Posts Tagged ‘Hellraiser’

Hellraiser - Clive Barker - Movie Poster Lobby Card - 8 x 10

As a horror fan the Hellraiser Series elludes me, it has such an interesting premise and concepts, puzzles, keepers of hell, resurrection and redemption to name a few. The first two films have excellent raw, wet, blood effects that few horror movies, especially at the time offered. Still despite all it’s allure the Hellraiser series has been so unjustly realised which is simply hellraising considering the fan following of the character Pinhead (wonderfully played by Doug Bradley) and the Cenobites that have captured the imagination of horror goers.
Both Hellraiser: Inferno (2000) (#5) and Hellseeker (2002) (#6) are above average productions with their fair share of blood and chills. Hellseeker sees the return of Kirsty briefly but both amount to nothing more than Creepshow Twilight zone tales with Pinhead featuring in a bookend capacity with more of the same in Hellraiser: Deader (#7) and Hellraiser: Hellworld (#8).
Hellraiser - Hellworld
A 9th, Revelations was filmed without Bradley which was produced in a matter of weeks due to an obligation on Dimension Films’ part to release another Hellraiser film or risk losing the rights to the franchise. It was the pin in the coffin for the direct to video entries. Nevertheless, there is hope with a possible Hellraiser remake, ghastly or entertaining time will tell but look what became of Freddy, Jason and Leatherface… Below are my thoughts on the theatrical released instalments…
The remains of a man rise from the dead and is aided by his sister-in-law to regenerate his body. However, he is being chased by demons who want to return him to their hell.

Hellraiser

A modestly budgeted horror with memorable cult impact, fantastically realised by writer, director Clive Barker. It’s sadomasochism, blood and gore influenced many films to follow. The music complements the claustrophobic atmosphere and adds to the films tension. 80’s poor lightening visuals aside the practical effects are excellent, including skinned, pinned and mutilated people.
Hellraiser - Clive Barker - Movie Poster Lobby Card - 8 x 10Surprisingly it’s Kirsty Cotton’s (Ashley Laurence) fight against her uncle and stepmother that is at the core story. Lead Cenobite ‘Pinhhead’ (that the series is synonymous for) is calmly played by Doug Bradley and has very little screen-time, yet leaves an impact. There’s great characterisation executed admirably by Andrew Robinson as wimpy Larry, Clare Higgins as adulteress Julia and Sean Chapman as power hungry Frank.
Hellraiser is creepy, bloody and eerie. It’s just a shame that neither this or any of the sequels capitalise on its greatest assets, that is Frank and Pinhead.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II - 20th Anniversary Edition Kirsty is brought to an institution after the death of her family, where the occult-obsessive Dr. Philip Channard resurrects Julia and unleashes the Cenobites once again.
It’s no surprise it was released the same year as Phantasm II, Friday the 13th Part VII and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, having one of horrors most surprising memorable and bankable protagonists. However, Hellbound borrows some elements from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) and feels as if it had money thrown at it and was rushed to capitalise on the success of the first.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II Poster Movie (11 x 17 Inches - 28cm x 44cm)As a side note director Tony Randel arguably captures the imagination of Clive Barker correctly as its style appears to be the foundation for Barker’s own Nightbreed (1990).
There’s plenty to enjoy, the dark oozing blood effects, the return of almost all the original cast and of course the Cenobites and Pinhead himself. The music is fantastic, as too are the costumes and SFX. That said, the story is disjointed on occasion causing it to feel longer than it’s running time, almost never-ending with one crescendo after another.
Overall, compared to the first and traditional movie styled Hellraiser third Hellbound: Hellraiser II is average and hellishly overrated.
Hellraiser III: Hell on EarthA work of art contains ‘Pinhead’ who is hellbent on escaping and unleashing hell on earth, armed with a puzzle box can reporter Joey Summerskill stop his evil?
Clive Barker is absent from a writing role which leaves Peter Akins to take up the reigns and to his credit this screen-play connects the previous films via various flash backs and recordings. However, the story follows a more linear narrative than it’s predecessor. Follow up Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth swaps the grittiness of the modestly budgeted first for a glossier grander slicker 3rd. Pinhead is given more story, dialogue and exposition – possibly to appease a wider audience.
Hellraiser 3 - Movie Poster (Size: 27'' x 40'')Hell on earth is really a one-man-show, British actor Doug Bradley is allowed to give a pleasing head-to-head performance as both Pinhead and his former-self Captain Elliot Spencer. Terry Ferrell as the snooping reporter who walks the film playing the genre piece like an 80s thriller. There are some new less-menacing cenobites, that said,Terri/Female Cenobite played by Paula Marshall is noteworthy but her appearance is all too brief. The rest of the cast are forgettable, mainly their purpose is to allow Pinhead some elaborate torture kills.
The special effects (although now dated) are digestible and oddly even though this film was made in 1992 it feels late eighties. Director Anthony Hickox competently delivers an entertaining instalment despite the choppy editing, lack of tension and gore. Nevertheless, there are enough dream sequences, dead bodies and bloody scenes to keep most chill seekers happy until the explosive final act.
Overall, in a traditional movie sense Hellraiser III is arguably a very strong sequel and viewer is left with tantalising closing scene, but in retrospect the concept is an empty promise.
Hellraiser - BloodlineThis instalment of Hellraiser IV follows the bloodline of the creator of the puzzle box the ‘Toy Maker’ and his plan to summon and to destroy Pinhead forever.
Despite a theatrical release, bloodline looks and feels TV movie-like and the acting is below average, possibly due to the script. That said, Doug Bradley is fine as Pinhead and Valentina Vargas is note-worthy as the demon Angelique.
The story’s concept is quite good, and includes (one assumes) the building in the 3rd and the history of the box. It is told in flash-backs by Dr. Paul Merchant in the year 2127 and follows his descendants Phillip L’Merchant in the 18th century and John Merchant in 1996. Sadly, it’s just poorly executed and let down by an uneven screenplay, bland direction and sub-par sets. The effects are a mixed bag, some are well done while others are less-convincing and tame.
Hellraiser 4 - Movie Poster (Size: 27'' x 40'')
It appears to have a troubled shooting history as there were two directors Alan Smithee (under an alias Kevin Yagher) and Joe Chappelle (uncredited). This maybe one cause and result of such a less than satisfying fourth.
Overall, producers didn’t give such a bankable character as Pinhead the attention he deserved leaving the viewer as empty as the 22nd century space setting.

There are many classic horrors, stacks of cult favourites, I could spend a lifetime writing about them and the characters that have put fear into us capturing our imagination.
Amongst the Universal Monsters, Hammer Horrors, Halloween, Hellraiser, Nightmare on Elm St. and modern classics like the Shining, Let the Right One In and so on, there are a string of chillers that have some leprechaun gold dust sprinkled on them. I’ve put together a handful of atmospheric grime-like horror gems that almost slipped though the horror net. And to think –  they thought they eluded us…
Dead People A.K.A Messiah of Evil (1973)

Messiah of Evil: The Second Coming

Before Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and The Crazies, there was Dead people a.k.a Messiah of evil. Shot in 1971 the film was not released until 1973. Like H.P. Lovecraft’s Dagon and The Wicker Man (1973), weird locals are hiding a horrific secret… In Messiah, the people of Point Dune worship the rise of a red moon as they become zombies.
The story-line is disjointed, but this adds to the mystic, surreal and dreamlike quality of the film. Admittedly, there is some irregular editing and the score is very much of its time, but there’s plenty to like about it.
Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) and the aforementioned clearly have taken its cue from Willard Huyck’s jumbled but effective film. Especially the scene where slinky brunette Anitra Ford is pursued through a supermarket. There is also truly creepy scene again with Ford and an albino trucker, played by Bennie Robinson, you’d think he would have been in a lot more movies given his creepy look.
It oozes dread and suspense, it’s a chilling 70’s horror flick that despite its faults is a lot better than some of today’s so called horrors.
Dead And Buried Movie Poster 11x17 Master PrintDead and Buried (1981)
There are a handful of horror films that I can say are underrated and exude atmosphere, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971), Dead People (1973) and Dellamorte Dellamore (1994) rank as some unsung cult sleepers. Dead and Buried while better known sits fittingly with the above for sheer eeriness, as director Gary Sherman takes you to the odd, clicky, fishing town of Potters Bluff where visiting tourists and passer through are killed only for their corpses to be brought back to life.
Reminiscent of Jaws 2 (no one believes the sheriff), The Wickerman (1973) (plotting towns people) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) (they are not who they clam to be) to name a few, Dead and Buried still manages to remain fresh and intriguing until the shocking end.
James Farentino wonderfully plays sheriff Dan Gillis who must solve the case and wrap up the mystery, and Melody Anderson is perfect as his wife. Jack Albertson gives a fine performance as the mortician and Robert Englund has a small role, the rest of the cast are first-rate.
Dead and Buried is only hankered by some choppy editing and despite the amount of writers on board, Sherman’s well crafted film benefits from ‘too many fingers in the pie’, including Alien scribe Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett. The film is enhanced from a shot on location look which adds to the genuine creepiness of the goings ons and Joe Renzetti’s music is fitting. There’s some notable blood and gore effects by the late great Stan Winston which even though are a by product of the story they are excellently executed.
Overall, a must see excellent underrated chiller.
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971)
Let's Scare Jessica to Death
A disturbed woman recently released from a mental institute has various nightmarish experiences. She becomes further disturbed after moving to an old farmhouse on a Connecticut island with her husband and friend where they meet a mysterious squatter.
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death is a low budget gem, possibly the foundation or inspiration for many horror films that followed. It’s skillful directed by John D. Hancock who creates a foreboding atmospheric horror, with chills and spills.
The supporting cast are notable and Zohra Lampert plays the lead role of Jessica admirably, with emotional range and depth. In addition, Mariclare Costello is excellent as the creepy lodger Emily. It suffers slightly from some 70′s film trappings, the intrusive use of the score, choppy editing and the sound is a little off but these are only small distractions, and to the movies credit it doesn’t look like a low budget film. The on location shoot adds to the realism and there are many surreal moments, involving the odd towns people, a girl in a graveyard and the body in a lake. Creepy old photos, folkloric tales, unexplained noises all add to the unease and tension of this smouldering horror.
It draws in the viewer making you consider is what Jessica experiencing real or not. The film builds up modestly, tackling possible vampirism, haunting and ghosts which are all handled in a believable manner. I can only compare the ambiance to that of The Haunting (1963), Exorcist (1973), House of the Devil (2009) Carnival of Souls (1962) and another underrated horror Dead People a.k.a Messiah of Evil made the same year (although not released until 1973).
It’s Hancocks ability to execute pure creepiness and eeriness that sets Let’s Scare Jessica to Death apart from many horrors. If only the majority of modern horrors could stir up the same sensations experienced.

The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Let Sleeping Corpse Lie A.K.A The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (1974)
Non si deve profanare il sonno dei morti (original title)
A crop dusting machine from the agricultural pest-control is emitting ultra-sonic waves that are re-animating corpses…

A lot have said this is underrated, granted it’s overlooked. It is atmospheric with an ominous feel. It has great locations and is at times genuinely creepy. However, it’s shares more with Fulci than Romero. The acting is not aided by the bad dubbing. To its credit it has an eerie musical score by Giuliano Sorgini and a number of suspenseful sequences but it borrows many of its best sequences from Night of the Living Dead.I watched director Jorge Grau’s offering under the title of ‘Let Sleeping Corpse Lie’ but whichever name you see the film under don’t be mistaken or mislead, it’s a solid zombie horror movie and of its time with fine cinematography from Francisco Sempere. It’s a lot better than the low budget DTV zombie films that there’s no shortage of at the moment.

Dellamorte Dellamore (1994) A.K.A Cemetery Man (1994)

Cemetery Man
1994’s underrated zombie horror classic based on the comic Dylan Dog by Tiziano Sclavi, it stars Rupert Everett (in his best role) and enchanting Anna Falchi.
“Zombies, guns, and sex, OH MY!!!” was the tag line, and while it’s true it has those things Dellamorte Dellamore is so much more, it’s macabre and violent, with atmosphere you can taste. Excellent music by Riccardo Biseo & Manuel De Sica and direction amazingly executed by Michele Soavi.
Spellbinding and arguably the strangest, most effective zombie film out there to-date.
The House of the Devil (2009)

The House of the Devil 27 x 40 Movie Poster - Style A

Student Samantha Hughes takes a babysitting job that coincides with a full lunar eclipse, she soon realises her clients harbour a terrifying secret.
Director writer Ti West delivers an elaborate painstakingly created homage to 70’s and early 80’s style thriller/horrors. It feels authentic, from the period costumes, 70’s style title sequence, complete with font, swipes and stills reminiscent of countless films, to the music and camera work to match. The film is pure nostalgia and he does a fantastic job at handling a slow set up which keeps the viewer interested.
You’ll fall back in love with the time and more importantly the innocent, struggling student character of Samantha, played superbly by Jocelin Donahue. There’s no 80’s style bad performances, it’s naturalist oozing 70’s grittiness. The House of the Devil is wonderfully acted, every member of the cast is first-rate with their subtle and realistic portrayals. There is an exceptional stand out supporting cast which include Tom Noonan (Manhunter 1986); Dee Wallace (Howling 1981); cult horror actress Mary Woronov and newcomer Greta Gerwig as Megan is notable.
The first three quarters of the film is crisp building up an everyday tension after a series of odd phone calls and awkward situations while taking the viewer back to around 1983 America. Pay phones, walk-men, Fawcett hair and skinny jeans. The last last reel is a Rosemary’s Baby (1968) set up as you are jarred out of the normality that came before and the film turns on it’s head to blood, violence, murder and satanic ritual.
The lighting is naturalist, West is not afraid to cast shadows creating an eerie and ominous atmosphere. The effects and make up are excellent and the music soundtrack and score is well placed.
A tension building 70’s/80’s crafted horror but made in 2009. Perfect.