Studio: Wild Eye Releasing
Director: Nicholas Tana
Writer: Nicholas Tana
Producer: Denise Acosta, Nicholas Tana
Stars: Nicholas Tana, Adam Rucho, Adrienne Barbeau, Lisa Younger, Nina Kate Hauptman, Robert Rhine, Michael Berryman, Nina Hartley, Dale Midkiff, Doug Jones, Bill Oberst Jr.
Seemingly supernatural incidents and unexpected attacks lead a struggling writer to believe his dangerous cat is possessed.
There was a time when the promise of genre icons Adrienne Barbeau and Michael Berryman, along with "Pet Sematary" star Dale Midkiff and "Children of the Corn" kids Courtney Gains and John Franklin, in the same project together would have been cause for horror fans to salivate. That time was 1989. Decades later, we're in a day and age when Malcolm McDowell or Lance Henriksen in a DTV movie means the production blew their bankbook on a name that no longer means what it used to. Now, lumping the aforementioned actors together waves a desperate red flag that the horror ahead will come from watching longtime favorites slumming it in microbudget muck.
"Microbudget muck" might be too kind to describe the wholly amateurish "Hell's Kitty," writer/director/producer/star Nicholas Tana's lo-fi love letter to his cat Angel. I've seen fledgling filmmakers use consumer cameras and couch cushion change to make vanity projects featuring themselves before. This is the first time I've seen someone waste time, money, and minimal effort making a movie as a tribute to a pet.
"Hell's Kitty" tracks the tribulations suffered by Nick as his possibly possessed cat wreaks havoc that regularly upsets Nick's otherwise nondescript life. Marketing verbiage goes so far as to suggest that the fetid flick, which features scenes like the cat arranging kibble in a pentagram and firing eye lasers that ignite a killer clown, is "based on true events." I think I just went blind from my eyes rolling out of my head. I wish that happened before watching this movie.
Should you feel like subjecting your eyes and ears to the film's torture, which is more painful than a bath in battery acid, you might notice scenes play like barely-connected vignettes whose technical quality ranges from poor to outright awful. That's because the film was Frankensteined from a webseries of 20 shorts released between 2011 and 2015. The benefit of the doubt I'm willing to afford Nicholas Tana is that perhaps initial intentions were limited to making a few online videos as a lark for personal amusement. Maybe it wasn't even he who saw fit to shove everything into a feature for commercial release. Whoever fields that blame, there's no forgiving the nerve it takes to charge even two nickels for this cheap content, never mind the 95 minutes flushed away on top.
"Hell's Kitty" isn't remotely funny at all. Pun-related dialogue makes juvenile jabs with lame lines like, "there's nothing worse than a bloody pussy." Someone wrote that, filmed it being said, and kept it in the final cut thinking it was worth a legitimate laugh.
Pop culture in-jokes involve no more creativity than having Lee Meriwether briefly page through a Catwoman comic book. Because you see, she played the character in the 1966 Adam West "Batman" movie. How can anyone not double over at such highbrow hilarity as Bill Oberst Jr., performing a cat exorcism as a priest named Father Blatty (ugh), identifying himself as a "pet-ophile?"
Other than actors, you'd never guess it took more than one person to put "Hell's Kitty" together. Hilariously however, the number of crewmembers in the credits hits triple digits. Of course, that's the result of people coming and going over five years of here and there filming. Yet it's still flabbergasting to see ten people listed for makeup and hair, 14 1st A.D.s, and 18 editors on a film shot almost entirely inside a one-bedroom apartment, predominantly with only two people in any given scene. Is everyone listed even a real person or did they just throw a credit at anyone within five miles of the location? How can it take 20 grips, ten electricians, and 14 gaffers to stage a set that only uses available light?
"Hell's Kitty" looks like it was shot on a phone: a rotary phone retrofitted with the lens from a disposable Kodak camera. 18 cinematographers and not one of them had any regard for bright sunlight blazing through windows or black shadows obscuring details during dark shots. Whatever the umpteen camera assistants were doing, it sure wasn't racking focus. Maybe the Craft Services table hosted a Red Vines eating contest that kept everyone occupied. I wouldn't fault them. Making the movie was probably as tediously draining as watching it is.
Sound appears recorded from a camera-mounted microphone, assuming there was even a microphone at all. If dialogue wasn't looped after the fact in post-production, it certainly seems like it was. With the weird voices and mouth movements, particularly with Nick's buddy Adam, you might momentarily mistake “Hell’s Kitty” for a badly dubbed martial arts movie.
Disregard the heaping handful of professional performers in embarrassing cameos and "Hell's Kitty" is a greenhorn production in every regard. Dopily scripted from start to finish and terribly produced from top to bottom, I shudder to imagine how it could be worse. Any paltry points awarded are pure pity for having to witness the likes of Dale Midkiff lip-synching a dance number in drag. Remember, this is a man who starred in his own TV series once upon a time. It's a toss up if he is even the genre celebrity who comes out looking the worst in a movie this big of a mess. Then again, the biggest losers are those of us unfortunate enough to see “Hell’s Kitty” through to the end.
Review Score: 15