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Hellbent: Limited Edition (1988) - Blu-ray Review

4 beersVinegar Syndrome isn’t through with writer/director Richard Casey just yet.  Hot off the heels of their “loverly” HD handling of Horror House on Highway 5 comes his second feature, Hellbent.  This punkish fever dream is awash with neon splashes and a hyper-realized set design that seems almost impossible to achieve on the film’s tiny budget.  Yet, here it is as one punk bandleader sells his soul in favor of fame and spirals out of control upon the rain-soaked streets of Los Angeles. 

Starring Phillip Ward, Lyn Levand, David Marciano, Cheryl Slean, James Orr, and Brad Slaight, this punk rock sleaze-o-matic film’s take on Faust is deliciously dripping with mayhem.  It spirals out in an almost documentary-like fashion.  In an early scene, one of the son of the devil’s goons collects an owed soul by firing into a crowd of Christmas window shoppers.  He’s wearing a stocking hat and a Santa beard and, sitting behind the handles of a speeding motorcycle; is able to whip out a machine gun and go to town. 

Ho. Ho. No. No. 

In this gum-chewing and gonzo-baiting mode, one black-clad manager named Tanas (study that spelling) targets LA’s underground rock scene and acquires one tortured soul after another, promising them overnight success.  We aren’t always tripping the light fantastic; however, as one widowed woman – who Tanas’ industrial solvent huffing goons erased from existence all too early – takes REVENGE as her middle name and starts hunting evil out of existence.  Not before Tanas gets his fingers into another local musician’s mess, though.  Our poor Lemmy never stood a chance.

Hellbent is a horror-themed drama that spouts existentialism while the head-melting music of Trotsky Icepick, Angry Samoans, Drowning Pool, Gone and the Angst plays in the background.  It never once pogo’s itself into a corner, though.  Cheap and moody, Hellbent is the cinematic angry fuck of the cellophane century that no one saw coming.  It exists out of time itself.  Like a mind-altering dream, the neon-driven events depicted throughout the movie are often alien and wonderful, but always offbeat. 

Complete with the out of control rock star who refers to himself in third person and a motley crew of goons, this b-grade narrative dives headfirst into the weird and wacky world of handguns and cough syrup addictions with enough style to leave any competitors completely strung-out and useless.  There is no second place.  There is only Hellbent.  Our pop culture gets punked and pulped by Casey’s surreal lens – which previously only aided the Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult videos he shot – and, in this maddening tale, announces itself as parable. 

Come and taste the Ed Wood-inspired rainbow with Casey’s Hellbent, now available on blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome.  This release is limited to 2,000 units and is currently only available on VinegarSyndrome.com and through select retail partners.


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Hellbent: Limited Edition (1988) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
88 mins
: Richard Casey
Richard Casey
Phil Ward, Lyn Levand, David Marciano
: Drama
Memorable Movie Quote: "I'm not sure we're ready for a big time manager like you."
Vinegar Syndrome
Official Site: www.inegarsyndrome.com
Release Date:
No theatrical release
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
September 27, 2016
Synopsis: A bandleader whose career is nosediving makes a deal with the owner of a bar to sell his soul for success.


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Hellbent: Limited Edition (1988) - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Exclusive / Limited Edition 2,000 copies / Blu-ray + DVD

Home Video Distributor: Vinegar Syndrome
Available on Blu-ray
- September 27, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English SDH
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD-50, 1 DVD); DVD copy
Region Encoding: Region A, B

Limited to 2,000 units, this release from Vinegar Syndrome has been scanned and restored in 2k from 35mm original camera negative.  The results are crystalline and stunning.  Jaws will drop to see just how seedy and swept-challenged the locations of the movie were at the time of its filming.  From the junked-up bars to the low-rent apartments, Hellbent is full of the nitty and the gritty.  The streets are deep in soaked shadows and the neon lights are pretty, pretty.



  • Casey opens up about his time on Hellbent with a stunningly on-point feature length commentary.

Special Features:

The man with the microphone is back.  Casey and his co-conspirators are interviewed about their role in the making of this cult classic.  Everyone acknowledges its influence.  Everyone participates with the same microphone – no matter the location – in front of him or her.  Also included with the release is the commentary track from Casey and Cody Brown’s original artwork, with reversible sleeve. 

  • A Little Chaos


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Hellbent: Limited Edition (1988) - Blu-ray Review