Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Maybe a Hyena Ate Your Baby

This is going to be fun.
Quick Plot: While driving home, talking on her phone, and inexplicably having her baby laying on its stomach in the backseat, a woman gets run off the road and eaten by hyena people. As does her already endangered child.

See, a baby being eaten by hyena people is normally sad, but since mom was about one text away from probably getting into a fatal accident anyway, does it make THAT much of a difference?
Moving on, everybody’s favorite beefcake Costas Mandylor enters as the sad husband and father now in mourning. Best way to get over family tragedy? Start hanging out with Meshach Taylor--yes, the sparkle in Mannequin--who is also kind enough to speak directly to the camera to explain what science calls Crypto-Humans.

Aka Hyena People or really, werehyenas.
Pause for one of my favorite lines of all time: “My name is Briggs. But folks around these parts call me Crazy Briggs.”

This naturally means we get to hear Costas Mandylor refer to said character as ‘Crazy’ from that moment on. Not in a ‘you’re crazy!’ kind of way. Rather, “What should we do, Crazy?” or, I imagine, “I’m ordering takeout. Do you want your sesame sauce on the side, Crazy?”

*Pause to acknowledge that Saw VII features a similar conversation with an overeager detective and Jigsaw's ex-wife. Apparently, it's some weird Mandylorian coincidence.*

Flash forward two years, tragically sparing us what could have been a golden training montage for Crazy to train Costas in the art of Hyena People. Sigh. Not every movie can be perfect.
We soon meet two feuding gangs that may possibly have unthawed from 1985 (I swear there’s some lingering DNA from Zombie Nightmare here). They almost fight. A lot. What they have to do with anything isn’t really, well, anything, but I suppose it was necessary to include young people in a film about hyena people? I didn’t read the handbook, so perhaps I’m just qualified to discuss such matters.

Luckily, Costas Mandylor is qualified for everything, including saving a pretty young woman from a hyena attack and quickly charming her with his gigantic Mandylorian lips and catcher’s mitts hands. Yes ladies, if you’ve ever wanted to know how the Mandylor makes love, you get a little warmup peek here and let’s just say, it’s grabby.
While love is slopping itself on a haystack (seriously), the band of Crypto-Hyena-People are ravaging the land, led by Christa Campbell with an easily removable tank top. Anybody who ever had a problem with Hulk’s pants not ripping during his many growth spurts may be pleased that Campbell always carefully removes her clothing before being transformed in a bargain basement CGI monster. Oh, she also tries to speak a few times, during which we as an audience learn that Ms. Campbell has a hostile opossum inside her lungs.

Wow. If I didn’t know anything about the talent behind this film, I would have sworn Hyenas was simply made by a Uwe Boll apprentice or ESL student with a brain injury. It is, without any question, a terrible movie, one nowhere near writer/director Eric Weston’s 1981 video nasty that I enjoyed enough, Evilspeak. Yes, the same demigod that gave Clint Howard his first full-out starring role made these 93 minutes of first-grade CGI projects, hilarious acting further made funnier by occasional dubbing, and storylines that seem put together with all the skill of a lefty wearing a mitten on his right hand and using that to assemble a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.

It ain’t good.
But it sure is funny.

Loyal readers might know that my love of bad cinema toes a fine line. Anything intentional simply irks, while the earnest elates. Because Hyenas is made by a man who was clearly competent in 1981, a part of me wonders if it’s aware of just how ridiculous it is. Examine this typical piece of dialogue between a hitchhiking Campbell and Orville, a simple-minded trucker:
Orville: What’s your name?
Campbell: Wilda.
Orville: What kind of name is Wilda?
Mean something?
(25 seconds of silence)
Campbell: Wow. That’s my car.
Orville proceeds to get out of his truck and walk around a quiet forest, kindly telling the audience that he is confused and thought he may have seen something (just in case we didn’t understand his facial acting, which honestly, I didn’t). 

Or take Mandylor’s first meetup with Crazy Briggs:

Mandylor: What are you doing sneaking around here?
Crazy: I was just waiting for you to be alone
Most men might have a problem with this. Mandylor just kind of continues the conversation. Because damnit, he’s in a movie called Hyenas!

High Points
The fact that the film ends with a tease for a sequel warms my heart like a hyena in a fur coat
Low Points
Well, you know...the movie is actually awful and a low point in itself, but we don’t really need to talk about that, do we?
Lessons Learned
The best way to unite warring youth gangs is to make them band together in an effort to battle Hyena People

Turf is for horses
A redneck pig without balls shouldn’t talk about f*cking when he can’t get it up; wait, can we think about this a little more? 
Your free Spanish lesson: everything’s cool=Esta bien

Fear feels like a gunshot. Hm.
When working with a low budget and young actors who can’t really handle fight choreography, simply cover it up by having said young actors hug as you lay over punching sound effects
Stray Observations
Recent reader will know of my newfound obsession with 2001’s Gangland, a similarly dreadful Costas Mandylor vehicle that defies logic and emerges spectacular. Perhaps one of the (many) reasons I’m so darned amused by Hyenas is the subtle threads it shares with that action thriller, including Mandylor having audio flashbacks to his family being slaughtered and his face getting a close-up cut with CGI flames.

This will only matter to those that actually watch this movie, but how disgusting did that diner pecan/apple sauce pie look? Was the scariest part of this film NOT watching the hero(?) feed it to his reluctant girlfriend?
The Winning Line
“The bathroom is in there. The toothbrush is new. The paste is mint.”
Costas Mandylor, you are smoother than a baby’s skin

More competent than Birdemic but only because the kitchen sink play my cats wrote is too, Hyenas is a hilariously bad film that merits a watch if ‘hilarious bad film’ is music to your ears and strawberry gumdrops to your tongue. Invest no actual capitol into the film, but should the stork drop it on your porch or mugger shove it in your pocket in place of your wallet, please do press play. 


  1. This movie sounds incredible. Paging the Bad Movie Stork right now.

  2. I hope he drops a special something your way!

  3. Yay! I'm so glad you watched this, and now we can share inside jokes about together!! Thanks for making me laugh out loud this morning ha....it's so bad. SO BAD! I love it and knew you would too. ; )

  4. SO BAD! I owe YOU thanks for calling it the worst thing you'd ever seen and therefore forcing me to immediately bump it to the number 1 spot on my must-see list. My life has been improved as a result, Crazy.

  5. "Christa Campbell with an easily removable tank top"

    I'm sold! No, seriously though, way to take one for the team. I had this in my queue prior to its release and bumped it up as the release date approach. But then I though "Do I REALLY need to see this?"

  6. I was already pretty well sold on this one, then you said this:

    "When working with a low budget and young actors who can’t really handle fight choreography, simply cover it up by having said young actors hug as you lay over punching sound effects"

    Whatever the next level of being sold is, that's me.

  7. You will love this movie like a warm plate of nachos being shoved in your face by a topless Christa Campbell. Enjoy!

  8. Is this on netflix? Because it cries out both for me to watch it and to invent a drinking game for it and inflict it upon my friends. :)

  9. It's on there as a rental, not an instant watch. I do HIGHLY recommend the instant watch Gangland as well (although it may have left the streaming on June 1st), another Mandylor vehicle which I already made a drinking game for!

    PLEASE do rent it and report back with the rules. Hyenas is SCREAMING for a drinking game (get it, hyenas scream....aye, I'm sure you'll do better!).

  10. Sorry I missed your post Aaron! My answer, of course, would be that you kind of really DO need to see this film, but clearly, my judgement is skewed by forces beyond my control.