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The Witching Hour Night 26: Hellboy

Movies based on comic book superheroes have become big business for Hollywood over the last ten years but there were quite a few interesting experiments during the aughts with characters making the leap from the inked page to the big screen. Tonight I thought we would take a look at a film that was well received back in the day but a lot of people don’t seem to talk about much anymore. I do not want to say that Hellboy is a forgotten flick but until the announcement of the 2019 reboot movie it seemed that the 2004 movie rarely showed up on lists of comic book films.

This movie was a passion project for director Guillermo del Toro; he spent six years of his life trying to bring Hellboy to life on the movie screen and apparently he had to fight off lots of silly ideas from studio executives during his quest to get the damn thing made. Instead of the massively red hulking hero we know and love they suggested having Hellboy look like a regular guy who could maybe have a Hellmobile to ride around in. Actors suggested for the role include Nicholas Cage, The Rock and Vin Diesel. They didn’t want the main character to have his horns or a tail. Thankfully, del Toro insisted on staying reasonably true to the comic books and when it came time to find a man to wear that oversized duster and grind down those horns, del Toro had one man in mind – Ron Perlman. The two had recently worked together on Blade II and del Toro knew that Perlman could deliver the gruff, blue collar attitude that the character required.

The movie begins in 1944; the Nazis have allied themselves with Rasputin (yes, that Rasputin) to open a portal and summon massive demons to aid in their efforts during World War II. A team of allies and an occult scientist manage to defeat the Nazi project but a baby demon with a massive right hand managed to come through while the portal was briefly open. The scientist – Dr. Bruttenholm – bonds with the little demon and raises him as a son. The soldiers called the little guy Hellboy.

Fast forward sixty years and the titular demon works for the United States government. Specifically, he is attached to the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. This unit is lead by Dr. Bruttenholm and a handful of carefully selected agents. Oh, and there is Abe Sapien – an amphibious humanoid with a vaguely defined psychic power.

And then there is Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) – a pyrokinetic and love interest for Hellboy. She had removed herself from the project and checked into a mental hospital in order to spare her friends from her fiery powers.

This team is dispatched to fight monsters and other paranormal threats on behalf of the government while keeping their existence a secret from the public. Unfortunately for the good guys, Hellboy and Dr. Bruttenholm are not the only ones from that fateful night in 1944 to make it to 2004. Rasputin is resurrected and revives Sammael – a Lovecraftian demon that is quite hard to kill. You see, when you manage to dispatch one its spirit splits and two more rise up from its body. As Sammael continues to reproduce Rasputin moves ahead with his plan to use Hellboy to unlock a portal and bring forth an uber demon.

Ron Perlman brings the film together with his portrayal of Hellboy. He has this gruff blue collar demeanor about him but he still has a soft spot for Liz … and kittens. Every once in a while we are lucky enough to see an actor completely own a character. Think Anthony Hopkins as Doctor Hannibal Lecter or Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. I will go to my grave convinced that Ron Perlman performed this character perfectly.

Hellboy boasts some creative ideas and some wonderfully designed cinematography. If you’re looking for a monster romp you might want to check this one out.

Jason Mckendricks
Jason Mckendrickshttp://Ticgamesnetwork.com
Writer. Photographer. I leveraged a business degree to play video games. My opinions are entirely my own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Inner Circle (but they should). DMs on my Twitter are open.

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