Michael Allred's G-Men From Hell

Michael Allred's G-Men From Hell

In 1991, Mask Of Zorro's Martin Campbell directed Cast A Deadly Spell, an underrated TV movie in which hardboiled '40s gumshoe Fred Ward navigated his way through a richly detailed Los Angeles populated by ghouls, goblins, and witches. G-Men From Hell attempts a similarly tricky bit of genre fusion, but its ham-fisted cross-pollination of the detective and horror genres yields far less satisfying results. Adapted from Michael Allred's cult-favorite comic-book series, G-Men stars Tate Donovan and William Forsythe as essentially decent federal agents who are cut down in the prime of life and sent to hell. Eager to escape eternal damnation, they steal a crystal from neurotic Prince Of Darkness Robert Goulet and return to Earth, where they open a detective agency and attempt to redeem themselves through good work. An air of desperation hangs heavy over G-Men, a situation only exacerbated by pointless subplots and shtick-intensive supporting characters like a mad scientist's assistant (Charles Fleischer) who speaks largely through a hand puppet, or a murdered sleazebag (Bobcat Goldthwait) reborn as a homemade robot. Cheap costumes and sets that look like they couldn't withstand a strong gust of wind don't help matters, but the film's problems run much deeper than its transparently stingy budget. Listless camp for beginners, G-Men wears its comic-book origins proudly, but its real inspiration seems to be those self-consciously naughty off-off-Broadway plays whose inspiration begins and ends with genre-mashing titles like Lesbian Vampire Cowboys From Outer Space. G-Men director Christopher Coppola is the brother of Nicolas Cage and the nephew of Francis Ford Coppola, but his work here suggests that cinematic talent is a recessive trait that passed him by. His connections and famous last name surely helped him assemble the overqualified cast, which includes Gary Busey, Gremlins' Zach Galligan, and Vanishing Point's Barry Newman, but the film's screenplay gives them little to work with. G-Men's bare-bones production values are forgivable, but its lack of wit and creativity isn't.

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