Sometimes, sequels just don’t live up to the original. A tricky follow up, plenty of expectation, but to get it right, means credence. Many have failed but for those that succeed, Empire and Godfather spring to mind. Not that I’m comparing Hellraiser to either of these franchisees, but to achieve a greatness, creative and otherwise.
Kirsty is back, immediately after the previous film’s antics. She awakes in a mad house, obviously, condemned blabbering on about demons and puzzle boxes. One man takes her serious, although he’s got other ideas. Dr Channard (Kenneth Cranham) dedicates his life to exploration of the mind, madness and reasoning, but his obsession lies within desire and ultimate pleasure, all of this gained by mastering and study of the Lament Configuration, the puzzle box. We learn that there is a whole universe of boxes, Channard has a few. We learn that every player has their own hell, and eternity to live by the hand of the Cenobites, who also, we discover have their own history and reasons. So Channard brings back Julia in an attempt to get a bit closer to the Cenobites, but maybe he gets a little too close, and Kirsty spends the rest of the film, running around hell attempting to crack a deal to get her dead father back.
This is a big film, dealing with a lot of issues and questions which arose from the first flick. Made on basically peanuts, it looks very impressive. The cenobites are back and better than before, looking sleek and cool and nasty. Channard is a stunning character who fits right into the mythos really well and it’s great to see a return of Kirsty and Julia, here who seems to have a bit more depth to her character.
The film looks great, it’s interesting to see a big Argento influence here, loads of red and blue gels. The script is sharp and clever, very comic book, each scene perfectly framed with lines executed to precise timing, ‘The Doctor is in’, ‘I recommend Amputation’, and of cause, Pinhead (Doug Bradley) has a few gems too, ‘We have eternity to know your flesh!’
I was concerned about revisiting this one, more than any other on the list so far. Pete Atkins (Script) was a great friend of mine in my youth, and it’s difficult to critic a film when you are close. I was concerned that I could have just been swept along at the time, but how glad am I that this wasn’t the case. It’s a fine example of how to take an original film, and original plot and recreate a perfect sequel, one which expands the universe, pushes the characters and gives back to the audience, everything which they wanted.
Last words must go to the score. Chris Young creates a huge sound, dramatic, powerful, classic. Very sci-fi TV of the 70’s, all horns and strings which just blast out over the whole film giving some pure power and dynamics to the visuals.
This is great stuff and evidence of some real talent from the UK in the 80’s, obviously at time of struggle, especially for the horror genre and cinema/the arts as a whole.