Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Hellraiser IV, or: Past, Pinhead, Future

I don’t know what to call March except fantastic. This month’s features brought to you by Pinhead and Ewan McGregor. My personal hope is that Christa and I throwing these ideas together and sending them out into the universe, we will bring about the next major entertainment announcement of Ewan McGregor as Pinhead. You have no idea how thoroughly that would complete my life.

But you do. If you’ve made it to this point with this blog, you most decidedly do.

BTW, if you come up with an appropriate name for this month’s theme, I will be forever in your debt. Just be aware that I am already in a lot of debt.

The Film:

Hellraiser IV: Bloodline

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

Pinhead returns (again) in past, present, and future timelines to end the bloodline that created the original demon Rubik’s cube.

The Uncondensed Version:

I Googled this one a little (a lot) and realized that (a) this film is 20 years old, and (b) this is the last of the Hellraiser franchise to get a theatrical release. Bodes well, right?

The premise is somewhat complex(?) for the 3rd sequel in a horror franchise. Our story follows the Merchant family in 18th-century France, the present (ahem, 1996), and the future.

As the film opens on a spaceship that looks like a deconstructed Rubik’s cube (believe it or not, this is a critical detail that will become vitally important later), we meet the first Merchant. He appears to be using a robot to solve a Rubik’s cube/summon Pinhead. Just as he is about to accomplish this task, he’s rudely interrupted by the military space police.

Future Merchant has pulled a big no-no in taking over the ship, hijacking it, and pursuing his personal demon-fighting agenda. But since this film is practically an extended episode of Star Trek: TOS, don’t worry—Merchant is about to explain everything.

…Beginning with the first Merchant (chronologically), a French toymaker (not a euphemism, actually). This Merchant, aka LeMarchand, has created a masterfully crafted box (Rubik’s cube) on commission for a rather odd French aristocrat. When LeMarchand’s wife fails to appreciate the genius of his work, he storms off in a huff to deliver the box to the French aristocrat (also a magician because of course he fucking is).

A young man in period clothing smiles, holding up a gold puzzle-box that is intricately engraved.
To be fair, if only thing your invention does is summon demons, there is probably a very limited market for it.  Even among French aristocrats.

Unfortunately, LeMarchand gets a bit more than anticipated when he witnesses the magician and his assistant (Adam Scott [sporting ‘80s rocker hair]???) performing a satanic ritual to summon a demon, Angelique. If you were wondering, the ritual involves a lot of organ removal and blood draining.

LeMarchand is, understandably, quite disturbed, and vows to steal the box back. However, things don’t go quite as planned, and Adam Scott tells LeMarchand that his bloodline will be cursed as he helped unleash demons upon the world.

Actor Adam Scott has extremely long, flowing hair, and stands in a candelit room.
I SERIOUSLY DON’T KNOW HOW TO REACT TO THIS.

Flashforward to 1990s Merchant, aka John. John is an architect prone to recurring nightmares. Matters don’t improve when he receives an award for his work, drawing the attention of Angelique.

Angelique has a lot of potential as a character, but I inevitably kept comparing her to Julia off Hellraiser I and II. No one in this franchise is as cool as Julia. No one.

Angelique tricks this sleazy business dude into summoning Pinhead. She and Pinhead have a very odd, somewhat antagonistic relationship that also borders on being sadomasochistic. Very confusing, and leads to cryptic lines like “Temptation is illusion” and “I am pain.”

Pinhead, a demon wearing all-leather and with pins sticking out of his face and skull, looms above the camera, looking down.
YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that Pinhead and Angelique decide to kill John’s baby. As soon as someone threatens to kill a baby, I am out because all suspense is lost. You know that 98% of time in a Hollywood film, no one is actually going to kill a fucking baby.

Is that awful?

So there’s a showdown between Pinhead and John, which ends the way you might expect, mostly.

A man stands behind a woman in a dimly lit room; the woman is looking off to the side with an exasperated expression.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that you should always run when someone asks if you’d like to play a game.

And finally, we return to the future.

The officer who arrested Merchant, Rimmer (one of the writers had to be a huge sci-fi fan), releases future Merchant to stop Pinhead.

How will he ever manage that?

Let’s just say it’s no accident the ship looks like a deconstructed Rubik’s cube.

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

Okay, I’m never going to hate a Hellraiser film, but I feel sorta bad that 1996 people paid money to see this.

I wanted the part in 18th century France to go on longer, but I will always want the historical period part to go on longer. The plot is very loosely tied together, and all 3 Merchants are so bland that it’s rather difficult to care about them.  Even when their children are threatened by demons.

Missed the presence of other Cenobites, as well as Julia (of course).

Did this film make Christa want to summon a demon or was she ready to send it straight to hell? Find out in her review here!

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Hellbound, or: Pinterest Is a Downward Spiral

Hellraiser pre-dates the Great Blog Collab, but I feel it’s one of the films that brought Christa and I together. We are both in love with the film, yet we haven’t seen any of the sequels, so it was kind of inevitable we’d review Hellraiser 2 during Horror Month. The sequel should be fun even if it’s exceedingly unlikely to be as good as the first. Let’s find out, shall we? You know the drill: Christa’s thoughts here all day, every day.

The Film:

Hellbound: Hellraiser 2

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

It’s the sequel to Hellraiser, guys. There are Cenobites and demon Rubik’s cubes.

The Uncondensed Version:

This film gives you a convenient recap of Hellraiser in case you haven’t seen it or have forgotten what it’s about. So in Hellraiser there’s a demon Rubik’s cube that Kirsty uses to send Pinhead and the other Cenobites back to hell. Before that can happen, she loses her father because her stepmother is trying to resurrect Kirsty’s uncle through blood sacrifice, and Kirsty’s father just happens to be one of the victims.

It’s probably surprising to no one that this whole experience was pretty traumatizing for Kirsty. As our film opens, she has been institutionalized. (Some of the asylum scenes inevitably reminded me of The Pink Panther Strikes Again, so it was difficult to take them seriously.) This seems to be bad news as (a) Kirsty’s stepmother is kind of living in the mattress she died on and can still be resurrected, (b) one of the doctors at the asylum seems to perform some really unethical surgeries and likes to talk about the final solution, and (c) Kirsty has repetitive nightmares that her father is in hell and she must save him.

A bloody human body, skin stripped from the flesh, lies in a pool of blood. Bloody letters on the wall spell "I am in hell. Help me."
Not subtle as far as a cry for help goes.

However, Kirsty’s probably not getting out any time soon, esp. as she keeps shouting things like “You have got to destroy that mattress!”

Two people who are going to be important: Kyle, a sympathetic doctor, and Tiffany, aka Puzzle Girl. Kyle decides to help Kirsty after witnessing Julia, the stepmother, resurrect in a rather disturbing manner and sort of eating some dude’s brain. Julia has basically everything she needs except skin, so in a rather Silence of the Lambs­-y move, she makes herself a suit from the skin of other women. This is where the timeline gets a bit screwy to me b/c presumably Kyle doesn’t wait days to weeks to help Kirsty after realizing she was telling the truth about her stepmother being demonic. But it would be hard to kill and skin half a dozen people really quickly even if you’re undead, right? Like it would probably take you at least 3 or 4 days I would think, not including sewing time? Whatever, it’s not super important to the plot I suppose.

A human missing all skin hunches over, looking over its shoulder. It's really creepy, trust me.
To be fair, pretty disturbing.

Anyway, since Tiffany can’t resist solving puzzles, the doctor and Julia give her the Rubik’s cube of doom to solve. She inevitably does, which of course summons the Cenobites, including Pinhead (who I can’t stop mentally calling “Pinterest”). Two points here: (1) I don’t remember Pinhead speaking at all in the first one, so it was surprising when he started talking in this really deep, booming voice, and (2) the word “Cenobite” is just brilliant, isn’t it?

A demon with many pins emerging from his face and head stands in a misty blue haze.
Obviously you can’t mention Hellraiser without including a still of Pinterest. Pinhead. Damnit.

So since solving the cube opened the portal to hell, everyone is pretty much just wandering around hell at this point. OF COURSE there’s a carnival part with the creepiest baby ever with its lips sewn shut. Shudder.

A woman faces a gigantic floating fetus that looks shiny and sticky.
WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY.

This might be spoiler-y, but I think it’s pretty obvious that Julia is just using the doctor. I don’t think it should surprise anyone when Julia betrays him and sacrifices him to the Leviathan, which is…a box. With sort of vine/tentacle hands. This leads to the doctor becoming a Cenobite with pretty cool snake hands and truly terrible lines about the doctor being in.

Ultimately, everyone is pitted against everyone else: Kirsty/Tiffany vs. Julia, Cenobite Dr. vs. Other Cenobites, Julia vs. Cenobite Dr., Kirsty/Tiffany vs. Cenobite Dr., etc.

I’m going to be honest, most of the fight scenes are pretty lame. I feel like most of the budget went into animating the snake hands. Surely you’d rather find out for yourself what happens? You can probably guess—I believe in you.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherHalf Pink Panther head 3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

Largely for consistency. I gave Hellraiser 4/5, and I don’t think this is quite on the same level. The plot made way less sense, and the doctor was kind of disappointing as an antagonist. Julia and Pinhead deserved way more screen time. Realistically, Hellraiser deserves a higher rating, but we are moving forward, not backwards.

You know Christa has a lot to say about this one in her review here!

Blogging 101, Film Reviews

Hellraiser, Or: The Rubik’s Cube of Doom

The Film:

Hellraiser

Where to Watch:

Netflix, Youtube

The Premise:

Clive Barker directs this horror film in which a man’s dead brother begins to resurrect himself by feeding on the corpses of his murder victims.

The Trailer (soooooooo ‘80s-tastic, guys):

The Uncondensed Version:

Clive Barker supposedly writes really creepy horror stories; the only thing I’ve read of his is Abarat, which he also illustrated. Both Abarat and Hellraiser are characterized by Barker’s terrifying nightmare monsters.

Our film opens with the man we later identify as Frank opening a puzzle box and being transported to hell (only during the ‘80s could a horror movie about what is essentially a demonic Rubik’s cube have been produced). In hell, he experiences both extreme pleasure and extreme pain. Frank’s only objection is that he also happens to be dead.

In the land of the living, Frank’s brother, Larry, and his wife, Julia, move into the historic family home. Hidden upstairs, Julia discovers evidence that Frank had been living in the house until recently, smoking cigarettes and shooting dirty pictures of himself with various female partners. As she looks through the photos, Julia uncovers one of her with Frank. EARLY PLOT TWIST: Julia had an affair with Frank!

Meanwhile, Larry is helping move their bed upstairs when he suffers a nasty cut on his hand. When his blood falls, the floorboards soak it up, steam and ooze bubble up, the rats are kind of freaked out and…Frank is resurrected! Sort of.

The gruesome remians of a human brain and body decompose on the floor, covered in sticky-looking slime.
Not bad for an ’80s special effect, eh?

Julia goes upstairs and, upon discovering Frank, agrees to help him become completely alive again (through blood sacrifice. Duh). Basically, Julia dresses up all ‘80s glam and hangs around in bars (“I put on women’s clothing and hang around in bars!” But literally). After she lures them back to the house, Frank kills them and eats them.

A woman with teased '80s hair and a shoulder-padded jacket sits at a bar, downing a drink and holding a cigarette in her hand.
No man can resist the ’80s shoulder pads of doom! She also has gigantic plastic star earrings.

Larry’s daughter, Kirsty, who has never been a fan of Julia, figures all of this out and freaks out a little (a lot). Kirsty grabs the cube and runs, but kind of has a breakdown in the middle of the street. She gets sent to a hospital, where she accidentally opens the door to HELL. The Cenobites (essentially sadomasochist punk demons) appear and tell her she must go with them. Kirsty manages to make a deal with them: she will help them catch Frank, their only victim to escape, if they allow Kirsty to go free.

3 demons with grotesque faces stand, wearing leather suits. Pinhead, a demon with many pins emerging from his face and skull, stands in the middle.
THE CENOBITES.

Kirsty returns to the house to find Larry…or, rather Frank dressed up in Larry’s skin, who tries to kill her. Frank stabs Julia for no apparent reason, then goes after Kirsty. He is just about to kill her when the Cenobites appear and take him back to hell.

However, the Cenobites do not keep their promise to leave Kirsty alone. Each one tries to send her to hell. Luckily, Kirsty manages to get hold of the cube again. She twists the cube in different ways to solve it and make each Cenobite explode into light/return to hell.

Close-up of hands holding a mystical object that looks like a golden Rubik's cube, with a sliver of light creeping out from the box
Demonic Rubik’s cube in action.

Her boyfriend shows up, and the two escape the burning/collapsing house. Kirsty throws the cube into the fire, hoping to destroy it.

Then this homeless guy who has been showing up at random intervals walks into the fire, TURNS INTO A FUCKING DEMON DRAGON SKELETON, and flies away with the cube. THE ETERNAL QUEST TO SOLVE A DAMN RUBIK’S CUBE CONTINUES…

The animated skeleton of a dragon stands threateningly, surrounded by flames
…Yeah. That really just happened.

The Critique:

I unabashedly enjoyed this movie. Some of the effects were actually really disgusting, and most of the monsters were pretty creepy-looking. Although Kirsty was kind of annoying in a generic ‘80s heroine kind of way, she could have been worse. I kind of wanted Frank to successfully come back to life. Is that weird? What does it say about me as I person that I sympathize with demon-worshipping sadomasochists who kill and cannibalize other people?

Apparently there are 8 sequels involving Pinhead, the latest of which came out in 2011. I had no clue this was such a big franchise. Sorry, but there’s no way I’m watching all 8. Maybe 1 or 2.  A remake is also in the works; if this ever actually happens, you know I’ll be critiquing it.

Favorite piece of IMDb trivia about this film: It was originally entitled The Hellbound Heart after the Clive Barker novella it was based upon. The studio thought this title sounded too much like a romance and wanted to change it (I don’t know what kinds of “romances” these people read/watch). Barker’s suggestion? Sadomasochists from Beyond the Grave.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther4/5 Pink Panther heads