Back From Hell: A Tribute to Sam Kinison (a J!-ENT DVD Review)
November 9, 2010 by Dennis Amith
If you grew up watching Sam Kinison and loved his comedy, this is one hell of a documentary featuring today’s top comedians paying respects to Kinison nearly 20-years after his death. Featuring past comedy clips, his “Wild Thing” music video and live performance and more. “Back from Hell: A Tribute to Sam Kinison” is definitely for fans of his comedy and an awesome Comedy Central DVD release!
Images courtesy of © 2010 Robert Small Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Back From Hell: A Tribute to Sam Kinison
YEAR OF DOCUMENTARY: 2010
DURATION: 60 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: Widescreen, Dolby Digital
RATED: Parental Guidance: Explicit Content. Warning: This program is recommended for mature audiences only. It contains adult language and situations.
COMPANY: Comedy Central/Paramount
Released Dated: November 16, 2010
Directed by Robert Small
Executive Producer: Robert Small, Bill Kinison, Bill Schwartz
Executive Producer for Worldwide Biggies: Albie Hecht
Produced by Carrie Weprin
Co-Producer Pat Buckles
Consulting Producer: Sue Flinker
Editors: Matt Davis, Steven Rosenthal
Assistant Editor: Sharon Perlman
A star-studded cast of comedians including Chris Rock, Jay Leno, Ron White, Kathy Griffin and Denis Leary gather to pay tribute to the man who turned rage into an art form. Filmed in part at Sam Kinison’s familiar Los Angeles stomping ground The Comedy Store, this documentary weaves performance footage and interviews to offer some fresh perspective on a truly original voice in comedy.
Sam Kinison is one of the most well-known comedians who tackled on subjects and wouldn’t hesitate to tell audiences how he felt about them. Known for comedy of screaming and delivering controversial humor, Kinison was among one of the few people at the time during the late ’80s who would take subjects that were sensitive to a lot of people and rip on them.
From his jokes on marriage, religion, homosexuals, AIDS… nothing was off-limits, Kinison would take on these subjects without giving no care of what people thought. A style that made him popular among many comedians and also his love for rock music, he would also earn the respect of the rock stars of the ’80s.
Sam Kinison was one of the most respected comedians who lived life the way he wanted, wild and crazy and there probably will never be a comedian like him ever again. He was truly an original comedian and with such a long life ahead of him, while things were going great for the comedian, Sam Kinison and his newly married wife Malika Souiri were struck by a 17-year-old drunk driver in April 1992. While his wife survived, Kinison was killed.
A life cut short 18-years-ago, Comedy Central will be celebrating Kinison’s life in a special titled “Back From Hell: A Tribute to Sam Kinison” in which his comedian friends and celebrity friends share their memories of Sam Kinison and what they loved about him. The special tribute documentary features comedians and talents such as Denis Leary, Chris Rock, Norm MacDonald, Ice-T, Lenny Clarke, Jay Leno, Kathy Griffin, George Lopez and many more.
“Back From Hell: A Tribute to Sam Kinison” is presented in widescreen. Picture quality differs as you get a combination of modern interviews and old clips of classic Sam Kinison live performances from the ’80s. But for the most part, this is a pretty cool documentary/tribute in which picture quality is for the most part pretty good.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Back From Hell: A Tribute to Sam Kinison” is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround and 2.0 Stereo. The DVD is center and front channel driven.
“Back From Hell: A Tribute to Sam Kinison” comes with the following special features:
- Stories from the Comedy Store – (12:33) Featuring a celebration of Sam Kinison’s life by Bill Kinison, Craig Gass, Marc Maron and Pauly Shore doing standup at the Comedy Store.
- Music – (10:06) Featuring Sam Kinison performing “Wild Thing” Live and the original music video of Kinison’s “Wild Thing”.
- Additional Stand-Up – (17:06) Featuring Sam Kinison stand-up comedy routines for: Bigger than Me, Donating to Aids Research, Extended Cocaine Bit, Friends When You’re High, Jesus’ Wife, Leper Whore, Sam’s Moving Idea and Swallowing
When I was a teenager, Sam Kinison was a comedian that I absolutely loved watching. This man was not afraid to tackle subjects that may be too taboo for the masses but he did and the audience gravitated towards his comedy because a lot of what he does say is quite logical while others who dislike his comedy look at him as insensitive and comedy of hatred.
But this was how things were during the ’80s and ’90s. Unlike today in which a comedian can easily be scrutinized for talking about things that are wrong or not politically correct, back then, comedians didn’t touch those subjects but Kinison did. And he did it with a style that no one can ever copy with the same amount of flair, this man would literally scream his head out and audiences would be wide-eyed and surprised. This is Kinison’s comedy and his delivery was well-paced, starting off slow until he launches his tirade on the audience and you can’t help but laugh.
I remember one of my favorite HBO young comedian special in which Kinison took part of and he was talking about the kids that were starving in Africa and Kinison would talk about how the kids starving and are very depressed and seeing the commercials of how cruel. He starts off sincere But then he slowly begins his tirade of how he wished the film crew could at least give the kid a sandwich. And then starts screaming how the director would want to make sure these kids look hungry while shooting and telling his crew not to feed them and literally getting the audience laughing.
He then goes into world hunger and says if you want to stop world hunger, stop giving them food. You hear this awkward silence and he continues that the drivers would continue to drive U-HAULS full of food to those countries for 34 years and then Kinison would unleash and start screaming that it would occur to the drivers that world hunger wouldn’t happen if these people would just pack up and move where the food is. Kinison would then start screaming “YOU LIVE IN A DESERT! YOU LIVE IN A FU**IN DESERT! UNDERSTAND YOU LIVE IN A DESERT! NOTHING GROWS OUT HERE! NOTHINGS GONNA GROW OUT HERE!” and then he would become sincere again and crouch down and say, “see this here.. it’s sand. This is sand. It’s sand. You know what it’s going to be in 100 years…. IT’S GOING TO BE SAND! YOU LIVE IN A FU**ING DESERT! GET YOUR KIDS, GET YOUR SH*T, WE’LL MAKE ONE TRIP AND TAKE YOU TO WHERE THE FOOD IS! WE HAVE DESERTS IN AMERICA, WE JUST DON’T LIVE IN THEM ***HOLE!”.
It was trademark Kinison style and I can’t think of anyone who can replace him. And that’s what I love about this tribute to Sam Kinison, seeing all these comedians complimenting, thanking Sam Kinison for what he contributed to comedy.
Comedian Chris Rock would talk about how when he was just starting out and doing comedy acts at 1-2 am, he could hear Sam Kinison laughing and how the comedian took him out for dinner and would tell him how he loved his act. Kathy Griffin would compliment his comedy and although she wouldn’t vote for him if he ran for office, she loved his comedy. And there are many comedians on this tribute that pay their respect to Sam Kinison and very rarely do you see top acts all taking part in a documentary.
I can also remember in his comedy acts, he would be joined by two beautiful women (scantily clothed) and then he would go on a tirade by calling the ex-girlfriends of guys who had been cheated on and join them in a screaming tirade on the women. Because Sam Kinison has had marriages in which the woman would cheat on him, his thoughts on marriage would play out in his comedy acts. It was insane but the crowd loved it and definitely a memorable moment.
The documentary also touches upon how Sam emulated televangelist and how religion would be part of his act. And he would unleash on religion especially these televangelist which were on the forefront in the ’80s and ’90s due to the Jim Bakker scandal (interesting enough, he dated Jessica Hahn, who had an affair with Bakker and she even appeared scantily clad in his “Wild Thing” music video).
And speaking of the music video, we also get to learn in this tribute of how he got involved in the rock n’ roll world and he was introduced to a world of excess. At that time of his life, he would drink a lot and was quite hardcore in doing drugs. And the comedians who knew him talked about his involvement. Also, we learn some details of those who did drugs with him and also some details of what took place behind-the-scenes of that “Wild Thing” music video which shocked even me because I always thought how awesome it was to see a music video with Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Skid Row, Billy Idol and other rockers together cheering on Sam Kinison singing and getting down with Jessica Hahn.
But the tribute would also go to discuss his sobriety but also when he got clean after he was arrested for substances. Or so you thought. This was an interesting part of the tribute because even more myself, I believed he was clean and sober but learning from this tribute and learn that it was part of his sentence where he had to give anti-drugs messages. Chris Rock even talked about how he would talk about being clean on stage, he would catch Kinison snorting coke and look at Chris Rock and tell him “The important thing is that they think your clean”.
And “Back From Hell: A Tribute to Sam Kinison” also includes a segment of his two ladies Sabrina and Malika (who he eventually married) and how he was a man who literally got a lot of sex, to a man who could care less about being politically correct and wanted to be outrageous and wanted people to be shocked by what he would say but still laugh at his comedy.
For me, that’s what I loved about Sam Kinison’s comedy. Taking topics that people would dare touch and make humor out of it. From world hunger, drug use, religion, homosexuality, serial killers going after rappers, he didn’t care and he knew that there would be people protesting his comedy acts but he could care less. It was a different time from today, where comedians are now held accountable for what they say and are targeted by people on the Internet and the media watchdogs but back then, that was what made his comedy acts so special and so unique and he is definitely a comedian that could never be duplicated.
As for this tribute documentary, I absolutely loved it! I grew up watching Sam Kinison and there are a lot of things I didn’t know about the man but the documentary definitely gives us an idea of how he was on stage and also off-stage. Comedy Central also includes some of his performances in the special feature but also the music video and his live performance of “Wild Thing”.
If you grew up during a time when Sam Kinison was around delivering his style of comedy, looking back, you realize how unique this comedian really was. And as mentioned, rarely do you see many top comedians coming together for a tribute documentary, from late night hosts/comedians Jay Leno and George Lopez, Dennis Leary, Chris Rock, Kathy Griffin and many, many others who have had a chance to work with Sam Kinison or had that opportunity to get to know him and to pay their respect to him nearly 20-years-later after his death. It goes to show how special of a comedian Sam Kinison truly was.
J!-ENT has not received any compensation from the company for this post. J!-ENT has no material connection to the brands, products, or services that are mentioned in this post.
For Product Reviews:
For product reviews, J!-ENT has received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free by the company which in no way affects our reviews positive or negative. We only recommend products or services we have tested/reviewed and believe will be good for our readers.
Some of the links in our posts are "affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, J!-ENT will receive an affiliate commission.
J!-ENT is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”