HELLBOY ANIMATED: BLOOD & IRON
Reviewed by: JimmyO
Victor Cook, Tad Stones
What's it about
When assigned to investigate a “haunted house”, Hellboy, Liz Sherman and Abe Sapien find themselves face to face with a powerful vampire in Professor Broom’s past. Erzsebet Ondrushko is a vamp brought back to life to bath in the blood of new victims and gives Broom and the gang her own brand of hell.
Is it good movie?
How surprising is it that one of the most satisfying gothic haunted house stories happens to be Hellboy? … And it’s animated? This beautifully animated and incredibly creepy film keeps the humor and excitement of Hellboy rolling along and adds a bit of Hammer Horror. When we first find Hellboy (Ron Perlman), he is wadding through crap in a sewer system as a metal Minataur begins the attack. I found the humor to be just right and that partly belongs to the writers and partly to Mr. Perlman. He owns this role and has no problem getting me laughing as he’s battling in sewage. After Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) and his adventure and ultimate victory, they arrive back at home base, where they are given a new assignment… a haunted house. The strange assignment seems to attract Broom, and we soon realize that he has a past with a certain vampire who he had fought before. Is the vampire back for blood? Hell yeah!
In the midst of these horrors are the spirits of women murdered by the evil vampire. We get hellhounds and harpies (witchy looking little hags) and a werewolf. It was a nice mix placing Hellboy into a classic horror story. And to top it off, the vampire, Erzsebet (Kath Soucie) is a worshipper of the Greek Goddess Hecate (Cree Summer). Unlucky for Hellboy, Hecate takes an interest in him and tries to bring him to rule along with her. The mix between gothic horror and mythological horror works incredibly well. I never found myself disbelieving what I was seeing. This mixture of fantasy, horror and comic book gels and credit should go to everyone involved. The direction is fluid and lyrical, the voice actors are all top notch, aside from a couple smaller roles and the script brings all the elements together quite well. I love the use of colors to represent the mood and the atmosphere. I also loved how they told the story of Brooms past from the end to the beginning. Hellboy Animated is far creepier than most of the horror movies coming out as of late yet should still be a blast for those comic book fans that love the big red guy.
With all this goodness, there were a few points that I didn’t find all that appealing. Some of the European character designs I didn’t like. One of the vamp’s victims Anna is supposed to be this beautiful girl, but I thought she was a bit odd looking. And as I mentioned, some of the smaller roles are given to actors that are lacking in talent. But with Selma Blair, John Hurt, Doug Jones and Ron Perlman kicking all sorts of animated ass, it works. And it makes up for the minor, less than stellar turns. With all this, I really have to recommend Hellboy Animated. It’s a fantastic take on the Hammer Horror films yet still enjoys the humor and fun of the comic. What can I say, let’s go to hell!
Video / Audio
Video: This is a stunning 1.78:1 Widescreen transfer. Since the movie uses color so much, it’s nice to see that the transfer does it justice.
Audio: The Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Surround 2.0 are both crystal clear. The music is incredibly rich.
Well what do you know… the special features are pretty damn sweet here… we start off with an interesting Audio Commentary with directors Tad Stones and Vic Cook along with Hellboy creator Mike Mignola. This is a very good listen and it’s nice to hear filmmakers who are able to look at their work critically and constructively. Good stuff.
The first featurette is called Reversal of Fortune: Professor Broom’s Story (19:46) which explores the Broom’s history within the film in chronological order. It’s basically what you see in the movie, but if you were confused by it then watch this first and it’ll make sense. It also has an introduction.
Next up we have Tales from the Tomb: A Look Inside Blood & Iron (12:56) is a nice behind the scenes, albeit short. This is kind of your requisite making of. Not bad, but nothing too special.
You want a quick look at another Hellboy enemy? Well Mike Mignola offers you this quick battle with Iron Shoes (3:33). This is kind of cool, but a bit short.
And for the point the remote and read fans, we have The Penanggalan: An E-Comic Exclusive with introduction by Mike Mignola. Even though I’m not a fan of this type of feature, I kind of dug this because of the clever use of the comic book, you click when you finish a page and the screen travels around each panel.
And finally you get the Also on DVD with trailers for “Stan Lee Presents Condor”, “Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms” and “Karas: The Prophecy”. Plus in the packaging, you get a mini Hellboy comic called “The Yearning”. Fun stuff.
Hellboy Animated: Blood & Iron is a haunted and beautiful gothic tour of old horror. With Hellboy in the mix, it makes for an entertaining and surprisingly creepy bit of Hammer Horror with a comic book twist. The actors are fantastic, the rich colors expressing the atmosphere are dazzling, and it seems the Animated is a better watch than the Guillermo del Toro (also an Executive Producer here) feature. Yes a couple of supporting characters are weak but it still is a towering success. If you are a Hellboy fan, this is a must own. If you like creepy old-fashioned horror and don’t have any idea who that big red guy with the tiny legs is, check it out anyways. A haunted house story with Greek Mythology and some comic book love.