Feature 04 – Hell Baby (2013)

or “Jim Henson’s Parody Babies”

Featuring: Rob “Hot Tub Time Machine” Corddry , Leslie “Wristcutters: A Love Story” Bibb , Keegan Michael “Key & Peele” Key

Written & Directed By: Robert Ben “Balls of Fury” Garrant & Thomas “Reno 911!” Lennon

Origin: USA


“It’s like Banksy with knives and face tattoos.”

By the Bearded Clam of Isis (or, for the ladies, the Bearded Marble Sack of Horus), today my biorhythms feel like they were composed by Robert Smith the day his favorite eyeliner fell in the toilet. I could use a laugh. This is gonna be one of those rare days where I review a comedy. A horror comedy, but a comedy still.

 I love skit comedy. I know it’s called “sketch comedy”, but I call it skit comedy. Cuz fuck you with Rick Rude’s AIDS infected zombie penis, that’s why… which is a joke only one other person will get, so hopefully he actually reads this… Rick Rude didn’t die of AIDS, he just looked like someone who would have. Anyway, “Saturday Night Live”, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”, “The Whitest Kids U Know”, “The Kids in the Hall”, “Upright Citizens Brigade”. Each one uniquely brilliant and simultaneously hilarious. But, one of my favorite shows was an MTV production that I latched onto in junior high – “The State”. It was the jumping off point for the careers of amazingly talented & creative comedy folk like David Wain, Michael Ian Black, Kerri Kenney, Michael Showalter, Joe Lo Truglio, and Ken Marino. If not for the “The State”, you wouldn’t have great shows of recent years like “Superjail”, “Children’s Hospital”, “Burning Love”, or “Reno 911!”… and to a lesser extent (but I still loved ’em), “Viva Variety” and “Stella”. You also wouldn’t have fantastic “State flicks” like Wet Hot American Summer , Balls of Fury, or The Ten. Fuck you, Balls of Fury was amazing. Shut your gob, ya knob.

 Speaking of “State flicks”, today’s movie comes to us by two of those bastions of bizarre brilliance: Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garrant. Uninitiated might know them better as Dangle and Junior from “Reno 911!”, aka “bicycle shorts and the little guy in the vest”. When I heard Lennon and Garrant’s name attached to Hell Baby, I thought it sounded better than $240 worth of pudding and immediately declared my intention to… DIP MY BALLS IN IT!… “State” jokes… fuck you some more! GO WATCH “THE STATE”!

 Soon-to-be parents of twins, Jack and Vanessa (she pees a lot), are moving into their dream home… if their dreams were NWA videos shot in the ghettoist ghetto in New Orleans. Hoping to DIY the dump into a gentrificationer’s dream, they learn from their neighbor F’resnel (Keegan-Michael Key) that said structure is known by the locals by such colorful noms de infamy as The House of Blood, The House of the Lost, Place Where the Dead Never Rest, The Spooky Old Place Down the Way, The House on the Edge of the Park, The Last House on the Left, House Party 3, and The House House… those last four were mine, of course.

Almost immediately, Vanessa starts acting strange, which she attributes to “pregnant mommy brain”, which happens to be reason #37 of why I’m never having kids. The mental illness of motherhood doesn’t explain why a big ominous rottweiler starts casing the property, nor why a naked hag looking like Henrietta Knowby is poaching on Jack’s trouser snake, nor why Jack finds a ’70s porno mag in the basement with a cover girl who looks mysteriously like Vanessa in a “horny little devil” costume, nor… nor… sorry, I just like to say the word nor. Heh heh, “nor”.

Vanessa’s sister Marjorie joins the cast to bless the house that hood rat Satan built. She’s a hippie dippie spiritualist, so naturally “blessing” the place consists of having an herbal smoke circle in the attic that does nothing but make everybody paranoid and impair their driving abilities. 420 has no effect on the 666! Lucifer’s all about expanding your mind, man! Puff puff pass, share the Devil’s grass! Forget the rank and file, just smoke up with Belial! If things are going wrong, just hit Ol’ Scratch’s bong! There’s no need for frownies when Beelzebub’s bakin’ the brownies! Even dirt buds are nice when you’re tokin’ with the Antichrist! You’ll never run out of spleef when your pipe bears the mark of the Beast! Sell your soul to the Deceiver for that sweet sweet reefer! Burn some Acapulco Gold alongside the Serpent of Old!

Sorry, but this is gonna be a shorter-than-normal review, and I had to fill space somehow. I was gonna go into a whole tirade about my dream to open a Chinese restaurant slash opium den slash whore house called The Wanton Wonton (“Where all your vice come with fried rice!”), but one sentence is about all that gag warrants… and that was the sentence… so I guess I got to use both. Yay.

Back to our movie, you can’t have a devil/hell/possession movie without a man of the cloth or two, and Hell Baby‘s come in the shape of two chain smoking, tough guy priests straight outta Compton, errr, the Vatican – former Spanish bullfighter Father Padrigo (Lennon) and former Italian street performer Father Sebastian (Garrant). Teamed with a pair of local cops (“Human Giant”’s Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer), the Pope’s holy hitmen need to halt the birthing of the Antichrist… or Antichrists?!

And that’s pretty much it. That’s the movie. When you’re making a parody, you sacrifice story for jokes, and just rattling off all of the movie’s jokes here would make for a piss poor review. Not because the jokes are piss poor, just because having a joke described to you isn’t nearly as good as experiencing the joke. A man walks into a bar. OUCH! Get it? Instead of walking into a drinking establishment, I’m saying that the man in question actually walked headlong into a steel bar, thus injuring himself. See? Not nearly as funny.

The (very small) cast is a who’s who of “Hey! It’s that guy from that Comedy Central stand-up special!” guys. Though I didn’t think Corddry was interesting enough to play lead, his “perpetually confused/awkward, but pretending he’s not” comedic visage works to his advantage, especially during the movie’s comically uncomfortable scenes. Everybody else does their thing, and are fortunate enough to have smaller roles, cuz I don’t think any of them could carry a lead role much better. They’re suited to these bite-sizers. Too much of a good thing tends to get you sick. Except for the cases of Michael Ian Black and David Wain, who get one scene and one voice mail respectively. Yep, Wain doesn’t even make it in front of the camera!

Back to those uncomfortable scenes, they’re easily the best parts of the movie. Nothing in the movie could qualify as a “gut buster” moment but those scenes, namely a REALLY awkward one between Jack and Marjorie (I won’t spoil it here), are the cream of this proverbial crop. Also, you know how some comedies take a scene and run it into the ground? Like, they refuse to end it because they think that if they draw it out further and further and further, it’ll be funny, then unfunny, then funny again? You know how those scenes ALWAYS SUCK? Not here. That’s another thing Garrant and Lennon write well. Specifically the introduction of the Fathers where they’re discussing a particularly gruesome scene from their last exorcism, and the little “wrap up” scene at the very end. Also, scenes of people eating. You’ll see what I mean if you watch it. These are where the former State-smen shine, but the rest could use a little polish… PUN! :::rimshot:::

Sadly, there were a lot of jokes that you can see from a mile away, and some running gags that fell flat on their proverbial faces. More busted noses than Sylvester Stallone, Mickey Rourke, and Randy Couture Eskimo kissing. It’s possible that Garrant and Lennon are going for some kind of DOUBLE parody here. Instead of just doing a straight up riff on baby antichrist movies, they actually created a parody of horror parody movies. Maybe the jokes are all obvious and stretched beyond their humor retention limits because THAT is the joke. If that is the case… sorry, it’s still not funny. In fact, thinking of Hell Baby in those terms just makes it all feel more “shooting over everybody’s heads” than witty. Blart.

I guess what I was hoping for going into this was something with more energy and gags like Scary Movie, only written a lot better and without leaving that taste of shame vomit on your soul when it’s over. I probably should’ve realized that when you’ve only got 1/8th of the “The State”’s writing staff, you’re only getting about 1/8th of the the laughs… and the the eye creatures… no, that one was an MST3K reference. But, expectations are the fault of the individual, not the movie. Either way, I still can’t bring myself to give Hell Baby better than a 3, and even that’s more because I just don’t feel it’s bad enough to warrant a 2. Consider it a spiritual 2 ½.

And that’s my review. Because I’m Anubis and you’re the reader and I’m outtaaaaa heeeeeeeeeeeeeeere… nothing?! ARGH! FUCK YOU WITH THE SHINING FINGER! GO WATCH “THE STATE”, YOU FILTH WALLOWING PLEBIAN! BLAAAAAAAAART!

 Moral of the Story: Hugs are legally enforced in the city of New Orleans, ghost dogs don’t poop (I’m sure Forest Whitaker would disagree), and if you ever find yourself riddled with bullets, be sure you get patched up by Italian nurses. Actual Italians though, not Italian-Americans. I-tams’ll probably just steal your wallet.


Leatherface’s vacation home for Jazz Fest.

“Fuck you, honkeys! If yo’ movie ain’t got no Wayans brothers in it, we don’t give a SHIT!”

“I swear to you, Your Excellency. This boy couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9 years old, but he felt THIS big!”

I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to apply fingernail polish with the little brushes that come in the bottle lids.

Yeah, I have the same reaction every time I see a grown man wearing damn OshKosh. Is he going as one of Dexys Midnight Runners for Halloween?! B’Gosh… B’fucking Gosh…

“Sir, we have a few questions we’d like to ask. For starters, have you seen a small gold ring with a strange inscription in the area? Secondly, WHERE’S MY PRECIOUS YOU FILTHY HOBBITSES?!?!”

Shouldn’t she be locked in somebody’s fruit cellar?

The only thing that bothers me about this picture is why the dime store Ron Jeremy’s wearing a single roller skate… what the fuck!?

Come on. Unless you’re some idiot tourist from the heartland, you know you’d want to do the exact same thing to those friggin’ “living statues”.

“Louisiana Cable”? I’m guessing the only channels they carry are the ones that show redneck child beauty pageants, hillbilly cooking shows (meth, moonshine, AND roadkill), Monday Night Gator Wrasslin’, and reruns of “Girls Gone Wild: Mardi Gras Mammaries”.

Awwwww yeah! A little something for the ladies!… and about 12% of the guys.

THIS is why you don’t assume you can do your own “at home” birth. They’re messy shit.

Anubis will return next time in
“Jim Henson’s Rob Zombie’s Rosemary’s Baby’s Babies”

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