Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Born for Hell – Severin Films (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: France/Italy/West Germany/Canada, 1976
Director: Denis Héroux
Writers: F.G. Ranger, Denis Héroux, Clenn Wood
Cast: Mathieu Carrière, Debra Berger, Christine Boisson, Myriam Boyer, Leonora Fani, Ely Galleani, Carole Laure, Eva Mattes, Andrée Pelletier

Release Date: July 20th, 2021
Approximate Running Times: 91 Minutes 38 Seconds (Theatrical Cut), 85 Minutes 43 Seconds (Naked Massacre: U.S. video release cut)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Both Versions)
Rating: R
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English (Both Versions), DTS-HD Mono French (Theatrical Cut)
Subtitles: English SDH (Both Versions)
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $34.95

"a disturbed Vietnam vet drifter (Mathieu Carrière of MALPERTUIS and BILITIS fame) brutalizes a dorm full of student nurses." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 3.5/5 (Both Versions)

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "scanned in 2K from an uncut 35mm print discovered in The National Archives of Canada."

Born for Hell comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 44.1 GB

Feature: 23.7 GB (Theatrical Cut), 17.8 GB (Naked Massacre: U.S. video release Cut)

The source used for the theatrical cut is in good shape and any source related shortcomings are for the most part not intrusive. Image clarity looks stronger in brighter scenes, which is unfortunate since a large part of the film takes place at night. Though colors fare well, there are instances where colors fluctuate. Black levels are best described as serviceable, there are some noticeable instances of black crush. That said, at least grain remains intact.

The source used for the extended cut titled Naked Massacre quality wise is similar to theatrical cut's source.

Audio: 4/5 (Both Versions)

The theatrical cut comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and a DTS-HD mono mix in French. For this review I only listened to the English language track. Though this track sounds clear and balanced, its limited range wise. The extended cut comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and this track is on par with the theatrical cut’s English language track. Both versions come with removable English SDH subtitles. 


Extras for this release include an Italian trailer for Born for Hell (2 minutes 58 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with artist Joe Coleman titled Artist Joe Coleman on Speck (14 minutes 21 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a video essay by filmmaker Chris O’Neill titled Bombing Here, Shooting There (14 minutes 2 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with podcaster Esther Ludlow who discusses Richard Speck titled A New Kind of Crime (38 minutes 20 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with local filmmakers John McNaughton and Gary Sherman titled Nightmare In Chicago: Remembering the Richard Speck Crime Spree (12 minutes 52 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with actor Mathieu Carrière titled The Other Side of the Mirror (14 minutes 14 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles) and Naked Massacre the U.S. video release cut of Born for Hell (85 Minutes 43 Seconds, 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC, DTS-HD mono English with removable English SDH subtitles).


Born for Hell is a film with two identities that never merge. On one side it's a film about a country besieged by terror and on the other side it's a story about a psychopath serial killer.

Though Born for Hell uses the political turmoil that ravaged Northern Ireland in the 1970’s as a backdrop for this film’s narrative. The way which the political elements weave into the narrative is never fully convincing and these scenes feel forced.

Then there’s the way Born for Hell ineffectively uses a real life serial killer named Richard Speck's story that further hampers an already weakly constructed narrative. Ultimately, Born for Hell would have been a more effective film if it focused more on the killer.

Though, the creative talent behind Born for Hell was trying to make an statement film about human nature and violence. Along the way their message gets drowned out by Born for Hell more exploitative elements.

Born for Hell makes its way to Blu-ray via a strong release from Severin Films that comes with two versions of the film and a wealth of extra content. 

Written by Michael Den Boer

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