Directed by Tony Randel (Infested (1993), Children of the Night (1991)).
Written by Peter Atkins (Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992), Wishmaster (1997)).
Starring: Ashley Laurence, William Hope, Clare Higgins, Doug Bradley, Kenneth Cranham, Deborah Joel, Barbie Wilde, Simon Bamford, Nicholas Vince and others.
The Hellraiser franchise, I sort of have fond childhood memories about it. I remember a time when I was about five and watched one of them (probably one of the first three). That is, I watched it for a few minutes, until my mom came in and turned it off. That might be the only time I remember not being allowed to watch something, not because it’s past my bedtime, but because there’s a guy with a ton of nails in his head. Then some time later, during my childhood I bought a lollipop, it was from the high-end, where inside the wrapper they had one of those tattoos, that you stick on your arm and hold under stream of water. So for about a week I had an awesome Pinhead tattoo on my shoulder. So now, whenever I think of how I used to watch a lot of R rated movies when I was a kid, I remember this one time when I wasn’t allowed, probably just because of the intriguing image of Pinhead.
Enough about my traumatic childhood, let’s get into the movie.
It starts with what seems like a recap, but it’s just random clips from the previous movie, that were totally unnecessary, since later on they go over what happened before. If that’s like a setup, to get you in the mood, then if you haven’t seen the previous one, you’d be like „oh, so it’s going to be about a bunch of monsters and cartoonish lighting bolts” and yes, this movie also has probably the only 80’s special effect, that I don’t like – the stupid drawn lightning effects, they are horribly dated, when other effects leave me wondering why modern movies do shitty CG effects instead.
We see the creation of Pinhead, but you do only see him turned from human to a cenobite, nothing is really explained.
Kirsty from the previous movie wakes up in a psychiatric hospital (always a pleasant surprise) and has the brilliant plan of telling the truth – monsters from hell came through a puzzle box and killed her family, leaving behind a bloody mattress, which works as a gateway. Of course no one believes shit like that and the main doctor there keeps the mattress for himself.
I like Ashley Laurence a lot, if I had to choose from all the virginal heroines from horror movies, she definitely would be one of my favourites, because she’s actually not bland. Also she reminds me of Heather Langenkamp.
In the room next to Kirsty’s there’s a girl who just solves puzzles all day. I bet this won’t play any part later in this movie about a puzzle box.
The doctor’s protege sneaks into the doctor’s house and finds out that doctor is actually a sick bastard, who has been studying some of the mystical shit. He puts one of his patients on the mattress (how nice of him), but then the mental guy starts cutting himself and from the mattress emerges Kirsty’s skinless stepmother Julia.
The first two Hellraiser movies had a lot of skinless people, but they later abandoned this, which sucks, since the skinless make-up is just mind-blowingly good. It’s terrifyingly realistic and disturbingly beautiful. This one could be a bit much for people who aren’t used to horror movie special effects.
So for a while skinless Julia just walks around the house in doctor’s white suit and leaving blood stains everywhere. The doctor has a very medical idea, he bandages her up so she looks like the Invisible Man.
Julia kills and devours a bunch of people until she looks like Clare Higgins again. So Julia and doctor guy open up a puzzle box and all things go to hell. See what I did there? To do it, they bring in the puzzle solving girl, but really, what’s the point, the box seems like the easiest puzzle ever. It’s like twist/push a button, a part emerges, twist that and it’s done.
Sadly as the cenobites appear logic disappears from the movie. There’s a bunch of random imagery in the cenobite realm, like babies with their mouths sewn shut, clowns, Kirsty suddenly appearing in a living room that starts bleeding, the puzzle box changing shape, people having blurry sex, something about Leviathan the lord of the labyrinth and other things that happen only because it’s not the real world. It would be ok, if the characters were as surprised as I was seeing those things, I feel like I’ve missed a meeting on „random hell stuff”.
The doctor becomes a cenobite and develops a knack for one-liners like „The Doctor’s in” and „I’m taking over this operation”.
Overall, a decent sequel with some great effects work, but a terribly confusing third act. Recommended.