Review: HELL TOWN
Faux documentaries can be entertaining if done right. One of the greatest examples is BEST IN SHOW, a comedy dream team full of improvisational sequences that help viewers believe in the characters as real people. The format can be utilized in so many ways, but it takes the right execution to pull it off. While HELL TOWN is not a faux documentary, it does present itself as a series of episodes that were saved from a fake TV show. They are presented by Debbie Rochon as an Elvira like TV personality who provides a little background on the history of the show. Many episodes were mysteriously lost in a fire, but we get the joy of viewing those recovered.
HELL TOWN is a soap opera revolving two prominent families vying for the family fortune and each other’s bodies. While the typical stock drama ensues between the siblings, there also happens to be a murderer on the loose, killing off all the beautiful teens. The killer is quickly dubbed The Letter Jacket Killer and doesn’t really seem to worry anyone as the school dance is still a big priority.
What really drew my attention here are the homoerotic scenes. One of the potential heirs, Jesse Manly, is a closeted football player and doesn’t do a good job at hiding the fact he’s staring at a jock strap wearing stud in the locker room. There’s a possibility he might have had a fling with the flamboyant boy at school, but he refuses to acknowledge him in front of everyone. He wants to act like he’s confused about his sexuality, but when his tongue is flapping in front of a glory hole, he’s not fooling anyone. Then there’s Butch, who is as straight as they come (no pun intended), but doesn’t have a single scene with his shirt on. He’s the stud of the series and also the biggest whore who is not afraid to take one’s “other” virginity in the janitor’s closet.
The episodes end in cliff hangers like a normal series, but the whole “previously on” segments go on way too long as they merely repeat at great length what we just saw a few minutes ago. Maybe it was just a way to help fill the 90 minute running time, but it sort of made the whole thing drag. With that being said, HELL TOWN is actually pretty funny. As faux soap opera full of overly dramatic twists and bloody kills, it pulls all the right notes one expects from a parody like this. In a classic TV twist, Laura Gables is played by different actresses between episodes embracing a self awareness that feels on the nose like it should.
What appears first to be just an extremely attractive cast taking their clothes off turns out to be some real fun players who are in on the joke. My favorite here had to be Amanda Deibert as Chanel Manly, the less fortunate daughter who apparently works at every single business on the show. There’s a running gag of how everything in life doesn’t come cheap and she constantly has a bottle in her hand as she rings up a customer. Her sarcastic take on the role is fun to watch and I always get a kick when she first shows up in each episode.
The murder subplot really stays in the background, as the drama plays out and everyone plays their part. There’s a little something for everyone here, but feel like this could find a cult following amongst young gay sleepovers (not that it’s a thing). HELL TOWN offers the gore, laughs, and sex appeal needed to create an entertaining romp.