Worth A Look: 15%
Just Average: 30%
Pretty Crappy: 40%
2 reviews, 8 user ratings
by Doug Bentin
The latest chapter in the Hellraiser saga is not a bad horror flick, as these direct-to-video efforts go, but the plot, which hasn’t changed in years, is growing thinner than Harry Knowles’ credibility. Fortunately, the lead actress in this one has developed into the first memorable scream queen of the new millennium.She’s Kari Wuhrer, veteran of over a dozen low-budget shockers. Her best shot at theatrical release glory was “Eight-Legged Freaks,” which still makes me smile when I think of it. You remember, the last big giant spider movie. That was the one in which the monsters were killed when David Arquette set off methane gas in a mine tunnel. Come on, how many movies can you name that dispatch the creature(s) by lighting a giant fart?
"Pinhead is back. Are we scared yet?"
But I seem to be wandering afield.
In the latest Hellraiser, Wuhrer is Amy Klein, an investigative reporter working for a tabloid in London. We’re given hints that she lost a better job in New York for undisclosed reasons. One day her editor shows her a video tape he received in the mail. It shows a group of grungy looking young people in a stone-walled room with a single bed in it. An early twentysomething is led into the room and forced to say that she is willing to take the next step. She lies down on the bed and is handed a gun. She then shoots herself in the right temple, blowing a chasm in her left temple.
Amy is stunned by the snuffiness of it all, but even more so when Winter (Paul Rhys), the leader of this group, lays a big, wet, sloppy smooch on the corpse, which then returns to life. End of video. Now Amy has seven days to make a copy of the video and give it to someone else—uh, no, scratch that. Wrong movie.
Amy is sent to Bucharest to find out about this group, called Deaders. Bucharest, we are told, is where the disaffected youth of Europe go these days to hang out. It’s also a city in which you can make low budget horror films real cheap.
The film’s creepiest moment comes when Amy bribes her way into the apartment of the gal who sent the tape. Her name is Marla (Georgina Rylance) and when Amy sneaks into her rooms, she’s as dead as a wet cigar, sitting on the closed lid of the toilet, a cord around her neck that is tied to the overhead pipes. She couldn’t have hung herself so she must have just sat down and pulled against the cord until she choked to death. Creepy.
The entire apartment is stinky, but this area even more so. Amy sees a sealed envelope resting on the rim of the basin and reaches in to get it. Unfortunately, she can’t grasp it without getting close to the corpse—in fact, Marla’s mouth is close enough to give her a peck on the cheek.
I’m not going to try to kid you. You, me, and your stupid cousin from out of town all know that that damn body is going to move, but director Rick Bota tightens the screws and, with a keen sense of knowing how long to stretch the sequence out before the suspense is lost, plays us like the suckers we are willing to be.
Amy also gets, along with the envelope, the infamous Hellraiser puzzle box that Marla holds in her hand.
If you’re new to the neighborhood, the box, if handled with skill or just damn bad luck, opens and allows into our dimension a gang of creatures/demons called “cenobites.” These guys all look like the results of a friendly S-M party gone terribly wrong. They come to humans who find the ultimate pleasure in pain, and let the good times roll.
Leader of this group is Pinhead (Doug Bradley), who got his name because his head is and face are pricked with dozens of pins. Now, the first time you encounter this guy on screen, he is almost guaranteed to creep the hell out of you. He’s remained his same oily, merciless self through all seven films, but his appearance has lost a lot of his power. Maybe that’s why he’s used sparingly now.
So, Amy, despite having been warned not to mess with the box, messes with the box and opens it. The part of the Hellraiser plot that is used repeatedly is this: a person who is probably less innocent than s/he appears opens the box and summons the cenobites. Will the person escape them? If so, how? That’s pretty much it.
As Amy hunts down the Deaders to find out what they are, she is plagued by a series of unsettling hallucinations brought about by Pinhead and her own guilty conscience. We are treated to a series of flashbacks to her childhood in which a large, hairy man wearing suspenders over an undershirt seems to be stalking her. If you can’t figure out where that is leading at least by the third time you see it, you must be pretty inexperienced in this psycho-movie stuff.
The dead Marla keeps popping up in the damnedest places, and Amy gets out of bad situations by jolting awake and realizing that she isn’t where she thinks she is. This happens so often, you lose track of where she’s supposed to be and quickly figure out that as far as concrete locations are concerned, there aren’t any.
The link between the Deaders and Pinhead turns out to be pretty weak, but that’s because the script was not originally part of the Hellraiser universe. Neal Marshall Stevens and Tim Day have taken Stevens’ first screenplay and turned it into a Hellraiser sequel. I guess that’s one way to get your movie made.
Wuhrer does a nice job of selling first Amy’s self-confidence, then her confusion and terror, and finally her acceptance of a situation over which she never had any real control. At this point, Bradley seems to be walking his way through Pinhead’s appearances, and Rylance gets progressively creepier as the now-she’s-dead, now-she-isn’t Marla.
Makeup chores are handled neatly by Gary N. Tunnicliffe, who seems to be doing a lot of these made-in-Eastern-Europe horror sequels. IMDB doesn’t list him as one of the producers, but Stan Winston’s name is all over the credits.Despite the predictability of the protagonist’s central dilemma, “Hellraiser: Deader” is made watchable by Wuhrer’s convincing performance and Rylance’s unsettling one. Tunnicliffe’s makeup design is morbidly appropriate, and director Rick Bota has come a long way since “Hellraiser: Hellseeker” and “They.” He’s directed another Hellraiser (“Hellraiser: Hellworld”) due out later this year (2005). You could do worse than this, and probably will.
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originally posted: 07/28/05 18:17:26
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