Superhero Sundays: Hellboy Animated – Blood and Iron (2007)
Monsters and fights8
Story and dialogue8
Matthew Turner | On 27, Oct 2019Reading time: 4 mins
Directors: Victor Cook, Tad Stones
Cast: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, John Hurt, Doug Jones, Peri Gilpin, Cree Summer
Watch Hellboy Animated – Blood and Iron online in the UK: Amazon Prime / Prime Video (Buy/Rent)
On Sunday mornings, we like to watch cartoons. So we’re working our way through animated superhero cartoons. We call it Superhero Sundays.
Co-directed by Victor Cook and Tad Stones, Hellboy: Blood and Iron is the second of two Hellboy Animated movies that were made by Starz Media, Revolution Studios and Film Roman, following 2006’s Hellboy: Sword of Storms. Both films were made with the approval of creator Mike Mignola and director Guillermo del Toro, but Blood and Iron has the delightful bonus of adding John Hurt to the mix, alongside fellow live-action voice cast members Ron Perlman and Selma Blair.
The script (by Kevin Hopps, from a story by Mike Mignola and Tad Stones) is loosely based on the Hellboy: Wake The Devil storyline from the original comics. It centres on beautiful vampire Countess Erzebet Ondrushko (based on Elizabeth Bathory), an old foe from Professor Bruttenholm’s (John Hurt) past. As reverse-order flashbacks detail Bruttenholm’s first encounter with Erzebet, the BPRD team – including Hellboy (Perlman), Bruttenholm, Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) and junior agent Sydney Leach (Rob Paulsen) – are summoned to a haunted house by billionaire Oliver Trombolt (J. Grant Albrecht), who plans to use their presence as a publicity stunt.
It soon transpires that the house is, indeed, haunted and that a pair of Harpy-Hags (Grey DeLisle and DeeDee Rescher) are planning to resurrect Erzebet (Kath Soucie). To make matters worse, Erzebet has sold her soul to the Queen of the Witches, the goddess Hecate (Cree Summer) and she’s come looking for a fight, intent on persuading Hellboy to join the dark side.
As with the previous Hellboy Animated movie, Blood and Iron’s biggest asset is the voice cast, with John Hurt’s distinctive tones a particularly welcome addition, albeit tinged with a hint of sadness now that the great man is no longer with us. Similarly, the dialogue is notably better in the second film, which seems to have a galvanising effect on Blair’s performance.
The story is also stronger, effectively mixing the haunted house and vampire genres and providing a number of effectively creepy moments. That said, it might be slightly too racy for younger viewers, not least during the scenes of Erzebet bathing naked in the blood of her victims.
The plot also provides a satisfying variety of monsters for Hellboy and co to battle, from an amusing opening sequence involving a Minotaur in a sewer to the various creatures the BPRD encounter in the haunted house, ranging from a werewolf and the Harpy-Hags to Hecate’s hell hounds and, of course, Erzebet and Hecate themselves. More importantly, the script ensures that each character has something to do, resulting in enjoyable parallel action scenes where Hellboy is fighting Hecate, while Liz is tackling the hounds, Bruttenholm is facing off against Erzebet and Abe Sapien is battling the Harpy-Hags.
The animation is consistently appealing, and sticks close to the style of the comic books, while co-directors Cook and Stones do an excellent job with the haunted house sequences, setting up some genuine chills.
If there’s a problem with the film, it’s only that there’s never any sense of real threat, even when Hellboy sustains what looks like a pretty nasty injury. Part of that problem is down to the character of Hellboy himself – his whole thing is his world-weary, seen-it-all-before attitude, so he just gets on with punching stuff rather than letting it get to him. That gives a humorous edge to the scenes where Hecate is trying to tempt him into darkness, but there’s a loss of tension as a result.
As a side note, it’s also a shame that the Amazon Prime Video version of Blood and Iron doesn’t include either the short film Iron Shoes (based on the Hellboy story of the same name) or the teaser for the proposed (and subsequently cancelled) third Hellboy Animated movie, The Phantom Claw, both of which appeared on the DVD.
Hellboy Animated – Blood and Iron is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.