Archive for the '80’s movies' Category

Nov

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.
dripper

Watch the trailer to “Friday the 13th: Part III”

trailers

dripper
Oct

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.
dripper

Watch the trailer to “Halloween III: Season of the Witch”

trailers

dripper
Aug


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
dripper

Watch the trailer for Witching & Bitching

trailers

dripper
Apr

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.
dripper

Watch the trailer to “Hellbound: Hellraiser II”

trailers

dripper
Apr

On May 19, 2015, Clive Barker unleashes the long-awaited The Scarlet Gospels on the world. It’s being billed as the last Hellraiser novel and Clive is spoiling us all by letting us know the Hell Priest Pinhead is getting deader than usual, for reals, forever, run up the curtain and joined the choir invisible.
At this point, I go fully Brainy Smurf and point out there has only been one Hellraiser novel, which was a novella called “The Hellbound Heart.” Although, yeah, Pinhead and his S&M monster sect, the Cenobites, were briefly mentioned in his novel Weaveworld as “the Surgeons.”
Really Pinhead and his homies were fleshed out in the movies, of which there are nine. Same number as levels of hell. Coincidence? We’ll see. In celebration/fearful expectation of The Scarlet Gospels, I’m going to watch all nine of these bad boys and review them all here. Assuming I’m not scrawling crosses on the wall in my own excrement by the time I get to “Hellraiser: Deader.”

The 80s gave us so many great monsters – Pumpkinhead, Chucky, the Leprechaun, Michael Myers, the Tall Man, Angela from “Sleepaway Camp” AND Angela from “Night of the Demons” – but Pinhead stands proudly in the winners circle of the greatest monsters of the Reagan years with his arms slung around Freddy and Jason, probably keeping them from going for round 2 against each other. His image is familiar to everyone. He has been on the Simpsons. Your mom knows Pinhead, and for once, that’s not a reflection on your mom. Although time, and so freaking many sequels, clouds the memory, and even if you are a fan, “Hellraiser” might not be entirely the movie you think you saw.
First off, in the novella that spawned it and the first movie, Pinhead and the Cenobites aren’t the Big Bads here, not really. It’s kind of like the first Friday the 13th and Jason’s mom. The real bad guy here is Frank Cotton, a smoldering bad boy hunk and sociopathic hedonist looking for the ultimate in transcendental sexytimes. And so he comes by the box, that iconic Rubik’s Cube of the damned, and retires to his dead mother’s house in London, fingering the box’s faces until the CGI kicks in. The prize inside, however, while not safe for work, is not so much sexytimes as total evisceration, courtesy of the Cenobites. But hey, he asked for it.
If he’s eviscerated, how is he the Big Bad, Angela? OK, fun story. Some indefinite time later, Frank’s brother Larry shows up with his frosty, semi-detached wife Julia in tow. Larry has a great new job in England and intends to reclaim the old homestead, also setting the stage for a fresh start with the pissy missus.
They tour the old house and find lots of Buddy Christ-grade religious iconography, presumably his mom’s, a kitchen given over to maggots, and some of Frank’s things, but no Frank. Not even pieces. The Cenobites love their work.
Larry dismisses it as his ne’er do well, and inexplicably more gorgeous, brother making a smooth criminal exit, but Julia, who was so icy towards her husband, suddenly gets her motor runnin’ and agrees to stay.
On moving day, in a really beautifully-done sequence – have I told you I love this movie? – Julia obsesses over Frank’s picture, and we get flashback mushy stuff as she gets all het up about how he seduced her before her wedding. While she’s, ahem, remembering, Larry and nondescript friends heft the marriage bed upstairs. In the process, Larry accidentally rips his hand open on a nail, and he goes to Julia for help, bleeding all over the floor of Frank’s room. The room Frank was eviscerated in. The floorboards suck the blood up like Karo syrup on a Brawny towel and Frank’s body begins to reconstitute itself underneath the floorboards. It is all very gelatinous and extensively foleyed.
Cut to a dinner party. Larry’s daughter Kirsty is there, and she is about horror movie heroine age and so beautiful. You guys, she is the proto Noxzema girl. Kirsty flirts with one of her Dad’s younger friends, who’s supposed to be British, but speaks with an American accent, and that troubles me at night sometimes. There’s booze and raucous cheer. Except —
Kirsty doesn’t like her stepmother Julia, and while the hostilities aren’t open, Julia is too distracted fantasizing about Frank to be a bitch. She leaves the party to go sniff around in Frank’s things and surprise! Her lover is back, sort of. Some of him. Larry’s blood was enough to bring Frank back to Slim Goodbody suit status, but he needs more. A lot more. Also skin. And he insists Julia help him.
Julia is torn between many competing emotions like so much chain-hooked body, and my God, Clare Higgins deserves an Oscar. Frank is a disgusting monster. But he is also Frank (who is a disgusting monster anyway, but she’s lust-blind to that.) And Frank is a terrifying monster, which both makes him intimidating and something to go screaming to your insignificant other about. And Clare gets all of this across beautifully with wild looks and halted breaths and trembling.
So, Julia consents to help Frank, and the way she’s going to help Frank is by luring men back to the house to bludgeon with a hammer and let Frank suck dry. She starts out very nervous, terrified really, of the men, of herself, and of course, of the thing sucking the marrow out of the guy she just whacked, good old Frankie-poo.
Meanwhile Noxzema Girl Kirsty has troubling dreams with more symbolism than an 80s Heart video, and she begins to worry about her dad. She also has a run in with a really weird guy in the pet shop she’s now working at, and while it’s probably par for the course in New York or L.A. or New Orleans, in England, I gather cricket-eating hobos staring hungrily at you is more of an event.
Kirsty eventually stumbles upon Julia and Frank’s white doughy Englishman abatement service and, after Frank leers at her real good, manages to steal the box and get out. She really does some prime horror movie heroineing here. But then she passes out, and wakes up in a hospital from dreams of a red blooming flower. Mm-hmm.
When a doctor tries to interrogate her, Kirsty insists she remembers nothing. She’s left to recuperate, with the puzzle box as a spur to her memory. So she does what everyone does when they’re left alone with the box and starts feeling it up to reveal its secrets. First, she manages to open a gateway to a fun slobbering, snapping thing that defies physics when it flies and has a stinger for a tail, but after she escapes, she meets the Cenobites. And the only thing the Cenobites want more than to play with Kirsty is to get Frank back.
As gory as it can be, the meat of this movie isn’t effects; it’s Julia turning into a monster for the sake of her love of Frank and it’s Frank being an inhuman bastard who has a 50/50 shot at sticking a knife or his penis in you, and even then probably not where you’d expect. It’s Larry’s marriage turning to ash in front of his hapless, loser eyes and it’s Kirsty being unable to save her father from his own mistakes. The Cenobites are hella memorable, but in this movie, they’re more of a force of nature being invoked by some terribly human appetites.

Also, the Cenobites aren’t clearly Satan-based demons here, despite the title. The Lead Cenobite (Pinhead to you) announces them as “angels to some; demons to others.” That was on the posters, and it’s pretty damn apt. They get to be both in this movie, and while there’s an oblique acknowledgment of hell, it’s arguable whether it refers to a literal Judeo-Christian hell. I’m making that point, because later films are going to go backsies on some of this. But as far as we know in the first movie, they’re just supernaturally-endowed swingers from another dimension.
This is a film Clive Barker made after seeing other filmmakers butcher material from a couple of his other short stories, and he basically said, [bleep], I’m going to do this my way, and it’s going to be awesome. And then he said, oh, [bleep], I don’t know what I’m doing. But he was wrong about that. It’s a tight script and he directs the hell out of it, including some really clever shots and setups. All the actors give it everything they’ve got. There are no limits. So decades later, it’s still scary and there’s not much like it; Phantasm probably is the only series I can think of with a similar feel. I do still have eight movies to go in my Hellraiser-a-thon, but I feel pretty safe saying if there’s one Hellraiser you should see, it’s this one.

roadside attractions

  • Piercing fetishes
  • Extreme maggot wrangling
  • American-dubbed British people because U.S. market
  • Chains of love
  • Guys getting hammered
  • Lots of ectoplasm. At least, I hope it’s ectoplasm.
  • Cannibalizing action
  • Full backal nudity
totals

10

blood

BLOOD

Everything that is inside eventually comes outside in this movie.

0

blood

BREASTS


…Except boobs. No boobs. If you don’t look away in time, you may see Frank’s junk though.

10

beast

BEASTS Big slobbering stinger-equipped monster, big flying pterodactyl-like monster, skinless Uncle Frank, and Cenobites for the win.

9 OVERALL Even with some dated SFX, the movie holds up and is still scary, provocative, and – why not say it? – artistically fulfilling. Check it the hell out.
dripper

Watch the trailer to “Hellraiser”

trailers

dripper
join our mailing list
* indicates required

About the Highway

Lost Highway is your satirical detour down the twisted back roads of b-movies and cult films reviews. learn more >>