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Hellfire Video Club: American Exceptionalism

This month Hellfire Video Club are sailing over the Atlantic to sample some off-beat, unusual, cracked and highly demented Americana.

Words Hellfire Video Club Published 07.09.21


Christopher Thies, 1992, USA.

This VERY low-budget gem was started in the mid-80’s, and not finished and released until the next decade! It follows a sheriff investigating mysterious deaths at a mountain lodge that may be linked to local demonic spirits. The whole film is soaked through with a super zonked vibe, the acting is completely wooden, sets totally fake and unrealistic and all monster FX are lo-fi plasticine animation — but this film is a winner. Good vibes throughout, even in the snowy setting, it is permeated with warmth. Clearly a passion project for someone. Worth seeking out, much easier now as the good folks at Vinegar Syndrome recently saved it from obscurity.


Nathan Schiff, 1980, USA.

Nathan Schiff is a Hellfire favourite director. He started making films as a young teen and made only four feature films — all of them exercises in increasingly nauseating and misanthropic homemade gore. LICM is our fave. A hard-nosed detective investigates some small town murders — turns out it’s lepers feeding bodies to their leader who is a kind of giant denim-wearing bin-bag guy. The dialogue is clearly written by a teenager, the acting very earnest and rough-round-the-edges, but the constant, almost incessant bouts of stomach-churning DIY gore give an effective jolt each time they appear. the finale is completely mad, and contains one of the gnarliest chainsaw fights committed to film.

Deadbeat At Dawn

Jim Van Bebber, 1988, USA.

JVB is a legendary cult film maker, with a small-ish but inspired and idiosyncratic filmography. His films manage to possess both a quaint charm, and a brutally bad vibe at the same time. His biopic of the Manson Family is a three hour head-spinning epic, but this hugely violent street-level action/revenge film is out favourite, with Jim taking the lead role as well as directing.

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