Hellmaster (1992) reviews and overview

  
NEW! Rate this movie! Click on a star to vote
[Total: 25   Average: 2.3/5]

Hellmaster is a 1992 American horror feature film about a psychotic college professor who uses unwitting students as laboratory rats, injecting them with a drug that mutates them into killers. The movie was written and directed by Douglas Schulze (Mimesis: Nosferatu; Mimesis: Night of the Living Dead; Dark Fields; Dark Heaven). The Dolphin Entertainment Group production stars John Saxon, David Emge, Amy Raasch, Edward Stevens and Jeff Rector.

Originally titled Them, but subsequently re-edited with new footage added and released straight to video and cable several years after its initial completion as Hellmaster. It is also known as Soulstealer.

Vinegar Syndrome released a region free Blu-ray + DVD combo on July 30, 2019. Order via Amazon.com

Newly scanned and restored in 4k from its 35mm original negative
Original Theatrical Version as Them
Director’s recut version as Hellmaster
Director commentary for both versions
Creating Reality – an interview with cinematographer Michael Goi
Conceptual artwork gallery
Behind-the-scenes stills gallery
Archival locations featurette
Reversible cover artwork
English SDH subtitles

Reviews [click links to read more]:

” …this film bears many of the traits that have become synonymous with low-budget horror cinema. The result is a film that often exceeds its limited resources. And nowhere is this clearer, how the visuals exploit every inch of every frame for greatest effect. Another strength of the visuals is its vivid color palette that’s reinforced by the tremendous amount of detail that went into this film’s set design.” 10K Bullets

Hellmaster is a total disaster in every way imaginable. If the clunky acting doesn’t cause your skin to melt off the bone, Schulze’s inability to tell a concise, coherent story probably will. It’s a technical nightmare, a poorly-scripted, impossibly stupid foray into pseudo-intellectual horror.” Bloody Good Horror

“It’s a convoluted picture from director Douglas Schulze, but he has a visual plan for the effort, working with cinematographer Michael Goi to make the endeavor as striking as a low-budget movie can possibly be. Hellmaster has a lot of problems, but it’s engaging as horror eye candy, giving fans plenty of blood and strange sights to hold their attention as Schulze fights to explore a lukewarm plot.” Blu-ray.com

“While the make-up effects aren’t necessarily weak, the creatures just aren’t all that engaging. There is definite importance put on the nightstick/sickle hybrid that Razorface carries around, but it’s just not an intriguing weapon, nor is it used in visual compelling ways. If I can give Hellmaster one compliment it is that the film does feature its share of nice, gooey deaths.” Horror and Sons

“The story is simple and works best when it focuses on this central frame. Schulze runs into trouble with an abundance of subplots that clutter the story – at times to a full stop. He has a good eye for composition and is fortunate to work alongside cinematographer Michael Goi (American Horror Story), who injects the film with some great visuals, but the end product is a victim of sluggish editing and some questionable acting.” Horror DNA

“I love these kind of awkward, wooden efforts and even John Saxon seems stilted at times, which again, is still fun to watch. So while the lines might not be that quotable or wild, the performances keep the entertainment value reasonable. On the craziness front, the mutants, the strange narrative, the wooden performances, and basic weirdness some points, but the movie never really goes fully off the deep end.” Marc Fusion

“Cinematographer Michael Goi has taken some phantasmagorical lighting cues from Dario Argento’s Suspiria, and Schulze brings to mind the same stylish proficiency as Don Coscarelli and Sam Raimi. There are some unique touches such as the J emblem favored by the chief villain, a fascistic perversion of the sign of the cross, as well as the three-pronged syringe/claw and self-dosing catheter which are strapped to his arms.” Mind of Frames

“Cluttered with many character, back stories, and baffling editing choices, this film is best approached without any attempt to follow the plot at all. The colorful Argento-inspired lighting is pretty, the gore and makeup effects look great in HD, and the atrocious acting provides more than its share of amusement.” Mondo Digital

“The story has interesting ideas – it toys with some of Nietzsche’s philosophies and plays with the concept of his that could have played into the different characters’ own personal belief systems. Moments where the film goes for a more ‘high concept’ approach are intriguing and noteworthy – but then it all gets buried in strange plot shifts, messy writing and that bad, bad acting.” Rock! Shock! Pop!

“This is an uncomfortable film as many of the ghouls are children. Our protagonists must defend themselves, which will include killing the child ghouls. The gore is also intense, as director Douglas Schulze held nothing to the imagination.” Zisi Emporium for B Movies

Choice dialogue:

“Don’t leave like this, Drake. Splitting up gets people killed!”

 

Cast and characters:

John Saxon … Professor Jones
David Emge … Robert
Amy Raasch … Shelly O’Deane
Edward Stevens … Drake Destry
Robert Dole … Professor Damon
Jeff Rector … Jesse Jameson
Sarah Barkoff … Little Girl
Todd Tesen … Adam O’Deane
Eric Kingston … Bobby Jones
Neil Savedes … Joey Jones
Suzanne Labatt … Moon Jones
Ron Asheton … Mama Jones
Melissa Zafarana … Tracy
Jim Riethmiller … Harold (as Jim Reithmiller)
Janet Linck … Andrea

Filming locations:

Pontiac, Michigan

Technical details:

  • 96 minutes
  • Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

MOVIES and MANIA provides an independent aggregated range of previews, opinions and reviews from a wide variety of credited sources, plus our own reviews, in one handy web location. We rely solely on the very minor income generated by affiliate links and internet ads to stay online and expand. Please support us by not blocking ads on our site. And if you haven't already, why not scroll back up to the top of this post and rate this movie by clicking a star? Thank you.

Leave your comment here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.