Hell Is for Heroes (1962)

Hell Is for Heroes

Directed by Don Siegel
Written by Robert Pirosh and Richard Carr
Paramount Pictures
First viewing/Netflix rental


Pvt. John Reese: The outfit I came from was a real dilly. There was a general, a major, two captains, two lieutenants, and me. There’s a squad for you, buddy-o.

Platoon Sgt. Bill Pike: Sounds like a court martial board.

Steve McQueen is the ultimate bad boy soldier in this low-budget combat drama.

Everybody in a platoon situated on the Siegfried Line believes their squad will be sent home shortly.  Instead Sgt. Pike (Fess Parker) announces they are going back into battle. Before they do, they are joined by the surly Pvt. Reese (McQueen).  On the front, six of the men learn they will stay behind to divert the enemy while the bulk of the force is sent elsewhere.  This is truly hell.  Reese only makes it more hellish by trying to wage one-man warfare.  With Charles Coburn, Bobbie Darin, and Bob Newhart as other GIs.

IMDb trivia: At one point, a columnist was visiting the set, and he mentioned to another observer that Steve McQueen seemed to be his own worst enemy. Co-star Bobby Darin overheard the comment and quickly replied, ‘Not while I’m around’.”

Don Siegel certainly knew how to direct action and the combat scenes here are solid despite some financial limitations.  The GIs conform to stereotypes that were born 20 years before but it’s kind of fun to see a cast that would carry us through the next 10-20 years do its stuff.  I particularly liked Newhart, though admittedly his routine does not fit in with the tone of the film as a whole.

The Dungeon of Harrow (1962)

The Dungeon of Harrow
Directed by Pat Boyette
Written by Pat Boyette and Henry Garcia
Herts-Lion International Corp.
First viewing/Netflix rental

Cassandra: You’re quite safe now. You’re in the castle of Count Lorente De Sade.

Writer/director Pat Boyette gives Ed Wood a run for his money in the bad movie department.

As the film begins, the dying Aaron Fallon bemoans the end of his line.  We segue into flashback.  Fallon and the captain are the only survivors of a shipwreck (which seems to have been staged in a bathtub).  They wash up on the island of the evil Count de Sade.  His companions all seem to be slaves with no hesitation to carry out his maniacal orders.  We eventually learn that there is a deadly secret locked up in the Count’s basement.

This movie is really terrible in all its aspects. The acting may be the worst part.  Some of the actors seem to have learned their lines phonetically.  The poor print and sound on the DVD I received did not help, though I strongly suspect that the quality may just reflect the original.  Is this bad enough to be enjoyable?  Just barely.

Clip – even the credits are terrible!