Friday, August 1, 2014

#1,446. Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)

Directed By: Tony Randel

Starring: Doug Bradley, Ashley Laurence, Clare Higgins

Tag line: "Time to play"

Trivia: An alternate script with Kirsty's father Larry exists, written before Andrew Robinson declined to reprise the role

Whereas the original Hellraiser was a horrifying look at hell on earth, its sequel, Hellbound: Hellraiser II, takes place primarily on the Cenobite’s home turf.

As a result of her encounter with those Disciples of the Underworld, the Cenobites, Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) has been admitted to a psychiatric hospital. While most refuse to believe her story, the facility’s head psychiatrist, Dr. Channard (Kenneth Cranham), is mysteriously receptive to it. In fact, he wants to meet the Cenobites for himself, and in an attempt to do so raises Kirsty’s misguided step-mom, Julia (Clare Higgins), from the dead so she can act as his personal guide through the bowels of hell. As for Kirsty, she’s been receiving messages from an entity she believes to be her dead father, asking for her help in escaping his hellish fate. Along with a fellow patient, a mute girl named Tiffany (Imogen Boorman), Kirsty journeys deep into the underworld to look for dear old dad, encountering some familiar faces (i.e. the Cenobites) during her trek, as well as a brand new adversary who intends to keep her in hell… forever.

Like its predecessor, Hellbound: Hellraiser II has its share of frightening moments. One scene in particular has Dr. Channard bringing a psychiatric patient home with him, then goading the poor guy into mutilating his own arm, making sure he does so over the very mattress Julia was killed on. As the patient’s blood drips down, Julia is “awakened” from her eternal slumber. Her arms reaching out from the mattress, she grabs the patient and feasts on him, thus giving her the strength to rejoin the living. Yet what really impressed me about Hellbound were its underworld set pieces, and how the filmmakers let their imaginations run wild while creating them. One realm, which looks like a continuous labyrinth, is ruled over by a God-like creature named Leviathan, who appears as a bright light floating just above the surface (the sequence set in this corner of hell is both chilling and awe-inspiring). Along with its remarkable art direction (handled by Andy Harris) and production design (Michael Buchanan), Hellbound provides some insight into the history of the Cenobites, including the back story of Pinhead (Doug Bradley), who apparently was once a Captain in the British Army (in a brief flashback, we witness his transformation into the lead Cenobite). As an added bonus, we even get to see the birth of a new Cenobite, which is every bit as terrifying as the others.

Hellraiser is one of my favorite horror movies, a film that captured the terror of hell so convincingly that it stayed with me for days afterwards. Hellbound: Hellraiser II takes the story to the next level, and in so doing creates a world that, if it doesn’t scare you, will surely have you squirming uncomfortably in your seat.

1 comment:

James Robert Smith said...

Back when I wrote scripts for the Marvel Comics HELLRAISER comic book I had only barely heard of the Hellraiser films. Plus, I had never been impressed with Barker's body of literary output. But the editor wanted me to submit ideas for stories so I had to go out and rent the movies (which by then were two). After viewing them I had to ask myself: "What the FUCK was that shit?!" Not in a good way. Nothing made any sense whatsoever. Even as parables or as subtext the movies were completely senseless.

However, I took what I could glean from the silly premise and submitted some scripts which were accepted and illustrated. Some of the highest rates I ever earned as a writer. So there was that.