Archive for the 'Fantasy' Category

Apr

Comments Off on Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth

You know, sometimes a horror series just takes three entries to get where it’s going. Jason didn’t play goalie until “Friday the 13th Part III” and Freddy’s comic timing never gelled until “Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.” So FINALLY, after two movies of being an amoral undead dom invoked by sweaty humans pawing the famous puzzle box, Pinhead’s doin’ it for himself.

The story opens with J.P., a rich jerk, at an art gallery checking out a large baroque pillar smothered in sensual bas-relief carvings – you know, faces and hips and boobs and suchlike. Pinhead’s face and the puzzle box are also floating around in there somewhere, like gluten in your lite beer. If you watched “Hellbound: Hellraiser II,” you may dimly connect this lovely artwork to a cheap prop rising from a blood-soaked mattress in Dr. Channard’s house at the end, complete with, my favorite, a pair of adorable rutting skeleton marionettes on one side. That must have just been hell’s first concept piece.

J.P. is approached by a plausible Kris Kristofferson impersonator/scary drifter, and instead of whipping out his gun, because you know J.P. is the kind of guy that has a Glock tucked in the waistband of his Bugle Boys at all times, he proceeds to negotiate with this guy like he’s the legal owner of something other than the lice in his beard. Mysterious guy tells J.P. the pillar is his and accepts a clutch of bills without counting or caring. Fans of the series so far know where this is going. Although non-English-speaking fans of “Sabado Gigante” probably know where it’s going, too.

We meet our heroine, Joey, who is neither an 8-year-old boy nor a kangaroo. No, Joey is a reporter, or wants to be, and on this particular night, she is fretful because the news desk dispatched her to the hospital emergency room to cover people…um, generically croaking, I guess. And Death must have been still nursing his ankle injury at Peter Griffin’s house, because no one in the city is dying. Poor Joey is super put out by this lack of suffering to report on and convinced the news desk purposefully sent her to cover bupkus. (One might argue a good reporter could turn a totally empty emergency room into a story, Joey.) Despite this being our first glimpse into her character, Joey remains sympathetic, but then this is the same era where it took 9 seasons for audiences to realize the characters in “Seinfeld” were terrible people.

Joey’s cameraman Doc, a sweet Motorhead roadie of a man, is called away to assist another reporter on an actual story. Joey resumes having a sad. But then a man is wheeled in on a gurney covered in chains that summarily electrocute him, and Joey’s night is immediately looking up. She doesn’t have a cameraman and the guy is dead, but he was accompanied by a distraught girl, and Joey is on her like maggots on the guy in the straitjacket in “Hellraiser II.” She doesn’t get much out of the terrified witness though except the location where the guy got chained, a club called The Boiler Room.

As Joey goes after her big story, J.P., the owner of the Boiler Room, discovers a defect in his newest conversation piece where the puzzle box had been. With the help of a critter nested in the hole, J.P. learns how much his new art enjoys soaking up blood. It’s not far from there to find out sacrificing ladies to the pillar is not only a great way to avoid awkwardness after anonymous sex, but it also brings his new bestie Pinhead to life. J.P. cannot imagine a downside.

Joey heads to the Boiler Room and eventually reconnects with the witness, Terri, who just happens also to be J.P.’s off-again girlfriend. Terri crashes at Joey’s pad and gives her the puzzle box, along with a Lifetime Channel’s worth of wronged woman woes. She tells Joey how she never dreams and it’s clear she never hopes for much either; she expects Joey to exploit her, too. When Joey treats her with kindness and offers to let her stay at her condo even after she’s got her story, Terri’s amazed and grateful. But that won’t stop her getting scared of being abandoned again and running to J.P. when he calls.

Terri might not dream, but Joey sure does, and that’s where Pinhead’s better angel comes in. You see, Joey’s father was killed as a soldier in Vietnam, and we join her in a recurring nightmare where she screams for a Medevac to come to her father’s rescue. Also joining Joey this time is Captain Elliott Spenser, a ghost from a previous generation’s war, but you might recognize him better when his face is scored with nails.

A dream of one war is a dream of all wars, Spenser says, explaining how he reached out to her from the eternal WWII limbo where his soul now hangs its hat. (I hope that doesn’t include the Great Joel Versus Mike Compuserve Flame War of 1996.) Spenser tells Joey how he became Pinhead, was released by a friend – meaning Kirsty, the heroine of the first two movies, but I’m pretty darn sure I saw Dr. Channard de-Cenobitify him and cut his throat in “Hellraiser II” – but that his evil was too dang evil to destroy. (That’s the Law of Conservation of Evil established in 1978 by Dr. Sam Loomis.) So Pinhead’s distilled evil got congealed in the pillar of hellstuff that survived the climax of “Hellraiser II” by being made into art, while his better nature went to dream-purgatory-limbo-ville. Sure, you’ve got an authoritative British accent, I’ll buy it. And so will Joey.

The problem is that Captain Spenser can’t do much about Pinhead in the physical world. He needs Joey to bring Pinhead through to the dream plane, where he has power to, erm, do stuff. And you may be thinking – wait. Is Pinhead’s ghost asking Joey to enact reverse Elm Street kid maneuvers against Pinhead? What what what? And a good half and a bad half? Wasn’t that, like, the plot of 10 episodes of “Star Trek”? Yep and yep.
Meanwhile J.P. tries to feed Terri to Pinhead, and that doesn’t work out too well for him. Terri’s weakness for bad men will still be her undoing, although Pinhead is definitely a step up from J.P. So, unbound from the rules of hell and upstairs from a club full of people who have reflexes slowed by drink, Evil!Pinhead begins speechifying and butchering, also raising new, incredibly silly Cenobites from among the dead to help out.

From here it’s blood and Pinhead monologues all the way down. You could argue pretty persuasively on either side of whether “Hellraiser III” was a damning or redemptive moment for the franchise. The director, Anthony Hickox, you may remember as director of such films as “Waxwork,” “Waxwork II: Lost in Time”, and “Warlock II: the Armaggeddon,” and he brings a jewel-toned, distorted-lens panache to the series along with a mordant sense of humor and zeal for extravagant bloodletting. Clive Barker was an executive producer, but the movie doesn’t feel Clive Barker-y anymore. It’s less serious for sure, but also less fantastic; and while it looks better, or more expensive, (hat tip to Hickox on that, it wasn’t) it’s less beautiful somehow. But it is fun, and while the plot bursts into dust at the lightest scrutiny like so much Dracula in sunshine, you could also say that about “Hellraiser II.”

Fun fact: I’m originally from the Piedmont-Triad area of North Carolina, the same general area that gave you Andy Griffith and NASCAR, sorry, and surprisingly, it also gave you “Hellraiser III.” They filmed it largely in Winston-Salem and High Point, and though the movie desperately tries to convey it’s in New York or a similar metropolis, it’s so not. There are no skyscrapers, no public transport, no crowded streets – hell, no city, at least as TV defines it. There’s some urban sprawl and ornamental trees resplendent in magnificent fall color, I guess. They used a bunch of locals, so you can play “spot the Southerner,” but most conspicuously they had a local anchorman at the time, Rick Amme from WXII, as the TV reporter for the Boiler Room slaughter coverage, and you may notice, Rick has a pretty hick accent as TV anchormen go. So there’s an esoteric drinking game for you.

roadside attractions

  • Piercing fetishes, check
  • Chains with hooks, check
  • One skinless corpse, check
  • Extreme Cenobite makeovers, check
  • New, yet by now extremely dated Cenobites
  • Pinheads Gone Wild
  • Mild sexytimes footage
  • Small Southern cities impersonating big Northern cities
totals

10

blood

BLOOD

It is a Hellraiser; there will be blood.

.5

blood

BREASTS


Boobs are almost shown several times, but the nudity remains basic-cable-before-10:00-appropriate.

7

beast

BEASTS Pretty weak field for a Hellraiser with only the new Cenobites and no other monsters.

8 OVERALL Enjoyable and less confused than “Hellraiser II” was by the end, and it’s fun to watch Pinhead finally cut loose.
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Watch the trailer to “Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth”

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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Watch the trailer to “Hellbound: Hellraiser II”

trailers

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Apr

Comments Off on Hellraiser

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

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Dec

Comments Off on Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation

Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation
“And if I die before I wake, thank you.”

1990 – R – 86 Minutes – Lionsgate
Starring Clint Howard, Neith Hunter, Maud Adams – Directed by Brian Yuzna

It’s beginning to look and feel a lot like Christmas, isn’t it? Unless you are reading this any other time than December, anyway, but there is always a cheerful holiday flick to get you in the spirit. Take the Silent Night, Deadly Night franchise for example, a film series that derailed so sharply and quickly, I think it gave me whiplash. Would it surprise you that the fourth installment has literally nothing to do with Christmas? Well, it takes place at Christmas, but that’s where any relation to previous entries or even the Christmas holiday stops. It’s like they had a script to a horror film and weren’t sure how to market it, then realized they owned the rights to this series, made some last minute changes, stapled Silent Night, Deadly Night to it and there ya go… Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation.

Somebody filmed Clint Howard going about his day, covered in his own ofal and eating hamburgers covered in ants that he found on the ground and decided to make a movie. As he is enjoying his meal, a woman cosplaying as the Human Torch falls from a building and splats on the sidewalk. The news seems to write this off as “spontaneous combustion,” because apparently that is a thing. However, eager junior reporter Kim thinks there’s more to it when she catches the news while her boyfriend, Hank, is making sweaty and what looks to be extremely humid sex to her. She wants to report the story, but her boss’ club clearly has a ‘no girls allowed’ sign, but after talking with her co-worker Janice (who’s only excuse for the way men act in this film is, “boys will be boys”) Kim decides to do it anyway.

sndn4_2Everyone wants to seem to write this off as a suicide, which seems like overkill if you are already on fire, but that doesn’t fool Kim. She heads down to the bookstore where she checks out a book, Initiation of the Virgin Goddess and befriends Fima, a suspicious old woman who gets a crystal wind chime sound every time she glances at someone suspiciously… which is constantly. Fima offers Kim a snack that looks like a date, but is something more sinister, as noted by the previously mentioned not-so-subtle music cue. Not a very subtle approach to the true nature of the character. Next on Kim’s to-do-list is check out the roof where the woman had jumped. She climbs to the ledge and seems to be in some kind of trance, when Ricky comes out of nowhere and yanks goopy, giant arm sized maggot out from a vent and shows it to Kim as if he is saying, “Look at what the special effects guys made! It may not make sense, but it looks cool!” End scene. I’m sure it will make sense somewhere.

Kim gets home and things totally begin to ‘bug’ out as her apartment is now crawling with cockroaches. She flips threw her recently checked out book and comes across a symbol of women’s power, which her spaghetti has somehow taken the shape of! What could this mean? Is the flying spaghetti monster real? No time to think about it, she’s running late for dinner at Hank’s parent house, where his father berates her for being Jewish, further proving that all men think very little of women (in this movie). Hank tries to apologize to her by groping her outside, but she doesn’t take it and heads home where more illusions and bugs are happening. Kim passes out from the weirdness (and you might be as well), but is woken up the next day by Janice just in time to make it to the creepy picnic where she meets two of Fima’s friends. They drink wine and act suspiciously like they are in some kind of cult as Kim is passing out. Hank arrives and picks her up from work, which she had ditched to go to this picnic. Priorities, Kim, priorities.

Kim and Hank check out the spot where the woman on fire commited suicide or whatever and find a recently drawn symbol that is starting to look familiar, so Kim takes off to Fima’s apartment for some tea. So this is the second time she has blown of a story she is supposedly interested in? And she wonders why her boss won’t give her an assignment. As Fima tells Kim that she reminds her of her daughter Lilith, Kim starts to get drowsy. Fima is now demanding Kim eat another date, making her the most aggressive date saleswoman ever.

sndn4_3Kim wakes up to what can only be described as a fever dream, where Fima and her friends strip Kim of her clothes, paint some symbols on her and slice a rat open over her as Ricky places the giant maggot on her stomach from earlier, which begins to bore into her stomach. Weird, I get the same dreams whenever I eat Arby’s. Kim awakens again in Fima’s apartment and leaves, but that dream must have got her feeling frisky as she starts having the intercourse with Hank once she gets home. Ricky enters the apartment and begins watching Silent Night, Deadly Night 3

…Wait, what? Nevermind.

Hank finally notices that some weirdo is in the room watching a crappy horror movie and is stabbed to death by Ricky, just as Janice is calling and Kim answers. Typical woman on the phone while her boyfriend is being murdered. Sheesh. Ricky manages to capture Kim just as Janice is arriving, but in a shocking twist, Janice scolds Ricky for making a mess of the situation, revealing she is part of that cult! Kim, having passed out AGAIN is now waking up surrounded by the cult only to have a sweaty, doughy, hairy Clint Howard wearing a mask from A Clockwork Orange and thrusting at the camera. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Another hallucination and another passing out later, Kim is officially part of the club! Hooray? After chatting with Fima at the bookstore, we learn that woman who died at the beginning was Lilith, Fima’s daughter, who wasn’t strong enough. Strong enough for what, I don’t know. They never really get into what this cult’s ultimate plan is. Maybe it’s to get Clint Howard laid, in which case, mission accomplished. Anywho, Kim has now taken the place of Lilith and must sacrifice a man or else she will be set ablaze too. Always read the fine print when you join a cult.

sndn4_4So the plan is a Christmas kidnapping (hey, there’s the tie in to the series) of Hank’s little brother Lonnie, which goes pretty smoothly actually (after Ricky murders his parents, of course), where he is to be sacrificed on the roof, should Kim fulfill her destiny. Or do you think she will kill Fiona and Ricky, thus adopting Lonnie and appearing briefly in the sequel?

At the end of the movie, you will slump back in your sofa with a nearly permanent dumbfound expression on your face and think, “What the hell did that have to do with Christmas?” and “How did this series get so far away from what made the original so great?” I get that they wanted to do something different, but that’s not always a good thing, especially when the movie isn’t even relatable to neither the series or a certain holiday it’s supposed to take place during. It’s really mind boggling that someone felt that a sequel to Silent Night, Deadly Night 3 needed to be rushed immediately, saw this script and thought, “Perfect!” The characters are so one dimensional, that it makes comic strip characters seem full of life. Everyone seems to be playing a harsh stereotype of something, whether it’s how chauvinistic men can be or the powerful witchy women, it seems like someone had a single view on how people are represented and rolled with it. They make the Punch-Out games look subtle in their stereotyping. Not all is bad though, I mean, the practical effects are pretty good, but you get good stuff when it’s a Brian Yuzna film with Screaming Mad George effects. It’s goopy and gross and it’s sure to capture the holiday spirit.

As far as the Silent Night, Deadly Night series goes, Initiation is by far the most detached, having dropped the whole killer Santa angle. After Part 2, for whatever reason, the films become more Sci-Fi influenced, which is a really bizarre decision for Christmas themed movies. They most likely wanted to try something different, a new spin on something old, but if there is anything the slasher genre should have learned, it’s that you should never stray away from the formula. In this case though, I don’t think it would matter. Even if you take it out of the franchise and look at it as its own film, Initiation really isn’t that interesting and it should be, most likely due to the flat feeling I’ve continuously mentioned. Aside from the few gross out moments that are intentionally thrown at you for the sake of being gross, there is nothing of value or entertaining to watch.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation
If there is anything Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation has taught me, it’s that men are chauvinistic pigs and women are mystical cult witches with super powers. Can’t trust anyone. Anyway, with giant maggots, women on fire and a sweaty, naked Clint Howard, I say Merry Christmas!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Burger time.
  • Spontaneous combustion-a-cide .
  • It’s a maggot miracle.
  • Witchy women.
  • Clint Howard put out to stud.
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

People set of fire, stabbed and gross, icky bugs.

4

blood

BREASTS

Two turtle doves.

2

beast

BEASTS

Clint Howard having sex in a mask.

3.6 OVERALL
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Feb

posted by admin | February 6, 2014 | Fantasy, Horror movies, modern horror, Reviews by the Goon, screeners

Comments Off on She-Wolf of the Woods

She-Wolf of the Woods
2013 – Not Rated – Stay Curious Productions

Women, am I right? If they aren’t trying to break your heart, they’re trying to eat it, because they transform into supernatural beasts at night. Seems like it’s always the case, especially in Scotland. Just what in Sam-hell is going on over there? And who is Sam? Grab a pint and let’s find out.

This story takes place in the Dalavich Village of Scotland, to be exact. After a very cool transition shot of the moon fading into a light bulb, a young woman named Amy has just finished a shower (sorry fellas, no nudity here) and is hungry for a snack, removing a severed hand from the fridge, making for one of the few gore scenes in the film. It cuts to the title credits before we see what she does with it, so whether it was baked or pan fried in a sauce, we will never know.

As the not fitting, but somehow fitting funky, almost soft-core 70’s porn music continues, Amy meanders in the woods drinking some whiskey and kicking a soccer ball in a child’s face (I have to ask, does it make me a bad person if I unintentionally laughed at that?). After ditching some evidence, burning what is most likely the clothes of whoever that hand belonged to, she finishes up her drinking to continue drinking at the local tavern. While there, she takes her time scanning the male population there, which are oogling at her so intensely, you could replace them all with cartoon wolves, howling with their tongues and eyes popping out of their heads. She settles on a man in a trucker hat, camo jacket and a handlebar mustache, everything that embodies the stereotypical beer guzzling M-A-N and takes him home. Once her door closes, it goes to black, leaving to our imaginations his fate, which probably isn’t good for him or his mustache.sww_3

The following morning at her day job, which is a Forest Ranger (makes sense when you think about the title of the movie), we are introduced to Ben, who looks like he has raided Roddy Piper’s wardrobe (kilt and all). He exchanges glances with Amy and begins asking questions to a man sitting next to him with an acoustic guitar about her in the most unconvincing southern accent. The man warns Ben not to get involved with her, but do you think he’ll listen? Like most people in this movie, Ben spends a good amount of his time drinking at the tavern, where he and Amy talk about his past. His family having died and all, he sure is making a perfect candidate to bring home…

Once they are at Amy’s, you could say Ben certainly gets more than what he bargained for… two for the price of one! A blonde seductress named Lucille joins in on the fun, as the two put on a show for him. Lucille takes him upstairs where things get a little… hairy…

She-Wolf of the Woods is a short film, running just a little over half an hour and in that time frame, it tells a familiar fable modestly. However, I can’t help but have wanted the film to explore the characters of Amy and Lucille a bit more, bringing them into the light and rounding out their characters. A little more back story would have really brought them to life and fleshed them out some. Although they do give Lucille exposition in the final scene (I won’t spoil it), you can’t help but to want the movie to continue to see how the rest of the film could have played out. Also, for a low budget short film, it has some of the most remarkable and beautiful lighting and cinematography I have seen in some time. It sets up and further enhances the atmosphere of the scene, feeling like a mix of comic book and modern gothic horror at times.

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She-Wolf of the Woods
Whereas gorehounds may find it to be underwhelming, fans of Lycan mythology will find their appetites pleased and wanting more. So who knows, maybe we will see more? I guess we’ll find out on a full moon.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • She needed a hand.
  • Drinking Game: Every time a character drinks, take a drink.
  • Mustache ride.
  • Roddy Piper stunt double.
  • The sex can get a little “hairy”..
totals

3

blood  

BLOOD

Nothing you really need a rain coat for.

8

blood  

BREASTS

The movie fills out well in this category.

 

7

beast  

BEASTS

 

The big bad and her companion have quite the appetite.

6 OVERALL
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