Review: Hellbound-Hellraiser 2

Image courtesy of VHSWasteland.com
Directed by: Tony Randel
Category: Horror

Time to Play

Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 is one of those rare examples, especially in the field of horror, where the sequel actually improves on the original. Clive Barker was still heavily involved at this point, only this time he handed the directing reigns over to Tony Randel and the writing duties to Peter Atkins, who would go on to write the 2 intallments immediately following this one also.

Hellbound picks up immediately right after the events of the first one, which I think was brilliant. Kirsty is in a mental hospital run by the evil Dr. Channard. Kirsty certainly acts crazy, but for some reason a young doctor named Kyle has taken a liking to her. When Kirsty keeps screaming about destroying the bloody mattress that Julia died on, nobody listens and thinks she's just crazy and paranoid. That is until Kyle overhears a phone conversation in which Dr. Channard requests that the bloody mattress be delivered to his home and not the institute. Kyle decides to do a little investigating and discovers his boss, Dr. Channard, has been involved in this stuff for years having a collection of relics and unknown objects in his office. Most notably a collection of the famous "puzzle boxes". I always thought there was just one, but here they show that there are many and Channard possesses quite a few of them, but has never been able to solve it. One the day that Kyle has gone to snoop around Channard's house Channard has brought one of his mental patients over to his house. This is the guy who keeps screaming "get them off me" as he thinks he's covered in maggots. Channard gives him a razor blade as he sits him on the bloody bed that Julia had died on. The guy starts hacking away at the imaginary maggots on his body with the razor blade in one of the most graphic and bloody sequences I've ever seen in a horror movie. With this guy's copious amount of blood Julia is able to be reborn as they say. Only she's skinless as she needs many more victims to fully regenerate. And this is the beginning of one of the greatest horror sequels in history.

What follows is Kyle busting Kirsty out of the mental hospital, since he now believes her, Julia and Dr. Channard finally getting the puzzle box opened with the help of another one of his patients eventually opening the gates of hell leading to the labyrinth, Kirsty coping a deal with Pinhead and the Cenobites so she can go into the labyrinth to find her father who died in the first one, Julia becoming the queen bitch of evil and Channard ultimately becoming one bad motherfucker as Julia turns him into a Cenobite.

We have eternity to know your flesh

I love that this was made in the late 80's because had it been made today or even in the late 90's the whole labyrinth setting would surely have been done completely CGI. Which woulda killed the film as at least half of it takes place in this hellish setting. Here everything for the most part is practical physical sets. Sets you can actually touch and feel and makes everything look so much more real and organic, even when it's pretty obvious they use the same set over and over again, just in different angles. It doesn't matter because it works. There are a few big wide shots of the labyrinth, but instead of going CGI they went with Matte Paintings, which was another brilliant move. I remember reading a lot of reviews when this first came out and most of them derided this film for so many reasons. Cheap looking sets, incoherent plot and just the fact that it was so bloody. And, mind you, this was the theatrical cut. Technically it was a hit as it made 4 times what it's budget was and I remember the studio's kinda being a little shocked since they didn't think it would even do that much because it's original budget was much bigger but ended up being severely cut by the studio at the last minute. Still, I think it looks great. The sets, the special effects, the outstanding makeup effects, it all works superbly here.

Your suffering will be legendary, even in Hell

There are three things that stand out more than anything else in this film. 
First) Tony Randel's direction is perfect and his particular style works so well here. It's not too flashy or stylish, but he picks the angles that work the best and one thing that I love the most is that he's not afraid to use a dolly shot. He uses these kind of shots often, even when you wouldn't expect a director to, and they add so much more substance to the scene. For some reason he never had a film as big as this one. This was his second go at directing after having a co-directors credit on Def-con 4, a film I actually remember seeing back in the day.But every other movie he ever directed after this went straight to video and I'm kinda shocked at that fact. I think Fist of the North Star was his only other well known film and I remember not liking that one at all. It's a shame really. He deserved a better career after giving us the "best" Hellraiser film out of the series. 
Two) Christopher Young's bombastic score is something to behold. It's loud with such an epicness to it. Right from the opening credits it's a score unlike anything you've ever heard in a horror film before and it's a score I love to this very day. I used to own this soundtrack at one time, but I don't know what ever happened to my CD. I remember even using the theme song for a video project I did in English class in high school and the teacher loving it so much that she stole the only copy of this project I had. Thanks teach! 
Third) The makeup effects........truly outstanding. They are just incredible for the entire film, but there are two sequences where they really outdo themselves. The first is when Channard gets the mental patient to sit on the bloody bed and proceeds to cut at his body with the razor blade. Fuck that scene was inense. In the uncut version it just seems to go on forever and ever, not like the theatrical cut where it's a mere 5 seconds maybe. The other scene is when Julia pushes Channard into the elevator thing in the labyrinth where he ultimately is turned into a Cenobite. Gruesome stuff man and really well executed. I could be wrong, but I think the uncut version of Hellbound is probably the bloodiest and goriest of the series. 

Amazingly they were able to get 99% of the original cast to return for this. Andrew Robinson who played Kirsty's dad didn't want to return for some reason, and you can tell the chick playing the female Cenobite is different, but other than that the principal actors Ashley Laurence, Claire Higgins, Doug Bradley and Sean Chapman (Kirsy, Julia, Pinhead and Uncle Frank respectively) returned to play there characters once again. A really cool aspect of this entry is that we get to see who Pinhead was before he became Pinhead. He was actually a man once, a Captain in the British Army to be exact, and it's this bit of information that will come to play later in the film.

One thing to remember if you're going to watch this again is that there are 2 versions of this film out, the theatrical and the uncut version. This film has been released numerous times in both versions so you'll have to be careful which one you get. The uncut version is a must so I suggest finding this cut. The uncut version is 99 minutes long and the theatrical cut about 3 minutes shorter. Believe me, those 3 minutes count! So whatever you do, just be sure that your watching the 99 minute version. As a suggestion, seek out one of Anchor Bay's releases, but since they've released both versions of the film at different times, you'll still have to make sure it's the unrated version. Oddly on VHS there are three versions from many distributors, but surprisingly it "was" released uncut and in letterbox. Starmaker released a 93 minute version some time back on VHS, which would make it the shortest, even shorter than the theatrical cut, and I can't imagine what else they could possibly cut out. You'll remember it as being the stupidest picture of Pinhead ever. It's a photo of him holding the puzzle box standing next to the female Cenobite kind of standing at a tilt with a smirk on his face. That cover was the worst possible picture they could have chosen to use because he looks just plain stupid. Do not watch this version.

One of my biggest gripes would be that in the final battle at the end between the Cenobites and Cenobite Channard, Pinhead and his gang don't put up much of a fight. It's so misleading because Cenobite Channard shows up outta nowhere and there looks to be a showdown between him and the other Cenobites. It looks so cool, like a Mexican standoff, only it just doesn't deliver. I mean, the other Cenobites don't do shit to begin with, but all Pinhead does is shoot a few chains with hooks at Cenobite Channard, who in turn cuts them off immediately. And that's all he does. He just stands there as Cenobite Channard kills the other Cenobites and again just stands there while Cenobite Channard shoots some kind of light rays at him that slowly turns him back to human. He takes one last look at Kirsty, almost like he's saying "thank you", and let's Cenobite Channard cut his throat where he ultimately bleeds to death. It's never really explained why he does this or if he did it on purpose so Kirsty can escape. But in any case, whatta wus. That always pissed me off. Pinhead is supposed to be so evil and threatening, basically being the collector of hell or whatever and when his powers are finally put to the test in a fight, he just stands there. Lame!

The final battle not withstanding, this is a truly great horror sequel, of which there are very few. There are many quotable and memorable lines, all of which I still quote 23 years later. Somehow, all of the right talent came together at just the right time to make a truly remarkable entry in the field of horror.

1 comment:

  1. Hey there! Sorry for the extremely late reply! I too have a love/hate relationship with these films. And honestly, I have pretty much forgotten any of them after part 3. Even in Part 3 I was losing interest because it started to become ridiculous. But Part 2 is by far the best, and one of my favorite horror films of all time.

    Thanks for the link to your blog! I will definitely check it out!