SEPTEMBER 14, 2008
Rock Band 2 was all I cared about today, so I needed a short movie that wouldn’t benefit from my full attention. Enter Hellraiser: Deader, aka Hellraiser 7, which I knew was actually written as another movie and molded into a Hellraiser film. Also it was from the same people who did the last one (and the next one, where Pinhead goes “online”... sigh) . Also it starred Kari Wuhrer, an actress who has never starred in a good movie. Needless to say, I wasn’t going to be surprised if the movie stunk.
And actually, it’s not all that bad at first. I like the investigative reporter plot, and Wuhrer is hotter than ever. And yeah, Pinhead isn’t in it much, but that’s not only a given nowadays, but also sort of a good idea in theory – he’s barely in the first one either. The one he’s in the most were pretty much loathed by fans (III and Bloodline) so why not try to emulate the original?
The problem is, the story here just ain’t as good. Like I said, it starts off OK, but it eventually just becomes needlessly confusing (why is Jacob’s Ladder the seeming influence for all of the DTV Hellraiser’s?). Worse, there isn’t anyone in any real danger for the bulk of the film, since Wuhrer is pretty much our only character. The folks she is investigating are dead (or “deader”); her editor is pretty much the only other human character of note, and he’s in it less than Pinhead. And while killing off the lead is sort of par for the course for these movies, we know it won’t occur until the film’s final 5 minutes, leaving 80 that are almost entirely without suspense or even violence (this is possibly the least violent film in the series). 90% of the film is merely Wuhrer walking around looking at shit.
It’s also got some pretty idiotic filmmaking. The thing that sets the whole movie off is a video where a girl is seemingly killed and then resurrected, and that’s fine. But the video is obviously shot and edited! There are conversations with both angles, reaction shots, etc. Kind of hard to buy into the “reality” of the video when it looks as manufactured as the film in which it is contained. And I had to laugh when Wuhrer sees her article in the paper, seemingly unhumorously titled “How To Be A Crack Whore” (given Wuhrer’s penchant for nudity, I’m surprised this minor subplot wasn’t more promiment). Also, there are only two other cenobites this time around, and director Rick Bota can’t even be bothered to really show them off. One of them is never even really seen in full, which is a shame, as Gary Tunnicliffe’s makeup is great (as it always is) and I would have liked to have seen it in more detail.
That all said... it’s got its moments. There’s a bit where Wuhrer finds herself with a knife in her back (no idea) and spends a good 3-4 minutes splashing blood around her bathroom and finally getting the damn thing out. I also like that the movie is actually set in Romania; Dimension films pretty much every one of their movies there, so it’s nice to see them actually admit it rather than try to pass it off as America like they usually do. The concept of a subway car that is permanently filled with lowlifes (it looks like a traveling opium den/S&M club) is also pretty fantastic; it’s the only thing in the film that seems like Clive Barker himself may have come up with. And, in pretty much the one constant of the franchise (other than the complete lack of any continuity from film to film), the score is fantastic.
Speaking of all the movies, how the fuck does everyone know how to open the box almost instantly? They pick it up, all confused, and then within 10 seconds they randomly decide to rub their thumb around the circle. If I found the damn thing, first thing I would do (besides check its Ebay value) is attack the thing with a nice screwdriver and vigorous shaking.
Bless Dimension for going all out with the extra features though. If you dig this one, you’re in for a treat, as there’s about 4 hours’ worth of stuff here including the two feature length commentaries. I only listened to one, with Bota and Pinhead himself, Doug Bradley. It’s a pretty informative track, and Bradley points out the same thing I (and others have), anyone who complains about the lack of Pinhead in these films clearly doesn’t remember the original very well. Then there are also a few making of featurettes (two about the effects, one in general), some location scout videos, and about 20 minutes or so of deleted or extended (mostly the latter) scenes. Most of it is worthless (one is just Wuhrer endlessly walking to a subway station, riveting stuff), but there are a few character bits one might enjoy. Strangely enough, there is actually a couple minutes’ worth of deleted Pinhead material here. I would think they would use as much as possible.
There is also an Easter egg worth noting. If you go into the 2nd page of the extras, go to down to “Play Movie”, and then hit left and then up (or right and down, I forget. Look, just fuck with it until you light up the Lament Configuration on the right side), you get this wonderfully odd little film with Pinhead (not Bradley) as an old man, lamenting about the state of the world and things of that nature. He then opens the box himself and two cenobites kill him. I haven’t the slightest clue what the point of it is, and the quality of the video is beyond terrible (it looks like Youtube), but it’s definitely worth a look. It reminded me of one of those Marvel Comics called “The End” which tells the ‘final’ story of certain Marvel heroes.
I still have one more to go, but I think it’s safe to say that of all the horror franchises, none fell harder than Hellraiser. All of the series got pretty bad, but they were still in the same spirit as the original films, to some extent. And it’s the only major horror franchise that got sent direct to video, which is a bit of a shame. Had Barker or even Pete Atkins stuck around, I am sure it would be a wonderfully original franchise, and it’s a shame Dimension just couldn’t let it die after Bloodline (which pretty much served as a series finale anyway). It’s ironic; the past three movies were done in more by the expectations one would have for a Hellraiser film more than anything else. If they were just unrelated genre films, they’d probably fare better with audiences.
I’m sure the online one sucks no matter how you slice it though. Christ.
What say you?