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.
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.