For about a year, I’ve been wanting to do a Hellraiser marathon and watch all the films in one day. Previously, I had only seen the first two and whilst I wasn’t a big fan, I thought they had a lot of potential.
Unfortunately, the sequels are completely wasted potential. Most of the films didn’t even feel like Hellraiser films and I later discovered the original scripts hadn’t even been Hellraiser scripts and the Hellraiser aspects were obviously lazily added in during rewrites.
Anywho, some quick comments on each film and my personal ranking at the end.
The build-up probably goes on a little too long (and is a little uninteresting), but the overall atmosphere and effects make up for it. The film really gets started once the cenobites turn up and although I don’t think it perfectly depicts its themes of desire and whatnot, it is still a good experience. It is also a solid horror film, with a creepy atmosphere and an awesome atypical horror villain in Pinhead; calm, cold, witty and a stone cold poker-face that keeps him entirely unpredictable.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
Feels like it delves into ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night 2’ territory with the number of flashbacks to the first film, but obviously stands on its feet a lot better. The plot is a little muddled and a lot of it doesn’t make sense, but it retains the atmosphere of the first film and Pinhead really gets to shine. Also, is it just me or is Pinhead kind of attractive in this film? Just me? Ok then.
Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992)
Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)
Pinhead in space; everyone’s favourite! Despite the reputation, it’s not THAT bad. It’s not really good either though. The origin story was uninteresting and the bits in space were pointless. The entire thing just feels really contrived.
Hellraiser: Inferno (2000)
This is where the films stop feeling like Hellraiser films. Other franchises can get away with it more easily, but it’s just not the same without that weird, uncomfortable feeling. This one is still one of the better entries, but more as its own film rather than a sequel. It works as a detective/noir story and it’s rather linear/straight-forward/generic. I like Craig Sheffer and it’s not a terrible watch, but it mostly feels like a strange mystery film with a few random appearances from Hellraiser characters.
Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002)
Spent most of it feeling annoyed and not really seeing the point; until the ending came along and wrapped everything up. I felt ashamed that I hadn’t seen it coming, but I didn’t really care about it that much.
Hellraiser: Deader (2005)
Thought the plot was dumb as hell. The dialogue and characters are cringeworthy and I especially had a hard time because I really don’t like Kari Wuhrer. I was just wondering why this was even a Hellraiser film for the most part.
Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005)
Hellraiser: Revelations (2011)
Wow. One of the most pathetic reboot attempts I’ve seen. It does try, because it is at least obviously written to be Hellraiser but that doesn’t mean it’s good. The acting is atrocious, it’s structured as a typical modern horror film – too much beginning pointless character development (character development is important most of the time, but in this case it’s irrelevant) and exposition and the themes that were explored in the first few lose all depth and are basically just plot devices. And of course the worst thing is replacement Pinhead. Doug Bradley is Pinhead, Pinhead does not exist without Doug Bradley. New Pinhead is a crazy wide-eyed snarling child, instead of the afore-mentioned calm, stone cold poker-faced villain.
Final ranking of all the films:
1. Hellraiser (1987)
2. Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
3. Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992)
4. Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002)
5. Hellraiser: Inferno (2000)
6. Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)
7. Hellraiser: Deader (2005)
8. Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005)
9. Hellraiser: Revelations (2011)