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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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Review: Hellraiser

This is one of my all-time favourite films so this will not be a very neutral review.What Clive Barker writes is so graphic and full of beautiful inhuman monsters. This film is that imagination made flesh and, as dated as some of the effects may be, there is no denying the power of the ideas and the imagery in this film

There is a puzzle box, the lament configuration created by an 18th century toy-maker Lemarchand which can open doorways to a world of experiences beyond pleasure and pain and acts beyond good and evil, under ministrations of the Cenobites of the Gash. Frank Cotton buys the box because he has become jaded with what the normal world has to offer. Frank prepares an attic room in his family home and sits down with the box. When he solves the box it tears a hole through to hell and the Cenobites come. These four Cenobites have been each been hideously mutilated and deformed, wearing their bleeding scars as a demonstration of their devotion to physical sensation. The head Cenobite has been nicknamed Pinhead (Doug Bradley) and he may be all that is known about this film by people who haven’t watched it. His name comes from the grid scarred into his shaven scalp with pins hammered into each intersection of scars. He and the other cenobites wield cutting tools and use hooked chains to tear into Franks flesh to provide him with the new experiences he thought he craved, eventually tearing him apart and torturing the pieces.

Some time later Frank’s brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) moves into the house with his wife Julia (Claire Higgins). Larry is much more normal than his brother and is trying to hold on to his marriage to Julia even though she seems to have grown cold on him. Julia looks round the house and finds signs that Frank was staying there and we find out that she had an affair with Frank when he came home to attend Larry and Julia’s wedding. Frank quickly grew bored and left but Julia can’t stop thinking about him.

Julia is drawn to the attic room where Frank died and where memories of her passionate affair with Frank are much stronger. Larry is downstairs trying get their new bed up the stairs into the bedroom and he rips his hand open on a nail. He runs up the stairs to Julia, nearly passing out at the sight of his own blood and needing her help to know what to do. His blood drips on to the floorboards and is sucked away unnoticed. Julia says they need to go to a hospital for stitches. Fortunately Larry’s daughter Kirsty (Ashley Lawrence) has just arrived and she drives them to hospital.

Meanwhile Frank’s remains in the attic have absorbed Larry’s blood and given him a way to escape from hell. Other effects in the film have dated but this scene is so well done and so disgustingly awful that its still very effective. CGI just doesn’t ooze realistically or evoke the visceral response you get from real fake goo and gore. Frank oozes out of the floor boards slowly and comes together as a half-dead revenant still more dead than alive.

That night after retuning from the hospital Larry is having a party drinking, chatting and joking with his friends and his daughter Kirsty. Julia slinks off upstairs early claiming to have a headache and she goes up to the attic room. There she discovers the barely-formed Frank and is horrified until Frank tells her who he is. Frank begs for her help, telling Julia that blood brought him back and more blood is needed to restore him. Later that night Julia returns to the attic and tells she agrees to help.

Next day Julia goes to a bar and picks up a guy. She takes him back to her house with the promise of sex and takes him up to the attic room. There she smashes his head in with a hammer. Frank crawls out of the shadows and hungrily devours the man’s blood while Julia leaves to clean herself up. Afterwards Frank is a bit more meaty but he still needs more blood meaning Julia has to find more victims. As she keeps going she stops being disgusted by what Frank makes her do and starts to enjoy it

Larry gets worried about Julia. He thinks that she never leaves the house and her mood is always off. He asks Kirsty to drop in on Julia, thinking that she might be feeling lonely. When Kirsty does drop by she sees Julia going into the house with a strange man. She watches a while longer then she hears the man’s screams from the attic room and rushes up the stairs. There she is greeted by shocking sight of the man partially drained and begging for help. Frank grabs the man back into the room and greets Kirsty lecherously. She does not recognise the skinless monster until he introduces himself as Uncle Frank. Frank approaches her menacingly but backs off as she clutches the puzzle box. Seeing the panic in Frank’s eyes she seizes her chance, throws the box out of the window and runs down the stairs and out of the house, then picks up the box keeps going. She keeps walking until shock hits her and she passes out in the street.

When Kirsty comes to she’s in a hospital bed.The doctor gives her the box, saying she was found clutching it outside and he leaves it with her. Kirsty examines the box then starts moving the parts causing it to play music.  The walls of her room rip open to reveal a long dark corridor. Kirsty tentatively explores the corridor , until she find the way blocked by a creature with huge teeth and large tail and a long lethal stinger which chases Kirsty back into her room. Four Cenobites appear to take Kirsty to hell for opening the box. Kirsty pleads ignorance but the Cenobites are not interested and have no mercy. It is only when she mentions Frank escaping them that they take an interest. She offers them a deal, if she can lead them to Frank they might let her go free.

Kirsty gets out of the hospital and goe back to house worried about what Frank and Julia might do to Larry. Unfortunately Julia and Frank have already killed Larry and Frank is now wearing Larry’s skin. They convince Kirsty that the body is Frank’s and that Larry had to kill him. The Cenobites appear in the attic and tell Kirsty that they want the murderer, which she thinks means her father Larry. Kirsty goes to warn ‘Larry’ and Julia that they must all leave then she realises that Larry is actually Frank. Frank stabs Julia and comes after Kirsty who has run up to attic where Larry’s body is. Frank gloats about what he’s done but Frank’s confession is what the Cenobites are waiting for. They capture him with hooks on chains and they rip him apart once again.

Kirsty flees but the Cenobites still want her too. Fortunately she still has the puzzle box. Each part of the puzzle that she solves banishes one of Cenobites to hell until she has it solved, while the house falls to pieces around her.

As I said above this is one my favourites films. I think that the story is just brilliant and is so original that I really cannot think of any films that similar to it. If you know any please let me know because I’d love to see them. I still get excited when I put this on to watch and that is not at all typical of me. I think this really demonstrates the ability of young inexperienced film-makers determined to get their ideas onto film with little concern for how things should be done or how things had been done in the past. It is a tribute the fantastic job the make-up people did to create the look of the Cenobites in this film that even though they are hardly in the film for more than few minutes it is the image of the Cenobites that lasts long after the film is over.

The main cast is all pretty good but Claire Higgins really did a great job with Julia as her character develops from frustrated housewife to serial killer and lover of a monster. Frank was played by three different actors. The pre-hell Frank was Sean Chapman and he’s okay. Much better was monster Frank played by Oliver Smith, a really creepy performance. Then when Franks puts on Larry’s skin he’s played by Andrew Robinson who plays Larry, and is even better and creepier.

Now bring on the sequels prequels and remakes

Rating 10/10

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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