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Primal Scream (1987)

In the future, a private detective tries to stop a large corporation from mining an element whose side effects include igniting human flesh and destroying internal body parts.




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Credited cast:
Kenneth McGregor ...
Corby McHale
Sharon Mason ...
Samantha Keller
Julie Miller ...
Caitlin Foster
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jenny Albert ...
Vice President Clarke
Stephen Caldwell ...
Olan Robert Foster
Stephen Emhe ...
Edward N. Fallon ...
Dr. Charles Kesselman
Susan Farrell ...
Ann Horne Foulkrod ...
Peter Harp ...
Traffic Controller
Ryn Hodes ...
Morton Hodge ...
Anton Kirar
Lon Hoffman ...
Truck Driver
Gary Hollrah ...
Herb James ...
Traffic Controller


In the future, a private detective tries to stop a large corporation from mining an element whose side effects include igniting human flesh and destroying internal body parts.

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Release Date:

29 September 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hellfire  »

Filming Locations:


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Did You Know?


Mickey Shaughnessy's final film. He died prior to the film's release. See more »

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User Reviews

The Primal Scream Will Be From the Audience
21 March 2002 | by (Illinois, USA) – See all my reviews

This review contains some slight SPOILERS. Not that anyone is going to read a review for this movie...

I confess that I am a big sucker for the blending of science fiction and detective stories. So it came as no surprise to me when I just couldn't resist renting this movie when I read the plot description both on this website and on the movie box. I thought that it might be a cool mystery set in outer space, sort of like the 1989 Brigitte Nielson movie, ‘Murder By Moonlight.' The box cover art showed a spaceship and astronauts and a vile of some chemical. It looked cool! Little did I realize how far off this presupposition would be. In reality, this movie spends all of four minutes in space at the very beginning, when we see some sort of cheesy hijacking of a space station, and the highjackers hop into an escape pod back to Earth. And it's all downhill from there. From that point on, we follow a really lousy character named Corby McHale. He's a private detective, the type that you can find in pulp novels. A slob. A womanizer. But a nice guy. But I didn't for one moment care if he lived or died. Or any of the characters, since they are all uninteresting and none of them are played by any familiar faces. I just wanted my murder mystery to start.

Oh, there was a supposed murder mystery going on, too. You just couldn't understand it. The plot revolves around this big evil company that is mining a new element called Hellfire. There is a radical group that does not want Hellfire to ever get distributed. What is Hellfire for and why does the group oppose it? That is one of the many things that I could not quite put my finger on throughout the movie. He is hired by the sister of the corporation's head man. I didn't exactly know what she expected McHale to do for her, but about halfway through the movie, her brother is killed and he sets out to find the killer. The brother is killed with Hellfire, you see, and when injected into your system, Hellfire turns you into a crispy critter through one of the lousiest special effects processes you'll ever see. Then some more people are killed with Hellfire. It is another confusing aspect, as they are just plopped into the picture and killed. Well, to make matters short, I was pretty sore that my murder mystery turned into a muddled mess. They throw in cliched characters, including the ex-girlfriend/police detective that still loves McHale, a prostitute that frequently visits McHale, and the oh-so-funny sidekick/street bum that helps McHale out. But who cares? The entire cast of `You Can't Do That On Television' could have strolled into the picture and I wouldn't be any more interested in it. In fact, the more I think about how lousy and uninteresting the writing and directing was, the more I have hated this movie as I have written this very paragraph.

You know, any movie that is stupid enough to name its lead character `McHale' and open itself up to `McHale's Navy' wisecracks (which I made throughout the whole film) deserves to get thoroughly lambasted. In fact, I can recommend this movie to only one type of person: fans of the show `Mystery Science Theater 3000.' It is so easy to make jokes at (almost as easy as the hideous 1986 version of `Breeders') so grab a bunch of like-minded friends and have a good chuckle. You won't enjoy it if you take it seriously. McHale!!!!! Zantara's score: 1 out of 10

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