Archive for the '80’s movies' Category

Apr

Comments Off on Ash Vs Evil Dead

days

There is a certain trilogy of movies, all American made, all wonderful to behold; that opened up a new avenue of creativity for generations to come. I’m not talking about any wars that happened amongst the stars, no. I’m speaking of Evil Dead, or The Evil Dead, depending on the movie title. With four movies under it’s franchise name, a myriad of video games, comics, and a gigantic range of other mediums, it would only be fitting that we would continue to want more. Let it never be said that Sam Raimi and The Chin don’t deliver. facial

With the fate of the rebooted movie’s sequel in perpetual development hell we are given, instead, a 10 episode look into the life of the original Deadite killer, himself: Ashley J Williams. I’ve watched this series with a glee that is hardly able to be successfully described, every joke, every reference, and every gratuitous splash of blood was taken in with nothing but sheer adoration. And that is what this series does, it brings back the character of Ash, still played by none other than The Chin, himself, and puts him in all new situations. After a drunken night capped off with a little recreational self medication Ash is trying to impress a girl with “Poetry” and opens that most sacred of books: The Necronomicon. Of course, he’s too inebriated to realize what he’s doing, but that doesn’t stop our hero from reciting the same summoning spell that got his friends killed. You’d think he’d get it through his head to never open that thing again, but he doesn’t. But, I mean, who hasn’t accidentally read from an ancient, evil scripture, summoned demons, and got a whole lot of folks killed? Just me? Anyways, true to form, this is when things start going south, and in a hurry.

At his job, not S-Mart, unfortunately, we meet Ash’s new sidekicks, Pablo, and Kelly, and our adventures really begin. We get a lot of story from the man, himself, as to why he’s hiding out in a crappy trailer in a no-name town in Michigan, and it all boils down to the fact that Ash has developed a streak of yellow, choosing flight over fight. While I’d like to fault him for that, truth be told, I can’t. Every time that book and him come into some kind of contact folks die horrible deaths. But, let’s get to the fun! ENTER THE DEADITES! Exposition be damned, it’s time to go full Evil Dead ahead! Pablo and Kelly are grabbed in Ash’s trailer, and the fight for their life can be only be tipped by an act of heroism or cowardice. For a moment or two the titular hero contemplates leaving his new friends to their fate, but has a change of heart. With all the Raimi directing glory we love Ash enters the fray, flinging axes, blowing skulls into mush with his trusty Boomstick, and dismembering his sweet, old, neighbor with that signature chainsaw arm. And where there’s blood, there’s a lot of it, and I do mean a lot. Holy glorious globs of ooey-gooey, Batman! One-liners are delivered, and we speed off into the credits, ending our first episode.

manualI think it worth mentioning, at this point, that from his last appearance on screen we’ve glorified Ash, a little. And the series is hilariously aware of that, reminding us constantly that he is, indeed, a complete moron who does one thing well: killing Deadites. I’m highly grateful for this, because it would’ve been easy to write Ash into this perfect hero, developed through his years of solitude, and all the tropes we could’ve seen come with re-entering a character like this, but instead, we get that love-able screwhead we all got some of our best one-liners from. Maybe there is hope for Michigan U graduates, after all. Now, enter more characters and arcs. We get a cop, her partner, and even get to find out what happened to that girl that loved poetry. Hint: It doesn’t end well for a lot of people. Practical effects make the ‘Ick’ factor register high in these episodes as we witness that poetry lover twist her own head 180 degrees to stare down the two police officers. Amanda, the cop that will be hunting our main guy, watches in horror as she loses her partner to a set of taxidermy horns, and then proceeds to blow his head off. Literally. We watch it happen, in full HD glory.

As Ash and company head towards a man that can give them more information about the book Amanda sits in contemplation of what happened. Enter Ruby, played by the beautiful Lucy Lawless, yes, THAT Lucy Lawless. I’ll give you a second to fangasm. Okay? Moving on. Ruby starts up the motor in Amanda’s head about what’s really going on, urging her to find Ash, the cause of all of this. So we have our two main plots, folks! But it doesn’t stop there, no, no, no. This series takes us all over the place, throwing demons, Deadites, and other ghouls at us, and never, ever, not once shying away from the gore. The comedy will have you laughing, the horror is actually pretty damned good, and the characters are all highly love-able. Although the series does get a little Game of Thrones-y by killing off some titular characters later on, it is still just as awesome. We get a giant chunk of Evil Dead and all it does is leave fans wanting more. Bruce Campbell resuming the role of Ash is just as entertaining as it’s ever been, Lucy Lawless joining him on screen is just as awesome, Pablo and Kelly do an outstanding job of supporting roles, and even manage to get in on some of the action.meds

It is with no hesitation that I recommend this series, and cannot wait for the second season to release. If you’re an Evil Dead fan you’re going to absolutely love it. If you’re just a fan of horror, in general, the humor might be hit and miss, but the experience is just as fulfilling. Go give it some love, and tell them Deadman sent you. Thanks for reading, folks. Stay Tuned!

roadside attractions

  • The Classic.
  • The Chin 4.0
  • Yeah, she thought about it.
  • Why is she here?
  • Scream king and queen.
  • Oh. That’s why.
  • Give Ash a hand!
  • Of course it’s evil!
totals

10

blood  

BLOOD

All the blood. All of it.

10

blood  

BREASTS

Only one pair. But. They’re totally Lawless.

10

beast  

BEASTS

Deadites, demons, and darkness, oh my!

10.00 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer for Ash Vs Evil Dead

trailers
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Nov

Comments Off on Friday the 13th: Part III

To celebrate Friday the 13th by watching Friday the 13th, I wanted to take a look back at my favorite Friday, “Friday the 13th Part III.” It’s like watching “Die Hard” at Christmas at my house.
Part III, how do I love thee? Lemme count. Number one, there’s the sweet 80’s main theme that I like to call Disco Jason. Such a party track. Number two, Part III is in 3D, and many copies you can buy even come with old school 3D glasses. (And, mercifully, the option to watch in 2D.) But number three and most importantly, this is the first Friday where Jason is the Jason we know, love, and make action figures of, the man in the mask Alice Cooper belted about in part VI. I mean, everyone knows Mrs. Voorhees is the killer in part one, and in II, Jason’s rocking a flour sack and not truly at full Jason – although, in fairness, he is mourning his crazy mama. Part III is Jason moving on, out of the shack with mama’s severed head, out of the camp setting entirely, and while he’s still pretty human looking around the edges, we do get the hockey masked, immortal/undead/zombie/whatever the hell he is killing machine of legend and box art in this movie.

Part III opens with the end of part II, just in case you were afraid you’d be lost in the mythology. Ginny, the Final Girl of II, pretends to be Jason’s mama and then machetes him real good in the shoulder. When the coast is clear though, we see wounded Jason scoot away into the darkness. Then we rock out with Disco Jason and 3D movie credits invade our personal space.
But the movie really starts with a bickering couple, presumably middle-aged, although I think the wife is actually pretty young and they put her in a bathrobe and curlers to make her insta-45. Bickering couple are just chilling out at their combination crappy home/crappy rural grocery, when the wife listens to local news recount the aftermath of part II, so of course, Jason’s ears are burning. It’s OK; bickering couple were just the appetizer.
After we’ve established that Jason’s on the loose and his stabbing arm is all warmed up, we get to meet our crew of nubile young victims. And they’re in a van. They even have a pair of stoners in the van. I’m just glad they didn’t have a dog, because I cannot stand violence against animals.

OK, so roll call: we’ve got Chris, the Final Girl – we know this because she’s a pretty, but serious girl, kinda turned off of sex, and she both owns the van and has a boy’s name. We have Shelly, who attempts to make up for his lack of traditional good looks with gory practical jokes and pouting about how no one likes him; the stoner couple; Deb the pregnant girl and her innocuous boyfriend Andy; and finally, Vera, a cool Latina who was conned into being Shelly’s date. Pretty good selection for Jason to run through. Despite happening upon a crazy old man who warns them, um…pretty much just to be warned, he’s not very specific, the kids continue to Chris’s family farm, which is also convenient to Camp Blood.

When they arrive, Chris meets up with Rick, an old boyfriend, and she starts to get emo and ominous about not being back to the place for two years. I would like to take a moment and point out that despite not seeing each other for an undefined amount of time or being in a current relationship, Rick instantly begins pressuring Chris to get snuggly and never, ever stops. I realize inviting a guy to spend a weekend with you strongly implies receptivity to snuggling, but let her finish a sentence, you horndog. Rick’s painted as a good guy, driving a VW Beetle and everything, but really, he’s a jerk. Jason will make it better, I’m sure.

Back to the plot. I need to introduce a few more victims. Our other variety of jerk (bigus fatus jerkus), Shelly, goes with Vera to a local grocery for supplies. This grocery, however, is being menaced by a three-person biker gang. They don’t do much though besides threaten the kids a little bit, and you have to wonder exactly how much tough biker ganging there is to be done in a brightly-lit country store too small to even have aisles. Shelly manages to back over one of their bikes as they leave though, and in so doing unwittingly adds three more to Jason’s kill list, because you know the gang’s going to have to follow them and try to get revenge.

All the dominoes are now set up, and it’s fun to see how Jason knocks them down. 3D filming techniques will assist where possible. He’s less creative than he will be in the future, of course, but I believe he does innovate the fuse box kill here, and while there are some callbacks – Kevin Bacon’s death in the first “Friday the 13th” is a good one – they’re well repurposed.
It all comes down to Jason and Chris though, and we learn through torturous, onion peeling dialogue scenes that this is not her first rodeo with a deformed psycho killer. In fact…it was at this very place on the lake… Sigh. Chris, you’re an idiot, aren’t you?

I will give Chris credit for being a pretty effective Final Girl, using things in her environment as diverse and innocuous as hay bales and manual car windows to her advantage and executing traps with minimal whimpering. I wouldn’t be able to go close enough to Jason to loop a noose around his neck, uh-uh, no way. She may not be Kirsty Cotton or Laurie Strode, but she’s pretty tough stuff. Not as tough as Jason, but hey, who is? Jason’s basically jerky to start with.

roadside attractions

  • Brand-new crazy old man to warn the kids about Jason
  • Jason finds his signature look
  • Central casting stoners
  • Central casting bikers
  • Fried hippie
  • Not practicing speargun safety
  • Not practicing hammock safety
  • Red-hot poker action
  • The Boy Who Cried Psycho Killer
  • I am crushing your head
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

A little dated and heavy on the eyeballs for my taste, but Jason shows real enthusiasm for this kind of work.

2

blood

BREASTS


Fleeting exposure in a pretty self-conscious shower scene.

8

beast

BEASTS Jason will get hulkier, maggotier, and more inventive in later sequels, but there wouldn’t have been a Jason X without Disco Jason.

8 OVERALL There’s a purity to Part III I enjoy. The formula is solid by this point without being overdone, and it’s happy to just be what it is: a big dumb fun slasher movie for Reagan’s America.
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Watch the trailer to “Friday the 13th: Part III”

trailers

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Oct

Comments Off on Halloween III: Season of the Witch

Look, no one loves the “Halloween” series more than I do, at least until Busta Rhymes gets involved. The first film is an unimpeachable classic that defined a subgenre and entirely makes up for “Ghosts of Mars” and “John Carpenter’s Vampires” in the same way that the Beatles catalogue means Paul McCartney still gets to be a legend even though there’s that terrible Christmas song and “Kisses on the Bottom.”

But there’s one movie nestled among the chapters of Michael Myers’ seasonal quest to kill his sister/niece/sister again that does not belong – 1982’s “Halloween III: the Season of the Witch,” or The One Where He Didn’t Come Home. Nope, “Halloween III” doesn’t have Michael. It doesn’t have Michael’s final girl blood relations fleeing into narrow dead ends. It doesn’t have Donald Pleasance earning every bit of his paycheck and all the residuals in the universe as Dr. Loomis, foremost authority in the field of abnormal EVIL child psychology.
John Carpenter and Debra Hill, who created ”Halloween,” its sequel, and produced III, envisioned the series going in an anthology direction after “Halloween II,” like a theatrical “American Horror Story.” But audiences hated “Halloween III” for not being more “Halloween III.” For years, even after I’d memorized Halloweens I, II, IV, and V, I still hadn’t even tried hate-watching III because everyone I knew spat on its clamshell. But you know what? Once I did give it a shot, it instantly became a favorite. Among the Halloween series – which, again, I have memorized, 4srs — I’d put it second in quality only to the first one, although I still watch it far more often. Let me tell you about it!

The movie starts out with an old guy running pell mell to escape what appear to be tax preparers or junior executives, maybe Mormon missionaries, a pretty sweet jack-o-lantern mask stuffed in his waistband. Seeking refuge in a junk yard, old guy manages to commit vehicular manslaughter on them, escapes, later to ruin the shift of a night watchman at a garage who’s just trying to watch a news report about Stonehenge. (Plot point! Plot point!)
Enough of that exciting stuff. We are transported to meet our real hero. Tom Atkins’ Dr. Dan Challis is instantly relatable, although partly because we meet him while he’s being sneered at by his killer shrew ex-wife and disappointing his kids by bringing them less awesome Halloween masks than mom got. (“They’re Silver Shamrock!” the children exclaim, singing along to the commercial for the very same masks at eye-ruining distance from the Magnavox. Get used to that hectoring singsong; it’s going to be a motif.)

Dan is your basic good guy caught up in terrible events; he’s a doctor, sure, but there’s definitely more Sears catalogs and Playboys in his place than medical journals. He drinks when he’s on call, has implied alcoholism, endures a bitter ex-wife with custody of their two kids, and pats the night nurse’s bottom with no fear of repercussion ‘cause he’s too OK to harass anybody. He is an 80s main character in search of a Stephen King novel. He’s a good — not perfect! — but good guy. And he has a sweet mustache.

By the way, bitter ex-wife Linda is played by Nancy Loomis, the same actress who played Annie, one of Laurie Strode’s less fortunate babysitter friends in “Halloween.” (Also her staring corpse in “Halloween II!”) Foul-mouthed and half-naked in “Halloween,” 5 years later, she accessorizes a grey wig with a dowdy shawl and 80% of her lines are yelled over the phone at Challis. Hollywood really is terrible for the aging actress.

Challis gets paged, and the scene can’t jump cut hard enough away from that domestic bliss. The garage night watchman has delivered the old guy to the hospital, still clutching that Halloween mask. (Yes, Silver Shamrock! How did you know?) As Challis asks what happened, old guy is summoned to consciousness by that obnoxious commercial for Silver Shamrock Halloween masks, gasping, “They’re coming to kill…ALL OF US.” Challis prescribes Thorazine, because death threats always look better after a good drug-induced snooze.

While Challis is sleeping something else off in the doctor’s lounge, another Botany 500 suit model stalks into the hospital like so much Michael Myers. This is, in fact, an even less populated and policed hospital than the one in “Halloween II.” He arrows in on the old guy and takes another page from the Michael Myers playbook with a brisk head crushing. The night nurse walks in on the end of it, but luckily for her, the killer doesn’t care, and like a bee that’s spent its one sting, proceeds directly out to the parking lot, douses himself with accelerant, and goes up in a suicidal pyre.

Challis gets to see the conflagration and is on hand the next morning when police reveal the body to a young woman, the old guy’s daughter, Ellie Grimbridge. She identifies the body, horrified and grieving, but also cute. Later, she tracks Challis down in a bar and asks whether her father said anything the night he died. Challis tries a comforting lie, but when that fizzles, he expresses an urgent desire to find out what’s going on. And an amateur sleuthing team is born! Cue the upbeat opening.

Challis and Ellie check out her father’s shop, where he has a conspicuous inventory of those Silver Shamrock Halloween masks, and decide to take a day trip to the mask factory, his last known whereabouts before what we saw in the first 15 minutes of the movie. Challis also asks a friend in the coroner’s office to do the autopsy on the old man’s murderer and pass Challis any fun, plot-advancing tidbits.
The Silver Shamrock factory is located in a Southern California company town called Santa Mira, populated by…Irish immigrants. OK, sure. Realizing it’s too small a town to snoop without a cover story, Challis and Ellie decide to pretend to be a couple, buyers from the factory like Ellie’s dad was, and book a room at the local motel. Luckily, Ellie also packed lingerie for her day trip to track her father’s last movements with the nice, strange doctor.

We also meet an angry woman staying at the motel, in town to pick up her mask order, and another buyer, Buddy, with his wife and truly obnoxious brat, who are so National Lampoon, guys, I’m not kidding. So a lot of the snooping comes to Ellie and Challis at the motel, and that’s convenient. We learn that the factory (and thus the town) is run by Conal Cochran, a famous maker of novelty gags, toys, and masks, and Challis risks all kinds of fun backwash sharing his brown bag o’ booze with a local deadbeat, who points out the video cameras monitoring the whole town and complains bitterly that the factory is staffed entirely with outside people, not local talent like himself.

The night wears on. Ellie’s lingerie goes on, and maybe off, but we don’t see that. This is pretty PG-13 here. The deadbeat is double head crushed by more tax preparers of the night. And angry lady toys with one of the Silver Shamrock masks, unleashing a beam that fries her face off and generates worms and bugs from the gaping face holes. Face obliteration is a pretty ironic thing for a mask to do, and it’s still a fairly good practical effect, trading blood for broken teeth and exposed sinews.

The next day, best Halloween mask salesman evar Buddy and his family are taking a tour of the factory, which Ellie and Challis manage to glom onto. Cochran tours them personally though the place, and we get a closer look at his legacy of successful clockwork toys (Plot point! Plot point!) as well as the mask making process – less the tantalizing “final processing,” which Cochran explains has to do with trade secrets and volatile chemicals. He doesn’t want anyone to get hurt.

Speaking of getting hurt, Challis spots some more of the menswear models of doom and recognizes their eerie resemblance to the killer what bonfired himself in the hospital parking lot. Ellie also spots her dad’s car, partially hidden under a tarp, although she’s prevented from getting close by more members of the Silver Shamrock Kraftwerk tribute band.
And then our heroes, with the proof that Ellie’s dad was there (which wasn’t really at issue, was it?) and the serious heebie jeebies, hear what the audience is yelling at them and decide to get the hell out of Halloweentown. But FIRST, Challis wants to call the cops. Dumb, dumb, stupid man. While Ellie packs her one tiny overnight bag, he goes to the motel office and finds all lines are routed to a wrong number recording. By the time he gets back to the room, Ellie’s gone, and the room is surrounded by blank-faced, sharp-dressed men. So Challis is off to the races.

For a while, he manages to kill rather than be killed, and soon realizes that the suited baddies in pursuit are automatons, super realistic killbot versions of the clockwork toys that helped make Cochran so successful. So are most of the people in Santa Mira. But if Challis were successful in escaping, we wouldn’t get a villain speech, and we do get one from Cochran, a splendid speech not just about his evil plan, but about Halloween itself and, unlike Dr. Loomis, he pronounces Samhain correctly.
Challis isn’t down for the count though. There’s more movie left, a big scary child sacrificing plot to avert, and a cute girl to save, too. I’m leaving out a lot of good stuff actually, like what happens to Challis’ coroner friend and Cochran’s demonstration of his evil plan for Halloween night. You should watch and see. …Probably not while wearing a Halloween mask though.

roadside attractions

  • Killer Clockworks from Killarney
  • Honey mustard blood
  • “Halloween” Easter eggs
  • I’m crushing your head (x2)
  • Face/off
  • Killer driller
  • Willy Wonka level cruelty to children
  • A cult following
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Not a bloodbath. More of an acid bath with snakes and worms playing pinochle in dissolved skulls.

.3

blood

BREASTS


.3 Glancing nip slip. Be ready to hit pause.

1

beast

BEASTS Once again, the real monster is man and army of his killer robots.

8 OVERALL Maybe they should have called it All Hallows Eve or Samhain or The Night Celtic Witches Sacrifice All Y’All’s Children.” “Halloween III” both deserves the Halloween name and doesn’t deserve the short shrift it’s gotten because of the “Halloween” name. On its own merits, you get a great cast, a fairly original story in the vein of 70s, early 80s conspiracy horror with both witchy and technological components, a spooky Kraftwerky soundtrack, and plenty of memorable practical effects that still ook out effectively decades later.
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Watch the trailer to “Halloween III: Season of the Witch”

trailers

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Aug

Comments Off on MegaForce


What more is there to say about MegaForce when I can show you a picture of Barry Bostwick in costume? Move over GI Joe, the solid gold dancers are Earth’s greatest fighting force.

This gem from 1982 reeks of the modern day Hollywood formula, ACTION > PLOT. “Here’s a list of scenes that will send audiences into orgasmic bliss, write a story around them. You know what? Don’t waste your time. We’ll figure it out in editing.” Director Hal Needham, was a well known stuntman, need I say more? The MegaForce team is a group of the world’s best soldiers and a guy from the Southern US. See, like NASA they all have flag patches to display their origins. Dallas, Bostwick’s number 2, has the recently maligned confederate flag on his arm. These spandex clad motorcycle jockeys are like every other superior fighting force that’s off the books, they get called in for the tough jobs. Save the country, save the world? Um, no. Thwart tyranny or remove a corrupt dictator? Not really. There current assignment is to bait a warlord into crossing the border of the current country he is terrorizing into one where the proper military can take him down and arrest him legally. I’m not sure why you’d use the precision and expertise of the solid gold dancers as bait. I guess they don’t want MegaForce to take this guy out because that would look like the military crossed the border and their authority?
The wrong stuff
If you’re going to wear golden spandex, your vehicles have to be tricked out as well. Instead of some drab military colors, they’ve got custom paint jobs on each piece of transport featuring a very 80’s lightning bolt pattern. MEGAFORCE! “But wait! That doesn’t sound very stealthy.” No worries, there’s some techno babble to explain that the “photo sensitive” paint reacts to the light. When it’s night time, the vehicles are completely black. In the day time, more obnoxious than college kids at a big ten football game. The motorcycles are Battlestar Galactica vipers minus the space travel, wings and Starbuck. These bikes are low budget 80’s futuristic, complete with machine guns and missiles. You’ll notice them during the completely still closeups that they cut to every 3.87 seconds during a moving battle scene. The bikes are introduced to us through the eyes of a general seeing the team for the first time. The general is Devin Miles from Knight Rider, and he plays Devin Miles the general in this movie which is why I didn’t bother looking up his name. Anyway, he gets a demonstration of these supercyles in which they demolish some multicolored balloons randomly thrown above them as they drive down a road. To do that, you need to do a lot of wheelies on your motorcycle. Eat it, Mission Impossible Tom Cruise. Frickin’ wheelies, man.
silhouette love
I love finding a film that is so bad it is good, and I started the Film Frown podcast to document my journey. Is MegaForce in that category? The bad part is there, one hundred percent. Every chance they get, Bostwick the emaciated unfed Barry Gibb impersonator poses like he’s just defeated world hunger.flying motorcycle His headband is neither holding his hair, nor big enough to stop sweat. He looks like the little boy from The Ewok Adventure all grown up. His sidekick is the spitting image of Andy Gibb, so I think they must be a Bee Gees tribute group. While the vehicles are well done, you’ll be surprised when they give you a brief look inside and there’s no shag carpet. Finally, near the end Bostwick’s motorcycle sprouts wings and he flies. It’s some of the worst green screen you’ve ever seen. Greatest American Hero is like the Mona Lisa of flying heroes when compared to this scene. In case you don’t believe me, some kind person on imdb does note in the goofs section that “he’s clearly not actually flying a motorcycle.” Some movies throw stills in the credits or bloopers. Needam puts the same action scenes we saw during the film in the credits? I guess they were proud of the battle that ended with zero casualties and a rainbow.
rainbow warriors
This movie left me in awe. There was so much bad in every scene that I couldn’t take my eyes from it or disengage my brain to form an opinion. After writing that sentence, I think that I have to call MegaForce so bad it is good. I mean, it has to be seen to be believed. How did this film get released?

roadside attractions

  • Barry Bostwick’s winning smile
  • vyger with hair
  • military holograms used for porn
  • wheelies
  • two motorcycle jumps, yes TWO!
  • Barry Bostwick’s shit eating grin
  • green screen skydiving
  • thumbs up for spandex
  • Barry Bostwick’s leering smirk
  • proto-Team America: World Police
totals

0

blood

BLOOD

The director wanted to make an action film that was good, clean fun where no one died, with tanks and machine guns.

1

blood

BREASTS
+1 because we’re lucky to have a single woman in this film. Who needs nudity when everyone is in spandex?

4.5

beast

BEASTS

To be fair there’s no beast, but the young Henry Silva is a monster at being the most likable bad guy ever.

6 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer for Witching & Bitching

trailers

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Apr

Comments Off on Hellbound: Hellraiser II

Sequels! So often the cinematic equivalent of “second verse, same as the first!” “Hellbound: Hellraiser II” could easily have been “Hellraiser Too.” But the good news is “Hellraiser” is a fantastic horror film, so using the skeleton and generous tissue grafts from the first one means you have at least that much good movie, no matter how silly the ultimate Big Bad looks. Um, spoilers on that last bit.
The movie opens with quick edits of Hellraiser: the story so far. “Jesus wept.” The Scorpio killer from “Dirty Harry” is ripped apart by chains. The Cenobites close on a screaming young woman and almost nab her puffy-haired boyfriend, but the Fat One (not to be confused with Joey Fatone) isn’t quite quick enough. Pinhead: “We have such sights to show you…” “Go to hell!” yells the girl as she brandishes hell’s paperweight at the Cenobites. Cue dramatic choral music and the opening credits start coming at us.
If you didn’t get any of that, don’t worry. “Hellraiser II” will cover all of this material again before the third act. For starters, just like in the first movie, we watch a lone man frowning in concentration over the famous puzzle box, only this time he appears to be an old-timey British army officer in a Quonset hut. And just like with Frank Cotton, the Big Bad of the first film, we see the box bzzzrt to life with CGI, we see the petitioner lean tentatively over the box, and then we see chains fly out of the box to hook into the guy, or at least some sort of Naugahyde we’re meant to believe is the guy. This sequence is a little more interesting than Frank’s transformation though, imho, both because we’ll recognize the officer is being turned into Pinhead, and the sequence does a good job interspersing Pinhead’s screams and shots of the torture itself with glimpses of his creepy smile as he is well and truly Cenobitified.
In the present day, the young woman what banished Pinhead and his fellows to hell before the credits, Kirsty Cotton, wakes up in a psychiatric hospital. She’s told her boyfriend Steve from the first movie was sent home, his wild tale of the Cenobites apparently totally corroborating Kirsty’s, but not to the extent he needs to be institutionalized, too. However, a nice man from the police is there to sort of interrogate her, so there’s that.
Meanwhile, two trigger happy cops investigate the Cotton house, which is now definitely in America, despite being sorta in England in the first movie. They find a jump scare, but also a bloody mattress with chains on it, and so they call their boss to find out what to do with such big time physical evidence. The boss happens to be the officer interrogating Kirsty, and she overhears the discovery, because these are seriously the worst cops since Barney Fife swore in Gomer and Otis.
Then we meet Dr. Channard as he monologues to a rapt operating theater about charting the mind’s secrets while sawing open a patient’s skull. They really do brain surgery like this, you know. I think they discourage actual villainous monologuing, but the sawing a conscious person’s head open is legit. It would not be unfair to think of Dr. Channard as an excellent Hannibal Lecter audition.
Channard drops into Kirsty’s room with his assistant Kyle just long enough to establish that everybody knows each other’s names and for Kirsty to demand the discovered mattress be destroyed. She explains forcefully that since Julia — her stepmother, Frank’s lover, and the Lady Big Bad in the first movie – died on that mattress, she can be brought back from hell through it, just like Frank was in “Hellraiser.” And that gets her bupkus but a sleeping pill prescription.
Later on, Kirsty wakes, seemingly summoned by a patient in another room quietly putting together a wooden block puzzle. The Channard Institute patients are free range, and so Kirsty leaves her room to discover an innocuous blonde teenage girl puzzling her heart out. As Kirsty watches the patient work, Kyle surprises her. He explains the girl never speaks, and that they don’t even know who she is. A nurse calls her Tiffany. The girl just seems to compelled to solve puzzles, which Dr. Channard encourages. Weird coincidence. Kyle gives Kirsty sleeping pills, which Kristy refuses, and at this point he is clearly not a doctor, but has been horror-movie-boyfriend-zoned.
Kirsty goes back to her room and has a vivid visitation by a skinless man, scrawling on the wall of her room, “I am in hell. Help me.” Already terrified and angry that Julia has a potential portal back from hell just waiting for someone to cut their femoral artery over it, Kirsty worries about how she can bring her father Larry, murdered by Julia and Frank, back from hell.
Just as one might have an inkling that Dr. Channard is a less than a caring caregiver, the movie allows us to tour through the “Maintenance” level of the Channard Institute with him. It is every horrible asylum trope you’ve ever heard or seen. It is a Marilyn Manson video. It is dirtier than John McClane’s shirt at the end of “Die Hard” and there is screaming and crying and scrawling in stuff and straitjackets. The only thing it’s missing is Jessica Lange.
Kyle managed to be Channard’s assistant and yet totally oblivious to the entire floor of patient abuse his boss kips down to, I’m assuming, on a fairly regular basis, but he does overhear Channard making arrangements for the mattress to be delivered to his house. Newly clue-having Kyle is a man of action and breaks into Channard’s house, like you do, discovering Channard is quite the Hellraiser fanboy, with a whole study full of mad scientisting and no fewer than three of the infamous boxes under glass. We also learn that Kyle reads aloud and talks to himself, which is weird, but helpful to the audience.

Kyle also gets to be there when Channard brings one of the Maintenance level patients in to be sat on the mattress. Now I don’t want to spoil this for you, but it does not end well for the patient, who I like to think of as “maggot guy” and at the end of it, Julia has indeed come through the mattress, skinless like Frank, and you can just go ahead and cue up “A Strange Kind of Love” for her and Channard while Kyle wets his pants behind a curtain.
Just like in the first movie, the skinless Cenobite escapee is going to need to suck some victims dry and steal their skin. Actually the mechanism for this is kinda odd. It seems to be a combination of sucking on their mouth or face and shoving the plane of your hand into their neck, and I’m not sure how that works, because that’s bone. But Julia sure knows how it works, and she makes quick work of a whole room full of ladies in various states of undress. Please enjoy all the boobs you are going to get in this one.Kyle and Kirsty show up at Castle Channard because barreling into the villain’s lair was Kirsty’s go-to in the first movie and we’re still working off that script. Kyle does not fare much better than maggot guy in the end, but his contribution does finish off Julia’s skin. Kirsty unleashes a powerful banshee scream, but Julia knocks her cold with a patrician backhand, just in time for her new beau to bring Tiffany home as a surprise.
Julia and Channard hide in Channard’s anti-cenobite bunker while Tiffany solves the box. I don’t know why Channard needs a puzzle-solving prodigy to figure the box out. I get that he’s avoiding risking his own hide, but most people seem to be able to figure out the box with minimal montaging. Julia apparently did after she’d been gutted and effectively drained by Frank in the first movie.
It does work. Tiffany solves the box and the Cenobites show up and instantly rezone Channard’s pad into hell. As the lesser Cenobites cluster around Tiffany, ready to do what they do best, Pinhead forbids them. “It is not hands that call us. It is desire.” And Pinhead’s gaze takes the camera into hell after Channard and Julia.
This is the point the movie really departs into its own thing, adding new material to the skeletal and nebulous Hellraiser mythology while upping the ante in terms of threats and effects. And boy does it suck. OK, maybe not suck, but fair warning, nothing is going to make much sense from this point on.
Hell could be many things. Bottomless pit, unquenchable flames, something like a Bosch painting, that “Informer” song on a neverending loop. Hell in “Hellraiser II” took serious inspiration from Jareth the Goblin King’s realm in “Labyrinth.” It’s M.C. Escher matte painting with a little H.R. Geiger flourish here and there, wind machines, strobe lights, and a few themed sound stages for individual pilgrims wandering its otherwise featureless gray maze. Tiffany has a carnival soundstage, for instance. Kirsty’s is the house where her Dad was killed. Mine would probably be a room of monitors showing this part of the movie.
Wandering around the Labyrinth, Kirsty bumps back into the Cenobites instead of muppets. They menace her as usual, insist she clearly wants what they have to offer, but then strangely still don’t take the opportunity to mutilate her when she proves powerless against them. You know, the Cenobites like to imply Kirsty keeps running into them because she wants to be tortured for eternity, but they keep letting her go, so what does that say about them?
Meanwhile, Julia takes Channard to the center of the Labyrinth and introduces him to her god. No, not Satan, and not Jareth either – it’s Leviathan, who appears to be an obelisk screensaver. She then backs him into a Cenobite-making booth, announcing that the entire reason she was allowed to escape was so she could bring Leviathan more souls. And I’ll never believe in true love again. Kirsty ping-pongs from the Cenobites to dead Uncle Frank, who is being tormented on his own soundstage. He tells Kirsty it was he who appeared in her room, not her dad, who is dead. So in the Hellraiser universe (so far) if you’re killed by the Cenobites, you’re not entirely dead? You’re just in hell. But you can come back. But if you’re killed by anything else, including things from hell that aren’t Cenobites, you’re dead and that’s it? What are the eschatological implications here?
OK, then Julia shows up and kills Frank. I guess. Good. Kirsty contends with Julia, both fighting for Tiffany’s trust, and sometimes it’s in the most unlikely moments a movie passes the Bechdel test. Ultimately Julia’s skin is torn off and she falls to her…death? In hell? Man, I don’t even know.
Channard emerges from the Insta-Cenobite booth as the Doctor Cenobite, looking not at all well, but he looks around in wonder and murmurs one of my favorite lines of any movie, “And to think, I hesitated.” But they really should have left Channard in there for another millennia or so because he just looks silly. He’s like a flying tentacle porn Inspector Gadget. The rest of the movie is Kirsty and Tiffany versus the Doctor Cenobite, getting some unexpected help from our O.G. Cenobites, but ultimately it’s going to come down to Tiffany’s puzzle-solving skillz and Kirsty’s ingenuity to stop the Doctor Cenobite’s terrible medical puns.
“Hellraiser II” is a sequel from a more innocent time when horror sequels were really just expected to be the same movie plus boobs and bodycount, and to be fair, they did that. They do try to flesh out the lore, which would be a good thing if the stuff they added wasn’t self-contradictory crap. Clive Barker said that he was afraid people would laugh at the Cenobites in the first movie, but he managed to make something horrifying and cool instead. The Doctor Cenobite is every bit Clive’s fear realized though, which is doubly a shame because Channard was so effective before he got all go-go gadget. It’s still worth a look, but the movie really does go all to hell once they all go to hell.

roadside attractions

  • More piercing fetishes
  • More extreme maggot wrangling
  • More chains
  • More cannibalizing action
  • Asylum of the damned
  • Extreme Cenobite makeovers
  • Cenobite fight!!!
totals

10

blood

BLOOD

Alternate title could have been Bloodspouter.

2

blood

BREASTS


Yes, there are boobs in this one! Not a lot, unless you count Julia’s skinless ones.

9

beast

BEASTS Skinless Julia and the Cenobites deliver the goods, but I’m taking back a point for the Doctor Cenobite being dumb.

8 OVERALL “Hellbound: Hellraiser II” loses coherence in the last reel, but it’s still a good horror flick on its own merits and a decent sequel to the horror masterpiece.
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Lost Highway is your satirical detour down the twisted back roads of b-movies and cult films reviews. learn more >>