I always thought I would eventually grow out of finding dismemberment funny, but somehow that hasn’t quite happened yet. Adult Swim’s grotesque sitcom Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell—think The Office in Hell, as directed by Dario Argento—gets a ton of mileage out of playing body horror for laughs, with suitably grisly horror movie special effects from the Atlanta-based Silver Scream FX Lab. Over the course of season four’s first two episodes, a character idly plays with a detached testicle, another gradually collapses into a pestilent sack of blood and pus, and a third is excited to wake up to a surprise human caterpillar situation. It’s gross, bloody, deeply immature, and almost always good for a laugh or three.
This isn’t a show you’re necessarily proud to watch, but it’s one you’ll probably dig, regardless. It has the absurd edge Adult Swim is known for, mashed up with the horror elements of the network’s Too Many Cooks viral smash. That equation makes perfect sense, as the show is created and written by Dave Willis, the co-creator of Aqua Teen Hunger Force who basically defined the network’s voice, and Chris “Casper” Kelly, who’s responsible for both Too Many Cooks and the brilliant (and disgusting) “Cheddar Goblin” sequence in Panos Cosmatos’s Mandy. Together they’ve delivered three seasons of hilariously disgusting nonsense on Your Pretty Face, with crucial help from actors like Henry Zebrowski, Craig Rowin, Eddie Pepitone and The Sopranos’ Matt Servitto, who plays a cocksure executive Satan trying to maximize Hell’s productivity.
Season four starts strong, with Delocated’s Jon Glaser making a guest appearance as a consultant trying to teach Zebrowski and his fellow demons how to inflict ironic punishments upon those desperate to sell their souls. Glaser’s character work could almost be classified as low-key, or at least as low-key as this show gets. Due to the infamously litigious Chubby Checker, his “twist” system of teaching ironic punishments has been hastily renamed to “the flip,” complete with a very familiar song by “rock ‘n’ roll legend Beefy Backgammon.” Glaser’s put-upon consultant is the highlight of this first episode, as he struggles to reconnect with his college-aged daughter while teaching Zebrowski’s almost braindead Gary how to do his job properly.
The second of tonight’s two episodes also features recognizable guest stars, one of whom is pretty shocking to see in a TV show in 2019. George Wendt and John Amos show up as two of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, with Tony Hendra (of Spinal Tap and National Lampoon fame) joining them as Pestilence. According to IMDB, this is Hendra’s first acting credit since 2002, which makes sense, as in 2004 his grown daughter accused him of molesting her as a child. Hendra has always denied the allegations, but given the heightened awareness over issues like this, it’s startling to see him show up on TV, even if it’s a small role on a 12-minue basic cable show that airs at midnight.
If you can get past Hendra’s casting, this episode is the stronger of the two, with the aging Horsemen demanding a new contract from Satan that will provide for additional Horsemen to help share the load of the Apocalypse. Your Pretty Face is not a political show—it’s what some critics would call a “joke delivery service”—but it understands how inherently funny demons singing labor protest songs in Hell is, and fortunately serves that up through a Phil Ochs-channeling Zebrowski.
Your Pretty Face is a relatively modest show in terms of its goals—it just wants to make you laugh while also maybe grossing you out a bunch. There’s always been a bit of tension between that and its long, complicated production schedule. Between the heavy use of (somewhat intentionally shoddy) CGI and practical effects, it takes up to two years for a season to make it from production to broadcast. Some might think that’s a lot of effort for these specific returns, but if it takes all that to make possible the running joke of Dan Triandiflou’s Benji gradually turning into a mushy meat sack after hugging Hendra’s Pestilence, it’s worth it. The show might want to be a little bit more careful about what “legends” it casts, though.
Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell’s fourth season starts tonight, May 3, at Midnight on Adult Swim.
Garrett Martin edits Paste’s comedy and games sections. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.