HELLRAISER 5: Inferno (2000)
The fourth film almost derailed the entire franchise and it took four years to recover.
In the fifth entry, a shady police detective (Nightbreed’s Craig Sheffer) becomes embroiled in a strange world of murder, sadism and madness after being assigned a murder investigation against a madman known only as “The Engineer”.
The movie isn’t really all that interesting as Sheffer sleepwalks through the movie using basic mime impressions to reflect emotion. The director must have hated him all this creepy, shock stuff and your lead actor won’t emote.
Once again Pinhead is reduced to almost a cameo role as Sheffer’s detective becomes haunted by the things he saw within the cube. Hellraiser 5 is the perfect example of my theory surrounding the Hellraiser franchise. A weak and corrupted man is introduced to the cube and his arrogance unleashes hell on earth. Sound familiar? It should because every Hellraiser movie has this trend in some way or another thus the title of my article, Men & Cubes.
The only real interesting thing about the film are a couple new Cenobites. Those female twins are really creepy.
The question is does this sequel put the series back on track? Kind of because it doesn’t betray the flow of the series and its core concepts but really its just a really dull film.
(2.5 out of 5)
HELLRAISER 6: Hellseeker (2002)
The sixth movie is more like the first two in that it explores the consequences of opening the box and connects directly with the series mythology. It also marks the return of series heroin Kirsty (Ashley Laurence). This also marks a rejuevenation in the franchise.
A shady businessman (Dean Winters) attempts to piece together the details of the car crash that killed his wife, Kirsty and rendered him an amnesiac – and left him in possession of a sinister puzzle box that summons monsters.
That’s right Kirsty dies in the film’s opening four minutes and then it is her husband who has to unravel the mystery surrounding her death. Why did Laurence come back for this? Why couldn’t it just been any husband and wife? These questions are all answered in the film’s third act and it is a twist that fans of the series will love.
The scenes with Winters being seduced by two other women, the puzzle cube and the Cenobites all echo the series but at this point in the series they just seem redundant.
Besides the kind of lame title (Hellseeker) this is actually the best in the series after the original two. This is also the only sequel after the original two that Clive Barker, Ashley Laurence and Doug Bradley all really enjoyed. Director Rick Bota delivered a work print to the principles to get their blessing before he authorized the final cut.
Bota single-handedly resurrected the Hellraiser franchise with Hellseeker and put his stamp on the franchise with his first feature film. Hellseeker reminds us of what was so special about the series and that is a great feeling with the sixth film.
Side note: On the DVD don’t forget to treat yourself to those alternate scenes with Kirsty and Pinhead. It truly does bring back memories of those first two films.
(3.5 out of 5)
HELLRAISER 7: Deader (2005)
Hellseeker director Rick Bota returns with the seventh entry in the series. This entry looks and feels very different than the previous film and it shows a different grungier side to Bota’s directing style.
The movie stars Kari Wuhrer as a driven journalist that uncovers a cult who worships the dead and their leader who can bring people back from the dead.
Bota’s next entry in the series does have some things in common. He scales back the gore in favor of genuine creepiness and torment. But the film doesn’t even feel like it was directed by the same guy. It kind of reminds me more of the little seen Wes Craven film, Serpent and the Rainbow. As the main character loses their mind so does the film.
What is also really interesting about this entry is that we have a woman who gets caught in the allure of the cube not a man. And this is the first time since Kirsty used the cube to free her father from Pinhead’s grip.
Another interesting thing is that the choice of lead actress for the film. Wuhrer belongs in the same category as say former Hellraiser heroine Ashley Laurence. I have been a long admirer of Wuhrer dating back to when she was an MTV VJ. I have followed her career on TV with Sliders and into many direct-to-DVD films. She is quite an underrated actress and always finds interesting territory in every character she plays. This is no exception here. She is the best thing about the film even with the lacking script and very spooky set design.
Deader is a worthy entry in the series and ranks somewhere between Hellraiser 3 and 5.
(3 out of 5)
HELLRAISER 8: Hellworld (2005)
Bota’s third directorial effort in the series is also the swansong for his Hellraiser trilogy. He must have been crippled by the studio because this film is just a plain mess.
Gamers playing a MMORPG based on the “Hellraiser” franchise find their lives endangered after being invited to a rave whose host (Lance Henriksen) intends to show them the truth behind the Cenobite mythos.
The movie features memorable performances from not only Henriksen but newly crowned Superman Henry Cavill in one of his first roles and starlet Katheryn Winnick from Bones.
The movie is a mess because it really never follows any kind of Hellraiser formula. It is really just a lame haunted house movie with Pinhead and the Cenobites. Plus some silly one liners.
If you want to make a movie like this then why not really explore the mythos as the movie claims. Have another strong heroine or hero actually give Pinhead a run for his money. But alas another opportunity missed.
This movie also marks the final appearance of Doug Bradley as Pinhead. And since he has been reduced to a carnival sideshow it it no wonder Bradley was reluctant to undergo the long makeup process again. Creator Clive Barker said that if he ever did his remake that he would insist Bradley would return except for a different take on Pinhead. But more of that to come.
(2 out of 5)
HELLRAISER: THE UNMADE REMAKE
Between Hellraiser installments eight and nine, there had been oodles of talk of the remake.
Three times the remake had come to make the rounds among horror fans. But each time Clive Barker seemed to cringe at the idea. So finally after so much debate the remake was never greenlit.
Back in 2007, Barker actually rewrote the original film and his draft was accepted by Miramax films. Miramax, who owns Dimension, asked for more Hellraiser mythos in the script in notes. So Barker obliged them and then Dimension started looking for a director to work with Barker.
Two years later this was abandoned and a new script was optioned. The concept was written by Drive Angry director Patrick Lussier and his treatment was sold to Dimension films but they decided to go with the ninth installment instead.
This whole process does beg the question, what happened to Barker’s remake script? Why hasn’t that been looked at again?
HELLRAISER 9: Revelations (2011)
In last year’s ninth Hellraiser film, the Men & Cubes fascination continues. But really by the time I hit this movie I had given up on the franchise. Especially now since the original Pinhead (Doug Bradley) decided not to reprise his role as Pinhead.
Here’s what Doug Bradley said about the film. “After reading the script and giving it due consideration, I have decided not to participate. The ink is barely dry on the script, and it is scheduled to be in front of the cameras in two weeks time and in the can by the middle of next month (September 2010). The miniscule shooting schedule is more than matched by the budget. Whether or not this means that somebody else will be stepping up to play Pinhead, I have no idea. One way or another, this does not seem to me to represent a serious attempt to revive the Hellraiser franchise. However, I wish everyone who will be directly involved in the making of this film, good luck with it.”
In this latest installment, two friends discover a puzzle box in Mexico, which opens a gateway to Hell. No really? I could have never guessed from the title and this being the ninth Hellraiser film.
New Pinhead (Stephan Smith Collins) does look the part. He does portray Pinhead as close to Doug Bradley as he can but something just doesn’t gel.
There is nothing redeemable about this film and after witnessing it I am kind of looking forward to the reboot if they can find that lost Clive Barker remake script. Dimension must have churned this movie out just to retain the rights and hopefully cover the expense of exploring the remake.
This does sound like a major rush hence Doug Bradley’s comments. And up on screen it looks it. The effects are pretty decent but everything else about this film is horrendous.
(1 out of 5)
2. Hellraiser 2: Hellbound
3. Hellraiser 6: Hellseeker
4. Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth
5. Hellraiser 7: Deader
6. Hellraiser 5: Inferno
7. Hellraiser 8: Hellworld
8. Hellraiser 4: Bloodline
9. Hellraiser 9: Revelations