Sometime in the late 1960’s, Professor Jones (John Saxon) was involved in an MK Ultra-style eugenics experiment. Wondering what eugenics is? Our own President refers to it as the “racehorse theory,” which should scare the unholy shit out of you when you realize that eugenics was a major driving force in creating the Master Race of the Third Reich. But hey — isn’t it so funny when hes cutting up and making fun of people?
Sorry for the politics. Let’s just talk about Hellmaster. We’ll all feel better that way.
Jones created The Nietzsche Experiment, which gave its subjects telepathic abilities while also making them violent mental cases. Twenty years later — and armed with an entire gang of deformed mutants (is there any other kind) — he is killing everyone who ever did him wrong and transforming his old college into a slaughterhouse.
Originally called Them and Soulstealer, this made in Detroit regional small wonder — shot in the Clinton Valley Center Hospital, an active-at-the-time mental institution — was re-released at the end of the video rental era. Beyond Saxon, David Emge (Stephen from Dawn of the Dead) makes an appearance as a reporter, who joins with one of the survivors and a psychic who takes the drug in order to destroy its creator once and for all.
This is a movie that looks way better than you’d expect and plays out much more fun than you’d hoped. In a world of direct-to-streaming, the video store classics will forever remain above them, looking down and dripping goopy syrup-smelling blood all over the place.
You can watch this on Tubi or order it from Vinegar Syndrome. Their new release even has the Them cut and commentary for both versions. I love everything they release, as they put the care into these forgotten movies that studios neglect to bestow on their most artistic releases.