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Sand Hill presents

Michael Allred's G-Men from Hell (2000)

"Whose brains made this pattern on the wall?"- Lt. Langdon (Gary Busey)

Stars: William Forsythe, Tate Donovan, Bobcat Goldthwait, Barry Newman, Zach Galligan, Vanessa Angel
Other Stars: Paul Rodriguez, David Huddleston, Kari Wuhrer, Charles Fleischer, Gary Busey, Robert Goulet
Director: Christopher Coppola

Manufacturer: DNA
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, sexual content, language
Run Time: 01h:38m:14s
Release Date: 2004-06-29
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- BA-A- C+


DVD Review

Although big budget comics adaptations such as Spider-Man and Batman and Superman get the lion's share of notoriety, lesser-known comics can also make the transition successfully to the screen (see, e.g., Men in Black). One of the more obscure such adaptations of recent years is this film version of an incomplete strip by Michael Allred, best known for his comic, Madman.

Corrupt FBI agents Dean Crept (William Forsythe) and Mike Mattress (Tate Donovan) have been killed in a hit and sent to hell. Escaping with the help of a crystal stolen from the Devil (Robert Goulet), they make their way back to Earth and set up shop as detectives simultaneously trying to solve a crime, commit some good deeds so they can make it to heaven, and stay one step ahead of the vengeful demon. But when the bodies start dropping, cops Lt. Langdon (Gary Busey) and Dalton (Zach Galligan) get drawn into the investigation.

The film is inventive to a fault, cramming any number of off-the-wall concepts into its 98 minutes; indeed, it's practically overstuffed with enough material for three movies. There's constantly something new and bizarre on the screen, from the mysterious and inept crime-fighter Cheetah Man, who invariably shows up at crime scenes too late, to a demon sent to pursue the G-Men but gets distracted by the wealth and trappings of televangelism. Counterfeiting, genetic experiments, cloning, Satan's psychiatrist, essence transplants, miniaturization and more all take their spots against a shadowy noir setting with a four-color sensibility. The bizarreness is done entirely straight, which only emphasizes the campiness of the proceedings.

The cast is amazing for what this is: Forsythe is quite funny as the gruff and heartless Dean Crept, while Donovan plays off him beautifully. This picture amazingly features a role where Bobcat Goldthwait isn't simply annoying. Gary Busey is way out there as the unstable if not bad lieutenant, shoving his partner (Zach Galligan) around and threatening him with sadistic leather homosexual teasing. It seems as if Busey must only have been available for a short time, since he vanishes from the finale with only a lame explanation. Remote Control idol Kari Wuhrer is memorable as the sexpot secretary, but you just can't have any casting more inspired than Robert Goulet as Satan. He has a visibly great time with the part, almost but not quite taking it over the top.

Yet another Coppola scion, Christopher is responsible for the direction, and he manages some extremely striking visuals. The color and production design are excellent and evocative. But perhaps the best part of the film is the smoking hot jazz score by Greg De Belles, which sets the mood perfectly. The score would make it fun to watch even if it were a much worse movie. But thankfully, it's quite a hoot.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The full-frame picture appears from the compositions to be the original aspect ratio. Although there's a bit of aliasing, color is excellent as are the black levels. The neon glare that permeates the film is gorgeously realized. The visuals capture the bold linework of Allred's comics work quite nicely, and for the most part the transfer does them justice. It is a bit on the dark side, but that's appropriate thematically.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Surround track has decent surround activity. The clean tracks have excellent range and the dialogue is quite clear. The occasional explosions have a very nice impact to them. The score sounds terrific throughout, with nice immediacy and presence.

Audio Transfer Grade: A- 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 11 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Gangland, Control, The Backlot Murders, Redemption, Essence of Echos
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Michael and Laura Allred
Packaging: M-Lock
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. film to comic panel comparison
  2. Design gallery
Extras Review: Although there are a ton of extras on this release, they're unfortunately not of the highest quality. A commentary by creators Michael and Laura Allred is mostly devoted to identifying what's in the comic and what was new to the film. It's frankly pretty tedious. A short (5m:40s) interview with Allred covers a good deal more substance in its brief running time. A set of trailers complement galleries that compare the film to comic panels and artwork for the boxes and ad campaigns.

But that's not all. There's also a second feature film, written and directed by Allred (and starring him), Astroesque. This 1h:25m:35s film is mostly an oversized home movie, intended to work with his Red Rocket 7 comic book and accompanying music album. On its own, however, it's pretty incoherent, thanks to a poorly mixed soundtrack that features Allred's metal band and bad guitar improvisation at deafening levels. It's no fun trying to make out what's going on in long dialogue scenes that are drowned out by the inappropriate music at every turn. The film apparently has something to do with premonitory dreams of violence, guardian angels and kill-crazy survivalists, but that's about all I've been able to glean from it. The second half is almost entirely an extended chase sequence that goes nowhere. Unless you're an Allred devotee, this can safely be skipped.

Extras Grade: C+

Final Comments

A wild comic adaptation that has the primary fault of trying to do too much for one movie. The transfer's attractive, but the copious extras are mostly dispensable. I'd rather a soundtrack CD had been included.

Mark Zimmer 2004-06-23