Boobs. Weed. Gore. Zombies. More Boobs. That got your attention, didn’t it? Welcome to the world of James Balsamo’s Cool As Hell – a movie that knows it’s identity and wears it proudly on it’s low budget sleeve. Like the spawn of Troma and Lloyd Kaufman, Balsamo reminded me here of the first time that I saw The Toxic Avenger. Suspect acting, choppy editing, amusing practical effects, and bountiful boobs. In the end, I was mildly entertained and appreciated what I had just watched. That my friends, about sums up my experience with Cool As Hell.
I hate spoiling plots, so I’ll give a general synopsis for you: Rich (James Balsamo) is a comic book shop owner who is just a nice guy who wants to get laid and/or meet a nice girl. He has an ugly Hawaiian shirt that takes a verbal beating, as does his cheetah hair, and his friend Benny (Dan E. Danger) comes along for the ride in what is Rich’s seemingly uneventful life. That is until he unknowingly befriends a demon named Az from the third and a half level of Hell. From then on, Az is indebted to Rich and becomes his demonic mentor and friend, until he can collect a soul to fill his soul quota. Oh – and there’s a love story thrown in there too and another evil demon that unleashes zombies and other equally bad stuff onto Earth.
Cool As Hell earns some points for it’s random cameos that are thrown in, with my favorites being David Naughton (An American Werewolf In London), Tim Ritter (Truth Or Dare), and wrestling legend Tommy Dreamer. And there are a lot more, mostly blink and miss ones, but the cameos definitely add to the fun factor. And speaking of the fun factor, I think I had to rewind the strip club scene more than once, but not because it was “sexy”. That scene alone belonged in a Troma movie and I still can’t tell if it was meant to be as bad as it was. But it’s moments like that, where Cool As Hell gets more points. This is a bad movie, but it’s made with heart, and Balsamo isn’t a one trick pony either, as he takes on: directing, producing, editing, makeup effects, and even acting!
Now I haven’t seen James Balsamo’s two previous efforts (Hack Job, I Spill Your Guts), but after watching Cool As Hell, I really wondered what he could produce if he had a bigger budget and even more resources. The template is there, and I think that the passion he has for the genre is what can really push him to that next level. Perhaps his next movie, Mystery Meat, will be the movie that gives him that push? Whatever the case, Cool As Hell is a bad movie. But it knows it’s bad, and that’s what makes it good. Confusing? A bit. But grab a six pack, a box of nachos, and watch the movie. Maybe get a little high too so you can balance everything out.