Hellhole Blu-ray Review

Cult Actress Mary Woronov leads an Eclectic B-movie cast

Director Pierre De Moro’s exploitation film is lurid schlock from the Eighties. Thankfully it’s mostly lovable schlock for its intended b-movie audience. Hellhole is a fairly obscure movie even by the standards of b-movies, bolstered by a vaguely recognizable genre cast led by cult star Mary Woronov. A psychotic female doctor experiments on her psychiatric patients as a killer hunts her newest patient. I’m not sure fans were clamoring to see this movie but it certainly has its charms.

The cast includes names such as Ray Sharkey, Judy Landers, Marjoe Gortner, Mary Woronov, Robert Z’Dar, Richard Cox, and Terry Moore. While none of them are household names in mainstream films, most are semi-recognizable from other cult films of the period. Many will remember Mary Woronov’s memorable role from Night of the Comet and other cult gems.

After witnessing the brutal murder of her mother by a killer named Silk (Ray Sharkey), Susan (Judy Landers) develops amnesia. The man behind the murder has her committed to a sanitarium for women, hoping to recover important information from her memory. There she is pursued by Silk, who fears that Susan will eventually regain her memory and identify him.

To pry the incriminating secrets from Susan’s brain, Silk forms a tenuous alliance with Dr. Fletcher (Mary Woronov, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School). Dr. Fletcher runs the sanitarium. In what is unlikely a coincidence, most of the patients are beautiful women with various mental problems. The psychotic scientist has been testing a new lobotomy technique, using the helpless female inmates as her guinea pigs.

Much of the cast seems to have been chosen for their appearance over actual acting talent…

There are a couple of good reasons to see Hellhole if you enjoy obscure Eighties’ flicks with erratic acting. Actress Mary Woronov delivers an off-kilter performance as the mad Dr. Fletcher. The female doctor she plays is clearly working out her repressed lesbian fantasies on her female patients. Her experiments ruthlessly turn them into mindless shells. If there is one thing going for Hellhole, the movie definitely delivers ample amounts of skin. That includes one of the ultimate cliches from the Eighties, the extended shower scene. This has definitely been made with male viewers in mind.

The acting is on the cheesy side of the spectrum. Much of the cast seems to have been chosen for their appearance over actual acting talent, though that tends to go with the b-movie territory. While Silk is a vicious killer, Ray Sharkey’s appearance undercuts how menacing his character becomes. It’s just tough buying him with that wildly dated haircut as a nasty, violent criminal.

Susan is somewhat generic and forgettable as the protagonist for a cult movie, possibly one of the reasons Hellhole isn’t better known. The fault seems to lie more with the underdeveloped script than Judy Landers’ adequate but uninspiring performance. Susan gets the standard potential love interest but it’s an afterthought in the end.

Hellhole wasn’t designed for greatness but as cheap, disposable entertainment made for genre audiences. Nothing in it is particularly noteworthy other than Mary Woronov’s interesting, off-beat performance as a psychotic doctor. If you have a weakness for schlock from the Eighties, Hellhole fits the bill quite nicely for you. If your thing is to see beautiful, half-naked women experimented on by a demented doctor, check it out. People outside that audience should probably first view better films from the period before seeing Hellhole.

Hellhole Blu-ray screen shot 14


Scream Factory is upfront this time about the source of their new 1080P HD transfer in text which precedes the film. The negatives for Hellhole are long gone. A combination of film elements were used, combining the best available interpositive with some scenes filled out from a normal film print. This is an acceptable presentation for a 1985 catalog film from secondary elements. The transfer is not flawless but one which definitely deserves a Blu-ray release.

The changes in contrast, color saturation, resolution and definition are stark between the two sets of elements. The final product is watchable HD. I wouldn’t consider its visual inconsistencies a deal breaker. This is a legitimate Hi-Def presentation in decent condition. Scream Factory provides an AVC video encode on a BD-25. This isn’t a perfect compression job. Hints of artifacts result from the mild grain structure in the most challenging video. If people are wondering, this new transfer doesn’t look filtered.

The main feature runs 95 minutes in its uncut R-rated form. The video is shown at 1.78:1 in 1080P resolution. It isn’t striking detail or clarity, especially in the darker scenes taken from the inferior film print. The better scenes boast strong definition and decent film-like texture. They also happen to be much brighter with strong contrast. Flesh-tones are nicely balanced without a serious magenta push.

My main complaint concerns the crushed shadow delineation and poorer black levels seen in the darker transfer taken from the film print source. I guess it was unavoidable considering the disparity in clarity and contrast between the two sets of elements. Most of the film looks fairly nice, so this is not a problem for long stretches of the movie.


The mono soundtrack for Hellhole is heard in 2.0 DTS-HD MA. The audio is merely serviceable with an odd-sounding synth score by Jeff Sturges. While ridiculously dated by today’s standards, it seemed like every other bad Eighties movie had such a score. There isn’t much to its range or sonic impact. Dialogue is plainly heard in acceptable fidelity, though occasionally foley work (audio effects) becomes overpowering in the sound design.

Optional English SDH subtitles display in a white font.


This is a Scream Factory combo pack including the movie on both Blu-ray and DVD. This is lighter than usual in the special features department for a Scream Factory set.

Interview With Mary Woronov (04:54 in HD) – This is a new, exclusive interview by the actress directly about Hellhole. She goes over her concerns with her character and the performance. It feels a little short for being the only significant special feature.

Hellhole Theatrical Trailer (01:54 in HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray disc. Images have not been altered in any way during the process. Patreon supporters were able to access these screens early, view them as .pngs, and gain access to exclusive shots.