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Monthly Archives: November 2011

My Lost Weekend with Full Moon Horror

Charles Band While doing my research for writing my review of Demonic Toys 2 I visited the website of the Full Moon Productions the company that produced the film. This company is headed by Charles Band, a man who is truly passionate about making B-Movie horror films. The website is bursting at the seams with stuff about the films Charles Band and his company have been involved with.  Anyway one thing led to another and I found myself on Full Moon’s YouTube channel and going through the whole playlist of all the Puppet Master films.

Here’s a quick description of the films and my rating

  • Puppet Master
    André Toulon is a refugee from Nazi Germany and is hiding out in the Bodega Bay Inn in California with his magically animated puppets but when Nazi agents find him he hides the puppets and blows his brains out to stop his secret falling into the hands of the Nazis. Many years later a group of psychics are called to the Inn by their mental link to Neil Gallagher, husband of the hotel owner, to find that Neil is dead. The psychics find themselves being killed off by the puppets but with Toulon dead who is their master?
    Rating  8/10
  • Puppet Master II
    In a graveyard next to the Bodega Bay Inn the puppets dig up André Toulon’s body and revive it with formula that animates them. Later a small team of paranormal researchers are sent to the Inn to investigate the deaths that happened there. The puppets are killing again, this time to get brain tissue that Toulon needs to creates the serum that animates both the puppets and himself. Things get complicated when Toulon becomes obsessed by the idea that his dead wife Elsa has being re-incarnated as Carolyn the head of the research team.
    Rating 6/10
  • Puppet Master III – Toulon’s Revenge
    The previous two films had mentioned that Toulon and the puppets had a run-in with Nazis so this prequel covers that period. The Nazis get to know about Toulon’s secret and they want it for themselves. After they kill his wife Elsa, Toulon and his puppets take their vengeance out on them
    Rating 8/10
  • Puppet Master 4
    AI researchers are close to breakthrough but what they are researching is a secret the demon god Sutekh wants kept to himself so he sends totem figures to kill them. But one researcher Rick Meyers is protected by Toulon’s puppets and he discovers that they hold the answer to the secret he is searching for.
    Rating 6/10
  • Puppet Master 5 – The Final Chapter
    Directly follows from the events in 4 with the demon Sutekh still wanting to destroy Rick Meyers and the puppets. Ian Ogilvy plays a nosy scientist who want Toulon’s secret for himself but finds he’s in way over his head
    Rating 6/10
  • Retro Puppet Master
    This another prequel with Toulon making up a story of how he received the secret of animating his puppets and met his wife Elsa. This features an earlier group of puppets up against agents of Sutekh and is set in 19th century Paris.
    Rating 6/10
  • Curse of the Puppet Master
    A scientist Dr Mulgrew is trying to recreate Toulon’s process of animating his puppets. He hires a young man Robert Winsley to carve pieces for his new puppet who falls for the scientist’s daughter Jane
    Rating 5/10
  • Legacy of the Puppet Master
    This is a clips show. The film is made up of footage from the earlier films with about 20-30 minutes of new footage of two people talking about the puppets.
    1/10
  • Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys
    Corey Feldman and his daughter are the last descendants of André Toulon and are working on the formula for bringing the puppets back to life. Meanwhile evil toy company boss has been promised that the toys she has sold by the millions in time for Christmas will be animated and evil just like her own demonic toys if she delivers the last of the Toulons to a demon with a grudge against the family.
    Rating 5/10

Something else I spotted at the Full Moon Website is that they have posted links to full-length films from their enormous catalogue. I’ve only had the chance to see two films and since I’d never seen them before they were a real treat for me.

  • Dark Angel – The Ascent
    A young demon who has spent all her life in hell has visions the world above and defying her father finds a way up. In the modern city she is shocked to see evil going unpunished and ignored and with her dog Hellraiser she goes about serving up some of her own brand of justice.
    Rating 7/10
  • Blood Dolls
    VIrgil Maturin is an insane deformed genius who is angry to have been cheated out of money in court by a conspiracy of three other businessmen. He takes his vengeance out on the judge, his lawyer and the public prosecutor by turning them into 12″ inch killer dolls and sending them out to kill his enemies. His main assistant is Mr Mascaro, a large killer in clown make-up. He is entertained by an all girl rock band kept in a cage who are forced to play music by a dwarf with a cattle prod and electric shocks delivered through the metal of the cage
    Rating 7/10

Full Moon are going to featuring a fair bit on the site since they make entertaining horror that really appeals to my twisted tastes

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2011 in Film

 

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Review: Demonic Toys 2

I have the original Demonic Toys on DVD but it was nothing special, coming across as a more infantile version Puppet Master and made by the same company, Full Moon Entertainment owned by Charles Band. I have a lot of affection for Charles Band’s films since he really has that sense of creating films primarily to entertain those who love B-movie horror and stoners. This sequel was never going to be an intelligent horror but at least it was also certain to not be a boring torturous gore-fest either.

The film opens with some unseen person recovering two of the broken toys that were in the original film (and in two sequels that being ignored). He repairs the doll Baby Whoopsie and Jack Attack the jack-in-the-box. Then the toys get sold on to another unseen figure for a wad of money.

Cut to outside a large Italian castle near Rome. A young graduate student Caitlin (Alli Kinzel) is waiting with Mr Butterfield (Leslie Jordan) an antiquities expert, to meet someone who wants to buy something Caitlin discovered in the caverns under the castle. A car drives up and out get a very strange group led by Dr Lorca (Michael Citriniti) who is a collector of oddities. This is apparently a character from another Full Moon film called Hideous and during that film he acquired the burns that scar half his face. Next out is Lorca’s fiancé Lauraline (Elizabeth Bell) who reeks of gold-digger. Then there’s David (Lane Compton), Lauralein’s step-son  and I don’t know why he’s there but Caitlin likes him. They also brought a psychic dwarf called Lilith (Selene Luna) and a pretty man in cowboy hat called Eric (William Marquart)

Caitlin leads everyone except the cowboy through to a dining room where she has a box on the table. In the box  is old wooden doll carved in the shape of a devil called Divoletto. Butterfield confirms it’s age as looking like it is from the fourteenth century. Caitlin taps the side of the box with a special wand and the doll moves by itself. She claims it must be mechanism reacting to magnets because she is a history graduate, not science or engineering. Lilith tells Lorca that she suspects some thing more is happening.

Downstairs cowboy Eric is bring a wooden crate in from their car. He drops it and it breaks open revealing Baby Whoopsie and Jack Attack packed in straw. He turns the handle on the jack-in-the-box but nothing happens and he goes to join the others in the dining room. Eric tells them that their cars are gone and that eventually leads to them agreeing to stay in the castle for the night. This exactly what Eric and Lauraline planned since it was Eric who hid the cars down the road out of sight. They have made a copy of Divoletto and plan on stealing the real doll and running away together

They all leave the dining room and Divoletto gets up and makes his way down to the crate in the entrance hall. He animates the two toys with his demonic life essence and they are happy to have him join them in creating murderous mayhem.

Caitlin takes David and Mr Butterfield for a tour of the castle which eventually takes them to what is known as the physician’s room, but only if your idea of a physician is a mumbo-jumbo-spouting medieval torturer. Apparently Bulgarian Empress Fiora Borisoff,  the lady of the house had all the different demons possessing her exorcised into clay vessels. Caitlin leads them to steps going to cavern under the castle but Mr Butterfield decides to go up to his room so Caitlin and David go down.

Eric goes down with the fake doll to steal Divoletto but he’s not in box. The three toys kill Eric and drag his body away. Later Lilith come down to dining room to see if she can sense anything off Divoletto. She gets attacked by a glowing purple CGI effect from a painting of Fiora Borisoff.

In the cavern under the castle David and Caitlin freak out unconvincingly to CGI bats then they discover a chamber with a deep well that Caitlin identifies as a portal to hell. They find books of exorcism that really don’t matter.

The story descends into incoherence and all the greedy cheats and murderers end up dead. Full Moon films rarely bother too much with coherence but by Full Moon standards this film was a bit bland. It still has that camp, cheesy over the top sense of fun but this just seemed a little less amusing. The foul-mouthed Baby Whoopsie was a novelty that wore off very quickly in the original film.

Rating 6/10

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: The Howling – Reborn

In the 80s The Howling was one of a pair of very well-received werewolf films about a TV news reporter discovering a colony of werewolves living among humans. The Howling also spawned a load of sequels and I cannot remember any of them except that at some point they had some sort of ridiculous marsupial werewolf. Now many years later another film appears with The Howling name in its title. You can probably guess that there is nothing connecting this to the original film at all apart from it being about werewolves.

We get a prologue of some heavy breathing POV following a pregnant red-haired woman around as she heads to her apartment. We see her get attacked and lying unconscious then the film cuts to the present.

A teenage boy Will Kidman (Landon Liboiron) is talking to someone holding the camera, warning them that they may have to be the one who kills him. He then starts telling his life story to the camera and go back to few days earlier. Will is a mediocre student who lives alone with his father, his mother apparenty dying years ago in the attack we saw at the start of the film. He is barely noticed among his peers but gets noticed by a bully called Roland (since when are bullies called Roland?) and by the girl he has fancied from afar Eliana (Lindsey Shaw). She invites him to party being held secretly in the school’s unused pool. There meets the pack of bad boys from his school who greet him with a skank who slips him ecstasy on her tongue. Eliana finds him and forces him to dance with her. While they dance Will gets disoriented and thinks he can see the shadowy shapes of werewolves.

Next day Will asks his friend Sachin (Jesse Rath) about werewolves and isn’t it so convenient that Sachin is an expert on the subject. He later gets confronted by Roland in the toilets who is upset that he went out with Eliana. Something stirs inside  and he punches the bully, knocking him out cold. Will leaves him lying there but Roland gets up and chases after Will with a gun drawn. He follows him to the stairs where he gets attacked by a werewolf who pushes him to his death down the stairwell.

At lunch in the canteen Will has a taste for meat despite being a vegetarian. The cook serves him some hot dogs but Will ends up throwing up when he finds Roland’s ring in the hotdog planted by one of the wolf pack dressed as a cook. Will ends up in hospital where a docotor is dismissing his symptoms (finding rings in hot dogs is a symptom?) as being down to stress. Sachin comes to see Will in hospital (why?) Will wants to know about tests for being a werewolf so Sachin tells him that since only silver or fire can hurt them any other injury won’t and they heal fast from those. Will slashes a wrist open with a scalpel (that’s just left lying around?)  There’s blood but sure enough Will watches the cut heal itself over in seconds.

Not long after discovering he is werewolf Will discovers than a pack of werewolves are after him to join them in their plan to attack the humans. This gives the film its main conflict with Will fighting his nature to assert his own identity and protect those he loves from the pack especially Eliana who he has gone from perving over to  loving her.

This film comes doesn’t come anywhere near the original film but the plot is okay and some of the acting is competent. The writing just isn’t very good. I felt a bit puzzled about where the film is set since there seem s many strange names and it looked like it was pretending to be set in an American high school. Werewolf films are made or broken by their transformation scenes but this film just goes for a quick change from one form to other, mostly off camera but sometimes shown with a flash of CGI. This is a disappointing cop-out. The werewolf costumes are passable, nothing too special. I think this film is destined to follow the other sequels in this series into obscurity.

Rating 6/10

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Posted by on November 24, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Grave Encounters

I did not have very high expectations of this film since I’d heard that “found footage” phrase being used. But REC and Trollhunter are good films and those are both shot in the same style so I decide to give it a chance. and I’m glad I did because overall I really enjoyed watching this film.

We get an introduction from guy who is supposed to be a suit at a TV company trying to convince us of how  authentic the footage is and introducing us to Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson, the star of the Grave Encounters reality TV show which is another of those ghost hunter shows where a TV crew and a bunch of dicks go to an old house, keep the lights off and pretend to be scared by the noises in the dark.

The footage does come across as authentic for the most part but I wonder where the shots of patients in a mental hospital came from since they’re certainly not part of the location footage. Preston films his introduction outside the Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital, a huge abandoned building complex with a dark history and several reports of hauntings. They tour the building and see all the spooky sights – the window that opens by itself, the room covered in crazy writing, the suicide bathroom and the vaguely creepy service tunnels.

They interview various witnesses about the things they’d seen or heard, including trying to interview a gardener who says he’d seen nothing so they bribe him to lie about it. By including this it makes the footage look authentic because it plays to our cynical expectation that these show are just a set-up. We also get the last member of the crew arriving, the phony psychic Houston Gray (Mackenzie Gray) and he gives all the usual spiel about dark energies and feeling of spirits. This footage is also unedited so we see him go out of character as soon his spiel is over.

The technician Matt (Juan Riedinger) sets up some stationary cameras at the so-called hotspots and has them connected to a computer at their base in foyer near the entrance. He shows of all the cliché ghost-hunter equipment, night vision cameras, EMF meters, electronic thermometers, tape recorders and a Geiger counter (just because its cool). From what I’ve seen of these shows on television this all note perfect. The team all gather at the base camp and pose for a group shot. Also in the team are Sasha (Ashleigh Gryzko) some sort of supernatural expert? More likely she is there to scream a lot. The cameraman is TC (Merwin Mondesir) and he has been behind the camera up until now. Preston makes a great show of the fact that are going to be locked in all night until six in the morning and he gives the caretaker the chain and padlock to lock them in. I wondered about this since this same caretaker and stopped Matt lighting up a cigarette earlier because of fire regulations and I’m pretty sure fire regulations also insist you don’t lock up a building’s only exit when there’s people inside. That turns out to a lot less significant later

Things are very slow to develop. In fact nothing seems to happen at all until about and hour before the caretaker is due to come back for them. TC wanders around the corridors upstairs and he gets freaked by a heavy door slamming shut. Minor as it is they are all very excited by it. They hear a scream and find a big heavy hospital trolley has been pushed over. Preston tries asking questions and hoping to hear the ghosts answer on a tape recorder. Preston is practically begging for the ghosts  to show him something. Then something invisible pulls at Sasha’s hair and she freaks and runs off.

Sasha wants to leave and Preston agrees that they should get their equipment packed up ready for the caretaker opening the door. It is significant that the first sign of anything supernatural they want to leave and there’s nobody wanting to stay. Preston takes some photographs which have been edited into the footage in post-production and they show spirit figures around the area.

The end of the film things start getting creepy and they get picked off one by one by ghosts and they can’t find any way out of the building. I thought that the ghost effects were a bit much and it might have been a better film if they had been avoided since they had been pretty good at creating tension without them in the middle section of the film.

I think this is pretty good film and although it wasn’t very original it is entertaining has a few nice scares but not really from the ghosts. When I saw the name Vicious Brothers I suppose I was expecting a blood-spattered gore-fest but this film delivers without that.

Rating 7/10

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Posted by on November 24, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Asylum

This is another one of Amicus Productions‘ portmanteau films featuring a blend of stories written by Robert Bloch. It has a brilliant cast which is very typical of Amicus Productions films. The music in this film is particularly striking with a great deal of the highly energetic music of Mussorgsky featuring throughout the film.

The film opens with the highly familiar Night on Bald Mountain as a car drives up to the Dunsmoor Asylum. This heralds the arrival of Dr Martin (Robert Powell), a young psychiatrist who is applying for a position at the asylum. He hoping to be interviewed by Dr B. Starr who runs the asylum but is instead introduced to his assistant Dr Rutherford (Patrick Magee). Dr Rutherford is confined to a wheelchair after being injured by one of the patients at the hospital. Specifically he was injured by Dr Starr who has gone mad and is now a patient at his own hospital. Rutherford tells Martin that Starr has a new personality and offers the young doctor a challenge to identify which of the patients was formerly Dr Starr and if Martin is right he has the job. Martin is sent up on his own, since Rutherford can’t go upstairs, where the orderly Reynolds (Geoffrey Bayldon) will show him each of the patients.

The first patient is a woman called Bonnie (Barbara Parkins). Martin had made a sexist assumption that Dr Starr was a man but Rutherford points out that he never said if Dr Starr was a man or woman. Bonnie does not face Martin as she tells her story called Frozen Fear. Bonnie is the lover of Walter (Richard Todd), a weak man trapped in a loveless marriage by archaic divorce laws. His wife Ruth (Sylvia Syms) won’t divorce him, seemingly out of spite so Walter and Bonnie have come up with a plan. Walter tricks Ruth into coming down to the basement to show her a new freezer he’s just bought. Then he kills her with an axe and chops her body up. He wraps the bits up in brown paper and stores them in the new freezer. He also tosses in a protective talisman she had received from her guru.

Later Walter sees the head rolling around on its own in the kitchen and tosses his brandy bottle at it but it’s gone just as suddenly. He goes down to the basement and sees the freezer lid open. When he goes to check on it the arms seize him by the throat and choke him. Bonnie arrives at the house later and can’t see any sign of Walter. She eventually tries the basement which is empty. Bonnie looks in the freezer and finds Walter lying dead. She also finds herself surrounded by animated body parts. Bonnie finds the axe and tries to use it to attack the hand that grabs at her face from above. Back at asylum she turns and shows her face to Martin with the scars where she hit herself with the axe. Martin gives her mental state a name and then he is satisfied to banish tale to realm of delusion. He tries to get information from Reynolds but he’s been instructed to tell him nothing until he decides who Dr Starr is.

The next patient is Bruno (Barry Morse) who sits obsessively miming the motions of stitching clothes This segment is called The Weird Tailor which is more like a working title than something you’d call a short story. He is tailor and he no longer gets enough business to pay his rent. His landlord gives him five more days to find money to pay his rent or he’ll have to leave. Just then he gets a customer, a strange old man called Mr Smith (Peter Cushing) who wants a special suit made for his son from a fantastic cloth he supplies. This cloth glows and shimmers in shifting colours. The instructions for the suit are as much about astrological timings as about the design of the suit. Bruno promises to have it ready in four days.

Four days later Bruno delivers the suit to Mr Smith. He asks for the money but Smith confesses he is broke  having spent all his money on a rare book of magic spells. Bruno discovers Smith’s son is dead and the suit is part of spell to bring him back to life. Bruno refuses to hand over the suit and Smith pulls a gun on him but Bruno attacks him and in the struggle Smith is shot dead. Bruno flees back to his shop with book and the suit

Bruno tells his wife Anna to destroy the suit but finds that instead she has dressed the shop dummy in the suit. Bruno insist that they have to destroy the book and the suit. His dummy then comes to life and attacks him and  the story ends. Once more Reynolds refuse to give any more information.

The third room is another female patient called Barbara (Charlotte Rampling) who insists she shouldn’t be there. She tells her story in segment called Lucy Comes to Stay. Barbara is being taken home by her brother George (James Villiers) after a period of time staying in a psychiatric hospital. Barbara asks about her friend Lucy but George doesn’t want to talk about her. When they get home Lucy is introduced to Nurse Higgins who has been hired by George to take care of Barbara. The nurse puts her to bed with sedative but Barbara is tired of being treated like a patient. She finds some pills that she had hidden away and takes one. It is then that Lucy (Britt Ekland) appears, concerned that George has practically imprisoned Barbara. She has sent the nurse on a wild goose chase to London with fake call about her mother. Lucy promises to return that night and help her to escape.

When Lucy returns she drugs George with some sedative intended for Barbara and tells Barbara to get ready to leave. She goes downstairs with large pair of scissors to cut the phone line while Barbara gets dressed. Meanwhile Nurse Higgins returns to house and she finds George lying dead in his chair, a pair of scissors stuck in his chest. She goes up to check on Barbara and Lucy stabs her with knife. Back at the asylum Barbara is finishing her story and explaining that it was Lucy not her that killed them. Martin asks if he can talk talk to Lucy and and Barbara points at Lucy in the mirror, or where she sees Lucy but Martin only sees Barbara.

The last room is a patient called Byron (Herbert Lom) who is a doctor. This segment is called Mannikins of Horror and takes place in the hospital in the present. Byron is a doctor before he was admitted to the hospital. He has created strange dolls made up of simple toy robot bodies with carved heads of real people. He has also created one of himself and his obsessed withe idea that by concentration he can transfer his consciousness into the doll.

Martin returns to Rutherford expressing his dismay that the patients have simply been labelled incurable and locked away without treatment. Rutherford think that the best treatment is lobotomy which really shocks Martin. Neither of men notice the doll with Byron’s head come up behind Rutherford, pick up a scalpel and plunge it into the back of Rutherford’s head. Rutherford falls down dead and Martin sees the doll. He throws it on the floor and crushes it with his foot. The broken doll oozes blood and organs like it was alive and there is a scream from upstairs. Martin rushes up and Reynolds tells him that Byron is dead, his body crushed.

You may notice I have not revealed who Dr Starr was but why spoil it? It is an interesting mix of stories since although some can dismissed as delusion that is not the case with Byron’s story since it takes place in front of the highly sceptical Dr Martin. Amicus films often have a story that is a bit more comedic than the others but that really doesn’t happen in this film and there’s certainly no story with a happy ending. It is not a favourite of mine but it is still a fun watch if you like British 70s horror films.

Rating 7/10

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2011 in Film

 

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Review: Hellraiser – Revelations

The New Pinhead

A ninth Hellraiser film is not a surprise but its not something to look forward to either. There had been all sots of noises recently  of a re-make in the works but now that seems to have stalled. I’m not sure how it works but there is this thing that Dimension Films would have lost their rights to the franchise if they didn’t make another film. This give them a reasonable excuse for them churning out this one.

The film opens with camcorder footage of two teenage boys Steven (Nick Eversman) and Nico (Jay Gillespie) getting ready for a trip to Mexico. This camcorder footage was very worrying and I was afraid that it was going to go down the road of the present craze for “found footage” films. This is becomes an even bigger problem when the films cuts to a camcorder recorded scene of Nico opening a Lament puzzle and Pinhead appearing. In camcorder footage this does not appear eerie and otherwordly but like guy dressed in a Pinhead costume. This impression is reinforced by the fact that Pinhead is not played by by Doug Bradley but by another actor (Stephan Smith Collins) who is physically very different. I felt that any chance of inducing a willing suspension of disbelief is strongly challenged by this scene

It turns out that the camcorder footage is being watched by Steven’s mother Sarah (Devon Sorvari). Steven and Nico have gone missing and the police have returned Steven’s belongings to her. Sarah gets interrupted by her husband Dr Ross Craven (Steven Brand)  who seems to be long line of screen psychiatrists who have apparently no empathy. He tells her the Bradleys are here. Their daughter Emma is having a hard time with her brother going missing and can’t get why they don’t want to talk about it.

I can’t get why they don’t want to talk about it either, especially when it turns out that the Bradleys are Nico’s parents Kate (Sanny Van Heteren) and Peter (Sebastien Roberts). Emma slopes off to her mother’s room and finds the camera in Steve’s bag. She starts watching and this takes us to a more complete flashback of what happened to the boys. We see them get very drunk and Steve chats up a young Mexican girl in the bar.  Next we see Nico and the girl having rough sex in the toilet while Steve’s whines and pukes up in the sink. Afterwards Nico really wants to leave in a hurry. The girl is dead and Nico is scared of Mexican jail even though he claims it was an accident.

Emma stops watching deeply upset because she’s supposed to be in a relationship with Nico. Then she finds the Lament puzzle in Steven’s bag. She confronts her parents about being kept in the dark but it’s really just shouting at them and then she storms off to sit by herself at the pool, playing with the puzzle box. Before she starts solving it Steven appears, exhausted and covered in blood mumbling about someone coming for him.

This film not only appears rushed, it was rushed. Although the story is pretty faithful to the tone of original the special effects are not nearly as well done and they don’t quite capture its atmosphere. The script has some really clunky dialogue for the actors who just don’t deliver it very convincingly. The Cenobites were okay especially Pinhead Junior but people will not be happy about Pinhead being played by someone who is not Doug Bradley who gave the role a quiet intensity which was the reason the character became so iconic. I doubt that even if it had Been Doug Bradley playing the part that the film would have been any better since his presence didn’t save Hellworld or Hell on Earth.

If you have never seen a Hellraiser film this is not a good introduction to the series. It is just as gory and violent as the others and has scenes of sex and nudity

Rating 5/10

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Hellbound – Hellraiser II

Hellraiser was such a monumental film for me that I was worried about what the sequel would do, especially as it did not have Clive Barker in the directors chair but director Tony Randel does a reasonable job with this sequel Hellbound – Hellraiser II. This film is set in the immediate aftermath of the original and has most of the main cast return in the same parts. This results in film that really does seem like a natural widening out of the story of the original and it is fairly successful.

In the opening we see a montage of Doug Bradley as  British army officer Captain Elliot solving the familiar puzzle box then being transformed by Cenobites into PInhead and taking his place bedside them. This clearly hints at the desire of the production company to create an iconic character on which they may be able to hang a series of sequels and for better or worse it worked.

Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) is in the Channard institute, a psychiatric hospital, being interviewed by a homicide detective about the events in her father’s house. This gives us a recap of the original film and then it cuts to cops who are at the scene and are uncovering horror after horror. When they come to the blood-soaked mattress that Julia died on an they relay this back to the detective interviewing Kirsty and she hears it and tells they must destroy the mattress. The young doctor present Kyle MacRae (William Hope) while the dectective leaves  The detective thinks she’s still crazy with shock and grief and doesn’t really pay attention to what she said but Dr Channard (Kenneth Cranham) was listening with interest. When the detective leaves Kirsty’s room he asks if he can have the mattress.

After Kirsty has calmed down Kyle takes her around the Institute, introducing her to another patient, Tiffany who doesn’t talk at all but loves sitting solving puzzles. The staff doesn’t actually know the girl’s name so it was them that named her Tiffany. It is significant that she is puzzle-solving savant and I’m surprised they didn’t have Kirsty be a bit freaked out by this. Later in her room Kyle gives Kirsty some sleeping pills. Kirsty wakes up in the night and sees a skinless figure writing in blood on the wall asking for help and she is sure it is her father. When Kyle points out that her father is dead she says that she knows that but he still needs help.

Channard goes to lower level of the Institute where they keep the Hammer Films lunatic asylum set and of course he has to look in each cell so we get different over-the-top displays of madness including the one who must be permanently stood right at the door ready to scream at the spyhole whenever it’s opened. He gets to the one he wants, a man in straitjacket screaming about bugs crawling all over him that only he can see. He has the men sent to his private quarters.

Channard talks to Kirsty about what she knows about the box and the Cenobites. Kirsty tells Channard about Julia bringing Frank back to life by killing men and feeding them to him, including her father. She tells him that the mattress was were Julia died after Frank killed her. Kirsty’s recall is amazingly detailed

Kyle had over heard Channard talking about having the mattress delivered to his house not the Institute. Kyle goes to Channard’s house and breaks in. He finds his office is a treasure trove of object related to the Cenobites, including notes and photograph of Captain Elliot. He also has a number of puzzle boxes and on the floor is a blood-stained mattress.

Kyle hears a noise outside the room and hides behind a curtain. Channard enters with the distressed guy with an insect delusion. He takes the strait jacket off and sits the man down on then mattress then gives him a cut-throat razor to take care of his insect problem. Right away the man starts hacking at his arms. His blood flows all over the mattress and red face appears. Julia (Claire Higgins) pulls herself out of the mattress and attack the man, draining him of blood. Kyle quietly escapes.

Julia is skinless and we get a few scenes of her,  first naked and dripping blood in Channard’s minimalist white sitting room, then she puts on a white suit, then finally Channard bandages her up like a mummy and she wears a dress and snogs Channard. She tells Channard that she needs skin. Channard takes her to room full of young women tied up and hanging from the ceiling. Once Julia has feasted on the women Channard removes her bandages and not only does she have her skin back she also has her make-up on and her hair has been given a blow-dry.

Kyle meanwhile has run back to the Institute to tell Kirsty what he’s seen, which confirms what Kirsty had been telling them all along. Kirsty wants to go to Channard’s house because she still wants to help her father but now she also want to send Julia back and she needs the puzzle box.

At Channard’s house Kirsty goes to Channard’s study leaving Kyle to look around the house. Kirsty finds all the journals and documents and is drawn the pages about Captain Elliot being changed into Pinhead. She pockets the photograph of Elliot. Upstairs Kyle is about to open the door where the bodies are hanging but Julia stops him, telling there is something terrible in there. Kyle doesn’t know that it’s Julia and when enters the room and sees the corpses he is too shocked to realise the danger he’s in. Julia kisses him and sucks the life out of him. Kirsty enters the room and is furious to see Julia back. Julia punches her and dares her to have a go but they are interrupted by Channard who has brought Tiffany along.

Channard and Julia hide behind a window and watch Tiffany working one of the puzzles. She solves it quickly and the walls crack open. The Cenobites enter and Butterball and Chatterer are ready to start on poor Tiffany but Pinhead stops them indicating the window and says it was Channard’s desire that opened the box using Tiffany’s hands

Julia and Channard slope off down one of the hell corridors that opened up, Kirsty also heads off down another way looking for her father and Tiffany heads of another way following a carnival sound which leads her to a hall of mirrors, each one showing her nightmares instead of reflections or herself

Kirsty meets her old friends the Cenobites who are very amused when she tries to use the puzzle box on them which can only banish them to hell and that’s where they already are. PInhead takes the puzzle and forms it into an elongated octahedral shape and tosses it away.

They all wander the corridors of hell seperately. Juila shows Channard some the sights of hells which turn out to be shockingly prosaic like the heaving bodies indulging in an orgy in one room. I have to be honest and say that it really does not match up to the Cenobites or hints of the place from the novel or the original film. This is slightly redeemed when Julia take Channard out to a ledge overlooking a labyrinth that stretches out to the horizon and looks a lot like the cover art from Blue Oyster Cult’s début album. Floating over the labyrinth is a giant elongated octahedron just like the shape Pinhead made the puzzle into. Julia introduces Channard to her god Leviathan. Shafts of black light shine out from it and as the black light finds Channard it reveals all his dark secrets and fears. A black box appears at the edge of the platform and Channard is forced into it. His head is pierced by a long tentacle and wires wrap tightly across his face. The box disappears and Julia leaves, her job done

Kirsty has found Tiffany and she gets no objection to the idea that they should stick together. That doesn’t last very long when they come to a replica of the Cotton House. Kirsty tells Tiffany to get out of the maze and get out of the hospital and she enters the house. Inside is not a replica but is instead a pretty cheesy hell chamber that has platforms with writhing female bodies under sheets that disappear when the sheets are removed. Uncle Frank is there and he grabs Kirsty glad to have real person instead of the phantom teases. It turns our that it was him who contacted Kirsty in the hospital, her father is not here.

Krsty pretends to go along with him but then Kirsty sets a sheet on fire and causes a conflagration that leaves Frank skinless again. Julia appears and Frank is happy to see her but that only lasts up until Julia rips his heart out for killing her.

Kirsty and Tiffany run away but they come to a tunnel with air blasting down it and Tiffany is in danger of getting blown away down the tunnel. Kirsty tries to reach her but Julia comes up the tunnel toward her and grabs the girl’s left hand. Kirsty grabs her right hand and pulls and as she pulls Tiffany out of Julia’s clutches Julia gets blown out of her skin and away down the tunnel.

The box with Channard rises up to the platform again and Channard has been transformed into a mad evil Cenobite with a line in medical puns and carried along by the tentacle on his head so it’s like he’s floating around the place.

Doug Bradley as Captain Elliott Spenser in Hel...

Tiffany and Kirsty try to find their way back to the hospital but they meet the Cenobites who are not really willing to listen to Kirsty’s excuses. Kirsty pulls out the photograph of Captain Elliot and gives it to Pinhead saying it proves they were once human and that they were not always here. This seems to confuse them. Channard enters and he wants the two girls but the Cenobites stand up to him. Channard kills them and they return to their human form but the struggle gives Tiffany and Kirsty the chance to escape.

Back at the hospital they discover that given out puzzle boxes to all his patients and they are all sitting solvin the puzzle boxes and the hospital is wide open to hell. Channard comes after Tiffany and Kirsty, casually slaughtering the other patients as he passes them.

Tiffany runs off back into hell with Kirsty following behind. She retrieves the original puzzle box, still in the octaherdal configuration She takes it to ledge over the labyrinth and starts working on solving it once more. Channard catches up with them. He smack Kirsty out of his way, focussed on getting to Tiffany.

Julia appears and approaches Channard wanting kiss him but this turn out to be a distraction and it gives Tiffany the seconds she need to solve the box. When she does the tentacle holding Channard by the head pulls the man apart and withdraws as hell starts to seal up again. Tiffany gets knocked off the ledge and is about to fall to her death but she is saved by Julia grabbing her hand. Then Julia’s skin starts to split and the arm skin falls off and is blasted apart as it enters the labyrinth. Julia peels off the skin of her face and it’s really Kirsty in Julia’s skin. Kirsty pulls Tiffany up and they run out of hell back to the hosiptal just before hell seals closed again.

The film finishes with a typical bit of sequel bait as the a workman clearing up the mess in Channard’s office is sucked into the mattress and killed and a column covered in living body part pokes up out of the mattress.

This not the film that watch I most often when in the mood for a Hellraiser film. Julia’s return does not match the visceral horror of Frank’s journey back to life and it all just seemed too easy, especially that big reveal scene with the perfect make up and hair when the bandages are removed. I also think hell is better hinted at than shown explicitly since it is impossible to create a place or of unimaginable suffering beyond human experience. I wasn”t too convinced by the heel face turn by the Cenobites when they sacrificed their lives to protect Tiffany and Kirsty from Channard. The Institute is pure horror film psychiatry at its cheesiest, especially that lower dungeon level. Despite these problems I still enjoy it a lot.

Rating 7/10

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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