Clive Barker was moved to tweet upon seeing ad copy that promoted “Hellraiser: Revelations” as being “from the mind of Clive Barker.”It reads in part: “If they claim it’s from the mind of Clive Barker, it’s a lie. It’s not even from my butt-hole.” Mic drop.
The previous several films all pretty much bedazzled some very not-Hellraiser horror movies with the hooks, chains, and nails of the Hellraiser franchise, shot a few scenes with the Cenobites, and called it Hellraiser, as I have harped endlessly, I know. But with “Revelations,” the Weinstein Company suddenly realized that their Hellraiser rights were going to expire, oh noes, and so they had to jiffy up a film tout de suite to retain the legal, if not moral, rights to milk the Hellraiser franchise to the last drop. So they started scrambling a film together with basically no time and no budget, a slapdash approach that cost them Doug Bradley’s involvement, and Doug had come along for all of the previous movies, all those previous godawful movies, including “Hellworld,” where they gave all the good lines to Lance Henriksen, so that’s kinda saying something.
The twist though is that this ashcan flick they slapped together – possibly because they didn’t have time to do much more than riff on the original – ended up being more faithful to the franchise than any sequel had been since “Bloodline.” More Hellraiser: First Draft than “Hellraiser: Revelations,” true, but while it may have not been from Clive Barker’s b-hole, it still kind of looked like his crap.
The film starts out as found footage, which is admittedly a smart choice when you have neither script nor money. We’re following two college-aged idiots, Nico and Steven, to “Tee-wana” as they enthusiastically repeat over many shots of tequila. Cut. And then we see, sort of, through Steven’s shakycam footage, Nico opening the box.
Cut to a furniture showroom, maybe a producer’s house. Very well decorated. I took some decorating notes for my next trip to Pier One. Nico and Steven’s families have gathered for dinner. The boys, we soon understand, are missing. Some of their stuff made it back to their parents, including the video camera, but only Steven’s mom has watched the footage, and she sneaks off and watches it a lot. Daughter Emma, who in addition to being Steven’s sister is Nico’s girlfriend, go go gadget economical script, justifiably calls her mom out on the weirdness and demands to know what they’re going to do about the boys’ disappearance. It all leads to a fairly uncomfortable first course with an outburst from Mom for afters.
Later, Emma sneaks off and watches the sacred footage herself. In it, she learns that Nico and Steven got up to some untranslated sexytimes with a Mexican prostitute, culminating in Nico having sex with, then murdering the lady in a bathroom stall. Well, that’s one revelation, I guess. Nico was a psychopath.
What fortuitous timing then that Steven shows up at the house that very night, looking haunted and wan – although he does have all of his skin, and that’s surprising in the Hellraiser universe. Naturally, the families are shocked, but less than they will be when Steven seduces his sister and takes the family hostage at gunpoint. There’s one more big revelation left, of course, and it plays out as Steven forces Emma to solve the puzzle box.
I mentioned in the Hellworld review how Miguel from Horrible Imaginings and I were watching all of these hours of Hellraiser sequels together for our Scarlet Gospels podcast, and at first, we were really amazed that it was authentic Hellraiser. Box, check. Chains, check. Pinhead – well, a head with nails in it anyway, check. Cenobites being invoked by witless, morally desolate hedonist? Checkity-check. But it wasn’t long before we realized that we were giving it too much credit, as though we had been drinking warm Coors Light all day and then someone gave us a cold PBR. (No offense to fans of PBR. I know you exist, and you are stalwart souls.) But the original Hellraiser was more like a Stella Artois.
…Or maybe I just need a drink.
One thing this sequel needed was a proper Pinhead. The proper Pinhead. And a budget. And a few more drafts. But the skeleton of it…You know, for all its faults, I still honestly think “Hellraiser: Deader” was worse.
Watch the trailer to “Hellraiser: Revelations”