AWOB18: Hellraiser: Judgment

Hellraiser: Judgment. Gary J. Tunnicliffe. 2018. ☆★★★★

This is another Hellraiser sequel made for pure reasons:

Several years later, Dimension Films was required to make another Hellraiser film to retain their rights to the series, giving Tunnicliffe a chance to propose his vision to the studio.

Well… it’s… inventive… I guess the idea is to be as gross as possible?

It’s the worst movie in the franchise: No competition. I think the idea is to bore people to death with one tedious scene of people talking at each other about atrocities after another. And then break up these scenes by showing us random gross stuff.

And the endless police procedural stuff! Way to fill some screen time.

But… it’s… inventive… And the writer/director insists that the script was always meant to be a Hellraiser movie, but that’s, frankly, un-believable.

Well, since this is the last post in this blog series, I might as well take a stab at summing up the Hellraiser experience here.


First of all, I’m thankful that none of the movies (I think) lasted more than 90 minutes. And several of them are about 75 minutes long, which makes these movies rather brisk.

I had expected these movies to be really, really bad, and they aren’t. Perhaps sub-basement expectations helped me here: Anything better than total wretchedness is a plus.

It’s weird that movies 5-8 were based on non-Hellraiser scripts: Like, why? It’s not like scripts are expensive in the scheme of things. Movie execs have their reasons, I suspect…

And finally: Clive Barker created a vision that’s more interesting than most horror setups. The whole Cenobite thing is just inherently more interesting than, say, a serial killer like Jason. The Lament Configuration (i.e., puzzle box) is just such a striking and scary image. It, and Pinhead And His Merry Band, are concepts that have legs.

So it’s weird that the rights holders have handled it this way: Trickling out these nickle-and-dime movies instead of trying for mainstream blockbuster success (a la Halloween). But perhaps they think that the Barker thing is just too niche?

Might be correct.

This post is part of the A Weekend of Blood blog series.

AWOB11: Hellraiser: Revelations

Hellraiser: Revelations. Víctor García. 2011. ☆☆☆★★★

The impetus for some of the previous Hellraiser movies is sometimes obscure, but this one is straightforward:

The film 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 film series. Due to the quick turnaround time and the rushed production, series star Doug Bradley declined to participate, making this the first entry in the series in which he does not play Pinhead. It was released in a single theater for a crew screening that was ostensibly open to the public, then released to DVD in October 2011.

The Weinsteins had to make a Hellraiser movie or lose the rights, so they spent $350K on… anything… that could have the Hellraiser name attached to it.

That’s a pure and simple motivation for making a movie, right?

It’s got an 2.8/10 rating on imdb, which makes me really curious to watch this movie. Just how bad can it be? And, I mean, for once, the script was actually written as a Hellraiser script instead of being a fixer-upper as the previous four ones were, so perhaps this’ll be a fun movie?

It starts off with a found footage sequence, and I assume the entire movie was going to be that. I mean, it makes sense when you have a very low budget. But it doesn’t last long, and then you get very competently filmed scenes. It doesn’t look like a $350K movie. I’ve seen a lot of American no/lo-budget movies, and this is pretty impressive.

And the actors are good!

I kinda do:

Don’t bother to see this film unless you enjoy staring at wet paint.

Heh heh:

Honestly I thought the same [as others] when I first watched the trailer online… yes, it’s an extremely bad trailer, there’s little I can add… but I think that it worked out pretty well as it lowered everybody’s expectations so much that when people actually watched the movie they were like… oh… ok… I guess it’s ok 🙂

In some ways it reminds me more of the first movie than any of the other sequels: It’s got a very limited set (except for the flashbacks) and happens in one house. It’s a classic setup. But it’s weirdly edited: The scenes with the monsters seem to come from a separate crew, and then those scenes are spliced into a family drama at random, like.

But I like it! It’s so weird. I just find it interesting: I like watching these actors on the screen while very little is happening.

It’s not scary, though.

My main problem was that I forgot which one of the boys were who, which is a common problem I have with casting: If there’s two brown-haired guys of similar age in a movie, they’re the same character to me. It’s like what Leslie Wiener sings (from memory):

I always like if when there's a wooden leg or an eye patch
makes it easier to tell them apart

This post is part of the A Weekend of Blood blog series.

AWOB05: Hellraiser: Hellworld

Hellraiser: Hellworld. Rick Bota. 2005. ☆☆☆★★★

This is the third and final Hellraiser movie directed by Rick Bota, and this time he’s got somebody vaguely famous to play the lead: Lance Henriksen. And according to imdb, it had a generous $5M budget, so it’s pretty flush in a Hellraiser context.

And, yet again, it’s based on something the thrifty Weinsteins had lying around:

The script was adapted from a treatment titled “Dark Can’t Breathe,” which was unrelated to the Hellraiser series.

So insert a few scenes with Pinhead, and bang, you have a Hellraiser sequel. This is the fourth example of this very strange (to my mind) way of working. I mean, the reason they slap the Hellraiser name on these movies is that people like Hellraiser, right? So finding people to write actual Hellraiser scripts should also be a doozy?

So… were these scripts that somebody at the production company really loved, and finagled into making by twisting them into Hellraiser scripts? If so, that’s a weird way to treat something you love.

The ways of Hollywood are inscrutable.

Anyway! This is about a bunch of kids playing an online video game (very forward thinking in 2002, when this was apparently made (but not released until three years later). And then they go off into the woods. (In Canada, perhaps?) For a special super-lame party for Hellraiser fans. (So meta.)

Aaand… It makes some detours into torture porn, which is the worst thing ever. The Saw influence is obvious.

It’s much better integrated into the Hellraiser mythology than the previous three movies. The plot’s almost, dare I say it: Good?

And is it scary? Yes, kinda. The previous Bota movies weren’t, but this one has more accomplished scares.

It’s also a bit on the boring side, but whatevs.

This post is part of the A Weekend of Blood blog series.

AWOB05: Hellraiser: Deader

Hellraiser: Deader. Rick Bota. 2005. ☆☆★★★★

This is the second in a trio of movies made by Rick Bota/Tim Day/Carl Dupre/Ron Schmidt (and people) as director/writer/producer combos.

Weirdly enough, it’s the only one that’s only available on DVD, while the first and third movies are on bluray. What’s up with that?

Oh, Weinstein Bros:

Like Hellseeker (2002) before it, Deader, the seventh entry into Clive Barker’s Hellraiser franchise, takes an unrelated spec script and shoe-horns in a couple of fleeting appearances from Doug Bradley’s Pinhead to try and justify its inclusion of ‘Hellraiser’ in the title.

This one was filmed in Romania, which is where you go if you don’t have the budget to film in Canada. But I kinda like Romanian-made movies. They have a kinda more… grainy… quality: The sets are more well-made and extensive.

The camerawork on this, though, is nauseating. I mean, literally. It’s shakycam throughout and I hate that.

It’s a movie that makes the most out of small, simple scenes (like when retrieving that package from that horrible bathroom). It’s genuinely uncomfortable… but is it scary?

Not really.

It’s weird when the chains are too big, they’re no longer creepy.

This one has the least connection to the Hellraiser concepts than any movie so far. They’ve rewritten some other MacGuffin into The Box, and perhaps nothing else was changed?

This post is part of the A Weekend of Blood blog series.

AWOB02: Hellraiser: Hellseeker

Hellraiser: Hellseeker. Rick Bota. 2002. ☆☆☆★★★

Hey! Ashley Laurence, who was in the first two movies, is back!

As with the previous movie, this apparently originated in a script Dimension Films had in storage that they altered to add some Hellraiser characters. (The Weinsteins are always so thrifty.)

This horror movie feels refreshingly old-fashioned. I was worried that this franchise would branch into the very profitable (at the time) torture porn genre, but it keeps to its roots as a squicky horror movie. This could have been made at any time from 1975 onward.

I like that.

Oh, it’s the first of three Hellraiser movies directed by the same guy: Rick Bota. I can see why the studio kept him on: This was probably not expensive to shoot, but it doesn’t look overtly no budget.

And Dean Winters (TV’s Detective ‘The Vulture’ Pembroke) is great in the lead who doesn’t quite know what’s real or not.

However: It’s not scary, and some of the scenes don’t really seem to go anywhere interesting.

It’s… surprisingly watchable? It feels like it could have been a bit tighter, but like all Hellraiser movies, it’s pretty short. And it’s weird that they’ve gone for a script that’s a similar story as the previous Hellraiser movie: The Inferno one. But there’s a twist!

This is a better movie: A much more convincing portrayal of nightmarish unreality, so whatevs. It’s like this movie almost could have been actually good.

This post is part of the A Weekend of Blood blog series.