Posts Tagged ‘Pinhead’

Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005)

Directed By: Rick Bota

Starring: Lance Henriksen, Doug Bradley, Katheryn Winnick, Christopher Jacot, Khary Payton, Henry Cavill

Subgenre: Demons & Possession

Hellrasier Hellworld

Synopsis: A group of college kids get invited to a private party for players of Hellworld, an online game based on the Hellraiser universe.

Thoughts: Hellraiser has gone through many iterations in its existence.  Producers have treated Pinhead like a slasher and even sent him into space.  Hellworld takes this to another level.  They put him in a video game.  Seriously, there is a game based on the Cenobites and the Lament Configuration.  Thankfully, the movie quickly moves away from the video game.  I was afraid that we were going to be treated to a version of Pinhead akin to The Lawnmower Man.

The premise isn’t the only thing that differs in Hellworld.  There is a lot more sex.  A lot more.  Not that I am one to complain about such a thing, but it seemed out of place in a Hellraiser movie.  On top of that, the deaths seem to gratuitous as well.  They felt like they were lifted from a discarded Saw script. 

Aside from Doug Bradley, Hellworld also brings in genre favorite Lance Henriksen as the nefarious host of the party.  There isn’t anything great about Henriksen’s role, but just his presence on the screen adds a “cool factor” to the movie.  The cast of party goers is reminiscent of slasher movies.  They are attractive and wholly disposable.

In some ways, Hellworld works as a horror flick.  It has a lot of elements that horror fans look for, making it a decent watch.  Personally, I don’t think it fits into the Hellraiser canon, but it is a better movie than Deader, the previous entry.  Check it out, but don’t be expecting something that reinvents the genre.

Hellraiser: Deader (2005)

Directed By: Rick Bota

Starring: Kari Wuhrer, Paul Rhys, Marc Warren, Doug Bradley

Subgenre: Demons & Possession

Hellraiser Deader

Synopsis: Reporter Amy Klein sets off to research a cult that appears to have the ability to resurrect themselves after committing suicide.

Thoughts: The Hellraiser series takes another turn, this time going for a much grittier look and storyline.  The story revolves around a reporter investigating a cult with the ability to resurrect the dead.  The cult is led by Winter LeMarchand, ancestor to Phillip LeMarchand, the creator of the Lament Configuration.  Winter has discovered the secret to resurrection, and is manipulating people into committing suicide and then bringing them back to life, all in the hopes of finding someone that can open the box and bring forth the Cenobites.  Winter has aspirations of controlling the Cenobites and becoming their master.  I think we all can figure out how that is going to end.

I wasn’t a big fan of Deader.  I had liked the approach of the last two installments, but just couldn’t get into this storyline.  It seemed to worry more about the visuals than anything else, and the camera work was reminiscent of Saw.  Everything had a layer of grime to it, and while an effective method, it just didn’t work for me.

I also thought that the acting was uninspired.  One of the strengths of the successful sequels has been the strong leads to play opposite Doug Bradley.  Kari Wuhrer has plenty of genre credits, but she just didn’t do it for me here.  Overall, I would say this has some of the weakest acting of the entire series to date.

The director, Rick Bota, also directed the previous entry, Hellseeker.  Even though I didn’t enjoy this entry nearly as much as the previous one, I still think that Bota has a solid career in front of him.  He seems to be searching for a directing identity and trying different methods.  I mentioned before that Bota only has the three Hellraiser sequels to his directorial filmography right now (Hellseeker, Deader, and Hellworld), but I look forward to seeing what he can deliver in the future.

Deader is really only for the Hellraiser completest.  It’s easily one of the weakest entries to the series, and probably my least favorite (I have yet to see Revelations).  Check it out if you are inclined, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002)

Directed By: Rick Bota

Starring: Dean Winters, Ashley Laurence, Doug Bradley, William S. Taylor, Michael Rogers, Rachel Hayward

Subgenre: Demons & Possession

Hellraiser Hellseeker

Synopsis: A man survives a car accident in which his wife dies and finds himself tormented by the Cenobites.

Thoughts: The theme of Inferno continues in Hellseeker as the Cenobites mentally torture their prey.  Hellseeker does amp up the gore a bit, but still not in excess.  There are a lot of times that, as the viewer, you are not sure if Trevor is dreaming or not.

I thought the cast was great, but I admit to being a fan of Dean Winters, so that definitely sways my opinion.  I would like to see him get some more mainstream cinematic roles.  Hellseeker also marks the return of Kirsty Cotton, played by Ashley Laurence, so that benefits Hellseeker as well.  I’m not sure how many times I can say it, but Doug Bradley was great as Pinhead.  It really is a role that he defined, and I just can’t see someone else playing the role (I have yet to see Revelations).

Rick Bota gets his directorial debut, but he is no stranger to the horror genre.  He has been the cinematographer for several genre titles, including Demon Knight, House on Haunted Hill and Valentine.  He would go on to direct three Hellraiser sequels, but has yet to have another movie released.  While he hasn’t set the genre on fire, I would think that his track record would get him some more opportunities.  I actually think that this is the best of the three Hellraiser movies he directed, but that has more to do with the script than the direction.  Oddly enough, the three movies are all very different.

I would imagine that fans of Inferno would enjoy Hellseeker, and I am actually a little surprised that it doesn’t get at least a little love.  It really is a decent flick, especially compared to some of the other sequels.  It’s similarities to Inferno make it a great choice for a double feature.  I suggest giving this one a shot.

Hellraiser: Inferno (2000)

Directed By: Scott Derickson

Starring: Craig Sheffer, Nicholas Turturro, James Remar, Doug Bradley, Nicholas Sadler, Lindsay Taylor, Noelle Evans

Subgenre: Demons & Possession

Synopsis: A detective tries to solve a series of brutal murders involving the Lament Configuration and the mysterious “Engineer.”

Thoughts: Even though this is the first of the Hellraiser sequels to go straight to video, I think it is one of the best sequels of the series.  It takes a unique turn and is much more psychological than the previous installments.  I loved the fact that it shows that the Cenobites can inflict mental anguish just as artfully as they can physical pain.

Craig Sheffer gives a great performance as Detective Thorne, trying to chase down The Engineer and his kidnap victim, a child.  It’s a little crazy that the two best performances in this guy’s career are in Clive Barker stories (Nightbreed being the other).  Nick Turturro also gives a very solid performance as Sheffer’s partner.  Even though he doesn’t have much screen time, Doug Bradley is as awesome as ever as Pinhead.

Director Scott Derrickson followed up this great debut with the very solid Exorcism of Emily Rose and all signs pointed to him becoming a heavy hitter in the horror genre.  His success garnered him the opportunity to direct a high budget Hollywood venture, which turned out to be The Day the Earth Stood Still.  Guess they can’t all be winners.  He has a few projects in the works, and I can’t wait to see what he brings us.

Inferno is a great example that there are some gems to be found in the world of Direct to Video, and it takes it a step further by being the fourth sequel in a series.  I’ve often heard people say that “After the first two installments, the Hellraiser series isn’t worth your time.”  While not all of the sequels are great, there are some pretty good ones, with Inferno being one of the best.  What’s unique about most of the sequels is that they stand alone; you can pick any of them up and watch them without needing to know much in the way of the history of the series.  If you have avoided the Hellraiser sequels, I suggest giving this one a shot, it’s worth it.

Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)

Directed By: Kevin Yagher/Alan Smithee

Starring: Bruce Ramsay, Valentina Vargas, Doug Bradley, Christine Harnos

Subgenre: Demons & Possession, Science Fiction-Horror

Hellrasier Bloodline

Synopsis: The fourth installment of the Hellraiser series serves as both a sequel and a prequel, telling the origin of the Lament Configuration, as well as its destruction.

Thoughts: It usually doesn’t bode well for a movie when there are issues between the Director and the studio, and Bloodline is no exception.  I thought that the storyline was there, but it was just never developed.  The editing and pacing is pretty rough, and the cuts were forced by the studio, which then prompted Director Kevin Yagher to disown the film.  Joe Chappelle was brought in to finish off the movie, but it was credited to the infamous Alan Smithee.

Clive Barker served as a producer, and this was actually his last involvement with any of the films.  I would love to see him return for another film, but it isn’t looking good with his health and the track record of the series lately.

There are a couple of bright points to Bloodline.  I thought Bruce Ramsay played his multiple roles well and he was a welcome addition to the Hellraiser multiverse.  As always, Doug Bradley is awesome as Pinhead.  I even enjoyed Valentina Vargas in her multiple roles and makes for a pretty bad ass Cenobite.

Like I said, there were some interesting ideas presented in Bloodline, but the pacing and editing was just a mess, and ultimately ruined what could have been a pretty damn good movie.  It just goes to show that Hollywood studios don’t know what they are doing, especially when it comes to the horror genre.

Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992)

Directed by: Anthony Hickox

Starring: Terry Farrell, Paula Marshall, Kevin Bernhardt, Doug Bradley

Subgenre: Demons & Possession

When we last saw Pinhead, he had just been defeated by Channard and become part of a carved pillar (The Pillar of Souls).  Hell on Earth starts with J.P. buying the pillar from a suspicious looking art dealer for his nightclub, The Boiler Room.  We are also introduced to Joey, a young and ambitious reporter who just can’t seem to catch her break; that is until she witnesses a young man getting ripped apart by some very familiar looking hooked chains.  She eventually tracks down Terri, the lone witness to what happened and learns of the Lament Configuration.

Pinhead is resurrected from the pillar thanks to a tasty little morsel from the club and convinces J.P. to bring him more victims.  This is a recurring theme in the Hellraiser movies, the need for victims, either for their flesh and blood, or for their very souls.

We also learn that the current incarnation of Pinhead is even more dangerous than before, as he is no longer under the control of Hell, and is out to create destruction and chaos.  He kills everyone in the club in a rather gruesome onslaught and creates himself some new Cenobite cronies.  It is during this scene that I think the movie went away from what made the Hellraiser movies different than standard horror fare.  A few of the deaths were a bit campy, and the new Cenobites are just too hokey to be demons.  I mean you have a flame throwing bartender carrying a bar shaker, the DJ that shoots deadly CDs out and the camera man with the news camera implanted in his head.  Add in a few misplaced one liners and you have a different formula than the one that led to the success of the first two movies.  It still works to some degree, but in more of a campy, slasher-like way, not in the Hellraiser way.

Joey must find a way to defeat Pinhead, and finds a rather unlikely ally in Eliot Spencer, the British Officer that would become Pinhead.  Apparently, his soul and Pinhead’s are no longer connected.  Joey obviously solves the puzzle box just in time to send Pinhead and the new Cenobites back to Hell, at least until the next installment.

There are far worse movies then Hell on Earth, but there is also a lot of hate out there for the third movie in the franchise as well.  Check it out and see for yourself.  There are a lot of ways that it differs from the previous entries, but we are still talking about Pinhead here.

Hellbound: Hellraiser II

Director: Tony Randel

Starring: Ashley Laurence, Kenneth Cranham, William Hope, Imogen Boorman, Clare Higgins, Doug Bradley

Subgenre: Demons & Possession

Hellbound takes place shortly after the events of the first film, but not before we get to see just how Pinhead got his unique look.  Kirsty is in the Channard Institute, a mental hospital, after recounting just what happened in her Father’s house (really, you can’t blame them for putting her in the loony bin).  There she meets Dr. Channard and his assistant Kyle MacRae, as well Tiffany, a troubled girl with a knack of solving puzzles.

We quickly learn that Dr. Channard is obsessed with the Lament Configuration and with Hell in general.  He claims possession of the mattress from the first movie and sacrifices some of his patients to bring back Julia, much the same way the Frank was brought back in the first film. 

Channard and Julia bring in Tiffany to open the box, and the gateway to Hell.  Pinhead and his entourage show up, taking Channard back to Hell to join them in the Cenobite ranks.  Now Kirsty must venture into Hell to save Tiffany, and just maybe, her Father.

As they try to escape, there is a confrontation with the Cenobites in which Kirsty weakens them by making them remember that they were once human.  In their weakened state, they are destroyed by Channard.  This could have (and should have) been a massive fight, but Pinhead and the gang went down like a five dollar hooker. Disappointing.   With the Cenobites down for the count, it is up to the ladies to defeat Channard.

As the movie ends, we are treated with the mandatory sequel hook as the some poor moving guy gets liquefied by the mattress, thus producing the pillar that becomes central to the third movie.

Hellbound is a solid sequel, but pales in comparison to the first.  Barker was back to produce, handing over the directorial reins to Tony Randel, who was heavily involved in the first movie.  Randel did a decent job, but I prefer Barker’s directorial vision a bit more. 

I thought, much like everyone else, that Pinhead was defeated much too easily, but at this point the producers still had no idea how hugely popular Pinhead was, and would be become.  They had planned on Julia being the figurehead going forward, and Pinhead being put to rest.  Sounds a lot like the story of Michael Myers. 

While not an absolute “must-see,” Hellbound makes a great double feature with the first Hellraiser.  Enjoy.

Hellraiser (1987)

Director: Clive Barker

Starring: Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Sean Chapman, Doug Bradley

Subgenre: Demons & Possession

Clive Barker was anointed as the “future of horror” by none other than Stephen King some years ago.  While Barker’s cinematic success has not exactly mirrored his writing success, he has given us a few gems, none brighter (or darker, as it were) than the world of the Lament Configuration and the Cenobites.

Hellraiser was the first of his movies to be based on The Hellbound Heart, and to this day there have been seven sequels with the eighth on the way, as well as the obvious remake.  Honestly, I stopped watching the Hellraiser series when they sent the Cenobites to space (Bloodline).  I have caught bits and pieces here or there, but for my money, I stick to the first two in the series, and unabashedly admit that the third is a guilty pleasure of mine.

The movie centers around two very different brothers, Frank and Larry.  Frank is a dark, dangerous man, looking to push the envelope.  At the very beginning of the movie, he solves the puzzlebox, summoning Pinhead and the rest of the Cenobites.  Frank spends the rest of the movie as a regenerating skinless meat puppet.  Frank’s bitchy wife, Julia, is helping Frank regenerate by seducing victims back to the house. 

On a side note, are there any guys out there that think Julia is at all attractive?  I mean, come on.  She seems to have no problem at all picking up guys at the bar to bring home.  Must be saying something about how easy we are.  Still, I would have to be hammered off my ass to go home with her.

Kirsty, Larry’s daughter, ends up with the puzzle box and also summons the Cenobites, but promises to lead them to Frank in exchange for her soul.  Everyone knows you can’t trust demons, so they obviously go for the two-for-one deal and try to take her as well.  She solves the box just in time to banish them back to Hell.

The real stars of Hellraiser are the Cenobites, decked out in their sadomasochistic inspired outfits.  It shocks some people to realize just how little screen time these monsters actually get.  Pinhead is played masterfully by Doug Bradley.  Bradley has played Pinhead in every Hellraiser film to date, although he will be replaced in the upcoming sequel and/or remake.

Hellraiser is an absolute classic piece of horror cinema, and if you have somehow missed out on the original, see it.  Now.  Put it at the top of your Netflix Queue, order it from Amazon, do whatever it takes, you won’t be sorry.