Hellbound: Hellraiser II
All film genres are prone to the phenomena called the sequel. When a movie is a hit and gathers a legion of fans the studios consider making a follow up to it. Sure, one of the main reasons is to keep the profits coming but there is also a need to tell more of the story to keep the fans happy. The one type of film that is most likely to spawn sequels is the horror flick. Many have gone far beyond a simple second film and have continued on to the pinnacle of films, the franchise. There are a lot of them in the dark world of horror. We have the sharp fingers of Freddy Kruger in the ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ series and the famous hockey mask worn by the unstoppable Jason Voorhees in the long lasting ‘Friday the 13th’ flicks. Fans flock to these movies in droves wanting to see just how much further the film makers can go in the blood and gore department. One of the strangest franchises in this genre is without a doubt the ‘Hellraiser’ series. It has one of the creepiest inhuman villains around, the infamous Pinhead. The original story line came from the mind of a true master of horror, Clive Barker. The film under consideration here; ‘Hellbound: Hellraiser II’ is obviously the second installment in the series. While few subsequent flicks in a series like this can match the original this one was sufficient to pave the way for several more meetings with Pinhead and his demonic cronies. This film does do what is expected for a horror sequel. It amplifies the sheer volume of fake blood and guts used. When the production of a film like this is announced the people who work in the gorier side of the special effects trade have to rejoice knowing that they are about to be gainfully employed. It is somewhat difficult to believe that it is now the twentieth anniversary of this flick. To commemorate the event Anchor Bay has released a special edition to DVD. There have been several releases of this film over the years but this is the best so far. It is packed with extras that every Hellraiser fan will have to have.
The basic story for this film was done by Clive Barker with the screenplay provided by Peter Atkins. This was the first script for Atkins who went on to a long association writing for Barker franchises most notably several of the subsequent ‘Hellraiser’ as well as many in the other Barker series ‘Wishmaster’. There have been some negative comments about a lack of flow and continuity in this story. Apparently one of the lead actors declined reprising his character forcing some last minute re-writes. This cannot be held against the author. He had a story planned out and the requirements of the producers required script changes. As a then new screen writer Atkins may not have been used to making such spur of the moment alterations. With that said Atkins does what is expected and continues the story in an overall engaging fashion that will not disappoint the die hard ‘Hellraiser’ fan. Since this was an initial work as a script writer it should be expected that Atkins needed some polishing at this point in his career. This is especially noticeable with the infusion of humor in the screenplay. It seems out of place and has difficulty in fitting in to the overall mood of the movie. What Atkin shines at is the way he develops the main characters from the previous film. He allows them to move from the outright scared people there were to they are more self assured and proactive.
This was the only film in this series directed by Tony Randel. It was only his second time at the helm but he did go on to various other horror films after this. Randel excels in creating a dark and moody movie that is worthy of following a cult classic like the original. He is capable of recreating the dread and terror of the first flick in a way that is rare for a sequel. It is true that the initial shock of meeting Pinhead and his little toys has now become expectation but Randel picks of the story and runs with it. This is a cult film after all and it is targeted towards the extension of the story instead of drawing in new fans. He matches and even exceeds expectations in bringing the blood and gore to the demanding fans. This is roller coaster ride of the macabre that allows it to take its places in the lore of horror not just as a sequel but due to its own merits.
The film starts with a man (Doug Bradley) sitting alone with the infamous puzzle box in his hands. Of course when he solves the puzzle hooks shoot out and impale him. One word of warning; if you ever encounter a cube like this do not under any circumstances try to solve it. As the hooks are slicing the man they begin to make a cross hatched pattern on his head. He begins to look more and more like the notorious Pinhead. Pinehad is the leader of the cenobites. They are demonic creatures dedicated to inflicting the maximum amount of pain and suffering as possible. There are three others beside Pinhead; The Female (Barbie Wilde), the Butterball (Simon Bamford) and the Chatterer (Nicholas Vince). Each has their own specialty in torture. After her last encounter with the demons Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence) has been in a mental hospital. When you try to tell the authorities about a bald guy with his head covered in pins and a box that opens up to rip people apart there is bound to be a mandatory psych hold placed on you. She tells her story to Doctor Channard (Kenneth Cranham), and his assistant, Kyle MacRae (William Hope) resulting in the doctor searching for the Lament Configuration which is the portal to the world of the cenobites. Things go outside established mental health protocols when the doctor has the mattress where Kirsty’s mother Julia (Clare Higgins) died back to his workplace. He has a patient lie on it and cut himself. The blood activates the mattress releasing Julia from the clutches of Pinhead and his gang. Once the border between the worlds is disrupted the humans are in for a fight to save themselves and all humanity from the demons.
Anchor Bay has done a fantastic job with this 20th anniversary edition. The Anamorphic 1.85: video is excellent as is the Dolby 5.1 audio. What truly sets this release apart from the previous one are the extras. This is not just for ‘Hellraiser’ fans it is something that all horror fans can enjoy.