Now here’s an example of the much-talked-about “so bad it’s good” genre. Yes, it’s definitely possible to have a movie that’s rife with crap writing, indifferent acting, and feckless direction that is nonetheless diverting. Of course, Hyenas is helped out by sporadic nudity, but writer-director Eric Weston seems to inject his actors with a certain “who gives a shit” elan, that goes a long way toward keeping the laughably lame action watchable.

Ambulatory side of beef Costas Mandylor plays Gannon, a grieving bad-ass whose wife and baby were ambushed and devoured by a pack of shape-shifting hyena folk that came to America during the days of the slave trade. He teams up with Crazy Briggs (Meshach Taylor from Designing Women, who can’t decide if his character is supposed to be a Rasta, a Cajun, or a Delta bluesman) to thin the pack, since the cunning predators are becoming plentiful and increasingly aggressive. Meanwhile, in one of the subplots that no one cares about, the small Arizona town where the story unfolds is seething with adolescent unrest, as a dipshit bunch of townies are looking to rumble with the local Latino contingent. Somehow, these storylines overlap someplace, and it all boils down to a final battle in a nearby abandoned copper mine where shit blows up.

Weston fearlessly tacks on endless scenes that have absolutely nothing to do with were-hyenas eating people, but the effects and gore are serviceable, and hyena Alpha female Wilda (Christa Campbell) generously removes her top on several occasions, which helps lessen the annoyance factor of the lousy acting. Amanda Aardsma in particular, who plays devious hyena hottie Valerie, delivers one of the most mind-blowingly awful performances I’ve witnessed in recent memory. She’d have to study with Stella Adler for several years just to improve enough to be cast as an understudy in a community theater production of West Side Story. But either in spite of, or thanks to the graceless ineptitude on display, Hyenas managed to keep me engaged. I would recommend it as a bland-tastic palate cleanser between films.

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