"Exposing dread secrets of LIFE, DEATH and ETERNITY which others fear to touch! Do You Dare Face THE SUPERNATURAL? Do you dare peer beyond the mystic veil into the Valley of the Shadow, the Valley of Dry Bones? "
Yawn, scratch, stretch ... yes, late start today. Tired and - let's admit it - slightly hung over. I ain't a big drinker, but when I does it, I does it right. And lord, did I do it right last night.
So I think I shall skip the expository comments today and leap right in some commentary on today's movie, one filled with truly terrifying imagery - Clive Barker's "Hellraiser 2!" Read on, ravers, and thank you for playing.
Hellraiser 2 (1987): Directed by Tony Randel. Starring Doug Bradley, Ashley Lawrence, Claire Higgins and William Hope.
The Skinny: The second part to the ongoing "Hellraiser" series follows Kirsty Cotton as she tries to pick up the pieces of her life after her harrowing journey into hell in the first film. Rather than moving on, however, she finds herself at the mercy of a mad doctor who knows all about Hell and its denizens - and is looking to join their ranks.
What's Good: Usually I tried to avoid sequels on this list, since there are so many horror movies out there. But this is one of my favorites and I just had to blather on about it. These films, taken from the mind of literary madman Clive Barker, revolve around these interdimensional travelers who call themselves "explorers from the furthest regions of experience - demons to some, angels to others." Theirs is the realm of the flesh where human beings are the canvas upon the "Cenobites" render their art of pain and pleasure. It's a bizarre thought, and one Barker explores time and time again in his works - the notion of pain and pleasure as one inseparable sensation. And this film actually explores the concept on a deeper level than the first one. The Cenobites - led by the mysterious and enigmatic Doug Bradley as "Pinhead" - are also the victims themselves, former humans who went looking for Hell only to wind up joining its ranks. But their memories are wiped away along with their humanity, and now they seek out those who are as they once were - those who solve the LeMarchand Box puzzles that summon the Cenobites like a beacon. They are horrifying characters who dwell on the threshold of pain and they scared the shit out of me as a kid. And while they were almost secondary to the action in the first film, here they are brought to the fore. And while Bradley's lead character is still a fan favorite, in "Hellraiser 2" w are introduced to The Doctor - played to creepy perfection by Shakespearean actor Kenneth Cranham. His tools are many and varied and he has some creepy-ass lines to boot.
What's Bad: This is a graphic film, particularly if it's the director's cut - there are skinless people, a man suffering from delusional parasitosis cuts himself to ribbons with a razor, and the nightmare images inside Hell are bizarre and non-stop. Other than that, if you're looking for something different, the first two films in the series are great selections. The many sequels that follow, however, suck out loud and give ever-diminishing returns.
Why We Like It: While I am not a staunch Barker fan, I certainly did love these films and the story that started it all, "The Hellbound Heart." But this one really sealed the deal for me, with its expansion of the Cenobites as main characters with personalities (in their own way). And the score by Christopher Young is exceptional - and the main theme deserves to be on any Halloween mix worth its salt. This one and the character Pinhead hold a special place in my heart.
Memorable Stuff: Anytime the Cenobites get to talk is great - the writers pack Pinhead with dark one-liners that trump any of Fred Kreuger's lines. But the scene that is my favorite is when Julia lures Dr. Channard into the chamber that creates Cenobites. Piano wires cut into his flesh, a tube is shoved down his throat and a sickening looking fluid is pumped in. He later emerges from the same chamber, a series of tendrils flowing from the palm of his hand exposing a number of bizarre instruments and objects (like a flower or a beckoning finger). And with a grimace tinged with humor, he gives us the best line in the movie: "And to think - I hesitated."