In the era of modern horror, one good thing to count on when it comes to indie film makers is their purity. They tend to have grown up on horror, and as a result, understand it’s nuances. It allows them to see what the cliches’ are, then they set out to make a film that combines a representation and destruction of those cliches’. For Eddie Lengyel and Fright Teck Pictures, they used their film “Hellweek”, as a way to play out some of those standards to keep the bullheaded horror fan satisfied, but managed to kick some of them in their tired, old nutsack just enough to step outside of the box a bit.
Hellweek is a film that involves a few elements that will always lead to poisonous results: Asshole frat guys, stupid girls, and messed up urban legends. The story follows a group of frat brothers who are setting out to make the best of hazing week. They want to stay true to the meanness of what hazing is all about, but because of a little “accident” the prior year, their is some hesitancy on the part of a few members. The frat’s president is not one of them. J.J. (played all too convincingly at times, by Rob Jaeger) is, for all intensive purposes, a total fucking asshole. He’s the idea we all when we think of a frat boy, complete with the arrogance and inexplicably stupid little sayings. But, J.J. does know how to makes things happen and things do happen on the day of the big party. The plan is concocted to take all the new fraternity pledges to this abandon warehouse where a family, who have old business ties to the building, supposedly still haunt and kill anyone who dares cross their paths. It’s a good enough urban legend to scare the shit out of some drunk 18-20 year olds, and the trap is set. Trouble is, no one went to check the place out formally, so by dumping off the pledges they’re setting them up for death because the family does still exist and they do fucking kill every single person that crosses their path. So, on the day of the big party the usual chaos ensues. Lots of drunk people saying obnoxious things to other drunk people, hoping to bed them. As this carries on, J.J. manages to pick a fight with his girlfriend (who’s kind of a bitch), fuck another girl, and hit on his girlfriend’s friend (who is also kind of a bitch). Say what you want about a guy like this, dude was making shit happen. Eventually, the drunkenness reaches it’s peak in people humping and passing out. Two of the black-out, drunk pledges are discovered by J.J. and his frat brother cohort, Wyatt (Steve Tomin). The 2 drunks are loaded up, and dumped off in the warehouse. Being that the family is very much alive, this sets off a series of events that will lead to a lot of craziness, a lot of screaming, and a whoooole lotta dead college kids.
Watching a film like Hellweek will make the lifelong horror fan feel nostalgic because it’s a reminder of the good ol’ days of the slasher era. This would be where Lengyel was able to apply some the well known concepts of these types of films, and make them work. The evil family wields chainsaws and wear weird masks. Both of those elements can be linked back to classics like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre, “Spider Baby”, or “Blood Sucking Freaks”. The drunken college kid aspect can be linked to any number of films ranging from a few “Friday the 13th” sequels to lesser known flicks like “Graduation Day” or “Pieces”. They’re concepts that are as subtle as a ball bat to the fucking head, but they’re tried & true staples of the genre that any fan would be glad to see. However, these same ideas that we see in most slasher flicks are also Lengyel’s opportunity to take on what’s being overused. Example: As the film starts to develop its characters, the viewer figures out very quickly that they hate everyone they’ve seen. So, when we meet the family, finally, it’s a welcome opportunity to see some blood fly. I don’t doubt that the film maker was very aware of what he was putting out there with these individuals. These characters weren’t meant to be likable. They’re a representation of what society views as “bad people” who get what they deserve. I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with this, but I do know that this idea represents the protagonist and antagonist in a very strong, yet traditional manner. Did these people deserve what they got? That’s the real philosophical question, isn’t it? These kids are total assholes who I was glad to see go down in a miserable manner, but I also can look at this logically and know that we were all like that, in some capacity, during our younger years. The long and short of it, is that Eddie Lengyel did a great job of using the two sides of conventional slasher films and make them work for him.
Hellweek isn’t the perfect film. There are some continuity issues, and some story lines that could’ve been edited out (namely the one involving the stripper and her boyfriend) but I know there were also issues with keeping a consistent editor throughout the post-production process. The acting is decent, but not perfect. Truth be told, I don’t watch horror films for academy worthy performances. I watch them because they’re fun to watch and Hellweek is a lot of fun. It’s one of those movies that has a “Sleepaway Camp” quality to it. It’s fun, the characters are nuts, and the gore is plentiful and well executed. You’re going to get a lot of entertainment from this film. Fright Teck Pictures is another one of those Ohio-based companies that I’m starting to fall in love with and not unlike the Compound Pictures guys, they’re doing nothing but improving their craft (and I can attest to that, having seen the trailer for their next offering, “Voodoo Rising”, which we will be covering on here) with each release. If you’re a fan of classic slasher flicks that carry a bit of a modern twist, then Hellweek will give you the jolt you’re looking for. It has a way of combining an R-rated college comedies with straight-ahead horror films. I love the fact that (again) their is a living, breathing indie film maker in Eddie Lengyel that wants to be an original and not rely on pandering or looking to do cash in on remake bullshit. It’s guys like him, The Campbell Bros., and JimmyO Burril that are keeping the horror community thriving. Look for more to come from these guys, but indulge in Hellweek while you wait.
Tags: Blood, Blood Sucking Freaks, Eddie Lengyel, film makers, Friday the13th, Fright Teck Pictures, Gore, Graduation Day, Hellweek, Horror, Indie, JimmyO Burril, Ohio, Pieces, Rob Jaeger, Spider Baby, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Campbell Bros., Voodoo Rising