Tag: Clive Barker

Hellbound : Hellraiser II

by on Oct.04, 2010, under Daily Review

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.

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by on Oct.03, 2010, under Daily Review

The world was a very different place back in 1987. Horror was a very different kettle of fish and was mostly all but restricted to low budget straight to video releases. Hellraiser came out that year to stir things up a bit. A low budget British horror film, which got a full UK cinema release, here to change British cinema forever.

Based on a short novella by Clive Barker, which was re-written as a screenplay by Clive, who took on the task as director. It’s a brutal fantastical story of love and revenge, desire and lust. A rogue in search of the ultimate fix discovers a magic box, one which can give ultimate pleasure and pain, but at a price. Dead in the attic of a London home, his brother and missus arrive from the States, move in and through pure flook and chance, some blood gets spilt, causing the devilish Uncle Frank (Sean Chapman) in the attic to gain a bit of life. His Brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) unaware of this and unaware that his wife, (Clare Higgins) is having an affair with the corpse, who now requires more victims, more blood to get a bit better so they can run off together. Meanwhile, Larry’s daughter Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) shows up, doesn’t trust her evil step mother and soon becomes wrapped up in the whole thing, including, playing with the puzzle and making a deal with the Cenobites.

It’s easy to watch, very entertaining and very gruesome, even by today’s standards, Frank and Julia are wicked characters. The murders are brutal and nasty; it’s never nice getting hit with a hammer. At heart, this is classic vampire and Frankenstein spun together, with a real undercurrent of S&M. This was something which still shocks as the characters are enjoying their experience, even though they are without skin. Even when Frank eventually gets some skin to wear, it’s as if he’s parading in a rubber gimp suit. Uncomfortable at times and very close to home when it comes to violence.

Barker directs to a very good standard, but it never gets beyond that. It’s not artistic or beautiful. It’s grim, dark and steady. The script too fails to ignite in the same way his literature sparks the mind of the reader. Here, we have quite stilted dialogue, although full of brilliant comic book one-liners.

The Cenobites need a mention here, as for many, they are the reason to watch. Doug Bradley plays Pinhead, the main man when it comes to the cenobites who are in effect, angels from hell. Pinhead is a legend, an amazing figure, leather clad, open flesh on his chest with a perfect array of nails in a grid across his face head. The effects for the Cenobites are pretty good, as is the gore, but the Engineer really lets the film down. A shoddy, flesh demon with crappy little hands, and a phallic shaped body who runs up and down passageways. I’d be happy for the engineer to be removed, it would make the film a far more enjoyable experience.

As a whole package, this is a great achievement. It was made on a super low budget with the heart and dedication of a single man with a bunch of disciples. It launched the cinematic career of Pinhead, which has always been a good thing and propelled the name, Clive Barker to an international level.

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