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Too Many Horror Films: The Hellraiser Direct-to-Video Films (2000-2006)

October 3, 2011

I have seen too many horror films. These films include the four direct-to-video Hellraiser sequels starring Doug Bradley as Pinhead (not that he’s in any of them for more than a cameo). I have yet to see the most recent entry, Revelations (which has no participation from Bradley), but rest assured that I will waste my time soon enough.

  • Dir. (Listed below by film)
  • Released by Dimension
  • Based on The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker
  • Average Rating: *
Okay, so last time we saw Pinhead, he was terrorizing a space station. How could things get any worse? Then the dreadful news came out: Hellraiser 5 would be direct-to-video! Surely, nothing good could come out of that, right?
Wrong. Hellraiser: Inferno (2000) is easily one of the best films in the series. Although its story is unconnected to the previous 4, and Pinhead is in it less than he’s in the first one, the fifth chapter in the series provides the perfect blend of pleasure and pain, with great directorial work by Scott Derrickson (especially considering the limited budget).

Detective Joseph Thorne (Craig Sheffer) is a corrupt cop, to say the least. And considering his love for puzzles, we know that the future is going to be bleak for him. After examining a crime scene, Thorne finds the infamous puzzle box and decides to give it a whirl. Suddenly, his world is turned upside down as the boundaries between reality and surreality blur. He’s on the trail of a mysterious figure named The Engineer, and when he finally discovers the truth, it’s not pretty…

Sure, it has its problems. In fact, the ending is highly questionable in its portrayal of the Cenobites. Even so, it’s a fine film that shakes up the Hellraiser mythos and relieves our fears of the saga going direct-to-video.

The next entry, 2002’s Hellraiser: Hellseeker, Rick Bota’s first contribution to the series, has plenty of things going for it, including the return of Kirsty (Ashley Laurence), the protagonist of parts 1 and 2. So surely it would take a really bad judgment call to botch this one.
Trevor Gooden (Dean Winters) is having some domestic problems with his wife, Kirsty. However, after a harrowing car accident leaves her dead, he is heartbroken. There’s a problem, though: he has a police detective on his tail who’s convinced that he plotted Kirsty’s death to inherit her family’s money. If that’s not bad enough, Pinhead starts appearing in strange visions, which end in Trevor finding himself framed for yet another murder. What is reality and what is in his mind?
Why does that question sound so familiar? Oh, yeah. That’s right…it was the same thing that they did in Inferno. Sadly, this movie is an underwhelming retread of the fifth film. To make matters worse, Kirsty is hardly in the film, which completely negates the whole point of bringing her back in the first place! Not to mention the end of the film will seem all-too-familiar to fans of the original film.
In 2005, Rick Bota returned to make two more chapters in this saga. Whoopee. And to make matters worse, the first of these sequels, Hellraiser: Deader, is based on a script that was not even written to be a Hellraiser sequel!
Amy Klein (Kari Wuhrer) is investigating the Deader cult, a strange group of twentysomethings who may or may not be the living dead. They are led by Winter (Paul Rhys), who apparently has blood ties to the Merchant family (the creators of the Lament Configuration). Pinhead arrives, to be sure, and seems rather peeved at Winter. The lead Cenobite cuts a deal with Amy to take down the leader of the cult.

There are some good elements, to be sure, and this is an improvement over Hellseeker, despite having a sillier title (somehow!). However, the ties to the Hellraiser franchise are strained at best. This would have been much better if it was its own film rather than a wolf in Pinhead’s clothing.

Oh, look…another 2005 Rick Bota direct-to-video sequel, Hellraiser: Hellworld. Why even bother? Oh, wait–this one has a twist! It’s a self-aware sequel, somewhat like Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (okay, not much like that movie). The characters are aware of the Hellraiser franchise, and they’re fans! This one could go either way…
Hellworld is a hit Internet game based on the Hellraiser films. And a mysterious man known only as the host (Lance Henriksen of Aliens fame) is inviting its biggest fans to a party at his spooky mansion. But watch out! Amongst all the sexy teen escapades, danger lurks in the form of Pinhead, who has given up the hooks and chains routine for knives and various torture devices. But is he real, or just a figment of someone’s sick imaginations?

In the end, this was probably not a good idea. Much like Halloween: Resurrection, this one decided to play up the modern internet craze, and it fit the franchise like O.J.’s glove (read: not at all). Besides, in spite of the last few moments, this film completely debunks parts 1-7, and that’s just not cool.


From → Film Criticism

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