A new restoration of the 1989 film from the original film elements.
Archive Audio Commentary with Director Douglas Grossman
New Audio Commentary with Director Douglass Grossman and Director of Photography Steven Fierberg
audio commentary with The last drive-inby Joe Bob Briggs
“School exit!” – a new video interview with director Douglas Grossman
“Jon-Jon’s Journey”: A New Video Interview With Actor Christopher (Jon-Jon) Cousins
“The More the Merrier”: A New Video Interview with Actress Maureen (Brooke Storm) Mooney
Limited edition O-card packaging with reversible sleeve
Why you need to add it to your video library
If 1980s horror movies are the analog of high school, then the slasher movie is the undisputed prom king. The entire decade became the brink by which fans measured genre films and mutilated them by critics, and the only real challenge for these box office giants was how to infuse legitimate creativity into a horror niche that was oversaturated with dubs. bloody charcoal at least three or four different movies. Writer/producer/director Douglas Grossman sought to meet that challenge with this slasher-revenge hybrid film, recently the subject of a re-edited bluray release from Arrow Video. Through the complementary documentary material of the compilation, high hell becomes an understated genre gem of ambitious intentions and genre-resistant directing techniques.
The film’s central premise has much in common with slasher movie elements: a cast of relatable young characters, a resistance to authority, and the inevitable slaughter of teenagers. And although he was only slightly inspired by the work of John Carpenter Hallowe’en (1978), Grossman understood the principles of a slasher even if he had no intention of adhering to them. Brooke Storm’s need to kill, for example, almost completely contradicts the basis of a slasher film, since Brooke Storm is not insane in killing.
In keeping with the cinematic history of the subgenre, various murderers are forced to commit murder even when their motives cannot be directly traced to some kind of transgression. Mrs. Voorhees seeks revenge against all the counselors at Camp Crystal Lake for the unfortunate death of her son Jason in Friday the 13th (1980), even though those counselors are not responsible for her son’s death. When Jason Voorhees appears to return from the grave in Friday the 13th Part II (1982) and later films, many of his targets are also not associated with the legendary camp.
Plot points like these would become a popular component of the subgenre, but as a hybrid film, high hell also includes elements from the revenge movie. Some very famous movies like revenge pictures include I spit on your grave (1978), which was tremendously successful as a cinematic vehicle through which to explore the limitations of revenge in a film genre generally more concerned with what critics then (and even now) call gratuitous violence. Here, the simplistic combination of revenge and slasher film alone should suffice for the skeleton of Grossman’s film, but high hell now it has a female lead in Brooke Storm, who seeks justifiable revenge against her teenage bullies, as well as slasher-movie violence to appeal to drive-in audiences who see their youthful avatars reflected on the big screen in front of them.
Less influenced by 1980s slasher movies or even “so-called horror movies,” Grossman was more enthralled by telling a story tonally similar to Kubrick’s haunting tale of the outsiders. A Clockwork Orange (1971) and the systematic murders at Clair’s And then there was none (1945). It would set his tone for the art of his film: he would use the nudity and violence of horror if only to appeal to the business side of filmmaking, fully understanding his need to complete the project with his own referential trappings and a pragmatic understanding of what would make your film palatable to financiers. Thus, high hell it demanded an understanding of the horror genre if only for Grossman to understand the rules so he could better articulate when he was breaking them.
“There are limits,” a frightened Jon-Jon tells Dickens during the film, as the quartet of teenagers pause in the bondage of their life-changing assault on Miss Storm. “There are certain laws that we cannot break.” seeing high hell, you are likely to disagree with that sentiment, just as Douglas Grossman would. In making this film at the end of a decade dedicated to adhering to traditional lesson plans associated with horror, Grossman put together an early masterclass in how to subvert much of what he knows about genre filmmaking to teach you something entirely new.
high hell it is now available in bluray here.