When I was younger, I was fascinated by serial killer culture. I couldn’t get enough books on the topic and considered it a bit of a perverse hobby. Fast forward to me in my 30s and I can barely get through a true-crime podcast. Granted, certain subjects get under my skin more than others, but my anxiety goes through the roof when I hear about the detailed crimes of serial killers. When I mention this to others, they seem surprised that someone who loves horror movies so much and isn’t bothered by onscreen violence would be uncomfortable with the topic. Most of the horror I love is meant to be fun and usually fictionalized. I, like many other fans, need an escape for 90 minutes and I believe this to be a healthy way to cope. Every once in a while, movies like BORN FOR HELL come along and now I’m on edge, not sure if I should have watched that.
Set in Belfast, Vietnam vet drifter Cain (Mathieu Carriere, Malpertuis) is struggling to find monetary means to get himself home. He stumbles upon colorful characters, including one that advises he’d do well if he prostituted. Instead, it’s clear he is mentally disturbed after the war as well as having a newfound hatred for all things involving women. He decides to act on this by stepping inside a house full of nurses and tormenting each one violently.
BORN FOR HELL takes its concept from Richard Speck, the mass murderer who killed eight nurses one night in Chicago back in 1966. The film brings that horrible night to the screen and it’s something for those who appreciate the morbid. The scenes play out without any sort of artistic style, but maybe that’s what makes it so effective. Right away, the closest film that comes to mind is Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer where viewers are forced to watch murders play out with gritty realism. These moments are a mere way of life.
Those interested in the source material will be pleased to find that Severin has included multiple Speck related features on this Blu-ray release. Podcaster Esther Ludlow gives us Speck’s overall story while Henry director John McNaughton and Poltergeist 3 director Gary Sherman discuss the murders. Diving more into the world of serial killer culture, artist Joe Coleman shows off his Odditorium, a collection of serial killer artifacts. Google him. You won’t regret it.
For more on the film itself, Carriere is interviewed via Zoom due to the Covid-19 pandemic and also reflects on his previous work. There is also a visual essay by filmmaker Chris O’Neill on the making of the film. To emphasize maybe the intention of financing a movie like this, there is the U.S. video release cut also included which has the title Naked Massacre. While there is some nudity here, it’s all the result of sequences involving sexual assault. That alternate title sounds like it was meant to grab the attention of fans of Slumber Party Massacre, but I guarantee this is not one of those movies.
BORN FOR HELL probably has its fans out there, and they will enjoy this new home video release, but I can’t recommend it as a blind buy. If interested in purchasing, pre-orders are being made here.