When you see the names of veteran horror actors like Tony Todd, Adrienne Barbeau and Bruce Dern listed for a movie, it’s hard to avoid watching the movie, even if it looks cheesy. That’s the case with the latest Tubi original, Hellblazers, a recently released horror film following a group of characters attempting to survive in a small town after a satanic cult conjures up a demon and sets it loose on the townsfolk.
As much as I love B-movies and silly horror films that feel straight out of the 1980s. The top-notch cast assembled for Hellblazers isn’t enough to save the movie. It’s not great and probably won’t appeal to anyone apart from diehard genre fans.
Directed and written by Justin Lee, Hellblazers feels like a zombie movie we’ve seen hundreds of times already, except replace members of the undead with evil cult members dressed in Purdue-University-gold, and you’ve pretty much got your story. The tale begins with a big-city cop Joe (Ed Morrone), relocating to a very small town where the most exciting thing to happen is a roaming rabid raccoon or someone stealing a snowman decoration.
As the new town sheriff, Joe quickly realizes that there’s not much to the town until a cult led by Billy Zane arrives. The cast of characters is fleshed out by two other cops, Teddy (Crash Buist) and Liz (Paige Sturges), a few small-town waitresses, including Georgia (Barbeau) and her son Bobby (Edward Finlay), a grump Vietnam vet Bill (Bruce Dern) and other residents like Tony Todd’s character Harry and John Kassir’s Rick.
Only Barbeau and Dern get much to do out of all the legacy actors. If you’re planning to watch for Todd, don’t bother, as his part is hardly more than a glorified cameo.
Once the demon is summoned and the cult starts attacking, it just feels like a zombie movie with cult members attacking everyone in town to feed bodies to their ancient evil creature. How many times have we seen horror content where creatures of some kind attack a small-town diner? Legion, The Dead Don’t Die, The Last of Us, Black Summer, etc. The list goes on. If you’ve seen all of the above, then you’ve seen Hellblazers.
Hellblazers isn’t one of Tubi’s best
That being said, my problem with the movie isn’t the clichés, but the script itself. The action sequences and even the creature design are fine and entertaining. But there are long scenes of people talking to each other about how dull small towns are that quickly become redundant, and not one of the movie’s many jokes land. There is one scene early on where Dern’s character reports to the cops about what he saw the cult doing in his yard, and it’s basically just Dern delivering a monologue.
It often feels like a comedian trying to coax laughs out of a crowd. It’s awkward and stilted. Not necessarily Dern’s fault either, as there are many moments like this throughout the movie of characters uttering cringe-worthy lines of dialogue that refuse to land, not even in a campy-but-charming way. And that’s why the movie really falls apart. I could have gotten over the cliché storm and poor pacing if the script had been better written.
I would recommend skipping Hellblazers in favor of one of the many other great horror movies streaming for free on Tubi unless you’ve exhausted all other options.
Hellblazers is now streaming free on Tubi.