Judge David Johnson is not in a laughing mood.
They hunt in packs and will eat you alive.
Werewolves have been milked dry. Vampires are so last year. But what about the untapped human/hyena market…
Facts of the Case
Legends says that in the woods of your parents' house, or wherever it is you opted to set up your camera, terrifying creatures that have the ability to change from human to hyena lurk, waiting to pounce on hapless travelers and devour their heads. Apparently, when the white slavers brought Africans over way back when, they inadvertently grabbed some of these magic hyena people, and now they're running amok in packs and dancing nude at bonfires.
Who can stop them? Why Costas Mandylor of course!
(exterior: nondescript office building in downtown L.A.)
(interior: a production office)
PRODUCER: Movies about people transforming into animals are big right now. But we can't use werewolves. We'll come across as derivative.
WRITER: So let's think of another creature. How about people who transform into tigers?
PRODUCER: No. I don't like Frosted Flakes.
PRODUCER: We don't want to get sued by the Narnia people.
WRITER: I don't think they hold exclusive rights to "lion" --
PRODUCER: Next idea.
WRITER: People who change into…wildebeasts?
PRODUCER: You're fired --
WRITER: Hyenas! They can change into hyenas! Hyenas are scary! Did you see The Lion King musical? Those hyenas were scarrrrrrryyyy!!!
PRODUCER: Hmmmm. You're right. Hyenas are scary. Now go write the script. If you have it to me by the end of the day I will give you an extra portion of cabbage soup and a mattress for your holding cell.
That's got to be how this movie was made: as a cold-hearted cash-in on the werewolf craze. Because as a stand-alone story, Hyenas brings as much new to the world of movies as a Police Academy sequel. Morons walking through the woods that get killed and eaten, dodgy CGI employed to generate tepid creatures-of-the-night, actors looking disinterested in delivering their dialogue coherently—Hyenas is everything that's given direct-to-video horror movies a bad name.
The only interesting element in the entire sad enterprise is vixen Christa Campbell, who plays the Alpha dog, so to speak. She's attractive, has tons of tattoos and is involved in the only storyline that resonated (on the molecular level, granted, but I'll take what I can get): the vying for power in the hyena pack. Her line reading will make squirrels howl in pain, sure, but at least she's got the physical presence and sensual energy to make her scenes bearable.
Speaking of which, as if to pile on, the brain trust behind Hyenas decided to make it so a central action in changing from hot girl to hyena involved taking one's top off—and keeping all the provocative bits off screen. If you're angling for some provocative skin, look elsewhere; they went out of their way to imply nudity.
A bare-bones DVD: a mediocre 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, 5.1 surround, no extras.
It is no laughing matter. This movie stinks.
Guilty. Back to the Elephant Graveyard with you.
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