The tagline says Hyenas is "The urban legend no one wanted to talk about till now!" Hm. I don't think anyone wants to talk about it, even now. After years collecting dust on somebody's shelf, it's new on disc… but this shape-shifter canine creep-fest is surely a sore subject left off the lips of its actors (no one — and I do mean no one —comes out smelling like anything even resembling a rose here).
The titular hyenas are a carnivorous, cannibalistic clan of hillbillies who lure unsuspecting motorists up onto their dangerously curved mountain roads, usually employing their #1 dangerous curve, Wilda (Christa Campbell, who, while topless most of the time, appears sans nipples… perhaps the teats — Striped Hyenas have 6 teats whereas the Brown Hyena only has 4 — were supposed to be CGI'ed in later). The first time we see her, tattooed lady Wilda tempts a tipsy townie driving his truck on a deserted road, rides shotgun for a bit, then quickly dispatches him in a whirlwind of (bad) special effects and swinging crazy-cam moves.
It's later revealed that Wilda is vying for top spot alpha-dog status, but there's treachery in the pack, plus a sister who's next in line for the throne. That's about as far as the skullduggery goes (these are hardly the Borgias — heck, they're not even the Beverly Hillbillies). None of the hyenas stand out; they're basically just rough sketches of The Lost Boys as werewolf wannabes.
At any rate, the hyena pack takes a backseat to two other concurrently running plotlines. The main one is the story of the men bent on taking the bloodthirsty beasts down — Gannon (Costas Mandylor) is the bereaved husband of a horrifically savaged victim, while Crazy Briggs (Meshach Taylor) is just an all-around evildoer-decimator with no particular ax to grind. The second plotline follows some rather feeble fights between the local "street gang" and a group of teenybopper tourists, all of whom are mortal and therefore potential prey… if only the plot could move them from town and into the mountains quicker.
Hyenas could and should have been a campy, kooky, kinky exploitation cult romp, but instead tries to do far too much with way too little. I haven't seen such poor CGI so egregiously overused since Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (even the cars' headlights are techie-trickery). And forget the laughing hyenas — there's no sense of humor to the script whatsoever, and scenes that're supposed to be sexy are simply snooze-inducing.
Not even 'so bad, it's good'. (And since Campbell's cans are airbrushed to Barbie-bareness, I can't recommend it for her fans either.) This is a bone that should've stayed buried.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson