REVIEW: HIDEOUS!

CAST

Michael Citriniti (Demonic Toys 2)
Rhonda Griffin (Deformed Monsters)
Mel JOhnson Jr (Total Recall)
Jacquelien Lovell (Head of The Family)
Tracie May (Shatterd Lies)

Meet Miss Belinda Yost (Tracie May), a broker for…biological oddities, shall we say. You see, there is a global network of rich eccentrics who will pay through the nose for a jar of formaldehyde with a deformed mutant in it, anything from an oversized flatworm to teratological nightmares stretching the limits of human abnormality. Recently, Miss Yost has come into possession of one of the latter. She offers it to Mr. Napoleon Lazar (Mel Johnson, Jr.) for a sickeningly hefty sum, including the caveat that he has to buy a quarter of a million dollars’ worth of pickled punks from her every year for the next ten years. Due to the uniqueness of this particular pickled punk, he accepts.

However, in so doing, she violates a first-refusal agreement she’d signed with Dr. Emilio Lorca (Michael Citriniti), for which the good doctor had paid a great deal. As a bit of “insurance,” Lorca had bribed Yost’s bubbly and ditzy blonde secretary Elvina (Rhonda Griffin) to report on any dealings of Yost’s that would violate said first-refusal agreement. Lorca’s henchwoman, the beautiful, charming, and nearly nude Sheila (Jacqueline Lovell, who had previously appeared in pornographic films under the name Sara St. James), is sent to waylay Lazar and steal the specimen. To do so, she hijacks him at gunpoint wearing leather hotpants, hiking boots, and a gorilla mask. Not a stitch more. In winter.

Enraged, Lazar and Yost hire Detective Kantor (Jerry O’Donnell) to track down the “goober,” as Kantor calls it. A quick conversation with Elvina reveals her duplicity, and Kantor, Yost, Lazar and Elvina take off for Lorca’s castle. Lorca takes affront at Lazar’s accusations of thievery, and closes the big steel shutters covering every exterior door and window of the castle, sealing everyone inside. However, a problem quickly arises. The new goober survived it’s abortion, trip through the sewers, and unceremonious dunking in formaldehyde, and is still alive. And has similarly imparted new life to three of the other fetal freaks. Terrified by the sound of the steel shutters closing, the freaks want to leave, and are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that freedom…Hideous-1997-Rhonda-GriffinThe film is, while thoroughly laced with horror, a strong black comedy. Much of the humor is in the interactions between the fully human members of the cast — Really, most of them are freaks in their own way. Lazar and Lorca for their obsessive freaks-in-bottles collecting; Yost for enabling it; Sheila for the whole “sit on tables in an open leather vest and leather hotpants” schtick she’s got going on; and even Elvina is almost inhumanly ditzy. Amidst this sea of lunatics, Detective Kantor sticks out like a sore thumb, playing straight man to the crazies.  The audience tags along with Kantor as he tries to comprehend the goober-collectors, the goober-broker, and the just-plain-goobers. The goobers themselves are marvelous, dripping slime and less-identifiable substances. Each one is original and unique, and their roles are pretty well-developed. The newest goober, a four-eyed, two-nosed, two-mouthed lump of tissue, is the brains of the operation; the other three are extensions solely of its will, acting under telepathic command.

The film is a little leisurely in it’s set-up, but once it gets going it moves along at a brisk pace, never letting up, and in all honesty the ending comes a little abruptly. The first time I saw it I said, “Wait, no, that can’t be it! There must be more…no…wait…yeah, most of the cast is dead, and the survivors are driving off into the sunset, must be the end.” It genuinely leaves you wanting more, and while it hints at a sequel, it’s been thirteen years. I’m guessing no real HIDEOUS 2 is on the horizon, though Dr. Lorca does appear in DEMONIC TOYS 2.

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