Welcome B horror lovers! Cult paid a visit to our dark lord investigating the...
I found myself searching the many jaded corridors of the internet for something interesting to muse upon when I happened on this flick. Admittedly it wasn't the title or the cover's box art (a mash up of styles, horror and fantasy, that depicts a knight swinging at unknown adversaries displaying a prominent cross in the foreground with the tag line“Battle the Undead” …Wheeze! I got excited and forgot to take a breath dammit) that grabbed my attention but rather the name and notoriety surrounding the director and many of his previous works.
Olaf Ittenbach is at the very least an infamous micro budget FX whiz and film creator especially prominent in the underground splatter horror scene. He's responsible for such titles as Garden of Love (aka The Haunting of Rebecca Verlaine), Undead By Dawn (aka Le6ion of the Dead), Savage Love and Premutos: Lord of the Living Dead (aka The Fallen Angel). That short list mentions only a few of his works some of which that have found international release, uncountable distasteful glances and the loving caress of sharpened shears within the hands of rooms full of salivating censors the world over. The list is no where near complete, let us not forget the most sought after title in his filmography; The Burning Moon (1992) A title I have been putting off reviewing for the site because, truth be told, one of my most endearing qualities is that I'm a stunning example of the very best procrastinator one will ever find, this is sad but unfortunately the truth. Onwards to Legend of Hell…
The storyline is a tad confusing at times but from what I make out it has biblical roots telling of Nedora (known at the time, many moons ago, as the wisest man on earth) and his creation to keep the portal of Hell sealed shut, an artifact and a scroll that when used together would open the same doorway. The film's main protagonist is reincarnated throughout several time periods in order to thwart the artifacts from falling into the wrong hands. She is aided in turn by several other characters who appear to understand more about what's happening and what will eventually transpire than she does. There are several factors that please me about this film, for starters there are bountiful story arcs shot in various locales, including Austria, Iceland and the Gran Canaries, all of which add up to the fact that our friend Olaf apparently has a larger than normal budget for this outing. The film also boasts actors that aren't half bad, though included also are numerous (standard B fair) cardboard types and hordes of extras that make a low budget film easily recognizable and IMO fun to watch. The story has a great pace though the dialogue contains more dairy product than a Philly Cheese Steak but it makes me ponder if it may in fact be due to problems arising from translation for an international audience.
The soundtrack, a mix including fantasy synth melodies (often heard in platform fantasy rpgs) and angelic choruses, is an unexpected and appreciated professional touch that adds to the film's atmosphere when needed. The film's fantasy aspect is spot on (for a B movie) and makes me reminisce about posters advertising films found in the same (low budget) genre when I was but a wee lad, The Death Stalker series in particular. All of the most important fantastical ingredients are present; amulets to ward off various 'nasties', prophecies, clashes between larger than life weapon wielding armor clad knights, monstrosities wandering the wastelands and the all important quest.
There was also a horror element to the film, a futuristic apocalypse slant with stumbling zombies aplenty. The makeup on these creations was surprisingly adequate with action that's quick and furious (nope, I refuse to mention a $Billion franchise in this review) after all what's an undead flick without a face eating or a disembowelment or three? I was pleased to see an unmistakable homage to Idle Hands, a lingering shot, though if it was intended or not is anyone's guess. The factor that delighted me the most, however, was the FX including but not limited to practical set pieces, a scenic time lapse shot and though I loathe to admit it even the corny CGI creations found close to the film's finale. The practical effects are plentiful, gleefully grisly and very impressive (bearing in mind the film's budget) for example there are enough head explosions to make a Scanners fanatic applaud aloud and scenes of carnage overflowing with machine guns. At times though the effects suffered due to lighting that was too low and action scenes that were shot at a pace which appeared too swift by cameras that zoomed and panned slightly off target.
In conclusion, Legend of Hell isn't the greatest movie, in fact, it might make numerous critics weep (and probably want to punch their televisions) but it was a great deal of fun to watch with nary a boring minute to report. I'm excited to announce that it contained everything a B movie fanatic/deviant horror fan demands, and not a damn thing that would make a Sunday school teacher saturate her bloomers. Recommended for those with an open mind, a lust for chunky effects and an overwhelming appreciation for films with story lines that may or may not make sense. Bravo Olaf, I'll jump on that Bloody Moon review as soon as I'm able... promise. - Cult
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