Debbie Rochon presents a primetime television series event thought to be forever lost from the consequences of the utmost mysterious reasons, but buried beneath the Earth in a 6-foot grave laid to rest three surviving and untarnished episodes of Hell Town. Only episodes 7, 8, and 9 from the second season survived to tell the chilling, melodramatic macabre tale of Hell Town’s high school students in the throes of assorted teenage angst and in the epicenter of murder. One by one, the Letter Jacket Killer strikes the Hell Town’s fame football players, slaughtering them methodically, and ripping the embroidered letter from the victim’s team jacket. In the midst of dramatic backstabbing and popularity bouts, a crazed killer lives amongst the student body and deducting whom the killer might be is no easy task with motives stemmed from raging teen hormones and unquenchable greedy thirst that can mask any unasked villain.
Reading this review’s “Hell Town” introduction synopsis might have you scratching your temple wondering if you’ve somehow, someway, missed the small screen series that is “Hell Town.” Don’t worry, you sure enough didn’t. “Hell Town” is a faux series, the ambitious brainchild of Steve Balderson and then 15 year-old Elizabeth Spear, that aims to mock the daytime soap operas and the high school melodramas of life growing up, peppering the spoof with moments of slasher-genre attributes that pleasantly tone down the over exaggerated high school trope characters while, in the same instance, not diluting the ridiculously natured narratives, and their far reaching tangents, of the soaps.
“Hell Town’s” hostess Debbie Rochon mirrors a likeness to late-night TV ghoul Elvira sans the heavy theatrical makeup, sleazy-horror themed wardrobe, and large bosom. Rochon is in her true and natural dark humor state by thriving with a lively and grotesque-themed conversation in the introductions for each of the three episodes. The episodes themselves are smartly written to follow the episodes’ logic with an incorporated “previously on” background introduction from “season 1” and bits and pieces from scenes of the first six episodes of “season 2” which helped the story organically filter into the intricacies of the viewers mind, plugging up just enough of the story’s gaps where it needed to continue. Though by the time episode 9 comes to the climatic moment, that moment where the killer is revealed and the final showdown ensues, director Balderson writes in the archetypes of a soap opera and director Spear unleashes the adolescent angst to prolong “Hell Town’s” antics in a fabricated preview for episode ten, an episode that’ll never see the light of day from it’s claimed “vanished” existence.
Schematically, “Hell Town” is an anthology of sorts. A low rent anthology that speaks highly of the outlandishly creative and inventive crew behind it working hard on a microbudget production, especially with the keen eye of cinematographer Daniel Stephens. Casted perfectly with relatively unknown actors and actress to pull off an elaborate fake television series with such enthusiasm and confidence in their performances, the fictitious Hell Town’s fantasy world becomes one messed up reality. The only hiccup, if unintentional, was the noticeable cast change of the character Laura, who was originally portrayed by the thin and broad shouldered Beckijo Neill, and replaced, as a “special gust star,” with an opposite body image and fierce stage-like actress Jennifer Grace. To not wonder too much off topic, “Hell Town’s” cast comprises of actors and actresses whom run together in films before such as Matt Weight, Amanda Deibert, Pleasant Gehman, and Chris Pudio in Balderson’s 1014 film “Occupying Ed.” Toss in the recently discovered talents of Blake Cordell, Ben Windholz, and the super bitchy sassiness charm of Krysten Day and, by golly, you got yourself a horror comedy of self discovery.
Dikenga Films brings this independently funded 2015 indiegogo.com production to fruition that’s unique, purposefully corny, and unstable in all types of ways. With twists and turns and a sizable amount of gawky teenage anxiety, the direction of “Hell Town” will keep you guessing around every corner and make you feel good about your socially awkward teen years. I’m unable to review and critique the video and audio quality with a DVD-R screener, but I can say that the vibrant, natural coloring, from an only slightly noticeable trembling camera, greatly displays the triple episode drama saga and the audio’s crystal clarity shows no sign of distortion. In conclusion, “Hell Town” doesn’t quite feel like a series event, but dotes well as a three-act miniseries spawned out from raw flamboyant talent in front and behind the camera.