Sunday, July 3, 2022

Hell High – Arrow Video (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1989
Director: Douglas Grossman
Writers: Leo Evans, Douglas Grossman
Cast: Christopher Stryker, Maureen Mooney, Christopher Cousins, Millie Prezioso, Jason Brill, Kathryn Rossetter, J.R. Horne, Daniel Beer, Victoria Andahazy, Amy Beth Erenrich

Release Date: July 18th, 2022 (UK), July 19th, 2022 (USA)
Approximate Running Time: 83 Minutes 45 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK), R (USA)
Sound: LPCM Stereo English
Subtitles: English SDH
Region Coding: Region A,B
Retail Price: £24.99 (UK), $39.95 (USA)

"When high school football hero Jon-Jon (Breaking Bad's Christopher Cousins) quits the team, he winds up falling in with a group of outcasts led by the sadistic Dickens (played to unhinged perfection by the late Christopher Stryker). With a willing new recruit in tow, the gang's youthful hijinks soon spiral into a night of abject horror when they decide to play a cruel prank on the home of their teacher Miss Storm - who, unbeknownst to the youngsters, harbors a dark and tormented past." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, “The original 35mm camera negative was scanned in 2K resolution at Company 3, Los Angeles. The film was graded and restored at R3Store Studios in London.

The original materials were made available for this restoration by director Douglas Grossman.”

Here's additional information about the transfer, “Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative approved by cinematographer Steven Fierberg.” 

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

Disc Size: 34.8 GB

Feature: 17.2 GB

This is another solid transfer from Arrow Video. The source is in excellent shape. Colors are nicely saturated, flesh tones look correct, image clarity and black levels are solid, and grain remains intact. Released eighteen years ago on DVD by Shriek Show, this new transfer from Arrow Video is a substantial upgrade.

Audio: 4.5/5

This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM stereo mix in English, and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. The audio sounds clean, clear, balanced, and robust when it should. The audio is in great shape; dialog always comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced, ambient sounds are well-represented, and it robust when it should.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a trailer under the alternate title Raging Fury (1 minute 36 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a trailer under the title Hell High (1 minute 37 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), Hell High TV spot #1 (30 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), Hell High TV spot #2 (31 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), alternate opening credits under the title Hell High (2 minutes 5 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo), a deleted scene (2 minutes 10 seconds, no sound), an archival interview with director Douglas Grossman (19 minutes 30 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival interview with screenwriter Leo Evans (11 minutes 41 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a featurette titled Back to Schools: The Locations of Hell High (13 minutes 7 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with composers Rich Macar and Christopher Hyams-Hart titled Music is Not Sound (26 minutes 48 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with actress Maureen Mooney titled The More the Better (20 minutes 6 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with actor Christopher Cousins titled Jon-Jon’s Journey (18 minutes 49 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with cinematographer Steven Fierberg titledA Beautiful Nightmare (28 minutes 56 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with Douglas Grossman titled School’s Out! (42 minutes 55 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival introduction by film critic Joe Bob Briggs (5 minutes 6 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an audio commentary with Douglas Grossman and Steven Fierberg, an archival audio commentary with Douglas Grossman, an archival audio commentary with Joe Bob Briggs, reversible cover art, a limited-edition slipcover (limited to first pressing) and a twenty-four page booklet (limited to first pressing) with cast & crew information,  interview by Michael Gingold titled Stuntman to the Slashers: An Interview with Stunt Coordinator/Actor Webster Whinery, and information about the restoration.

Summary:

The 1980’s were a great time to be a horror film fan. It was a decade that produced two of horror cinema’s biggest franchises, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th, and saw the rise of the horror subgenre, the slasher film. That said, for every great horror film from this era, there were three times as many films that were on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Based solely on its premise, Hell High gives itself a solid foundation to build from. Hell High opens with a sequence from one of the characters' past that perfectly sets up the events that follow. The rest of the narrative takes place eighteen years later. And though the narrative does a good job of building momentum, there are a few lulls along the way that almost derail said momentum. And when it comes to the finale, it is a very satisfying conclusion, albeit one that follows an all-too familiar way to end a horror film.

But none of the performances are going to wow you. There are no weak performances. With the standout performance being Maureen Mooney in the role of a teacher who’s terrorized by four of her students. The most memorable performance is Christopher Stryker in the role of Dickens, an obnoxious student who likes to inflict pain.

From a production standpoint, Hell High is a film that maximizes its resources. The premise ensures there’s rarely a dull moment. There are a few gory kill scenes and a solid film score that does a superb job of reinforcing the mood. Ultimately, Hell High is a fun film that fans of 1980’s horror are sure to enjoy.

Hell High makes its way to Blu-ray via an exceptional release from Arrow Video that comes with a solid audio/video presentation and a ridiculous number of extras that leave no stone unturned, highly recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

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