Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
One day I'm going to make good on my threat to fire up the straight to DVD /VOD awards, even though I think awards are silly, and there's no way I could watch every straight to DVD / VOD movie released in a given year to make these stupid awards fair.  I only mention this because early in 2013, the rest of the actresses this year are going to be hard pressed to top the scenery chewing villainous turn the likes of which Madame Dee Wallace offered in this Asylum joint 'Hansel & Gretel'.   Ms. Wallace so crazy in this movie that I had to re-watch 'E.T.' to get Ms. Wallace back right in my brain again.  Okay, that's not true because I would never re-watch E.T., because I kind of hated it… I know, right?  But let's say we re-watched 'The Howling' instead.

Our film starts with a tender, plump young thing running for her life in the woods.  She didn't make it.  Next thing we see is this woman lying on giant plate, with an apple in her mouth, peppers by her side and the flames fire up.  Now we have an issue.  This is absolutely no way to prepare meat.  First off, she should've been drained, preferably quartered.  Then there are the peppers by her side.  Peppers just lying next to meet add nothing to the meat, thus they should've been diced, preferably sautéed, then placed on the meat.  Lastly, and most egregiously, they just fired up the flames full blast.  What's the serving plan?  Char the skin while leaving the meat completely raw and bloody on the inside? That's disgusting.  I wouldn't eat that.  The culinary crimes committed during this scene were beyond criminal. 

Moving along we meet Gretel (Stephanie Greco) who works in the gingerbread shop of the kindly old Lilith (Wallace).  Her name is Lilith so we know she's no good.  People come from miles around to eat Ms. Lilith's meat pies, which we are told is made of the best meat
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ever, and Lilith is quite fond of the lovely Gretel.  Gretel has a twin brother in Hansel (Steve Lydic) and Hansel, for lack of a better word, is a bit of a douche.  You should've seen Hansel carrying on after his old man told him he was remarrying, Hansel mainly worrying about where he's going to put his XBOX.  Hansel looks to be about thirty.  So upset is this thirty year old man he runs into the woods crying like a little girl and steps into a bear trap.  Fortunately his sister is there to help, and also fortunately they are close to a cabin in the woods, occupied by Miss Lilith who gets Hansel right by plying him with meat pies and confectionery sweets.

But you know the story.  She was just fattening him up.  The next morning when Hansel wakes up he's chained in the basement with some other potential meat candidates, while Gretel is upstairs, waking up after being drugged, wondering where her brother is.  Lilith doesn't want to turn Gretel into meat however, possibly because there's not an awful lot of meat to get off of this woman, but mainly because Lilith sees something in her.  She would like Gretel to join the family with her two inbred sons and take over the family cannibalism business.  Gretel thinks that's crazy, but Gretel doesn't know crazy yet.  She's about to meet crazy because Lilith… has lost it.

It's not looking good for Hansel and Gretel and those other pieces of meat in the basement.  And the local cops.  And their parents.  And nobody in this town.  Lilith is crazy, and while she might look like a frail old lady… kind of not really.  She has superpowers.  And she's lethal with a pitchfork.  Good luck with that escape plan Hansel and Gretel.

I guess this version of 'Hansel & Gretel' is mockbusting 'Hansel & Gretel: Witchunters' even though this is more 'Hansel & Gretel: Hunted by Witch'.  You would've though at some point in this movie that Hansel or Gretel would've come to the conclusion that this is just an old lady, rise up, and just have a faceoff with this old lady and kick her ass, but not these kids who were always in Flee Mode.  Even when their old man was getting pitchforked, stabbed, and gutted to provide his adult children with an escape, they never circled back to help the old man.  Thus we would've titled this movie 'Hansel & Gretel: Bitches'. 

That being said, director Anthony C. Ferrante's 'Hansel & Gretel' is like the best movie we've seen out of The House of Asylum since 'Air Collision'.  Admittedly, there aren't a lot of cinematic gems that this movie had to step over to achieve this lofty status, but nonetheless we enjoyed 'Hansel & Gretel'.   The main reason of course was the maniacal performance put forth by Dee Wallace who took the witch Lilith to unprecedented levels of villainous insanity.   Be it pitchfork, rolling pin or just a simple starlight peppermint, Lilith would kill you with just about anything, and do it while looking like a total nutjob.  And while Ms. Wallace made this movie, the other performances weren't completely terrible and Stephanie Greco is cute, plus Ferrante keeps this thing in relative constant motion.  Except for maybe a strange scene when our kids were having some strange hallucinations which kind of felt like padding just to make the movie longer, which is something we never recommend.

Of course 'Hansel & Gretel' does have the typical issues in logic, comprehension and cohesion, but we do kind of factor that into these little essays we write about these types of movies.  Thus if you want to watch Dee Wallace completely finish the job in distancing herself from being E.T's mom, I'm thinking 'Hansel & Gretel' finally closes that deal.
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