Jun

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.

roadside attractions

  • Mercifully little found footage
  • Chainings
  • Skinnings
  • Shotgunnings
  • A little Luke and Leia action
  • Idiots Gone Wild
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Chains, blood, skinless guys. This is more like it.

2

blood

BREASTS


Yeah, they snuck a couple breasts in there.

1

beast

BEASTS I am giving it one point for the non-Pinhead Cenobites.

3 OVERALL Not worth watching, but it might have been if they had committed to making it for real.
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Jun

I binge-watched all of the Hellraiser sequels from “Inferno” on with horror maven/podcast partner Miguel Rodriguez from Horrible Imaginings in preparation for our big celebratory Scarlet Gospels podcast. By the time we got to “Hellworld,” we were bored with the shallow moralizing and inertia of “Hellseeker” and “Deader,” and our bar for the franchise had gotten too low to limbo under. The promise of Lance Henriksen in a cast is always a reason to fist pump though, and we dared hope. The director is still Rick Bota, just like on “Hellseeker” and “Deader,” but “Hellworld” got a much brighter, bloodier, boobier visual aesthetic, reflecting his work on films like the “House on Haunted Hill” remake. The whole thing just looks more fun, and it better, because this one is 95% party.
The movie starts out ominously enough; a bare-chested, blood-streaked guy digging, probably a grave, appropriately chilling choral music, and then some murmured exposition among your standard slasher movie set of thirty-something teenagers at a closed casket funeral. Actually, I don’t know that they’re supposed to be teenagers. You just assume that because they seem to be living at home and paired off for snuggling and play video games a lot, but maybe they all were English majors and work at the same restaurant.

The funeral is for their common friend Adam, and the picture by the casket is of the guy we saw digging before someone turned the Chant album on. We learn through the furtive whispers of his buddies that Adam killed himself, apparently because he got too into a game they all enjoy playing called Hellworld. Hellworld is clearly based off the Hellraiser franchise, so we’re in deep meta waters here, kids.

Anyway, his friends blame themselves, to varying degrees, that they didn’t see Adam’s self-slaughter coming. They also note how he has no family at his own funeral, which seems like it might be as much a contributing factor to suicide as anything powered by a 386 Pentium chip.

Speaking of Pentiums, as an authentic gamer and nerd from back when those things meant you were lonely and pathetic AND WE LIKED IT THAT WAY, the days before cute Doctors Who, when anime was called Japanimation and you could only find one half of a shelf of it in your most specialty video store, and when all comic book movies sucked direct to video, I need to call this movie out. I can deal with gorgeous teens who don’t wear braces or break out; that’s common cultural currency. And yeah, the term geek in just the last ten years has gone from something that left deep psychological welts to an effective branding tool, but these people are Abercrombie models. I can smell the guys’ Cool Water through the Netflix stream. And it makes me wonder, since the people who make movies, especially horror movies, are usually a little nerdy, why the nerds of this film are so Bayside High? Was it some sort of ironic commentary? Is it possible none of the creatives on “Hellworld” knew what a gamer was?
None of it matters, of course. “Hellraiser: Hellworld” is just looking for a way to get cute actors into gory set pieces, and the gaming and Hellraiser aspects are as incidental to how this happens as actual intake procedures at a female prison are to a porn setup.

OK, so now that I’ve done my gatekeeping, let’s get to the movie. After the funeral, the kids or whatever they are all wind up playing Hellworld again, although you don’t see much gameplay beyond opening a virtual version of the box. And one by one they win invitations to a big Hellworld party. More of a frat party than a LAN party, as it turns out. There’s some hemming and hawing about going from Chelsea, and this makes her instantly recognizable as our Final Girl. She also wears leather pants and is blonde, so you can think of her as a Buffy proxy. Jake, the shoegazey one, is also reluctant, blaming himself and the others extra hard for Adam’s death, but he ends up coming, too. There is also a Fairuza Balk-y one, the as-yet unknown Henry Cavill one, and a token person of color one. Try not to get attached.

The Scoobies arrive at the party, and it’s fully House on Horny Hill, with raucous metal banging, full frontal boobs, a dance floor crowded with plain white masks doing the Monster Mash, and Lance Henriksen parting the nubile crowd with a cryptic smile.

Our host – and that’s all the name you get from him, the Host — Lance is playfully sinister as he tours the kids through the house. First he shows them tons of Hellraiser memorabilia and talks about the history of the house, originally a convent turned asylum built by Phillipe Lemerchand. The kids occasionally insist that Hellraiser is just fiction, but Lance soldiers on with the unwavering confidence of a Creationist or an ancient aliens theorist, a sly smile suggesting that he’s read further in the script than they have. He looks like he’s having fun, and I hope he was, because he’s the only decent actor in this thing and I don’t think we could tell if he were screaming on the inside. I found this part of the movie quite pleasant, but I always enjoy the setting up the dominos part of slasher movies.

At the end of the tour, Lance presents each of the Scoobies with plain white masks with numbers on the forehead and a Nokia. The numbers on the masks correspond to the number to dial on the cell phones, the better to anonymously hook up with you, my dear. He excuses himself with a twinkle in his eye. (Don’t go, Lance! Take me with you!)

With Lance sadly gone, time to watch these idiots get perished. Each of our Scoobies obligingly wanders off to get isolated and culled according to formula. It will surprise no one when Lance shows up for these murders, but Pinhead does, too, and this was the point when Miguel and I started throwing popcorn at the screen, because Pinhead would not waste a victim on simple executions the way we see here. Of course, since this is a post-Scream slasher flick, there’s a twist.

Twist or not, nothing makes much sense once body parts start flying, but it doesn’t matter. Just go with it and watch the meta crap and don’t hope for anything else. In the beginning, it seems like the movie might be doing something clever and consciously referencing the Hellraiser series in a way that is particularized and special, but it’s not. It’s just a big, dumb, sloppy slasher flick, and it should be better, but it could be worse. Oh, look, there’s Lance. Man, Lance is awesome. So cool.

roadside attractions

  • Lance [bleep] Henriksen
  • Saturated colors and saturated co-eds
  • Hellraiser Simulation
  • The call was coming from inside the house!
  • Premature burials
  • No actual gamers were harmed in the making of this film
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Respectable bloodletting, more on the order of Final Destination than Hellraiser, but acceptable.

7

blood

BREASTS


Actual dialogue: “Gratuitous tit shot.” “Necessary tit shot.”

2

beast

BEASTS Contract-stipulated Cenobites notwithstanding, more party animals than beasts

5 OVERALL It makes complete hash of all continuity and the ethos of the Cenobites, but you could do worse than a dumb meta slasher flick starring Lance Henriksen, and the Hellraiser series has, a lot.
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Jun

Welcome back to another review, folks! Ever since a certain fire happened in a certain sky alien abduction movies were hotter than Agent Scully in the 90’s. Though the premise seems to have lost it’s foothold in the movies as of late, there are still some gems that can be found. For instance; our review today: Extraterrestrial.

While this is supposed to be an alien movie it does it’s best to be a sci-fi, suspense, horror, and even a touch political. These elements in a film usually don’t blend well, but, here, they do. We start with a horror beginning: 20-somethings all in a car to go to a cabin in the woods for a few nights of partying, sex, and debauchery. Mistake #1: They’re in a cabin in the woods! Don’t these folks read my reviews? Never go in the woods!

After a quick setup, and some exposition that isn’t really needed, we begin our weekend with our victims…ahem…characters. Almost immediately stuff starts going down. While one can argue you want to know about the character’s personalities, I, for one, don’t. Let’s commence the murdering! Lights flicker, strange noises! An alien starts to walk around the house and….gets shot by a girl with a shotgun. Well. I did say let’s get to the murdering.

After E.T. goes down, making the pool his final grave, stuff REALLY hits the fan. Appropriate reactions have already been done by this point in the movie, but there are a lot of cool things yet to see. They try to flee, but there’s a tree felled in their way. Suddenly the rain stops while they ponder what could have possibly cut that tree down. These guys would trip over the laces in their velcro strapped shoes. How did they get into college? Right. Michigan State strikes again.

After some of the worst pondering, and decision making I’ve seen this side of swimming with sharks while strapped with steaks and barbecue sauce, we lose our first female to the blue light of abduction. Or as I’ve come to call it: The Bye-bye Beam. Quick! Back in the car that wasn’t functioning just a few minutes ago! We go back to meet a character, that couldn’t be more cliché if it was Jesse Ventura in a tinfoil hat, to learn more about the alien menace. After a quick break from screaming and running we get right back to screaming and running.

Jesse Ventura takes on an alien and, surprisingly, it’s a pretty good scene, ending with what you should’ve seen coming a mile away. More running! More lights! And, just for good measure, they even managed to scrounge up that ‘BWAHHH’ sound from the remake of ‘War of the Worlds’, and every Hans Zimmer soundtrack since. But that’s a tale for another time. What’s that? A would-be protagonist? Go for it, Hoss!

Enter one of the film’s side characters, who the whole movie could’ve been about, but wasn’t, Goodguy McCopDude. We established at the outset of the movie, through a very long scene that we really didn’t need, that he’s been investigating the disappearance of his daughter. How important is this plot point? Important enough to cut from the main characters and their impending deaths to go to a random RV site with a random character to get more exposition to tell us that aliens are the culprit. Which I wouldn’t mind so much if the title wasn’t EXTRATERRESTRIAL!

Goodguy McCopDude is hot on the trail of…no one. And, truth be told, I don’t even remember why he was summoned to the cabin in the woods to begin with. It goes by that quick, folks, don’t fault the viewer for losing a little interest when the action goes from high-octane to donut munching. Goodguy and his cop buddy show up at the Murder Cabin and begin to snoop around, learning the unhinged partiers are being terrorized by aliens. While the partner is skeptical, Goodguy goes full Mulder, and begins to look around.

After a brief, and somewhat fruitless, encounter in the barn Goodguy is convinced it’s those pesky grey skinned fellas causing all the commotion. After he tries to wrangle the panicked few he decides to follow suit and make equally bad decisions, taking his time to convince his partner while sitting in a lit up police car! Well, bad calls can only be called out, as the alien with a shotgun wound turns up and telekinetically forces the skeptic partner and Goodguy to do the unthinkable.

The Bye-bye Beam claims more victims! And soon even the last of the survivors is lost to that fateful blue light. Now. Here’s where the usual movie would call it quits, leaving the audience with the smoldering hole in the ground that was our female lead just a few minutes ago. But it doesn’t. It keeps going, making this movie even longer. Usually I’d say this is a detriment, but the final scenes of this movie kind of answer a few questions that we’ve had for a long time.

No spoilers here, folks! This is a good movie in the fact that it does, in most of it, fuse themes taken from so many genres. The actors do their parts, some sold it well, others not so much. The effects and some of the practical effects are worth praise. It has it’s flaws, like serious plot holes, and characters that make really bad decisions, but it’s worth the pay off. Check this one out, folks. As always, thanks for reading, and stay out of the woods.

roadside attractions

  • There’s no reason for that shot.
  • That wasn’t there before.
  • Boarding up the windows with Ikea.
  • Why did you get out of the car?
  • That was a cool rain effect.
  • Seriously. Why did you get out of the car?
  • 90’s cliche camerawork.
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Not much. Butt there is that one scene.

1

blood

BREASTS

I think I saw a nip slip. Maybe not.

6

beast

BEASTS

Old design, new things done.

7.5 OVERALL
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Jun

posted by admin | June 7, 2015 | Feature

So you fancy yourself as a great science fiction scriptwriter? Maybe the next Ursula K. LeGuin or Dan O’bannon? You’re not the only one. And that’s the problem – how do you make your screenplay stand out when there’s so much competition? Here’s a few tips on how to turn your average sci-fi manuscript into something special.
First of all, when you approach your writing it’s important to ask yourself why you’ve decided to write science fiction. For many of the greats, it’s because they started out with a “What if…?” And went from there, playing around with possible different realities in the fantastical worlds they’ve created. Through doing this, they can create analogies for concerns which are currently right at the heart of human concerns – whether it be globalisation, authoritarian governments or nuclear war. In this way, science fiction taps into our fears and makes them into something tangible, concrete and most of all – relatable. It can also shift light onto concerns which are out of our control. Look at how Orwell’s 1984 has affected discourse on Governmental regimes, and particularly surveillance? Works like this serve to add to a discourse and to a conversation. So – what is the concern which you want to bring to light? What is your “What if…?”

Another aspect to consider is, does your script fall into any genres outside of science fiction? For example, it may be a science fiction horror, a science fiction comedy or maybe even a science fiction romance. Knowing this will help you work out the tone and structure of your story, and it will also help with the dialogue. Most genres have a style and a specific kind of structure – also known as a story “beat”. It’s usually best, when you plan, to write out whatever genre you’re combining with sci-fi and then at the sci-fi on top, rather than the other way round.
If you’re going to write science fiction, then make sure you include plenty of surprising plot points and exciting, wacky scenes in order to throw in some fun and silliness. You can find ideas for these from other science fiction books, novels, or even from online bingo sites where many slots games have a science fiction theme. To find out more, check out other reviews like best bingo sites.
Create some rules for your science fiction world and make sure that you stick to them. Think about the time and the space, which doesn’t necessarily mean what year it is so much as what social and cultural stage in its development the world is at. In the sci-fi genre, the setting can often be divided into stages, which often take the form of the following:

First Stage – usually a very primitive world, no major building structures, hunter/gatherer society.
Second Stage – still quite primitive, but there are small communities with villages, farms and some technologies.
Third stage – you can find cities with their own entrepreneurial enterprises and trade links set up, as well as Governmental services. There is stability, but it is not over authoritarian.
Fourth stage – high poverty and crime, there is advanced technology readily available. Government is corrupt.
Fifth stage – post apocalyptic, full of pollution. Here the world is dying.
It is possible, and even preferable to have a world which sits between two of these stages.

As well as knowing the world that you’re writing, it’s also important to make sure that you’re aware of the rules which govern that world. Make sure that you know the actual science of the world that you’re describing – for example, if you’re on a spaceship, then what is standard procedure for leaving the ship and why? What’s more, if your character is justifying something with a scientific theory or principal, then make sure that you describe it correctly. This is the kind of thing which your target audience will pick up on immediately. But the most important thing of all is that you must be consistent. Audiences can accept an unrealistic world. It doesn’t matter if your science isn’t actually real, unless you break one of your own rules and create a hole in the story. If this happens, the audience’s ability to suspend disbelief will fall apart.
An important trap to avoid falling into is filling up your script with alienating jargon and over the top, nonsensical dialogue. Use dialogue and language which your audience can understand, and the plot will be much more memorable and easy to follow. Similarly, it’s usually best to avoid complicated and nonsensical sounding names for your characters, as these are unlikely to be taken seriously by audiences.
Finally, be realistic with what you can manage within the resources that you have. Most films struggle for budget, and with Science Fiction being one of the most expensive of all genres, you want to make sure that what you’re proposing is possible without having to resort to big CGI special effects and the suchlike. Apart from anything else, if your effects budget isn’t very high then this will just end up looking cheesy, tacky and embarrassing – better just to leave it out! Keep the content simple and instead use the action and the dialogue to tell your story and drive the main plot. This way, it will be much easier to get affordable funding for your film, meaning that it will therefore be much easier to get it off the page and on to the screen.
These are just a few tips to help you get your science fiction script off the ground. The only thing left to remember is to make sure that you do actually write it! There’s no point in having an idea if you never put it to page. Good luck!

Jun

“Hellraiser: Deader” tasks me. I know I said that the last two movies were slush pile escapees with Cenobite architecture grafted on, but really nothing to do with Hellraiser or even the spirit of Hellraiser. At least “Inferno” had the core of a decent horror movie and “Hellseeker” had fodder for my Kirsty/Pinhead fanfic, but this? “Deader” offers us Kari Wuhrer in pigtails in Romania, a few ooky effects, but not much else. “Hellseeker” director Rick Bota is back, so look for pretty shots signifying nothing.

We meet Kari’s character, Amy Klein, belly baring and passed out in a fairly livable looking crack den. There are lots of passed out addicts all around her, but they aren’t violent and all still have their teeth, so it can’t be that bad. Amy wakes up, apparently not a crack fiend but an amazing simulation, and stealthily begins snapping pictures of the blasé druggies with her giant stealth camera. A short time later, she checks out, refusing drugs from a guy one must assume is a very generous young addict. “I got what I came for,” snarls Amy Klein – everyone always says her whole name whenever they address her, like John Wick or a Pimp Named Slickback — cigarette dangling dangerously from her dangerous lips.

We follow dangerous maverick Amy Klein to the magazine where she works, London Underground. Amy Klein goes to her boss, they exposit a little bit about how maverick she is, and then he tells her he has a video to show her. And he does, an actual VHS, and the shocks don’t stop there. It’s a snuff film, or seems to be, until the person who commits suicide in the video suddenly comes back to life.

Amy Klein’s boss wants her to go to Romania to do a story on this super underground cult called Deaders, who have a way of killing themselves and living to make home movies about it. Amy Klein obliges, following the trail of the mysterious videotape to some despoiled and creepy apartments run by a Romanian version of Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Bribing her way inside, she finds a Deader-eyed body clutching the Hellraiser box along with an enticing padded envelope. Amy Klein puts both into her inventory.

At her hotel, Amy Klein smokes and thinks and smokes and empties out the envelope and then smokes and opens the box. Her head is seized with some pretty fat chains before she sees Pinhead telling her, “Don’t think for a moment that you are not in danger.” Then she’s back in her hotel, apparently not in any danger.

Amy Klein follows the Deader trail to a party train full of so much nudity. Here we see “Deader” pioneer territory perfected by “Game of Thrones” in having naked people groping each other in the background of long dialogue scenes heavy with exposition. This dialogue scene is between Amy Klein and Joey, Joey himself dressed like someone’s idea of ultraviolence and well acquainted with the Deaders. He warns Amy Klein of her own self-destructive tendencies, although honestly, what’s he even talking about? He hasn’t even seen her so much as chainsmoke.

Up to this point, the movie has been plodding, but it hasn’t been terrible. Let me tell you where the movie really ups the suckage. Amy Klein learns that the guy behind the Deader cult is Winter Lemarchand, the great-great-great-etc relative of the box’s architect, Phillipe Lemarchand, who you may remember from such films as “Hellraiser: Bloodline.” Winter is killing and resurrecting his cultists in order to produce one chosen one that can open the box his ancestor made, so Winter can then go and be Boss of the Cenobites. Winter can’t open the box himself, and he believes it’s going to take killing and resurrecting a truly self-destructive, vulnerable individual to get it done. And this is why this movie kills brain cells. You both have to know about (maybe even care about) “Hellraiser: Bloodline” and simultaneously completely forget “Hellraiser: Bloodline” for that to make any sense. And what’s with the chosen one stuff? Hell, Dr. Channard had an entire ward opening boxes in Hellbound.

I’m not going to take you any further on Amy Klein’s journey. Suffice it to say, she’s dangerous and self-destructive, but also smart and the kind of girl Pinhead prefers to talk to rather than flay outright.

Like “Inferno,” soldering on Hellraiser bits – and in this case installing a major foundational element in Winter’s nonsensical motivation — muddies and weakens the underlying horror movie. And bless her heart, Kari Wuhrer really tries in this film. She screams until I feel hoarse, and her boobs are probably the sole reason to watch any of it. I don’t know if “Deader” on its own could have risen above forgettable, but I know for sure that “Hellraiser: Deader” would be doing well to be forgotten.

roadside attractions

  • None, keep driving
  • OK, fine
  • Kari Wuhrer’s pigtails?
  • Um, really, nothing
  • I guess half naked Amy Klein wrenching a knife out of her back by trapping it in a cabinet door was kind of cool.
  • OK, also half naked Amy Klein
  • Around minute 54, but she screams a lot and it’s annoying, so turn the sound down
  • Butchered idea based on an idea not at all to do with an idea by Clive Barker
totals

3

blood

BLOOD

An effort is made, but nothing you wouldn’t expect at your local haunted house attraction that’s trying to get on a Travel Channel special.

8

blood

BREASTS


Yes, full frontal everything, everything, including boobs. There is also tasteful Kari uncoverage.

2

beast

BEASTS Beasts, what beasts? We got some inert zombies and British guys. The same dull Cenobite retreads from Hellseeker are back for five minutes.

2 OVERALL Deader is deadest. Miss it.
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