I meant to re-watch the first four Hellraiser movies for this Roundup but I only had time for two.
Having not watched this for many years, I find it still holds up as quite an original idea. Larry has decided to move his new wife Julia and grown daughter Kirsty into his brother Frank's house after Frank has gone traveling, he assumes. The house is filthy and they wonder what Frank was up to when he lived there. Little do they know that Frank died in the attic (and his body vanished) while performing some arcane ritual with a puzzle box. While moving a mattress upstairs, Larry cuts his hand on a nail and starts bleeding everywhere. Some of his blood spills in the attic where Frank died and after he leaves, we see the blood sucked into the floorboards where a human heart begins to grow. Soon a circulatory system respawns followed by bones and muscles and now Frank has returned to life somewhat as a bloody skeleton.
We learn that Frank was quite a cad. On Larry and Julia's wedding day Frank seduced Julia and took her to bed. It's no wonder there's tension between Julia and Larry and their marriage doesn't seem happy. Julia finds Frank in the attic and after getting over the horror of his appearance, agrees to help him return to life fully by luring men back to the house so he can absorb their flesh.
Kirsty eventually finds out about Frank and also finds the puzzle box. She solves it, not realizing it opens a portal to Hell and summons the Cenobites, who are all pale skinned, leather-clad piercing-fetish demons. The Lead Cenobite (later known as Pinhead) says they are "explorers in the further realms of experience" meaning pain and suffering. They plan to take Kirsty with them but she says if they will let her go free, she will lead them to Frank who has escaped them.
Kirsty tries to warn her father about his evil brother but she is too late. The man who looks like her dad is actually Frank wearing Larry's skin, his final victim. As Kirsty freaks out, Frank ends up killing Julia by stabbing her. Pinhead shows up and hooks Frank with his signature chains and fishhooks and then tears him to pieces. Kirsty must now escape the house as the Cenobites try to grab her. She flips the puzzle box into new configurations which zaps the Cenobites away.
The gore effects are still pretty gross. People walking around with no skin. Julia simultaneously feels revulsion and seemingly attraction to skinless Frank. Julia begins to feel some sort of thrill at the power she has to seduce men to their death. I'm glad that Kirsty, played as a young ingenue, has enough wits to bargain with Pinhead instead of just screaming. And Pinhead is not really evil or an indiscriminate killer, he has some restraint and maybe operates by some kind of code. The energy effects at the end seemed really cartoony and did not hold up. Really only Frank seemed unrepentantly evil or selfish. Larry was a bit thick.
Clive Barker was a novelist, called the next Stephen King. This was his first foray into movies, I believe. He adapts his own book, "The Hellbound Heart," to screenplay and directs. Claire Higgins is pretty fierce as Julia. Ashley Laurence is good as Kirsty. Doug Bradley makes a meal of his very brief scenes as Pinhead although he gets a lot of help from makeup, lighting and a voice mod. Andrew Robinson is a tad wasted as dim-bulb Larry. The score by Christopher Young is great.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II
When I was younger, I think I liked this movie more than the first, although I think I was in the minority on that. This movie expands the scope a bit and takes us into this version of Hell which I always liked. Clive Barker returns to produce and came up with the story, but Tony Randel who was a production supervisor on the first movie takes over as director with Peter Atkins writing the screenplay.
Kirsty wakes up in a mental hospital after escaping her dad's house in the last movie and doesnt know why she's there. We see some police gathering evidence from the bloodbath there. Including a mattress that Kirsty's stepmom Julia died upon. Dr. Channard at the hospital orders the mattress to be delivered to his home instead of the police evidence room. Orderly Kyle overhears this and thinks it's strange.
Kirsty tells Kyle that if Julia died on the mattress then she can be resurrected from it with blood. That's true according to the rules of the first movie but I'm not sure how she knows that. She didn't know her father bled on the spot where her creepy uncle Frank died nor that that's what brought him back. Kyle sneaks into Channard's house and sees that he has collected many papers about the puzzle box from the first film and actually has three similar boxes. Channard has gone to the bowels of his mental hospital which looks like a grimy boiler room filled with people screaming and locked in straightjackets to collect one of his patients. Back at home he releases the man from his straightacket and hands him a razor and the man starts cutting himself. He bleeds on the mattress and Julia respawns as a skinless body and sucks up the man's flesh. Channard dresses Julia up in gauze and makes out with her for a bit. Kyle sees this and runs back to the hospital to warn Kirsty. She sees a skinless man in her room who writes "Trapped in Hell, Help Me" on the wall in blood and thinks it's her father.
After feeding Julia enough victims to regrow her flesh (including Kyle), Channard takes her to the hospital where a mute girl named Tiffany who has an obession with puzzles waits to help them solve a puzzle box. She does and the portal to Hell opens, summoning the Cenobites. Channard and Julia run off into Hell as the Cenobites study Tiffany. Pinhead tells them not to act against her. "Hands don't summon us, intentions do." They wander back into Hell and Tiffany follows. Kirsty sees the open portal and decides to go look for her dad, I think.
Channard and Julia go through the labyrinth of Hell and see a diamond floating in the sky shooting out black searchlights. "My God - Leviathan" Julia states. Channard gets sucked into a torture box which turns him into a Cenobite or maybe something worse.
Kirsty finds Tiffany and together they run into Kirsty's uncle Frank in a brief cameo, who reveals he was the skinless guy who summoned her, not her father. Julia shows up and kills Frank in revenge for killing her last time. The girls run from Julia but a wind storm sucks Julia out of her skin. The girls are chased by Channard through a nightmare hospital and eventually find themselves face to face with Pinhead and his Cenobites again. "Kirsty, so eager to play and so reluctant to admit it" Pinhead taunts. This time she wants to bargain with a photo she had found in Channard's collection, a World War I era soldier. "Someone else who escaped us?" Pinhead asks. "No, it's you" she says, guessing that the Cenobites were all once human before getting sucked into Hell. Before they can answer, Channard enters and does battle with Pinhead. Kirsty and Tiffany escape as Channard kills all of the Cenobites who revert to human form.
The girls go to the top of the labyrinth where they can see the diamond in the sky. Tiffany plays with the puzzle box which is tied to Leviathan, and she makes the diamond in the sky transform into a huge puzzle box which starts to close the portal to Hell. Kirsty and Tiffany barely escape back to the real world while Channard gets his head ripped off.
I always liked the design of Hell in this. It's surrealistic in ways that I feel inspired movies like The Cell
. Sort of an odd choice to kill off Pinhead just as this was on the verge of becoming a franchise, but it didn't last long. Supposedly Barker wanted Julia to become the franchise villain and that might almost have worked, but Claire Higgins didn't want to come back again.
Looking at the movie now, I don't think it's as strong as the first one in terms of simplicity of story or motivation of characters. I still like the look of it.