Judge Daryl Loomis believes the ultimate film should include animated otters.
Our review of In Hell, published December 10th, 2003, is also available.
He dreamed to make the ultimate movie.
In Hell, also known as I Tortura and Gloria Mundi, is a tough movie to take. One, it's just not very good but the other, bigger problem makes it worse. In the same vein as recent movies like A Serbian Film and Hidden in the Woods, the level of degradation on display here is ridiculous, making it an ugly and painful experience. But does it have redeeming value? I'm not entirely sure.
In this film-within-a-film, we find a sadistic film producer making a movie about torture. As his lead, he hires Galai (Olga Karlatos, Purple Rain), an Algerian immigrant with ties to the revolution. In order to get better into character, Galai begins torturing herself. Soon, however, the funding runs dry and, soon after that, the producer dies suddenly. But Galai has gone too far and is now determined to finish the film herself, regardless of cost.
Galai has an ulterior motive to wanting to finish what looks like the worst movie ever, a political one stemming from her own time as a revolutionary during the Algerian uprising. There is a bit of revenge coming to a group of people, but the reasons for this are unclear. Partly due to an obviously bad translation and partly due to some extremely sloppy filmmaking by director Nikos Papatakis (Thanos and Despina), the result is an incomprehensible story peppered with loud revolutionary talk that, if you aren't paying close attention at the start of the movie, will likely make no sense.
The odd thing is, though, Papatakis appears to have thought he was making a genuine political statement with In Hell. When Galai is screaming about Algeria and revolution, she's starting straight into the camera, talking directly to the viewer, as if what she's saying is super important. The only other time I can think of where this happens is in the Melvin Van Peebles film, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, but that was actually a call to action and not a stylistic technique, so it's understandable, awkward or not. I have no idea what it's doing in this film.
The only reason to watch, and it's a small reason, don't get me wrong, is Olga Karlatos, whose fun turn in Zombie gives her some cult appeal. Unfortunately, watching her means witnessing her shock herself in a bathtub, have cigarettes put out on her chest, and all manner of other horrors inflicted upon her, not to mention all the screaming and crying. All of it, from the degradation to the torture to the yelling, In Hell/B> is just a painful experience and a movie that I can't recommend under any circumstances.
The DVD is pretty bad, too. Released by CAV and One Seven Movies, the release for In Hell reminds me of the cut-rate exploitation discs I wasted money on for years, and this one's fairly expensive. The anamorphic image looks awful, with dirt and damage everywhere you look on the frame. Washed-out colors and murky black levels are paired with missing frames and jumpy scenes, making it obvious that absolutely nothing was done on the print. The sound is a little better, if only because it doesn't sound damaged. It's a simple mono mix with no dynamics to speak of, but at least the dialog is relatively clear. The only extra is a poster gallery.
In Hell does deliver on one thing: its title. This is a truly hellish experience with nothing going for it aside from watching a woman get degraded for ninety minutes. If the movie sounds interesting because of all the political and revolutionary rhetoric, I implore you to watch Battle of Algiers instead. Not only is that an amazing movie, it also keeps you from watching this one, which is icing on the cake.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: One 7 Movies
• Poster Gallery
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