Delving into the “Brill” side of TerriBrill this Halloween, we look to a kids TV movie from the 1990s for inspiration. H-E Double Hockey Sticks (a common euphemism for "hell") was a Halloween staple alongside Hocus Pocus and Halloweentown in my youth, though it has sadly been largely forgotten. This is a travesty.
Based on Lukas Foss’ opera Griffelkin (I know, right!), H-E Double Hockey Sticks is the story of apprentice demon Griffelkin, played by Will Friedle, who is sent to Earth by Satan (in the form of Rhea Perlman’s Ms Beelzebub) to steal the soul of hockey star Dave (Matthew Lawrence) in return for his being the youngest person to win the Stanley Cup. But via some trickery on Griffelkin’s part, they come to a very specifically worded agreement that means that Dave’s team, the Delaware Demons, will win the cup, but Dave does not necessarily have to be on the team, and Griffelkin immediately fixes his transfer to the hopeless Annapolis Angels. But after bonding with Dave, being convinced by the angel Gabrielle (Gabrielle Union) to side with Good, and a mean collapsible chair trick from Ms Beelzebub, Griffelkin is soon on a mission to secure Dave his victory, helping him become a team player and better the chances of the Annapolis Angels.
The heaven and hell aspect is the final thing that sets H-E Double Hockey Sticks apart and makes it a fun watch. It is a slant unique enough to gloss over the flaws, and also allows for some more otherworldly, surreal elements to creep into the narrative without needing a huge suspension of disbelief. And this is great, because often it is these surreal elements that get the biggest laughs.