Archive for the 'Horror movies' Category

May

I was excited, dammit, when I saw Ashley Laurence had been hauled onboard for “Hellraiser: Hellseeker.” Maybe hauled onboard isn’t the right analogy. Maybe it’s more like she was lured into the back of the craft services van and chloroformed or she walked across a pit covered with copies of a totally different script.

Laurence matters because she played Kirsty Cotton, the heroine of the first two films and for my quatloos probably the best Final Girl of the 1980s. After the meandering noir fable of “Hellraiser: Inferno,” roots needed returning to, and Laurence’s Kirsty never failed to kick ass. Plus, Kirsty still had a story to tell. Unlike many a horror franchise heroine, she skipped the traditional perfunctory offing in the opening of the first sequel she wasn’t heroine-ing. So after literally wearing the skin of her wicked stepmother and witnessing the ultimate answer to man’s search for meaning is a grey maze filled with kinky zombies, how did her hellbound heart go on? I mean…did she take a year off and backpack Europe? I want to know.

More crucial, unfortunately, than Kirsty’s involvement is the helming of this film by Rick Bota, who also directs the next two entries in the franchise. If I ever get access to time travel technology, I’m going back to 2002 and hunting down every person in the phone book named Rick Bota. To be fair, Bota is a deft cinematographer, and I have the feeling these movies were requisitioned by the studio with about as much vision, passion, and resources as you put into ordering a Subway sandwich. “Hey, Rick, here’s a director credit and a script from the slush pile. Go make a Hellraiser so we don’t lose the copyright. On Hearty Italian.”

So all that said, “Hellseeker” sucks.

While I’m feeling food metaphors, let me start with the three-cheese soundtrack. Gone is the fantastic choral score of the first few films, replaced with some wailing-on-a-Stratocaster Winger audition that you could plunk at the start of a light Skinimax offering, maybe something on the USA Up All Night docket. Unacceptable. Save your bargain brand Dokken for Freddy. We need some majesty and dignity up in this joint. You’re not playing Pinhead on with that crap.
It is true that Clive Barker originally wanted metal for the score of the first “Hellraiser.” But Clive wanted metal for the score. This soundtrack is to metal as Screech is to Bill Nye.

Ah, but I’ve not touched the story. Let me get my asbestos gloves.

The movie opens with Kirsty and her husband Trevor riding in a car, laughing, playing, loving each other conspicuously, like people do in commercials for antidepressants and boner pills.

The dialogue neatly informs us they are reconciling from something and embarking on a new start. Then they start kissing and Trevor smooches them right across the center line. Honk, honk, Trevor swerves to avoid a face full of Honda and loses control of his car. The compact goes full Duke Boys rampant, plunging them into a lake, albeit absent Waylon Jennings narration.

Trevor manages to worm out of the car, but the door gets stuck and he can’t save Kirsty. Police divers find no sign of her body, and her seatbelt was undone. Trevor hasn’t even left the scene before he finds himself the target of oblique insinuations from a homicide detective, who by the way is clearly the love child of Lieutenant Columbo and Sergeant Murtaugh.

Besides the police detective who seems to have skipped ahead to the end of the script, Trevor has two other big problems. One: he came out of the accident with a head injury, and so he has trouble remembering anything. Also, his days weave in and out of fugue states and delusions, which are great when you want to mess with the audience without committing to anything happening. I will give Bota and company full credit for some nice Pinhead foreshadowing in a brain surgery scene though.

Trevor’s other big problem is that he sweats Sex Panther cologne. This guy’s BVDs are getting their elastic challenged by every woman in the movie. Who knew being a widower was such a turn-on? You could probably change the music and make this into a sex farce. Just splice in Rob Schneider as a wacky neighbor instead of Pinhead and boom, you’re good. In fact, just keep the music.

Eventually we find out that Trevor was unfaithful with lots of women during the marriage, and so the women aren’t exactly coming out of nowhere. We are also shown that Kirsty found out about the affairs, but more interestingly, that Trevor obtained a Hellraiser box and made Kirsty open it. We don’t get to find out the result of that delightful gag gift until the curtain falls, but you will have figured it out long before then. Suffice it to say, that long drive off a short pier we started with was less straightforward than we originally witnessed.

“Hellseeker” is not terrible, but I’d be straining to call it even okay. I’d rather watch an honestly terrible movie than this thing. Give me all the Zombeavers and Thankskillings you have.

They’ve taken one of the most explicit and daring titles in horror, and they’ve expurgated it until you get something that could play with minimal cuts on Lifetime, at least until the last 15 minutes. It is full of groping and murder, but it is still terribly boring, except when Pinhead is on the screen, but then you probably just feel sad. No Cenobite innovations, barely any Cenobite presence, and you don’t even have the disturbing murders that gave “Inferno” its genuine oog-out moments. And like “Inferno,” the story revolves around getting gutted for hidden sin, metaphorically and literally, which departs significantly from the original BDSM ethos of the Cenobites. They were never here to punish you or reward you; they’re here to play. Because you asked.

There’s nothing to play with here though. Just a dull as dishwater psychological horror title that tacks on some by-the-numbers Hellraiser motifs here and there and calls it a day. This should not have counted toward keeping the copyright.
I have serious issues with the ending, too, honestly, but I’m not going to think too hard about it because it’s a better deal for Kirsty, and she’s the only one I can muster much feeling for in this, what with her 10 minutes of screentime.

roadside attractions

  • The Short Happy Life of Kirsty Cotton
  • Will Someone Turn Off That Guy’s Amp?
  • Pinhead and Kirsty, still Angela’s OTP
  • Wardrobe by Victoria’s Secret
totals

2

blood

BLOOD

Most of it is in that screenshot I have above of the brain surgery.

0

blood

BREASTS


Not even a nip slip.

2

beast

BEASTS Generic retread Cenobites and superficial Pinhead. It won’t do.

2 OVERALL It gets one point for Kirsty, one point for Pinhead, and there are no other points worth spooling this up in your Netflix queue for. Give it a miss.
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Watch the trailer to “Hellraiser: Hellseeker”

trailers

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May

“Hellraiser: Inferno” is a helluva lot better if you don’t think of it as a Hellraiser movie. I’m not sure it was meant to be honestly. You could have swapped the Hellraiser stuff with Candyman or Leprechaun or probably Alf without using very much whiteout, and the story itself is a total departure from every Hellraiser we’ve seen so far.
Craig Sheffer would be playing his second Clive Barker hero here (after Boone from “Nightbreed”) if this were a real Hellraiser movie from Clive Barker, but he’s not, so — anyway, he plays Joseph Thorne, a shady detective with a flair for solving puzzles and playing games. When not being an arsebiscuit to his partner through the unlikely medium of crosswords, he may be found snorting coke, stealing from crime scenes, and cheating on his truly lovely wife with hookers. He’s a flawed protagonist. He’s also the narrator, in another departure from the Hellraiser template, and as faithful as he is to his wife and daughter, probably should pencil him in as an unreliable narrator, too.

Thorne and his partner Tony are called to the super opulent scene of a homicide, and it turns out Thorne knew the victim in school and even bullied him. (Flawed protagonist!) It did not get better for the dead guy, and somewhere along the way, he got himself a hold of the Hellraiser box, and the box got a hold of him, like it do. The true detectives also find a child’s finger encased in a candle at the scene, a particularly chilling little touch that viscerally troubles absentee father Thorne.

Starting with a murder scene and an imperative to hunt down the killer before he finishes murdering the child he sawed that finger off’n, things deescalate quickly when Thorne takes the box along for sexytimes with a hooker. (Flawed protagonist!) He opens it, of course, but strangely, chains do not jet out and get themselves hooked into his face. No! Pinhead, sweetie, did you forget to turn your out-of-office on?
Instead of being shown such sights, he has a dream (or dream-like?) sequence where hotsy-totsy Cenobites try groping him to death, and then a chase, a jump scare, awake, and it’s daylight. Back to work and hunting down that darn killer. Okaaaaaay.

Back at the office, Thorne gets a call from his special friend from the night before, who sounds like she’s about 5 seconds from getting Cenobitified. He rushes back to the no-tell motel, discovers the hooker’s body, along with a child’s finger party favor, and fetches his partner Tony. Thorne then manipulates Tony into helping him clean the crime scene to cover up his involvement, all the while also planting evidence to make Tony a patsy should he get too much conscience and turn on Thorne. (Flawed protagonist!)

Kind of pissed off with each other, but even more desperate to stop the killings than before, Thorne and Tony find themselves on the trail of a mysterious mastermind, known only in breathless criminal whispers as “The Engineer.” I will tell you right now that trail is going to basically involve following chunks of people who know Thorne, along with the occasional child’s finger.

Also, let me tell you about the Engineer. The Engineer is part of the Hellraiser mythos that is never explicitly discussed onscreen up to this point, although he’s familiar to fans, especially fans of the novella. You know that flying snapping thing that chased Kirsty in the first one? That was the Engineer. In lore, he was maybe human once, maybe the one who first opened the gate to hell, but is definitely the one who makes the Cenobites all their fun action features. I suppose taking license with the mythos by making the Engineer the Big Bad is arguable, but to me, it’s one more thing that screams that this movie happened when someone played Hellraiser Mad Libs in someone’s psychological horror spec script.

Craig Sheffer actually does a pretty darn good job with this role. Thorne is a bastard all right, but Sheffer still makes empathy happen and convincingly veers from smarmy self-control to unhinged brutality to utterly beaten and back as the plot demands it. I kind of like that the movie dares to make him such a barely-mitigated dick.

The new Cenobites seem to be purposefully symbolic in their blinded, hypersexualized designs, which is a nice first for the series and unexpectedly deep. There’s also a sort of return of the Chatterer Cenobite, although this one is legless, and somehow that might be creepier.

And then the murders are fairly unflinching and “Criminal Minds” grade disturbing at times, realism that is risky, but interesting, following four movies of nothing but fantastical gore.

I don’t have all good things to say. Honestly, I’m kind of shocked I had that much good to say. For one thing, it drags, often and not in a fun RuPaul way. Also, once the movie starts to invest heavily into the psychological part of its alleged psychological horror, it peels away into a tedious and gory “Groundhog Day.” It tries for profound, but it just gets stuck in a b.s. death spiral, although, I guess, at least the b.s. is internally consistent. Consistent with itself, of course, not Hellraiser or anything from the mind of Clive Barker. Pinhead, the box, and especially the Engineer just do not need to be here, and it makes more sense for everybody if they’re not. But at least Doug Bradley got a paycheck out of it.

roadside attractions

  • Boone! How ya been, Boone?
  • Flawed protagonist!
  • Genuinely creepy new Cenobites
  • Absolutely everybody dying except the guy that deserves to die
  • OK horror movie in there somewhere
  • With special guest star: Pinhead, the Hell Priest
  • What a twist!
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

Grim, realistic horror that’s effective, yet generally no worse than most police procedurals nowadays.

0

blood

BREASTS


Direct to video with minor sexytimes, yet you will have to content yourself with Craig Sheffer nips.

8

beast

BEASTS These are probably the best Cenobites since the original Cenobites. I would also accept them as fine Silent Hill creatures as well. Not enough of ‘em though.

6 OVERALL Could have been worse, could have been better, was not a real Hellraiser either way.
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Watch the trailer to “Hellraiser: Inferno”

trailers

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May

I Drink Your Blood
1970 – X – 83 Minutes – Grindhouse Releasing
Starring Bhaskar, Lynn Lowry, Jadin Wong – Directed by David E. Durston

If there are two problems tearing this country apart, it’s definitely rabies and LSD. And satanic hippie cults. Okay, so three things. And hippies, can’t forget them. But, who is going to inform us about these evils and the destruction they cause, leaving people’s lives in shambles? Who? I’ll tell you who! Director David Durston with his film I Drink Your Blood, although there is no blood drinking, except for the chicken’s at the beginning, but nothing that would imply “yours”. The title was actually thought up by the film’s producer in order to sell it as a double feature, as it played alongside I Eat Your Skin. I guess something like “I Accidentally Drank Rabid Dog’s Blood and Now I Have Rabies” isn’t nearly as catchy.

It’s a film that seemingly takes those things seriously during an era when we weren’t quite informed on what they are nor really had any scientific idea what they were, so it comes off as rather… hysterical. This is only reinforced by how absolutely bonkers things get throughout the movie as hippies and construction workers run amok, all because of tainted meat pies. I always knew that those would somehow be responsible for an outbreak resulting in many deaths. Never trusted a meat pie as far as I could throw it and believe me, I can throw one pretty dang far.

idyb_2A satanic hippie cult, led by the almost Cesar Romero-Joker-esque quality Horace Bones, who call themselves “SADOS (short for Sons and Daughters of Satan),” have to hole up in a Podunk little town with a tiny population to avoid any detection from the fuzz, you dig? You see, one night during the group’s little get together for one of their little rituals, which they do totally butt nekkid, local girl Sylvia is spotted watching the festivity. However, locals aren’t allowed on the scene and she is beaten (to which her new-found friend of the group, Andy, seems a little too casual about this). While trying to leave this little town, their van breaks down and they do the next logical thing, which is buy meat pies from the local bakery run by Mildred, who tells them that most of the town is abandoned and awaiting demolition. Ah, good thing they decided to get some food from the Exposition Bakery! The group decides to whole up in a hotel indefinitely.

Let’s talk about the group for a minute. As I mentioned, the group is led by the Native American Horace Bones. Andy is the sensitive one, who isn’t happy with the group. Then you have Rollo, the angry black man. Shelley is the questionable member, never sure what his intentions are. There is also Sue-Lin, the group’s mystical Asian woman, there is also a promiscuous groovy chick (whose name I forget) and then you have Molly, the overweight woman who is pregnant with Horace’s spawn and the cute mute Carrie, played by an uncredited Lynn Lowry in her screen debut! It’s a diverse group and everyone is here to stereo-typically represent everyone!

Sylvia’s brother Pete, who steals the show with his “gee-golly-educational film” performance, is rather unsettled by them and knows they are up to something… probably because Horace is a cackling madman and the group isn’t exactly subtle, even though the townspeople never really catch on to this. Pete’s grandfather, the veterinarian (don’t worry, this will make sense in a moment), decides to take action against Sylvia’s abusers, but his plan is easily foiled by Horace who just simply takes his shotgun away from him. Good going, pops. The old man is beaten and drugged with LSD and trips serious balls in one of the most laughable scenes to follow.

idyb_3So what is LSD? Well, don’t worry. The film seemingly pauses for a moment and switches over to ‘Educational Film Mode’ and lets Pete be the voice of the audience to ask what is that L.S… whatever you call it stuff and Sylvia explains what it is and the dangers it holds. Trust me when I say it’s going to take you out of the movie for a moment, but it’s going to leave you chuckling. And the best part is, the film hasn’t even kicked into high gear!

That night, a rabid dog is strolling around and making noise, so Pete puts the thing down with his granddad’s double barrel and devises genius plan. It’s so genius, I’m sure there are some twisted, evil kid tendencies with Pete that the film unfortunately doesn’t go into, but his family may want to have him checked out: He sneaks out with his granddad’s veterinary kit and uses a syringe to siphon the dog’s infected blood, injecting them into the meat pies the Sons and Daughters of Satan of been buying. Seriously, out of all the evil revenge plans in every movie ever, is that not one of the best? It’s unclear if Pete’s intentions were to kill them, make them sick or maybe he didn’t know what would happen, but you can definitely say he got more than what he bargained for!

The members of SADOS fall ill that night, sweating and gripping their stomachs in pain, until they start foaming out the mouth and becoming violent, even toward each other. Rollo severs the foot off another member with an axe and runs off, chasing the groovy chick after being thwarted by Horace and his sword, Molly and Carrie bolt and Andy heads off to hide at Sylvia’s since he was the only one who didn’t eat the meat pies. He takes shelter there and along with her, and no worries, Pete is there too to get in the way and do whatever it is that Pete does. Whatever is though is sure to make you laugh.

idyb_4Having a group of rabid, Satan worshiping hippies is bad enough to unleash on an unsuspecting town, but the groovy chick offers herself to all of the construction workers (yes… ALL twenty or thirty of them) in order to feel protected, but unbeknownst to her, she infects all of them! Every rabies infected psychopath sets their eyes on Sylvia, Pete, Mildred, Andy and even grandpa and the most bat-sh#t crazy finale ensues, accompanied by some outstanding, hectic psycho music to play along to enhance the chaos. The survivors try to defend themselves and survive as the town runs rabid, quite literally, and all kinds of violence ensues including an epic sword fight, a decapitation and plenty of shotgun blasts… and of course a PSA about rabies in the guise of an exploitation film that’s gone completely bonkers.

Now the film does end with an open question, one that will be blindingly obvious, so I recommend checking out the deleted ending that not only ties that loose end up, but also ends the film on a very dark and grim, but fitting, note.

I Drink Your Blood
If you were to ask me what an exploitation film is, I would point you to I Drink Your Blood as the prime example. This is without a doubt my favorite movie of all time. Everything about it is honest, meaning that it comes from a place of love for what it is. The filmmakers clearly loved horror films and wanted to tell an amazing story, no matter how wild or seemingly unreal things got it. It has that certain type of genuine feel to it that all of these movies that homage films of the 70’s and 80’s claim to have. Everything about this film works, right down from the comic-book bright red blood, the idea of a new disease and how little they knew about it at the time, making it more frightening, the groovy score mixed with some good old fashioned 70’s Satanic hippie cult fun, it’s not only educational, but it’s a pure bloody good time.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • SADOS; Sons and Daughters of Dumb.
  • Hippies! Hippies everywhere!
  • Rat hunt.
  • L.S… whatever you call it stuff.
  • Rabies Pie.
  • Need a “hand” making that sandwich?
  • Andy’s only trying to get a-head.
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

Blood and rabies go together like peanut butter and ladies.

6

blood

BREASTS

Plenty of dirty hippie boobs. And Lynn Lowry’s.

10

beast

BEASTS

Satanic Hippies!? Rabid psychopaths?! Rabid Satanic hippie psychopaths!

8 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer!

trailers

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Apr

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

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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