An Occasional Hell (1996) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Scoop's notes

I kinda liked this Grade B thriller because of some interesting, original characters.

Tom Berenger plays a private detective, but he's on ambulatory dialysis, so he's not exactly a tough guy. And his mind isn't a lot healthier than his body. He has conversations with the murder victim in his head. He talks to her and, worse yet, she talks back, taunting him. Worst of all, he can both see and hear her. Because Berenger's character is "off" and Wuhrer's character is colorfully imagined, their offbeat conversations served to raise the characterizations in this flick above the bottom feeders in the genre.

The plot was another matter. I always find it more than a bit irritating when the solution to the murder mystery turns out to be that it was done by some minor characters virtually unmentioned and almost unrelated to the main plot threads. All the obvious leads turned out to be red herrings.  Imagine you're watching a movie where Hercule Poirot calls all the suspects into the drawing room, but the murderer is none of them. Instead, it turns out that the crime was committed somebody's third cousin in Bulgaria, who has never been mentioned before. Same deal here.


DVD info from Amazon

  • No features
  • no widescreen


Both Kari Wuhrer and Valeria Golino show their breasts. The exposure by Golino is very dark. Kari, however, is shot in very good light by someone who knows how to focus a camera.

Tuna's notes


An Occasional Hell (1996) is a whodunit. The detective is an ex-cop who, we are led to believe, is an addict. The accused is the widow of the deceased. The girlfriend of the deceased is missing, and the wife is the prime suspect. In an interesting plot device, Tom Berenger (the detective) has mental conversations with the missing girlfriend (Kari Wuhrer) to help him figure out exactly what happened.

He also gets intimate with his client. This relationship does provide nudity but does not follow from the events leading up to it. This could have been an excellent film with a little more work, especially with pace and building tension. I never felt the widow was in danger of arrest, and hence never felt an urgency to the investigation.

The Critics Vote

  • no reviews online

The People Vote ...


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, Tuna says, "IMDB calls it a drama/thriller, which it was probably trying to be, but it was not very dramatic, and had no thrills. It played more like a whodunit, but with no atmosphere, and little personality from the Berenger character. D." Scoop liked it a little better at C-.

Return to the Movie House home page