Based on the comic characters created by Mike Allred, G-Men From Hell debuted at the Cinequest Film Festival in Feburary of 2001. Directed by Christopher Coppola, the film stars William Forsythe (Dean Crept), Tate Donovan (Mike Mattress), Bob Goldthwait (Buster), Paul Rodriguez (Weenie Man), Vanessa Angel (Gloria Lake), Kari Wuhrer (Marete), and Gary Busey (Lt. Langdon). Besides the G-Men, Allred has worked on Madman and The Atomics, though perhaps what he is most well known for is his current project, X-Force/X-Statix from Marvel Comics.
Killed in a hit, corrupt G-Men Dean Crept and Mike Mattress are sent to Hell. There, they manage to escape, via one of Satan's transporting crystals. They figure that if, on Earth, they perform a few good deeds, they'll end up in Heaven when they die again. To this end, they open a P.I. firm. Their first client is a Mrs. Lake, who believes her rich husband is plotting her death. When they go to rough him up, however, Mattress and Crept discover he's already dead. To make matters worse, Satan shows up and demands they give up his crystal the following night. With only 46 hours to go, the G-Men must uncover the killer and return Satan's crystal, or they'll suffer unending torment in the fiery pits of Hell.
I really, really, really wanted to like G-Men From Hell more than I did. I absolutely love Allred's work on X-Force and the trailer for the film was very promising. The parts with the G-Men are quite good, a mix of classic film-noir and some deft humor. However, the film stumbles, often becoming tedious, with the bizarre and eclectic supporting cast, which includes Cheetah Man, the lamest 'super' hero ever, and a weird ventriloquist villain. Several of the supporting actors, especially Vanessa Angel, painfully overact as well. Forsythe and Donovan, though, kept my attention during their scenes, and I longed for more G-Men action when they weren't on camera.
G-Men From Hell is presented in 1.33:1 full frame. The transfer is sufficient, though obviously has its limitations, as the film had a small budget. Print flaws, such as specks, lines, and marks appear throughout. There is also some noticeable edge enhancement and shimmer, which distract in several scenes. For the exception of darker scenes, colors are natural with accurate flesh tones. Blacks, in particular in the Hell and nighttime scenes, are too light, never approaching deep or rich.
G-Men From Hell is presented in Dolby 2.0 Stereo in English. The stereo track performs adequately, though the more action-oriented scenes could've benefited from a surround track. Dialogue volume is varied throughout, often requiring some minor adjustment in several scenes, though, for the most part, is clear. No subtitles are included.
Where G-Men From Hell really delivers is in the extras department. There are two main extras on the disc: an audio commentary with Mike & Laura Allred and Astroesque, a ninety-minute film written, produced, directed, and starring Mike Allred.
In the audio commentary, Mike Allred traces the origins of the characters through his numerous comic book titles and points out the differences between the stories and characters in both mediums. He also pauses, quite frequently, to admire both the direction and the cinematography of the film. Laura Allred, his wife and colorist, also points out a few things and asks questions, though Mike is the dominant participant. The track was enjoyable for the most part, though had it included a third person more involved with the actual filming, it might've been more interesting.
Astroesque, shot on a budget of $10,000, is an 'ambiguous sci-fi action epic,' in the words of Mike Allred, who provides an introduction. Tied into the comic Red Rocket 7, the film revolves around the story of an alien who appears to Brad in visions and eventually comes into his life. The alien apparently escaped to Earth to await the 'astroesque,' an event that ties into the Bible and the apocalypse. Though the acting is a bit amateur, the film is fairly entertaining.
Other extras include the film's trailer, a gallery of alternate box art, an almost six-minute interview with Mike Allred, film to comic comparsions, and trailers for other Framework Entertainment releases. The information in the interview is all in the commentary, and includes explanations of the characters and their origins and history in his comics.
G-Men From Hell boasts an interesting concept, though the film is hampered by a wide and bizarre cast of supporting characters who often just appear with little explanation or background. Found for as little as $12 online, the disc is certainly worth checking out for fans of Allred or the film, as the disc is loaded with cool extras.