors were often required to say. I’d guess a little of both.

While I admit that the terrorist aspect provided a different twist on the usual sort of victims one finds in a slasher movie of this sort, again, are we really expected to feel remorse when one terrorist cries over her slain terrorist boyfriend? The execution is simply hideous. Hardcore slasher fans might be more forgiving of Mr. Hell because it does deliver on numerous gory deaths, but as I’ve always decried when it comes to slasher films, there has to be something more behind it than just slashings, impalings, and dismemberments.

Mr. Hell might have been more entertaining if the makers of the film had managed to make up their mind whether or not they were trying to make an intentionally bad movie. The pacing is inconsistent, the tone is inconsistent, the acting is inconsistent, the characters are inconsistent… the only thing not inconsistent is the aggravation I felt watching it.

1 ½ out of 5

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Jon Condit

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