‘Hellbound: Hellraiser II’ (1988) Movie Review
Kirsty is brought to an institution after the death of her family, where the occult-obsessive head resurrects Julia and unleashes the Cenobites once again.
Humanizing the Cenobites = crippled the franchise.
Clive Barker wrote the story for Peter Atkins’ screenplay and passed former directing duties to Tony Randel; the results are typical. Kirsty, of course, survives Hellraiser. Now she’s left without her father and has the local Police on her ass. No one really buys that whole “My Uncle opened a Hell dimension and summoned demons to Earth!” story. Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) is placed in the psychiatric care of Dr. Phillip Channard (Kenneth Cranham), deep inside the bowels of his asylum, a facade that facilitates his Hell-seeking obsession. Channard pursued a doorway to Hell for decades, and now fate rests in the palm of his hand. Kirsty, still questioning her sanity, is forced to take part in his twisted search if she wants any hope of seeing her Father again. Channard doesn’t realize the price for his extensive search until it has its rusty hooks in him. Face to face with Pinhead and the Cenobites, Channard proves a worthy adversary and takes on his own face of Hell.
The story at the heart of Hellbound is a great continuation to the Hellraiser universe. Sequels are famous for presenting weak versions of the original, and horror is like the International Champions Division. I was a little disappointed by Barker’s original film, but still enjoyed many aspects of it. Any horror fan would admit Doug Bradley’s portrayal of Pinhead, a being from a Hell dimension tasked with punishing those who seek out his cursed puzzle (the Lament Configuration), is a cool ass idea. I’m harder on the Hellraiser franchise because of its amazing promise. I wouldn’t expect a stunning delivery from Wrong Turn 5 (also starring Doug Bradley), but an amazing idea demands amazing execution, something this franchise lacked from the beginning. Nine films couldn’t get it right, and that, my friends, is a commitment to mediocrity.
Hellraiser did okay at the box office, well enough to merit the bigger budget, yet the film’s visuals are notably worse. The film is still gross and unsettling, but the B-movie effects hold it back. The only great practical effects were devoted to Julia as she has her moment as a shambling, veiny ghoul. Doug Bradley and Ashley Laurence once again take top acting honors, but the sequel is made up of throwaway characters and laughable acting. The cardinal sin of this film is the glimpse into the human life of Pinhead. This dry, terrifying character is one million times less threatening now that I know he was just a regular dude at one point in his life. Does Pinhead seem less horrific when you imagine him pulling weeds or frying eggs? He should. That fatal error alone puts this film in the toilet as far as I’m concerned. For all its possibility, Hellbound: Hellraiser II is reduced to a horror sequel throwaway. Boo, Clive Barker, you’re responsible for turning Pinhead into a complete pussy.
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