Exorcism movies don’t get anymore audacious (or fun) than J.T. Petty’s latest, Hellbenders 3D, which arrives on VOD platforms everywhere today. The story follows a group of priests known as the “Hellbound Saints” whose jobs it is to rid the world of demonic forces, even if it means they must drag them down to hell themselves.

During a recent press day for the horror/comedy hybrid, Daily Dead spoke with Petty and the film’s co-stars, Clancy Brown and Clifton Collins Jr., about their experiences working on the project, what inspired Petty to take such an off-beat take on what’s usually a very traditional world, and much more about Hellbenders 3D.

Daily Dead: This is definitely one of the more unique exorcism films I’ve experienced. What inspired the story and your approach to creating the Hellbound Saints?

J.T. Petty: Right around the time I had the idea for Hellbenders 3D, there were a lot of exorcism movies coming out. They all seemed to end the same way with the priest trying to drive the demon out and saying, “take me, take me” when he doesn’t succeed. The original Exorcist had that ending and that’s the ending that everyone seems to have borrowed ever since.

To me, it just seems like if it happens all the time, the church would recognize that and so I just had the idea of these priests who had to be prepared to do that.  It's just a hilarious premise to me and I think it would be interesting if the church would institutionalize that. It was really great to just play against what everyone expects an exorcism movie to be.

Clifton Collins Jr.: I lived that life of debauchery just in case I became a priest, in fact (laughs).

Daily Dead: Did you have these guys in mind when you were working on the script for Hellbenders?

J.T. Petty: Well, Clancy and I had worked together on The Burrowers and whenever I can find an excuse to work with him, I always will. I wrote a lot of the character of Angus with him in mind.  I didn’t really write Cliff’s part specifically for him, but I knew that after I finished writing it, I really wanted him to be involved. Cliff’s always a guy who can take any role and completely disappear in it, so I knew he’d be great with Clancy in this.

Daily Dead: What was the biggest thing about Hellbenders that attracted you to the project initially?

Clancy Brown: It was J.T.’s script; he writes some really great fucking scripts, so I knew after I read this that I had to be Angus.

Clifton Collins Jr.: The appeal for me was that I hadn’t really seen anyone take on the church as an institution the way that J.T. does in Hellbenders; it wasn’t like anything I had read before. You’ve gotta be the guy with some really big balls to do a movie like this and J.T. did it with no fear. The script was just so fucking funny though.

Daily Dead: How was your working relationship together- Clancy and Clifton- I noticed you guys both did voices way back in the day on “Pound Puppies” too. Was that where it all started between you two (laughs)?

Clifton Collins Jr.:  Did we really? Oh wow (laughs).

Clancy Brown: We tried to get together a few times to work on stuff, but ultimately JT picked us separately for these roles, so we didn’t really know until production started how that relationship between our characters would fully evolve. Cliff’s a cool guy though.

Clifton Collins Jr.:  We did get to hang out a little bit beforehand in New York where we talked about the usual stuff like the characters and what we’d be doing. I also did a lot of my own research on actual exorcisms, but it’s really hard to find footage of real exorcisms that can be perceived as authentic.

J.T. Petty: I wanted them to get familiarized with this book that was published in the 70’s called “Hostage to the Devil” that was before Blatty wrote “The Exorcist.” It was this first-hand account of Malachi Martin doing all these exorcisms himself. That was used as our reference point.

Clancy Brown: But in terms of the male camaraderie, you don’t really see much of that in movies anymore. Not like you would back in the days when people like Sam Peckinpah were making films. Looking at the amount of talent involved with Hellbenders and the other priests in our groups, it’s pretty incredible. We didn’t have a whole bunch of fucking time or anything, but we’d be doing takes and enjoying it so much that we’d asked to do more takes. The energy between everyone was really great.

Clifton Collins Jr.:  I also think for a lot of the younger cast members, we all grew up watching Clancy, like from Bad Boys on- and I don’t mean the Michael Bay Bad Boys, I mean the Sean Penn Bad Boys (laughs). I think having someone like Clancy as our leader really helped with the onset mentorship too because as actors, we look up to performers like Clancy. I mean, besides the fact that he’s so fucking tall (laughs).


"Pray that you’ll never need the professional services of the Hellbound Saints of Brooklyn Parish. Resembling members of a raucous fraternity rather than the Catholic Church, this ragtag group of priests lives in a constant state of debauchery: smoking, drinking and philandering as if in a contest to top each other’s efforts in breaking the seven deadly sins as flamboyantly as possible. Fronted by Angus (Clancy Brown of Highlander and The Burrowers), their dysfunctional leader, they are the Church’s last best hope. When a regular exorcism just won’t do the trick, they’re called in to trap a demon and drag it down to hell with them.

However, in order to be ready for fire and brimstone, the men — and woman — of this stained cloth (including cast members Clifton Collins Jr., Dan Fogler, Macon Blair and Robyn Rikoon) must maintain a rigorous regimen of doing very, very bad things. Their primmest member (Andre Royo, beloved as Bubbles from The Wire) tracks their misconducts in a logbook to prove they’re round-the-clock "damnation-ready." But when a tough case tests the team’s mettle and a new Church bureaucrat threatens to shut them down, they must sin and sin again in a mad race to save the world and halt a demon’s plans to wipe out humanity."

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.