Cult Movie Retrospective: Hellhole


Hellhole Movie Poster

Directed by Pierre De Moro, 1985’s Hellhole is an exploitation film that holds a very special place in the dark, dark corners of our bitter hearts – right beside Eureeka’s Castle and The Garbage Pail Kids (sorry, random childhood references).

Fans of women in prison flicks, you’re in the right place. This little slice of cinematic sleaze is brimming with tons of gratuitous skin, lesbian sexcapades laced with stolen lab drugs, and of course, an unhinged femme doctor that performs inhuman experiments on disobedient inmates in a dark and dreary boiler room. Now does that sound great or what? You’re damn straight it does. And whether it is intentional or not (probably the latter), this film even manages to elicit quite a few laughs with some well placed expletives and some amusing quips from the players.

Judy Landers Hellhole

Hellhole Prison

Let’s get to the story: Having witnessed her mother’s brutal death, Susan (Judy Landers, Dr. Alien) gets amnesia from a fall while being pursued by the killer, Silk (Ray Sharkey, The Idolmaker). Awakening in Ashland Sanitarium, she is once again terrorized by Silk, disguised as an orderly. To pry an incriminating secret from Susan’s brain, Silk forms an uneasy alliance with Dr. Fletcher (Mary Woronov, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School), a psychotic scientist who has been testing a new lobotomy technique, using helpless inmates as her guinea pigs. These vicious experiments are carried out in the “Hellhole,” a torture den awaiting Susan as its next victim. Featuring an all-star cast of cult film stars including Marjoe Gortner (Starcrash, The Food Of The Gods), Richard Cox (Cruising), Terry Moore (Mighty Joe Young), Edy Williams (Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls), Robert Z’Dar (Maniac Cop) and Dyanne Thorne (Ilsa: She Wolf Of The SS).

So that’s the gist of it, and as the plot shambles along the run time we are given copious amounts of full frontal nudity, bad dialogue, more nudity, drugs, shoulder pads, more nudity and bad acting. Those expecting more depth to their story, social commentaries or other hogwash like that, look elsewhere because you aren’t going to find a lick of that in Hellhole. It feels like a deranged midday movie that would never see the light of midday, except for in the locked room of some horny teenager who hasn’t been enlightened by the “conveniences” of internet.

Indeed, Hellhole is chock-full of titillating moments, particularly when it comes to irregular lesbianism. While Susan is busy taking an unauthorized tour of Hellhole (where she finds a world full of steamy pipes and rattling chains), the place’s goons are busy busting up some equally unauthorized instances of girl-on-girl action. Two gals are caught naked together inhaling amyl nitrate in their room, another two take a mud bath together (one of the actresses is credited as “mud girl”), and one of the women from the aforementioned lesbian encounter is found sniffing glue with a slender brunette, who is credited as “jacuzzi girl.” Since it was the jacuzzi girl’s first transgression involving unlawful cunnilingus, Dr. Fletcher doesn’t send her to Hellhole, but instead invites her to take a soak in her private jacuzzi. While she’s soaking, a kimono-wearing Dr. Fletcher coyly offers up the shapeliness of her right leg as a gift to her newfound friend. It’s nutter butters. Needless to say, Dr. Fletcher is a freak.

Hellhole Doctor

Hellhole Needle

In short, this film has all the ingredients for a provoking WIP flick mixed with that endearing ’80s delivery that makes for one hell (no pun intended) of an enjoyable trash gem. Where are these types of films nowadays? Nowhere, we tell you, nowhere! That is exactly what makes them so spectacular.

Hellhole is in no way perfect, but it’s entertainment in its purest form. If you’re looking for a silly and amusing piece of cinematic camp, you can’t go wrong with this one. Definitely a recommended watch.

Share your thoughts on this forgotten gem in the comment section below.

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