I love the Hellraiser series. No, strike that, I FUCKING love the Hellraiser series. My obsession with Clive Barker’s world began when I was a young impressionable little shaver of 11 and I saw a copy of Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth on the new release wall of my local West Coast Video. I was facinated with this character I saw on the box, and I grabbed it and took it home. Ever since that moment I soaked up every little bit of Hellraiser lore, artwork, message boards (The Hellbound Web ! ), and more.
When Hellraiser: Bloodline was in filming I went out of my way to watch the TV special that chronicled the filming (it was some special effects TV show that I forget the name of), and saw it in theaters opening day at the AMC 4 in Allentown, PA. (Right across the street from the Prison.) It was epic to me at that time, and though it didn’t age well, it holds a special place.
There was no more Theatrical Hellraiser films from there on in, and they had their ups (Inferno, Deader) and downs (Hellworld, Hellseeker) in the world of direct to video. Which isn’t that bad considering none of those scripts were ever supposed to be Hellraiser films
So now here we are, the ninth installment of the Hellraiser franchise and the first to actually be written as a Hellraiser film since Bloodline; Hellraiser: Revelations.
How does it hold up? Not as bad as expected… but I had little to no expectations to begin with. We open with the meeting of two friends, Steven and Niko, heading down the highway towards Tijuana Mexico where they end up getting more than they bargain for. Fast forward to one year later, or so we find out eventually, and we meet Steven and Niko’s parents – having a fancy dinner to help forget the disappearance of their sons. That is, until Steven randomly shows back up at the house, saying he is being hunted.
This is where the movie takes a bit of a dive, by now we’ve seen Stephan Smith Collin’s new take on Pinhead… and it is terrible. From the bright white smile, to the over emotive eyes, he feels like a poorly done fanfilm version of Doug Bradley’s amazing performance. Speaking of, for those who don’t know the saga of how this film came to be I’ll sum it up pretty quick.
In order for Dimension Films to keep the rights to the IP, they quickly rushed through making a new film. After the first draft of the script that Gary Tunnicliffe wrote they shopped the script over to Doug Bradley immediately — he became hesitant to do the film when they said that this first draft was going to be the ONLY draft. He didn’t accept right away, and then when they told him (in his words) that his salary was going to be “the price of a fridge” he decided to bow out, and thats when they settled on Stephan Smith Collins to take over the iconic role.
Back to the film, tensions rise throughout between the two families because Niko is still missing and Steven is in no shape to answer any questions. These tensions reach their breaking point pretty quick and 60 minutes into the film the twist ending that you could see from a mile away happens and they wrap the rest of the movie up in 10 more minutes.
This film suffers from so many things, poor acting, a poor main villain, and most of all — too many callbacks to the original Hellraiser. It feels like Gary Tunnicliffe was asked to write the REMAKE of Hellraiser, did so, and they realized “crap, we need to make a low budget sequel to even keep the rights… quick pull out Tunnicliffe’s draft of the remake script and put it into production, NOW!” So many lines are thrown in from the original film with no real need or context. Pinhead is a shell of his former self and the lack of the iconic hollow booming deep voice really is felt throughout.
Does the film ultimately fail? Yes. Is it as terrible as other reviewers say it is? Not quite. It’s a glorified fan film with a $300,000 budget. That’s all. The effects work is stil really good, and they don’t skimp out on the gore at all.
If you can look past the terrible Pinhead, and the hammy acting at times — you won’t feel too disappointed. A Failed experiment in replacing a main villain with an actor not up to the task… wait a second, that reminds me of another remake…
Anyway, yes. This is the equivalant to the Nightmare on Elm St. remake. A film that feels like the original in some superficial way, a iconic villain replaced by someone who kind of fits the part in a small way but fails at being intimidating in any way, and a rip off of classic lines and plot points in an attempt to not have the fans revolt.
Unfortunately, it feels hollow and empty leaving you wanting to watch the original again.