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Clive Barker is still the king. He brings us to a world where monsters have politics, the 5 senses rule, and we sometimes question whether our pre-notions of pain are as accurate as we think. The Hellraiser series is a lush, nightmarish, subliminal journey into human desire, masochism, mythos and madness. Pinhead is not so much the generic, evil antagtonist as he is a source of comfort and logic sometimes. Clive Barker has often toyed with our preconceptions that all "monsters" must be blindly destructive brutes, as opposed to the endearingly rational and decidedly intelligent Cenobites. Perhaps the fact that I have Cenobites tattooed makes me biased;) But it's still a unique piece with gorgeous imagery (to some.) Angels to some, demons to others... If you haven't seen Hellraiser 1 and 2 (the rest are not so great IMHO)...you must!
After the strange events of the first movie,Kirsty is sent to a Institution for the Mentally Sick, commanded by the mysterious Dr. Channard,a crazed psychologist who is willing to open the doors of hell by manipulating the Puzzle Box.In doing so,Channard brings Kirsty's perverse stepmother Julia back to life,and consequently he provokes the rage of the dreadful cenobites,the cruel and evil creatures that give pleasure and pain in the same measure.Hellbound Hellraiser 2 is an extremely well-done film,thanks to the generous budget given to newcomer filmmaker Tony Randel and a first-rate production.The special effects are simply terrific (specially considering the time in which the movie was done,1988) and they create a bombastic,scary visual.I never saw a movie with such an incredible scenery and imagery,except maybe for Dark City.Clive Barker's vision of hell is brought to life with mastery through the work of Randel and Director of Photography Robin Vidgeon. The plot sustains the tension and keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish,though the first half hour of Hellbound: Hellraiser II is a little bit slow and descriptive (but never boring); a great portion of the action and the terror is concentrated in the last minutes. The last thirty ones are a realistic and gutsy "tour de force" through fear,violence and suffering.This is definitively a masterpiece, but not for the squeamish.Hellbound: Hellraiser II is rated R for extreme violence and sex scenes,it runs 99 minutes(uncut version released by Anchor Bay).It stars Clare Higgins as Julia, Ashley Laurence as Kirsty, Imogen Boorman as Tiffany,William Hope as Kyle McRae and Kenneth Cranham as Dr. Channard.If you like this movie, you might also enjoy Phenomena and Suspiria.
Thus far and no further is how I view this film - while 'Hellraiser'
was a smooth and well-handled interpretation of 'The Hellbound
Heart', this serves as an interesting extension to that story. OK, the
acting is largly dire - but is this not a horror movie tradition? The
film excels in its MENTAL imagery, not physical: Tiffany's disturbing
visions of babies with their mouth's sewn shut as Leviathan plays
with her fears; Channards violent, acid flashback-style memories...
they are all insightful and well-thought out as they deal with that
which cannot be tamed easily - the human psyche. Director Tony
Randall has a lot to live up to following Clive Barker's '87 epic, but
he takes the reigns of the story with good grace and presents a
slick and progressive tale - although I do agree with the general
consensus that the Cenobites should NOT have been humanised.
All in all though a great film, fantastic visuals - the fall of Leviathan at the climax has to be one of the most gripping and explosive deaths of a movie monster in horror film history - and one which should have ended the tale.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Released just over a year after the original, HELLRAISER II picks up
right where the last one ended. But with Clive Barker releasing a
majority of creative control (he still receives a "story by" credit) to
screenwriter friend Pete Atkins and first time director Tony Randel,
the end result is a film that faithfully echoes Barker's earlier work
yet also undermines it.
The film's biggest problem is the script which relies too much on coincidence. For example, new character Dr. Channard has a deep and previously existing interest in the Lament Configuration. And Kirsty's neighbor in the mental ward just happens to be a mute girl who is really good at solving puzzles. Things like this exist solely to move the plot from point A to B and so on, something the original HELLRAISER lacked in its confined dysfunctional family storyline. To Atkin's credit, the script does effectively introduce the back story of Pinhead and features some appropriately bleak dialogue (including perhaps the series best line: "Your suffering will be legendary, even in hell.").
In their attempt to deliver something bigger and better than the original, the filmmakers further damage themselves when it comes to Kirsty's adversaries. The sequel has two great foes for Kirsty to battle Julia and Pinhead but the script makes them secondary and shifts the focus to the ridiculous Dr. Channard. While in human form he is a fearsome villain but once he becomes a Cenobite, all that goes out the window in favor of a guy who delivers one liners ("The Doctor is in!"). At this point in the series, even Pinhead hadn't sunk that low. On top of all that, Atkins actually has the Cenobite Channard dispatch the lead Cenobites in a battle that is so trivializing that it makes you wonder why anyone feared these guys in the first place.
Tony Randel handles the film well visually with his two best sequences taking place in hell. One is when mute Tiffany experiences her own surreal vision of hell that includes everything from deranged clowns to a clever giallo tribute. The other is when Kirsty confronts her Uncle Frank in a fiery tomb housing floating slabs that carry moaning, bloody bodies. These visions of hell are certainly unique to the film world but ultimately the film doesn't have the budget to properly convey this. Instead of a sweeping landscape, we get characters traveling what seems to be the same tunnel over and over and a few MC Escher style matte paintings. Most disappointing is the unveiling of Leviathan as an amorphous black blur emitting from a large version of the box.
Outside of those uneven effects, the rest of the film's effects work is really well done. Bob Keen and his crew return from the original film and deliver an abundant amount of blood, making sure that the standard of delivering cinematic images beyond belief continues. The bloody resurrection of Julia and the transformation of Dr. Channard are the film's FX highlights. Obviously the unrated version is the way to go. In addition to these striking images, HELLBOUND contains the world's first male/skinless female kiss.
And for a film with such taboo images, it features some consistently great acting. Lead Ashley Laurence (was she really in her teens when this was filmed) is actually better than she was in the first film. New faces Kenneth Cranham and William Hope are both good as the bad doctor and good doctor respectively. Doug Bradley, graduating from "Lead Cenobite" to a full fledged Pinhead, maintains his wicked demeanor as a hell's no. 1 agent while projecting the right amount of emotion when reminded of his human form. However, if HELLRAISER II truly belongs to anyone, it is Claire Higgins as the evil stepmother Julia Cotton. With a cold manner dipped in extra bitchy-ness, Higgins is almost too good for the proceedings.
New World's efforts for the low budget follow up paid off with the film earning just under ($12 million) what the original grossed ($14.5 million). Sadly, the next time Pinhead and his brethren appeared on screen, they were firmly in the claws of Miramx's Dimension line. This move resulted in a succession of sequels that, while passable, moved the series further away from Clive Barker's groundbreaking original.
Kirsty Collins(Ashley Laurance)lies in a psychiatric hospital,haunted by the night of unspeakable horror that destroyed her life.Now,only hours later,the nightmare is beginning again.From the blood-stained matress hidden in his home,obsessive psychiatrist Dr Channard(Kenneth Cranham)raises the remains of Kirsty's murderous stepmother,Julia(Clare Higgins).Together,Channard and Julia unlock the secret of the Lament Configuration puzzle box to release the unlimited horrors and ultimate pleasures of Hell.For the second time,Kirsty must return beyond the limits to the Outer Darkness to confront the darkest desires of Hell and free her father's soul."Hellbound:Hellraiser 2" was obviously influenced by Lucio Fulci's masterpiece of gore and atmosphere "The Beyond"(1981).The film is very well-made,the acting is alright and there are some good gross-out gore effects that will certainly please every splatter freak.Absolutely recommended.Note:Death metal group from Ohio Necrophagia recorded a song called "Children of the Vortex" on their brilliant album "Holocausto de la Morte",which is loosely based on this picture.
Hellraiser 2 is a startling film. Clive Barkers imagery of hell is
profane, violent, and an oddly erotic movie from the off. The sequel
continues the fantastic story, and builds on the characters we saw,
whilst adding some new ones to the mix. As well as re-introducing the
dead ones! As foul and degrading as newer gore porn flicks are today,
Hellbound walks all over them with style and substance which has been
unmatched ever since. For 1988, Hellraiser 2 is nothing short of
breathtaking, and has not dated one bit. The storyline is intelligent
and despite the incredible sights of hell and its inhabitants,
Hellbound justifies the fantasy with thoughtful dialogue and logic and
a powerful story. It also benefits that the cast in this film are
mostly great actors who do a great job of suspending the viewers
Barker gives credibility to the monster in the movie. Every beast in this film has a human side and you may even feel warmed to them when they are faced with dilemmas and dramas which question even their beliefs. There is a powerful scene in which Pinhead and his minions learn of their own past from Kirsty, the heroin of the story who is pursued by the cenobites for opening the puzzle box. Pinhead even begins to look human at this point showing the "bad guys" in a different light. Before long the demons actually become the "good guys", and temporarily co-exist with Kirsty to counter the evil Doctor's hand over hell.
The violence and gore offered by Hellbound is excessive and delivered to the viewer in such horrific, profane ways it has definitely had an impact on its viewing demographic. Barker made a great job of communicating to the director his view of the film from a novel and it's a gruesome one. So gruesome it will immediately turn away many within the opening minutes.
I recommend this movie for anyone who's into horror or those who think the genre is just Hostel and Saw. Hellbound, as indeed the original, breathes new life into the horror movie and for every pint of spilled blood, brings intelligence and style in buckets.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The first and only decent sequel to Clive Barkers impressive original Hellraiser. Hellbound:Hellraiser 2 starts almost immediately after the event of the original. After a brief recap of Hellraiser up to this point featuring footage form the original, we see another unsuspecting victim, Captain Elliot Spencer (Doug Bradley without his Pinhead special make up effects applied) solve the mystery of the Chinese puzzle box and is impaled with hooks that tear his skin, razors cut lines in his head and an unseen thing inserts long pins into his scalp and thus creating Pinhead (Doug Bradley with the make up), the lead Cenobite from the Hellraiser films. Kirsty (Ashley Laurence again) is seen in a hospital room, the police have discovered rotting maggot infested corpses in Kirstys dads house, like the original in its uncut version this film is very gory and explicit. A detective named Ronson (Angus MacInnes) questions Kirsty, she doesn't make much sense to him, speaking of demons and that her dad is trapped in hell and still suffering. The detective doesn't believe it and hands her over to Dr Channard (Kenneth Cranham). Channard uses the information he gets from Kirsty to re-animate Julia (the returning Clare Higgins). He also uses a patient under his care named Tiffany (Imogen Boorman) to solve the puzzle of the box and reopen the door to hell, Pinhead and his Cenobite friends from the original, the Butterball Cenobite (Simon Bamford), the Chatterer Cenobite (Nicholas Vince) and the female Cenobite (Barbie Wilde, who I've met in real life by the way!) also make an appearance and join the fun. Kirsty discovers what Channard is doing and follows him into hell to try and save her dad. Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman another returning cast member from the original) also turns up and soon after loses his heart and skin at the hands of a vengeful Julia. Channard gets turned into a Cenobite and all hell starts to break lose. This time directed by Tony Randel, Hellbound is another impressive film, it recaptures the dark feel and hellish atmosphere of the original. Once again the special make up effects are explicit and well done, people slicing themselves up with straight razors in a very nasty scene, more skinless people and corpses, slit throats, hand amputations, brain surgery and all sorts of other bodily mutilation are presented for our viewing pleasure in the uncut version, which is the one I'm reviewing here. The script co-written by Barker keeps thing moving nicely, even though someone should tell them police officers don't carry guns in the UK, towards the start of the movie a police man while searching the house from the original gets scared by a corpse that falls out of a wardrobe and proceeds to shoot it several times, as I said the police in the UK don't carry guns, I know I've lived here all my life! A very minor complaint. This time the film is mostly set in Hell and we get lots of perverse imagery to convince us. I especially like the juggler who's using his own eyeballs to juggle with. After this the Hellraiser franchise went down hill, becoming too Americanized, part 3 for instance was set in an American city and featured Pinhead and his Cenobites killing lots of teenagers, just like countless other soulless unoriginal slasher films. Hellbound:Hellraiser 2 in my opinion is the only worthy sequel to the original, its dark and has the same perverse atmosphere, it features even more blood gore and mutilation and doesn't feature stupid teenagers been hacked up. A very entertaining horror film for those with the stomach. I liked this just as much as the original, high praise. The version I watched was the recent British special edition DVD from Anchor Bay UK, which is the uncut version, the only way to watch it as far as I'm concerned. Recommended.
Even if the story's weak, bringing back the surviving (or not surviving) cast members of the original, can make a sequel better. Everyone thinks crazy old Kirsty Cotton is making up stories of demons from hell (which happened to be her attic), but we all know better, don't we? She's now in a mental institution with a girl with a penchant for solving puzzles, under the guidance of a sadistic doctor with a penchant for a skinless Julia. Part of the story is just a re-hash of the first with different characters in similar situations. This time around we go to hell and find that it's like an Escher painting with a giant "Lament" diamond spinning in the sky. Not as good as the first film, but pretty close--a bit gorier and disturbing (but after "Hellraiser", I was expecting this) The acting is similar to the first film, but the special effects are a bit more elaborate this time around as the budget was bigger due to the success of it's predecessor.
Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence) survived the first attack from Hell in
"Hellraiser", but her troubles are far from over. She is now locked up
in a mental ward run by an occult-obsessed doctor (how appropriate) and
her evil stepmother, Julia (Clare Higgins) refuses to stay dead.
This film is incredibly polarizing, I fear, because it has such strong qualities of both good and bad. The bad include special effects that really date the movie (though are still superior to much of today's work) and the introduction of a certain level of silliness that pervades the later films. The doctor as a cenobite is a bit strange in form, and opens the door for the even more bizarre creatures in part three.
There are some plot and continuity issues, such as wondering where Kirsty's boyfriend from part one went. And while the film seems to try to explain loose ends from the first film, it creates a whole lot more... the maze (presumably hell) is not adequately explained, nor is the role of the giant puzzle box. While some of this is addressed in later films, it seems that what we learn later tends to contradict what we see here.
But let us say some good things about this one. First and foremost, the Julia without skin looks incredible. It is hard to say they topped Frank without skin (from the original) but I think they did. The way she comes crawling up out of the bed... her blood-soaked flesh. Beautiful. "Right to Die" owes a huge debt to the work in this film, the same way that this film owes a debt to "Bride of Frankenstein" with its use of thunder and bandages...
We also have to give the gore creators some credit, because the insane man with the knife was pretty intense... actually, all the asylum inmates are well-played. For all the flaws this film may have, they more than made up for it with a couple of memorable scenes. While my favorite in the series is "Bloodline" (I believe I am in the minority on this), I think part two may have been the last great addition. Sequels were not necessary, and obviously everything after part four just gives the franchise a bad name.
Anchor Bay has released a twentieth anniversary edition, and I would strongly recommend it. Older features, such as an audio commentary from 2001, are available, as well as a few new featurettes. "The Soul Patrol" features new interviews with Barbie Wilde, Simon Bamford and Nicholas Vince. "Outside the Box" features a new interview with director Tony Randel and "The Doctor is In" features a new interview with Kenneth Cranham.
As someone who has met Ashley Laurence, Doug Bradley, Clive Barker and each of the cenobites, I have a strong personal interest in this film. I can say that the Anchor Bay edition is easily the best to date and any "Hellraiser" fan would be making a mistake in getting an older, inferior edition.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Hellbound: Hellraiser II" of 1988 is an almost perfect sequel to one
of the most effective and terrifying achievements ever in Horror
cinema, Clive Barker's 1987 masterpiece "Hellraiser". Director Tony
Randel's sequel keeps up the terrifying atmosphere and genuinely
infernal creepiness of its predecessor and is even considerably gorier
than the (also very gruesome) original. This second entry to the
"Hellraiser" franchise epitomizes pure Horror as its predecessor and
takes the viewer on a terrifying journey into the pits of a Hell from
the mind of Clive Barker.
The film starts off pretty much where the first part ended. After the horrifying events that took place in part one, survivor Kristy Cotton (Ashley Laurence) awakes in a mental hospital. One might think that psychiatrists are not eager to believe stories about Cenobites, demons from a bizarre, sadomasochistic Hell. The head of the institution, Dr. Channard (Kenneth Cranham), however, is obsessed with occultism and has his own plans with his new cognitions about cenobites and resurrection from Hell...
***Warning! BIG SPOILERS Ahead!*** Kristy's evil stepmother Julia (Clare Higgins) returns from Hell, and she is not the only one. So do the Cenobites. The cenobites, especially the iconic Lead Cenobite (commonly referred to as 'Pinhead', played by Doug Bradley) are some of the most terrifying creatures the World of Horror has ever brought forth. My only slight complaint about "Hellbound" is the manner of how the cenobites are humanized towards the end. It seems to be a common assumption among makers of Horror-sequels, that they somehow need to explain how monsters became monsters - which is not always a good idea, in my opinion. Ever since I first saw the first two Hellraiser parts many years ago, I have held the view that the Cenobites were most terrifying in the first part, when they were still utterly mysterious and their origin was not yet explained. This minor fault is not yet extreme in this second part, however, and it does not waste its status as a fascinating sequel. The visions of Hell are extremely creepy and terrifying and character actor Kenneth Channard brings in a new type of purely evil villain. The sequel is, once again, filmed excellently, the settings are sublime and the gore-effects are as gruesome as it gets. Overall, "Hellbound" is an extraordinary sequel that must not be missed by Horror fans. After this, the series spiraled downwards. My rating: 8.5/10
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