Born For Hell – Denis Heroux – 1976



Denis Heroux’s Born For Hell is a nasty little piece of sleaze. Few movies have the nerve to be so fucking slimy. But this one is one of the lowest films I’ve ever seen. Even with its’ fairly sterile presentation, the content alone is enough to make one want to bathe in Holy Water.

The film begins with a Mass. As a bomb explodes a Vet in a green jacket barely reacts to the dead bodies on the floor. A church bombing in the first 5 minutes? Yeah, it’s going to be that kind of a movie. This is a film about the cycle of violence, and how sometimes one cant leave the frying pan for carrying the fire around inside.

A US Vietnam Veteran is stuck in Belfast. He doesn’t have enough money to board a ship back to the states, and the next one doesn’t leave for a week. He’s broke, begging, abandoned by his nation. He’s staying in a hostel. An Asian man beds next to him. The vet asks where he’s from.


The vet pulls out a medal and tells him he had to kill a lot of men to get it. He offers it to the Vietnamese man. The man tells him to, “Shove it.”

After a good thirty minutes of building a slight but definite empathy for veteran, Cain Adamson, (Good Grief….), Cain enters a house full of nurses for a lengthy second act. Good God does it get ugly.

Cain ties up all the girls in one room, and then takes one out to talk to her. He tells her she looks like his ex-wife before he tries to rape her. She resists his advances so he takes off his belt and pulls it around her neck choking her. He rapes her and chokes her to death. One down.

This film is incredibly misogynistic, and the villain clearly hates women. He tells one victim that Jimmy-Boy, his best friend went home early with hepatitis but then knocked up his wife. So, this man is cuckolded, and a war-killer. Here in Belfast, he’s desperate, defeated, destroyed.

Cain returns to the room and asks for two more girls. He forces them to perform lesbian sex acts as he whips them with his belt. As the girls resist he resorts to his trusty switchblade. He places the weapon inside one of the woman’s hands and forces her to slay her friend. Then he drags her to a sink where he half-assedly washes her off before choking her to death with his hands.

This character both hates women and desires them. Much like in Werewolf Woman, Cain desires these women, but wants to destroy them in the name of his wife’s betrayal. This conflict makes him murderous. Though it is a bit more believable here because he is a war killer.

The late nurse and housemother come home at 2am. Whoops. Cain stabbed them.

He returns to the room where two are left. One is hiding. He goes to a wardrobe and stabs mercilessly through a golden curtain, slaying the woman hiding inside. He kills another, until only one is left.

Except, Cain doesn’t know there is a visitor this night. A pregnant nurse hides under the bed.

Cain takes the now hysterical final nurse to the kitchen and gives her cake. She takes his switchblade off of the table in a despondent act and stabs herself. This act is quick, but in a modern film, it could be excruciating.

Cain heads back to the bedroom and robs the corpses of their money. He falls asleep on the bed the pregnant nurse hides under. She sees a tattoo on his arm—Born For Hell.

The next day the man leaves. As the milkman discovers the women, the news descends on the gruesome crime scene. Cain learns there was a survivor who saw his tattoo. He tries to cut it off.

We cut to a hospital where a doctor saves his life and cleans his wounds. The doctor sees the tattoo. Born For Hell.

“So, It’s you.”

Born For Hell is a scathing satire, and grimy exploitation piece.  Made by a German production company, directed by a French director, set in Belfast and featuring an American protagonist, (?) this film shockingly contrasts the religious conflict in Ireland with the US’s lack of responsibility in reigning in their own shell-shocked GI’s after conflict.

This film is only for the most fearless of viewers.  It is an incredibly hard picture, though I can totally imagine an even less sanitized modern version. 

What if Adrian Garcia Bogliano made a version of this film? It would be ruthless and incredible! I want to see that film!


One Response to “Born For Hell – Denis Heroux – 1976”

  1. Untouched by sleaze.

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