Thursday, 22 September 2011

Kweeny Reviews...

The Entire Hellraiser Franchise: What's Your Pleasure?

(May contain spoilers, in case you care)

Oh yes dear readers, I am gonna do it. I am rolling up my black-clad sleeves and sticking my hands in the pin-filled goo that is the Hellraiser Franchise. And I wish I had completely wonderful things to say about it. I sincerely do, as I am a fan of Clive Barker and the concept of the franchise.

Now when I say I am going to talk about the ENTIRE franchise I mean it. I'm talking books to movies to comics, etc. I'm gonna skim it a little, so you're not reading forever. Not all of the franchise is bad stuff. Most of the shit-demons in my opinion have come out of the movies. Abominations that never should have seen the light of day, or had film wasted on their production. Movies I am glad I never wasted money on viewing, just precious hours of my life I can never get back...

So let's start there shall we?

Ah Hellraiser. When I think of you I take a trip down memory lane, where I was 13 and watched the first one at my step mom's house. I'm curled up under blankets, staying up way past my bedtime (some things never change. Instead now I am staying up past my bedtime blogging!) and I am wide-eyed at the creatures presented on screen. Beings that seemed carved from the bowels of my darkest nightmares. Monsters I was both horrified by and intently curious over. I didn't sleep for three nights after watching it, because it spoke so deeply to something terrible and profound in my psyche. And being the crazy bitch I am, I can't help but go back and touch the stove element, because damn it, I had to figure out why it scared me so.

The movie just made the book all the more real to me. I read the book at 10. I was one of those dorky, creepy kids who whenever possible hid in libraries until they closed. My home life wasn't great, so libraries were my sanctuary. I remember being completely disturbed by the book, and having to re-read the little novella over again to try and make sense of what I read. Clive Barker was speaking to me. Like somehow he knew some of my deepest fears. I was very much Catholic still at this time, and I had a profound fear of heaven and hell. 

Yup I feared both. That's just how I roll.

I could go on and tell you in depth about why it scared/interested me so but I don't have time. The spirituality in the world of Hellraiser is dark and profound. But I'm doing the whole-freaking-load. And when you squirt a load that big you need to make sure everyone understands the key points in a short amount of time. Suffice it to say, I loved the mythology of it. Most fans to. Most fans love the mythos of it all. Some of the best fiction I have read in tribute is from fans. (other than from the master himself of course.) Writing is where the cenobites and the puzzle box really shine and make sense. Comics as well. I think one of the biggest mistakes Clive Barker did was give up control of his creation.

The first Hellraiser for it's time is awesome. The effects were top notch (The scene when Frank comes up from the floor is still cool to watch today), and the cenobites were more than just stupid demons who kill people. The story is more what matters in the series, and some complain that the characters are unlikable. Even Christy. And you know what, THEY ARE in my opinion. That's the point. People are always being douche-nozzles. And some people are REALLY douche-nozzles. Everyone has their secrets. Everyone has their shit. Clive just wasn't afraid to show the ugliness in people. I know some people don't get it, and it's because they aren't true fans. True fans understand the draw to the series. True fans seek the mythology out, because it is fucking fascinating. It's a living thing, being added on to as time goes on. Lovecraft did a similar thing. Made his creatures larger than life and godly, and now there are cults that have sprung out around Lovecrafts mythos. Clive Barker has a similar following. It doesn't make sense to some people, but ideas are powerful. Ideas can take root in your brain like a virus, and spread until they are living beings. 

Now in no way am I saying Hellraiser is Clive Barkers best work, or that I am part of a Hellraiser cult. I just love it for bringing me to him. I have read tons of his work and he's inspired me and several writers I know because he was and still is a boundary-pusher. His work, be it writing, movies, or art, is all about pushing the edge and seeing what's past it. And I will love him forever for it.

Anyhow, so my favourite of the films is the first one. No doubt. The second, Hellbound, had a weak ending in my opinion, but it helped open up the mythos of the puzzle box. It had interesting ideas, like Leviathan, Pinheads creation, and so on. But the story is a bit hard to follow at times. I mean some of the cenobites are killed off, like Pinhead, but it's never really explained why he just comes back in the squeals like nothing happened. This movie was still 80's level effects and now when you watch it it's kinda funny at times. The corridor monster cracks me up, because it's just so cheesy looking! But I forgive it easier than the other movies that follow. Sadly, it just goes down hill from here.

Srsly? I dunno what this thing is.

Like for example, Hellraiser 3. Clive is now gone, no longer helping with production or anything movie-wise, and it shows. Everything is terrible about this. The effects are lame (A cenobite with a C.D in his head? REALLY GUYS?) the story is weak, and the only thing that really shines in this movie is Doug Bradley's performance as Pinhead. I don't feel Pinhead was meant to be a major cenobite leader until the second one was made, because when I read the book there were just these scary, supernatural beings who straddled the line of heaven and hell. Who were explorers and seekers wishing to blur the line of pain and pleasure. They were kinda S/M but beyond that even.

But I still can't get over the terrible effects that produced the Hell on Earth cenobites. Like seriously, they are so stupid it's not even laughable! This one here looks more like a Borg than a cenobite:

And before I can wash the taste of turds from my mouth we move on to the forth movie Bloodlines. Ah Bloodlines, so much potential! This one was almost good! No really, I mean that! I loved the whole history of the puzzle box part. And I know I'm not the only one. There are sites dedicated to the history of the Lament Configuration. Here's one: This site is so well done it could be real! I'm telling you, there's a cult following for a reason!

HOWEVER, this 4th heaping pile of dung is shit because of the space crap half-assedly put together at the beginning and end. It totally ruins the rest of the story for me. Of course we don't have enough cenobites, and so we are introduced to a few more, one being the "princess of the bunch":

So close to being good. And yet...Pinhead in space. Just as bad as Jason X. Anything IN SPACE doesn't automatically mean it's good.

Moving on to more tripe...

Next we have Hellraiser Inferno. Anyone actually watch this movie other than me? I mean, I dunno why at this point I kept watching them but I was hoping, just hoping, it would somehow magically go back to making me feel like that little kid I was long ago. We get attached to our monsters don't we? We love one franchise more than others and keep watching the drivel they shovel at us in hopes it will get better... Even if it never does. Freddy was like that. So was Jason and Mike Myers. I loved them all for different reasons, but for me, Hellraiser was my big bag. 

So anyhow, if you need a reason why this movie was so terrible I have these words for you: Direct-To-Video. Yeah, that's right. The best and slightly disturbing scene in the movie is this one with the two cenobites, because it's sudo-sexual. 

Bad touch! Bad touch!
Moving on...

We got Hellseeker. What-the-fuck-EVER.  This one they TRY to connect to the other movies by bringing Christy back. Somehow the fucked up bitch got married, and so we get all this crap about her and hubby in an accident and he's a sleaze who just wants her money and cheats on her. Blah blah blah! 

Tired of the meat hooks yet? Too bad we got more where that came from!

At this point I am so exhausted with the franchise movie-wise I could cry. Something that had such potential, that sparked many a nightmare and inspired me to be a writer (and I mean the book here folks, the written word will rarely ever be trumped by movies) has been butchered to death by the very meat hooks it used to kill people with. And the slaughter isn't over...

Because next we have Deader. Oh joy. Couldn't think of a better name huh guys? At this point Pinhead and his cronies are just glorified, immortal serial killers. They try to bring us back to the descendant story touched on in Bloodlines, but I just don't care anymore. Another stupid bitch tries to be Christy. She opens the box and fights for her soul. Yada yada. Direct-to-Video. 

Latest, most boring waste of time is more like it!

And the show goes on with the next installment Hellworld. UGH. This one doesn't even try. It's just a game right? So who cares if the acting is shit, or the story is shit, or if it's just an excuse to have a Hellraiser themed orgy party on screen! It's like they gave a fanboy a camera and said, "Shoot your dream Hellraiser experience! No one is gonna watch it anyhow!" And this is what we were given. Don't get me wrong, I love sex. But Clive's work isn't as much about people having sex as it is about the way humanity twists sex. PEOPLE ARE MISSING THE POINT WHEN THEY JUST TOSS SEX IN WITHOUT A REASON. And worst yet, an actor I really like is in it (other than poor Doug Bradley, who keeps getting dragged back into these movies):

Oh Lance Henrickson. You must needed the work badly!

When Pinhead in Hellworld says, "This is only the beginning." All I can think to myself is, "Really? Shit I was hoping this was almost over! Damn it there's more?"

Of course there's more! Lastly, we have Revelations. I have yet to see this one I am afraid. (That's probably a blessing!) So I cannot comment too deeply on it. I'll write something up later when I finally do. But I will say this much, it doesn't have Doug Bradley in it. Just some new guy. Which I have mixed feelings about. A part of me wonders if Doug is relieved to no longer be doing such crappy movies. A part of me wonders if this could even be worth wasting my time on if he's not in it. Mind you, Pinhead is seen less and less as the series progresses, probably because the stories are too shitty to have them center around such an awesome monster, and probably because they degraded him to a one trick pony. I dunno for sure. I'll let you know when I watch it.

Okay, I need to go wash my mouth from the taste of crap before I continue. I need some Mountain Dew...

There we go! I feel better! I love American Mountain Dew. It's better than Canada's because it's got caffeine. You people love your caffeine and I love you for it!

Moving on...

So I promised you some hope right? That not everything sucks about the Hellraiser world? Well I meant it. Not only is there the original novella, there is a collection of short stories called Hellbound Hearts with contributions by Clive Barker AND Neil Gaiman, among other great writers. Hell YES! With a beautiful cover done by Clive himself:

And if you want more awesome Hellraiser stuff, I suggest getting your hands on copies of the comics! They are absolutely amazing. The stories are great, the artwork is great, and it makes you remember the old times, when the mysticism moved you. When the cenobites where more than just serial killers, when there was a message and it shook you in your core. When the hooks MATTERED. Here's some comic artwork I scraped up from the internet.

The first few are from Hellraiser: Masterpieces:

And this is the cover for the new Hellraiser comics:

And if that isn't enough to convince you, Clive is generous enough to post this preview on his site!

Yummy. Makes me feel almost as good as this Mountain Dew in my mouth makes me feel. *sighs happily* I know there are many more comics out there but I'm sure you can find them on your own. My mind is degenerating into mush after having to go through HELL like that. But I hope I at least entertained you a bit, and maybe gave you some new places to get a real good Pinhead fix. And trust me, visit the Pyramid Gallery's site. It's totally awesome Puzzle Box goodness.

AND before I go, since only two people dared to give me a pirate name on my Talk Like A Pirate Day post, I will draw BOTH OF YOU as Pirates! Now we are all winners! Well, if you consider crayon scribbles winning something. I do draw like a two year old. If you have pictures I can use as reference please link me to make my job easier! Though I do love you Justine, so thanks for your comment on the music. I love all my comments, and readers! Even if I show it in strange ways.


  1. Personally, I loooove the first four HELLRAISER films, for better or for worse... they all have some fun moments and at least seem legitimately related to each other. After that, they stopped feeling like actual HR films at all, as opposed to other unrelated (and boring) scripts that got re-tooled with the Hellraiser label just to make them marketable and threw a couple shots of Pinhead in at the end. For that reason, this is one of the very few major horror franchises that I DON'T proudly own every installment of.

  2. The top picture from this post is a recent portrayal.
    Do your worst!
    I haven't seen a Hellraiser movie since the second one but I did meet Pinhead once in England. Should I bother revisiting any others?

  3. Hello there Dr. Theda here... I love Hellraiser..the "Chatterer" Cenobite from the first movie is my favorite... I will have to post a picture of a painting that I did a few years back... I own most of the original comics and a paperback of "Hellbound Heart".... The third movie (Hell on Earth" was filmed in Greensboro, NC and the end segment is from Charlotte ...
    looking forward to the new movie....

  4. Very awesome and very thorough. I love the Hellraiser series and while to me the first is the crown jewel the other films I can watch. That Deader one though has got to be the worst, maybe only followed by that one coming out with the new Pinhead. That looks atrocious

  5. You seemed like a pretty cool kid to me, we so could hung out together. :P

    I never been HUGE on this series but I really did enjoy the first 3.

  6. Excellent write-ups! Hellraiser 4 was the worst one but the most hilarious. Lance Henriksen almost saved Hellworld. The best parts about all the Hellraiser flicks are the amazing practical effects.

  7. Hellraiser II was the first horror movie I was ever able to sit all the way through (my dad wouldn't let met watch 'em), sleeping over at my buddy Clint's house. He was sawing logs by 2:45; I didn't sleep a wink. :P

  8. I like the first four flicks, and so does the sixth, but the rest is just utter horrible for me. Even the slasher film-inclined Hellworld is horrible!

    At least the franchising is still alive...or at least for now. Had you seen Revelations already? if not, i'm gonna warn you, some parts of those violent reactions you see in the web have a few point.


  9. A bit harsh but some of the later movies are rubbish. You will probably not enjoy Relevations.

    Best bit of this review is your personal story of how you came to read the novella.


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