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» » Back from Hell (1993)

Short summary

A priest visits an old friend, who has gone to Hollywood to become a movie star. He finds out that his friend has sold his soul to Satan for stardom and now regrets it. The priest determines to help his friend fight the devil and regain his soul.

User reviews


  • comment
    • Author: Fordrekelv
    Back from Hell is something of a mess. The premise is entertainingly subversive--it's even quite compelling and alternately funny at times. Matt Jaissle is a one-man band (he directs, writes, produces, composes the score, does the cinematography, edits, mixes the Kool-Aid, etc.) who definitely exhibits passion about the genre and a great, enthusiastic attitude towards his material, but the technical and artistic elements of the film make it plod along like jalopy with square tires that's also missing a door, two fenders, and has three coats of primer over gaping rust holes.

    The story is simple as long as you do not mind glossing over the details. Basically, Back from Hell is about two guys who were school buddies, but who have gone their separate ways. The one who became a preacher, Aaron (Shawn Scarbrough), is driving out to meet the one who tried to make it big in Hollywood, Jack (Larry Dubois). Jack has returned home to the Ann Arbor area after his Hollywood bid didn't go so well. He made a deal with Satan for success, but when Satan asked for human sacrifices as collateral, Jack backed out. From that point, the film is basically an excuse to introduce zombies and incompetent ninja Satanists (apparently they're big in Michigan) whom Jack and Aaron must battle.

    I found Aaron an attractive character. He's a preacher who has come out to hear confession from his friend, and despite his weakly stated reservations, he ends up becoming an ass-kicking, murdering mercenary. Of course, if we pay close attention to the plot, it makes very little sense. Jack expressed reservations about offering human sacrifices, but in the flashback scene, he's shown killing some bum or something. It's almost hilarious how wanton Jack is about killing people throughout the film, and even more hilarious how easily Aaron joins him. The ninja Satanist guys remain fairly inexplicable. Jack seems involved with them somehow, but it remains a mystery. That's just the tip of the iceberg of the plot confusions and inconsistencies on a fine-grained look.

    It doesn't help that the cinematography and lighting throughout the film are poor. The visual design could be compared to any random low-budget porno film from the early 1970s. On the other hand, the film's grunginess is an appropriate atmosphere, and Jaissle chose a couple attractive locations for exterior shots.

    Also not helping are the horrible performances. DuBois, in particular, sounds like someone semi-literate trying to read their lines. On the other hand, the performances are occasionally hilarious. The standout on this end is the "cop demon"--I was laughing so hard at this over-the-top, almost Lynchian performance (it reminded me a bit of the Garmonbozia midget from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992)) that I had to pause the DVD.

    The dialogue is usually banal, but there are also some catchy lines, if mainly because they're so ridiculous or ridiculously delivered. "Tell me I didn't just murder a man in cold blood", answered with, "You just performed a fast exorcism, pal" was amusing, as was "They say that (the) more things change, the more they stay the same . . . if Satan has taken over, things will certainly change, and things do seem to be the same", and of course, "Tell Satan I said . . . kiss my black ass!"

    Jaissle tries to be John Carpenter by composing his own music. Unfortunately, he doesn't have quite the skill needed to write compelling, simple music that can be repeated throughout the film without becoming grating, in contrast to Carpenter's approach on films like Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) and Halloween (1978).

    But as I mentioned, the attitude of the film is laudable, even if the extremely clunky technical abilities keep getting in the way. Jaissle does his best to get plenty of blood and gore in the film. Cutaway shots to one of our two "heroes" getting sprayed with blood pumping from the fresh jugular wound of an opponent is a big motif.

    However, there is usually no suspense in the attack scenes. This can be blamed on a confluence of less-than-satisfactory elements, from the awkward directing to the bad performances and the lack of timing when it comes to editing. The gore is decent, but it usually comes across as stagy, which is not what you want to shoot for in a visceral horror film. This could be improved by better lighting and editing to hide some of the fakeness, but again, the directing and performances have a lot to do with it, too. It also doesn't help that some of the effects are painfully bad. A throat slashing with a knife couldn't look more fake, and the "evil Bible hand" couldn't be more obviously inanimate as Scarbrough "fights" against it.

    On the positive side, Jaissle does enough admirably unusual things that I had a mini-epiphany while watching. I came to a better realization of why I love horror so much. What other genre can take such left turns and be so experimental when it comes to characterization, plot developments, actions, cinematography and so on? It's very unlikely that you'd see a romance, comedy, drama, etc.--at any budget level--suddenly start an extended sequence in negative colors with heavily processed, purposefully unintelligible dialogue (one of the better sequences of Back from Hell). You wouldn't even see other genres with a long late-film dialogue-free sequence of a principal character just walking through the woods, shot from a number of unusual angles (another good sequence). In horror, maybe because it isn't very well respected by the mainstream, filmmakers are truly free to do just about anything they can imagine. You can have any disposition and fate you like for any character, and you can do all kinds of experimental, "rule-breaking", artistic and technical things along the way. In this respect, Back from Hell is admirable, even if it's a mess.
  • comment
    • Author: wanderpool
    When you meet so many people in your life who call themselves Christians (but will chastise, condemn, beat up, or even kill someone for something as minor as a Marilyn Manson shirt), you often forget that there are more interesting Christians out there who are actually somewhat fun to be around. It seems that it is people out there who are the latter that are ready and willing to make splatter movies in the name of Jesus Christ. The result is low-budget wonders like this rare, little gem that is way more fun than any kind of church sermon one might hate to sit through. (I, regardless of any of the very few religious/spiritual standpoints I might have in common with Christianity, I am no Christian and I REALLY HATE churches!) In this movie, Jack (Larry DuBois) is a young Hollywood star, who, to maintain his fame, has sold his soul to Satan. Jack must follow through with a human sacrifice, but he doesn't have the heart, making the forces of darkness quite upset with him. Any one person who looks into his eyes becomes possessed by evil and hellbent on killing him in some very unpleasant ways. So, Jack, having one last very old and long-lost friend to turn to, contacts (an unrealistically non-judgemental) Father Aaron (Shawn Scarbrough) to help him combat Satan's army of masked killers, Ninja-looking types who carry axes. It all culminates in an outrageous bloodbath of limbs sawed off, gallons of spurting blood, and airborne guts. The FX (done on an obvious shoestring) often look pretty cool considering the practically nonexistent budget and, though the acting truly is the ultimate pits, it all makes for one good n' cheezy splatterfest classic. (The highlights are definitely the demon hand that grabs Father Aaron by the crotch from his own bible and when the good father shouts, "Tell Satan I said he can kiss my black ass!" before firing off a bloody hole through one last adversary. The latter scene leads to a particularly bizarre and unexpected twist.) For undemanding fans of the gory and goofy (like myself), this is a movie that starts off with an unsure and slow-moving feel, but speeds up and comes to life rather quickly and unpredictably, grabbing you (no pun intended) until that hellacious grip just gets tighter and tighter, climaxing in a release of the viewer into a very strange (and oddly eerie) non-ending which will leave all watching thinking, "What the hell was that?" Still, I'm a fan of David Lynch and Gregg Araki, so I do know that this isn't exactly a bad thing. You won't really know until you try this one out all the way through, so I urge all daring and bored sickos to give it a look!
  • comment
    • Author: Efmprof
    I like this kind of movies, made with no much money and without commercial attitude. This is a sincere work worthy of admiration. A good idea for the plot with a guy who can't be looked to his eyes because he awakes killer instinct in the other people. Only a sacred man can help him. With no much gore, it has a very good one scene with a man been squinting to take his eye out. It won' disappoint you.
  • comment
    • Author: Urtte
    this movie is just awful! if you like bad movies get this one. round up some others and slam this movie for alotta laughs. it's so bad that it looks like a student film that was made up as they went along. mst3k should have featured this one! too many high points (or low points more like) to list but a few include, the part where the fbi agent is possessed by Satan. at one point he chokes on the fake blood that they keep filling his mouth with. the voice he uses to project the wrath of Satan is a riot. sounds like a retard slowed down a few notches. there's even an obviously fake rubber hand that pops out of a bible and proceeds to grab onto the "heroes" crotch. there's too much to get into to but basicaly this is the perfect example of what not to do if you make a movie. this is just as bad as manos but funnier. manos is painful to watch but the pain you feel from this will be your sides splitting from laughing so hard. its on a compilation DVD set.
  • comment
    • Author: Velellan
    If you are a fan of MST3K then you will love this B Movie Jewel.

    Jack sold his soul to the devil in order to get famous. Now for some reason a demon is trying to kill him. Jack is just walking down the street when he gets attacked. He manages to kill his attacker and throws a piece of his throat at a random passer by for no apparent reason.

    The director then decides to film the railroad tracks for an unimaginable, unexplainable period of time.

    Jack is worried about his mom so he goes with his priest friend to his mother house. The demons are waiting for him. Jack defeats the "demon" and ties the fat guy to a chair. But the demon is crafty. With a comical wink to the camera the demon pretends to fall asleep. Jack seeing this also falls asleep. But it was a trick! the "demon" wakes up to remove the well tied rope from around the chair. Jack manages to drive a powerful knee into the demon to defeat it. This amazing feat it gloriously displayed in slow motion a couple of times for the viewers delight. Jack also performs his own stunts like jumping over small walls.

    The directors vision of the movie was to have blood splatter on various objects for effect, like the bible, the cross, the priests white shoes and peoples faces.

    The best part of this movie is the ending, when jack actually meets the demon. He luckily finds a tree full of weapons in the wilderness to fight the ninja assassins off with. Jack also luckily finds a shotgun on the ground to finish them off with.

    This movie is the funniest movie I have ever seen. It deserves to be #1 on the bottom 100 and I've seen the MST3K Manos and Monster A Go GO. This movie is worse!
  • comment
    • Author: Ionzar
    I've seen a lot of junk in my day and I admit it freely. But every now and then a movie stands out for being so hideously inept you can't believe money ever exchanged hands in connection with it. Someone PURCHASED this? Someone spent money MAKING it? It looks for all the world like some dudes got some money together under the erroneous belief that all it takes to make a feature film is enough cash to pay for the film and equipment, and enthusiasm.

    No, that's not true here because that's the biggest flaw of the movie--the two leads look more embalmed than any of the animated corpses, so enthusiasm must have been left out too! I wouldn't want to judge, but it's usually a good idea when casting leads to consider their abilities as actors...and their visual appeal! Maybe it's just me, but the sight of a pudgy guy with a mullet running around in late-80's stone-wash jeans (and please, God, if you exist, don't ever let that fashion style be resurrected!!) as a "hero" distracted me too much to enjoy this curdled, disappointing pile of mind-rot. Well, it WAS funny, but probably wasn't meant to be.

    However! The filmmakers knew one thing--when you can't afford acting or sets or lights or sound or costumes or a decent script...bring on the splatter! It was the only thing that kept me from shutting this off--it was literally doused in blood, and grotesquely funny and satisfying in that sense. There's something heartwarming to a splatter fan when a filmmaker lets the camera linger on spurting grue, and here the grue sprays all over the actor's faces at every occasion. No, it makes no sense, but it's hilarious and satisfying cinematically to see the suffering actors repeatedly sit there and be drenched in red syrup, like a splatter version of the old show "You Can't Do That On Television" or something! This is one of the bloodier films I've seen, and I've seen some serious crap.

    Other than that, utterly worthless, save your time and money for something else...
  • comment
    • Author: Felhalar
    The story is about a priest and an ex actor who returns from Hollywood, the ex actor has sold his soul to Satan, and together they try to get his soul back. They fight against the evil forces which consist of Zombies, Demons, Ninjas who don't have any martial arts skills, Evil cops, Criminals and so on.

    The film contains a lot of blood and some gore, stupid ninja costumes, horrible acting, horrible dialogues, however ,it doesn't contain any nudity or good looking chicks. The number of the people involved in this film is very limited, just few people. In short, Demon Apocalypse is a total piece of s**t that is only recommended to bad cinema fans. 2/10
  • comment
    • Author: Perongafa
    Jack trades his soul for fame and fortune in Hollywood but fails to complete his end of the bargain and becomes cursed. Now, whoever looks into his eyes is "possessed" into wanting to kill him! Leaving a trail of corpses in his wake, Jack manages to return to his hometown of Ann Arbor, MI to look up his old friend Arron (now a Catholic priest and therefore "immune" to Jack's curse). Jack tells Arron that not only has he been cursed, but he knows that the Devil is coming "back from hell" to take over the world! Arron is skeptical until Jack conjures up the spirit of Satan, who cheerfully informs the pair that "the Kingdom of Hell will again reign over the earth" by possessing the bodies of "bums and murderers" to do the Devil's dirty work. To prove his point, Satan reanimates a bunch of zombies which the pair must battle. Narrowly escaping, the friends decide to try and stop the cult before they can succeed in conquering the world. This results in a fairly comical and extremely gory battle with the ninja-esque cult members (their leader wears a Tiger Kung-Fu robe!). Limbs, guts and blood flow free in this cheap but occasionally inspired horror film. The best scene is when the priest is attacked by a demonic hand which jumps out of a bible and twists his nuts. A definite cinematic first! The acting is predictably horrible and the dialogue is ridiculous, but fans of "so bad it's good" may just eat this one up. It's also fun to watch the "magic" bloodstain appear and disappear from Jack's shirt from scene to scene (oops!). BACK FROM HELL is cheesy but more fun than your average Full Moon movie.
  • comment
    • Author: Shem
    This no-budget splatter film from Michigan has become something of a classic. Hilariously cheesy everything, including acting, gore, action, music. etc. Shawn Scarbrough is good as a young priest meeting up with an old friend who sold his soul to Satan (Larry Dubois). This is overall pretty fun and inventive. Obviously made during the "satanic panic" of the late 80s when Geraldo Rivera and everyone else thought satanists were everywhere. If you like cheesy gore & horror, check it out!
  • comment
    • Author: huckman
    I first caught a viewing of Back From Hell on the Horror Channel a number of years ago, and I instantly loved it because of the fake blood, the sets, and even the music Matt Jaissle designed for the movie. For a bad movie, I know where the director was getting at. I know that from the locations the camera seems to be filming while the music is playing, is suppose to give suspense, or give a haunting atmosphere however it fails big time at giving anything like that. It inspires me because of how bad it is, and how amateur it is, If I was to start making b horror movies, Id start off at watching this because of the editing which is pretty bad, yes its so bad that its good. YES, it does fall into that category.

    Its kind of strange that I loved this movie, the story is fine, and the background of Aaron and Jack is fine, the acting - the worst I've ever seen. First off this has to be one of the worst movies ever made, the sound seems so far away. The two main leads, and that cop seem as if they forget their lines most of the time. There is no emotion in their voice when they're talking,and when it seems like they give the impression that there is suppose to be, you cant help but laugh at some scenes. As other reviewers of this have said, there is some hilarious one-liners and action scenes with those satanic ninjas, and the make-up and gore is so bad its funny.

    I tried for a while to get this on DVD, and luckily found a copy after some time on Ebay. If you love B-Movies, add this to your collection, its a good one.
  • comment
    • Author: Tisicai
    DON'T STAIN THE TASSLED BOAT SHOES!

    This is the one of the greatest films ever produced. It would be an insult to the makers of this major motion picture if you simply labeled it "horror." Its message and subversive themes extend deep into a realm of social conscience and philosophical consciousness.

    My recommendation is to purchase this movie and add it to your collection. It sits on my shelf at home between "Toxic Avenger" and "Mondo Magic."
  • comment
    • Author: Ericaz
    I must admit that I have seen some bad films in my time (i.e. Manos: Hands of Fate, Werewolf, Zombie Lake, etc.) and am admittedly attracted to such horrid films. (Guess that's what I get for being a MSTie) However, "Back From Hell" has got to be one of the worst attempts at a horror film that I have ever seen. This film has got to be the one that will be playing nightly in Hell for all eternity because it contains all the makings of a bad film (from the cut and paste editing to the garbled, incomprehensible dialog.. you name it and "Back From Hell" has it).

    The film starts off with Aaron (Shawn Scarbrough) driving to hear the private confession of long time friend Jack (Larry Dubois) who has sold his soul to the devil to be famous. Jack has fallen afoul of his pact and now the devil has cursed him so that anyone who looks into his eyes tries to kill him. Aaron has trouble believing this at first but then two cops show up for no reason whatsoever and are quickly killed after trying to kill Shawn. Afterwards Satan is summoned to tell Aaron about his plan for world dominance and thus the two wander off aimlessly to save the world. Basically they just drive around doing nothing and end up in the middle of nowhere fighting devil worshipers. The ending isn't that bad considering the rest of the film but it does little to help save the film from its putridity.

    I will say that upon seeing this film at Blockbuster for the first time I was interested. I mean, how could you go wrong with a good old movie about Satan returning to power and using dead corpses and other malicious people to do his bidding? Well.. from the very beginning "Back From Hell" just went down the drain and straight back to Hell. To start off with, I could NOT understand a word uttered by Jack or Aaron. I had to turn my volume up to the max just to get the gist of what they're saying - not that there was any noteworthy dialog to hear anyway. Oddly enough, I think there actually was a script at some point during the making of this film but from what I saw it almost seemed as it had been lost or simply destroyed since the actors seemed to be making lines up as they went because there would be awkward intervals in between conversations indicating that they were either reading their lines or that they had forgotten them. Jack especially seemed to give the impression of an incompetent with a fly buzzing around his head. In short, because of the terrible audio and total void of emotion or effort given to any of their lines, this film failed to move me in any way other than out of the room about halfway through.

    Aside from that there was the horribly fake gore. I mean.. it was god awful. Usually a bit of gore here and there will save a film but in this case it was so laughably fake that I could not believe my eyes. Nearly every time there was blood and guts the film would show someone's face getting soaked with fake blood that looked to come out of a water gun. In fact I remember a notable scene towards the end when Jack cut someone then sat there with his eyes closed as he got soaked with the blood. It was literally almost as if he was waiting on someone outside the shot to squirt him with it. I mean, for God's sake people don't even fake the punches convincingly!! Needless to say, the film's overuse of scare tactics through gore ultimately cost them as it because all the more obvious throughout the film how fake it all was.

    All in all, Back From Hell is not worth your time nor money as you will hate yourself for ever having watched it. Your ears will bleed from straining to hear it. Your eyes will be blurred with tears as you realize that the film drags on forever. Your jaw will drop to the ground in disbelief at the terribly fake skirmishes. This film will ultimately achieve its purpose in the end as it puts you through Hell worse than any other film known to man. So, just be forewarned that if you do choose to watch it, please have a masochistic streak or otherwise you will suffer through hell just like everyone else has that has unfortunately had to endure this piece of garbage.
  • comment
    • Author: Whitestone
    Jack dickered with The Devil to improve Jack's efforts in Hollywood, in exchange for Jack providing two souls for Lucifer. But gentle Jack's constitution is such that he's unwilling to fulfill his end of the deal, so, Satan punishes Jack by causing anyone who looks into Jack's eyes to want to kill Jack. In the interest of self-preservation, however, Jack kills them first. Jack's childhood friend, who became a priest, is immune from these effects 'cause he's a "Man of God". Therefore, Jack seeks the clergyman's help. If that's not enough, they also learn that Mr. Pitchfork intends to take over he world. The rest of the movie shows the duo taking on the many that would do them in. I'm not surprised that Jack turned to The Devil to work with Jack's acting. It's obvious that The Alternative had nothing to do with that element. The sound is terrible, the continuity is distractingly laughable, and so is the over-abundance of gore. (Is it odd that blood always spurts on somebody's face or shoes?) If you're searching for the absolute worst flick, you're gonna remember this one.
  • comment
    • Author: Shou
    i couldn't beleive they released this,first off the acting is the worst i've ever seen the main character jack remained calm throughout the movie even when a cop stuck forks in his arm while he was tied down but yet after the priest shoots the cop that was tormenting jack he pulls five forks out of his arm and has full use of it ,doesnt complain about it and you never see any fork marks on his arm then to top it off a bunch of satanic ninjas are going around trying to help satan take over the world and jack made a deal with the devil ,he sold his soul to become famous so when ever he looks into someones eyes they want to kill him so the demon he made the deal with can have his soul. then theres a bunch of cheap fighting sequences against the satanic ninjas,my favorite is when they are in the woods and the priest has a chainsaw so he sees a ninja and all the sudden the camera blacks out for a second and it is a wooden dummy dressed as a ninja supposed to be the one he was fighting and he cuts off its arm. then at the end after the big budget fight scene in the woods a ninja calls jack's name and jack says "how did you know my name"? i dont know if the writer snorted crank along with the cast members on this one but jack sold his soul to be famous so wasnt the ninja supposed to know his name well i just gave you a couple good ones from this great big budget blockbuster you have to rent it to see the ending and also for a good laugh it doesnt get any worse than this
  • comment
    • Author: Tehn
    A struggling actor sells his soul to Satan in order to get a few good parts. However, after seeing fame, the actor backs out of his pact with Satan, causing every person who looks into his eyes to be filled with all the rage Hell can scrape up. After Satan sends his many evil minions after the actor, he is forced to turn to the only man who won't try to kill him: a priest. (Oh yeah, did I mention that while all the above is going on Satan is starting on his plan to take over the world? Didn't think so...)

    This movie has all of the elements of a great bad movie: buckets of fake blood and gore, bizarre satanic story line, ninjas (!!) dedicated to evil, obvious cues and HORRIBLE acting. Anyone who enjoys a good bad movie should consider picking this up if they can find it.
  • comment
    • Author: Vareyma
    I read the back of the box a couple weeks ago and figured it sounded real good so i figured I'd check it out. Much to my surprise when I got it home and began to watch it, it was the worst movie I've ever seen and that's saying a lot cause i've seen a lot of bad ones. Don't get me wrong the story was good, but the acting sucked which totally ruined the movie for me. Usually when acting is bad me, my dad, and my friend Josh all have a good laugh, but with this film we could not help but totally hate it.
  • Cast overview:
    Larry DuBois Larry DuBois - Jack
    Shawn Scarbrough Shawn Scarbrough - Father Aaron
    Don Ruem Don Ruem - Evil Cop / Satan
    Chris Heikka Chris Heikka - Cop shot in head
    Matt Hundley Matt Hundley - Azzagras, High Priest of Satan
    Matt Jaissle Matt Jaissle - Maniac with axe
    William Jaissle William Jaissle - Bearded Zombie
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