Documentary Review: In Search of Darkness: Part II (2020)

Release Date: October 6th, 2020
Directed by: David A. Weiner
Written by: David A. Weiner
Music by: Weary Pines
Cast: Nancy Allen, Tom Atkins, Joe Bob Briggs, Doug Bradley, Clancy Brown, Lori Cardille, John Carpenter, Nick Castle, Larry Cohen, Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Sean S. Cunningham, Joe Dante, Keith David, Robert Englund, Stuart Gordon, Andre Gower, Kane Hodder, Tom Holland, Chris Jericho, Jackie Kong, Heather Langenkamp, Don Mancini, Harry Manfredini, Kelli Maroney, Bill Moseley, Greg Nicotero, Cassandra Peterson, Diana Prince, Linnea Quigley, James Rolfe, Robert Rusler, Tom Savini, Corey Taylor, Gedde Watanabe, Caroline Williams, Alex Winter, Tom Woodruff Jr., Brian Yuzna

CreatorVC, 263 Minutes

Review:

Everything I said in my review of the first film in this series still holds true for this one. Reason being, they’re exactly the same in what they are. It’s just that each one features different films.

I think that I like this one a wee bit better for two reasons.

The first, is that I already know what I’m getting into now. I know that this will just fly through dozens of films and not give them the proper amount of time they deserve. As I said in the previous film’s review, I’d love to see each section spread out into a full episode and have these films actually be a streaming series.

The second reason, is that I like that the films are getting more obscure, as there were a few here I hadn’t heard of. With that, I walked away from this with a list of shit I need to watch and review.

Apart from that, this was more of the same. That’s not a bad thing, at all. I just wish that these documentaries didn’t fly through films and other topics so quickly.

I still like these, though. I know there’s a third one coming, which I look forward to, and there’s also one coming out on ’80s sci-fi flicks.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: the other documentaries in the In Search of… series, as well as other documentaries on ’80s horror.

Documentary Review: In Search of Darkness: A Journey Into Iconic ’80s Horror (2019)

Release Date: October 6th, 2019 (Beyond Fest premiere)
Directed by: David A. Weiner
Written by: David A. Weiner
Music by: Weary Pines
Cast: Tom Atkins, Doug Bradley, Joe Bob Briggs, Diana Prince, John Carpenter, Larry Cohen, Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Sean S. Cunningham, Joe Dante, Keith David, Stuart Gordon, Kane Hodder, Tom Holland, Lloyd Kaufman, Heather Langenkamp, Kelli Maroney, Bill Moseley, Greg Nicotero, Cassandra Peterson, Caroline Williams, Alex Winter, Brian Yuzna, various

CreatorVC, 264 Minutes

Review:

I was anticipating this documentary for a long time. So once it ended up on Shudder, I had to check it out. But holy shit!… I wasn’t expecting this thing to be four and a half f’n hours! Not that I’m complaining but I had to make an entire night out of this thing.

Realistically, this probably would’ve worked better as a documentary television series with an episode focused on each year in the decade. They could’ve expanded even further in that format but then this was crowdfunded and not a traditional production.

Still, this was a cool documentary and while it does jump from film-to-film too fast, it covers a lot of ground. Obviously, it can’t feature every horror film from the ’80s, as there were hundreds (if not thousands) but it does hit on most of the important ones.

This goes through the films in order of their release but it also has a few breaks between each year that focuses on other aspects of ’80s horror.

This is mostly talking head interviews with a few dozen different people, spliced together with footage from all the films they’re talking about. It kind of plays like one of those VH1 I Love the ’80s shows but it is a lot less smarmy. Well, for the most part. There is one guy that kept popping up that I wanted to punch because he was oozing with failed comedian smarm.

Overall, though, this was worth the wait. As I’ve said, I wish it could’ve given more on each film but even four and a half hours isn’t enough time to do more than just scratch the surface with the rich history of ’80s horror.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other documentaries about ’80s horror and horror franchises.

Film Review: The ‘Hellraiser’ Film Series, Part II (2000-2011)

Hellraiser: Inferno (2000):

Release Date: October 3rd, 2000
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Written by: Paul Harris Boardman, Scott Derrickson
Based on: characters by Clive Barker
Music by: Walter Werzowa
Cast: Doug Bradley, Craig Sheffer, Nicholas Turturro, James Remar

Dimension Films, Miramax Films, 99 Minutes

Review:

“Ah, the eternal refrain of humanity. Pleading ignorance, begging for mercy. “Please, help me. I don’t understand.”” – Pinhead

This film starts the direct-to-video trend in the Hellraiser series. Not putting this in the theater was probably a good call.

This film was boring as hell. There were some cool creepy moments but nothing was as shocking and visually intense as the previous films in this series. The Cenobites were generic and Pinhead was barely in the film. Actually, Pinhead was in the film but for some stupid reason he was parading around wearing the face of Dexter Morgan’s dad. Then the big lame reveal, haha! you’re therapist was Pinhead in disguise the whole time like a ghoul from a Scooby-Doo episode!

The psychology of this film makes no sense and it is uncharacteristic of everything that came before it. It’s a pretty fucking awful movie.

Oh yeah, and Nick Turturro is in it. He’s the chubby little brother of the really talented John Turturro.

Rating: 2/10

Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002):

Release Date: October 15th, 2002
Directed by: Rick Bota
Written by: Carl V. Dupre, Tim Day
Based on: characters by Clive Barker
Music by: Stephen Edwards
Cast: Doug Bradley, Ashley Laurence, Dean Winters, William S. Taylor

Dimension Films, Miramax Films, 89 Minutes

Review:

“Wherever there is hate, violence, depravity… a door will always be found.” – Pinhead

Somehow, the awful fifth film didn’t kill the idea of making a sixth installment. I’m cool with that though because this film was far superior than the previous one.

Also, Hellseeker brings back Kirsty for the first time since Hellbound: Hellraiser II (not counting her small cameo in part III) and gives closure to her character. I guess, in a way, this is the final chapter and what can be referred to as the “Kirsty Trilogy”.

This movie had a much better story than its predecessor and even though it felt somewhat predictable and straightforward, the end leaves you surprised.

Hellseeker also feels a lot more like a Hellraiser film than Inferno did and it brings the franchise full circle. Truthfully, it could’ve ended here and been a fine series, even though Inferno was complete crap.

They decided to crank out two more though.

Rating: 6/10

Hellraiser: Deader (2005):

Release Date: June 7th, 2005
Directed by: Rick Bota
Written by: Neal Marshall Stevens, Tim Day
Based on: characters by Clive Barker
Music by: Henning Lohner
Cast: Doug Bradley, Kari Wuhrer, Paul Rhys, Simon Kunz

Dimension Films, Miramax Films, 89 Minutes

Review:

“When you attempted to live beyond death, you entered into my domain.” – Pinhead

I like Kari Wuhrer, so I was glad to see her in this film. I don’t know why, but I’ve crushed hard on her for years. Okay, I admit, I know why.

She isn’t what I would call a stellar actress but she is better than average and really nice to look at. She has a good on-screen presence and is able to carry a film, especially when surrounded by less talented people.

Deader was another sequel with a very interesting story. As a film, all its own, I enjoy this one. As a Hellraiser film, it feels like it has gotten away from the essence of the series. In fact, each film after the second one, gets further and further away.

This was about on par with Hellseeker in quality and a big step above that crapfest Inferno. Still, these direct-to-video sequels feel like low-budget cash cows, missing the imagination and heart of the earlier theatrically released features.

Rating: 5/10

Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005):

Release Date: September 6th, 2005
Directed by: Rick Bota
Written by: Carl V. Dupre
Based on: characters by Clive Barker
Music by: Lars Anderson
Cast: Doug Bradley, Lance Henriksen, Katheryn Winnick, Christopher Jacot, Khary Payton, Henry Cavill

Dimension Films, Miramax Films, 95 Minutes

Review:

“You still don’t understand, do you? There is no way out for you, Chelsea. Oh, what wonders we have to show you.” – Pinhead

At last, we have reached the final film in the original series. We have also reached the one film that feels the least like a Hellraiser movie.

This film follows some gamers who get invited to a mansion for a party, which turns into a crazy billionaire scheming to get revenge for the death of his son for some reason.

I’m not even sure if Pinhead actually showed up. I mean, he was in the movie but then it was revealed that all that stuff was hallucinations or whatever stupid asshole plot faux pas they threw up on the wall.

This just wasn’t a Hellraiser film. It didn’t matter that Doug Bradley appeared in full Pinhead makeup, it was just a pointless film that made little-to-no sense.

However, it was still mildly entertaining, which puts this film above Inferno as well.

Also, the newish Superman, Henry Cavill plays a douchebag in this movie. He also screams like a complete pansy.

Rating: 3/10

Hellraiser: Revelations (2011):

Release Date: March 18th, 2011
Directed by: Victor Garcia
Written by: Gary J. Tunnicliffe
Based on: characters by Clive Barker
Music by: Frederik Wiedman
Cast: Steven Brand, Nick Eversman, Tracey Fairaway, Sebastien Roberts, Devon Sorvari, Sanny Van Heteren, Daniel Buran, Jay Gillespie, Stephen Smith Collins

Dimension Extreme, 75 Minutes

Review:

“You have a darkness that rivals my own, Nico. It will be a very special pleasure to rip you apart.” – Pinhead

Due to the fact that Dimension Films was on the cusp of losing the rights to Hellraiser, they had to produce a film and quick. The result, was this piece of complete fucking shit.

This is a remake or a reboot or a reimagining or whatever they want to call it. I call it a giant genital wart that has permanently afflicted the legacy of this franchise.

I don’t blame Doug Bradley for deciding not to return to the series as Pinhead. Instead, we’ve got some new actor in the Pinhead role. The new Pinhead, looks nothing like the real Pinhead. Could they have at least gotten an actor that somewhat resembles Doug Bradley? Also, the actor can’t talk like Doug Bradley, so he was dubbed over with another actor’s voice who also doesn’t sound like Doug Bradley.

The script was deplorable and I can’t believe that some of the dialogue actually made it on the page, let alone in the final cut of the film. The acting was painful and not pleasurable Hellraiser pain but more like stomach cancer with an ulcer while eating a gallon of ice cream pain. The film was 75 minutes, which is nothing but it still seemed like it was an hour and fifteen minutes too long.

The plot made no sense within the realm of the Hellraiser mythos. It’s like some horribly bad fan fiction was mixed up with an actual script and they filmed it on accident. Some of the film was also “found footage” style, which is a gimmick that not only has run its course, but it really never took off to begin with. Hollywood just likes the shit because it’s cheap. It isn’t edgy, original or effective.

This film is a 75 minute demo reel of how not to make a film. It is so bad, it makes Inferno look as critically acclaimed as Das Boot. I hope that when they make a new Hellraiser film, which they eventually will, that this is ignored and they at the very least do something similar to Hellseeker or Deader because at least those served a purpose and were enjoyable for a Hellraiser fan.

I’d also like to add that all of the sequels after Bloodline were written as scripts for other horror movies that were picked up by Dimension Films and retrofitted to make them Hellraiser movies. This film however, was the first original script written for Hellraiser since Bloodline. So how bad is this movie, when it is worse than the four previous that didn’t even start as Hellraiser films?

Rating: 0.5/10

Film Review: The ‘Hellraiser’ Film Series, Part I (1987-1996)

One of the greatest horror franchises in history is the Hellraiser series. Coming from the awesome mind of Clive Barker, this series offered up a mixture of terrifying tales and horrific visuals. It also brought a level of dark fantasy along with it, which became the norm with Barker’s work.

These films go beyond the standard slasher formula that was popular at the time and gave movie-going audiences something fresh and unique. When I was a kid, I was terrified of these films. There was Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers and all the other horror icons of that era… and then there was Pinhead. Pinhead was something more evil and darker than anything else I had experienced at the time. Years before even watching these films, his image on the video store shelf was enough to keep me from popping one of these films into my VCR.

Since there are so many Hellraiser films, nine to be exact, I am going to review the first four here. I will follow up in the near future with the rest of the films.

Hellraiser (1987):

Release Date: September 10th, 1987 (London premiere)
Directed by: Clive Barker
Written by: Clive Barker
Based on: The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker
Music by: Christopher Young
Cast: Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Doug Bradley

Film Futures, Entertainment Film Distributors, New World Pictures, 93 Minutes

Review:

“We have such sights to show you!” – Lead Cenobite (Pinhead)

The first film in the series is considered the best. Where I stand, it is my second favorite. The highpoint of this film, is that Clive Barker actually directs it and it is based off of his novella, The Hellbound Heart.

This film introduces us to the complex world and characters within this franchise, most notably Pinhead and the other Cenobites, as well as Kirsty Cotton, who is involved in four of the films. It also introduces us to a gritty and graphic visual style that was original at the time.

Visually, the colors, tones and style were hijacked by several industrial and metal artists for their music videos for years following this film. It had a style all its own that went on to transcend the film.

As a story, the plot is solid and one of the most original horror/fantasy tales I’ve ever experienced. Clive Barker is on a level all his own in what he creates. His mind is unique and never seems to disappoint in regards to giving his audience something original and provocative. The word “haunting” is used a lot in reference to dark and dreary things, this film is the epitome of the word, as it attacks all the senses in ways one cannot be prepared for before seeing this movie.

Rating: 9/10

Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988):

Release Date: December 23rd, 1988
Directed by: Tony Randel
Written by: Clive Barker, Peter Atkins
Based on: characters by Clive Barker
Music by: Christopher Young
Cast: Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Kenneth Cranham, Imogen Boorman, Doug Bradley, Barbie Wilde

Film Futures, Troopstar, New World Pictures, 93 Minutes

Review:

“Your suffering will be legendary, even in hell!” – Pinhead

Hellbound is a perfect sequel. It starred many of the same actors from the first film and was worked on by the same crew. The only main difference was that Clive Barker stepped down as director and that spot was filled by Tony Randel, who was an instrumental part in making the first film.

This is my favorite in the series. The style, tone and themes of the film are an expansion of what we were given in the first installment.

Hellbound takes things to a whole new level and starts to open the doors of the Hellraiser universe much more than its predecessor. We are given insight into the origin of Pinhead and the Cenobites. The mythos is also expanded and explained to a larger degree.

The film’s main protagonist is frightening as hell and adds somewhat of a contrast to the personality of Pinhead. He is a much eviler character with more sinister and selfish motivations, where Pinhead is more of an automaton being summoned by characters throughout the films.

The expansion of the mythos, the bigger villain and the fact that this stayed true to the essence of the original picture, is why Hellbound is my favorite. I also feel that it has the best rewatchability factor compared to all the other films in the series.

Rating: 8.75/10

Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth (1992):

Release Date: May 1992 (Milan)
Directed by: Anthony Hickox
Written by: Peter Atkins, Tony Randel
Based on: characters by Clive Barker
Music by: Randy Miller
Cast: Terry Farrell, Paula Marshall, Kevin Bernhardt, Peter Boynton, Doug Bradley

Dimension Films, Fifth Avenue Entertainment, Trans Atlantic Entertainment, Miramax Films, 93 Minutes

Review:

“There is no good, Monroe. There is no evil. There is only flesh.” – Pinhead

This is the start of the decline of the series.

Hell On Earth was not as good as the first two but it wasn’t an awful sequel. It continued to expand on the Hellraiser mythos and the complexities of Pinhead’s character.

Doug Bradley as Pinhead was the highlight of this film and he got to act a little more and experiment with the character, as this was the first film to really make him the star of the series. He got more screen time here than probably the first two films combined and it made this film enjoyable, despite its flaws.

While Kirtsy shows up in a cameo part, this was the first film without her as a protagonist. Actress Terry Farrell did good stepping into the role of hero. She was a strong character and was believable in the part, as she fought off the hordes of hell in order to bring a little balance to the universe.

The character of Terri was cute as hell but ultimately, her fate sucked. Between her and her scumbag boyfriend’s bickering and turn to evil, I kind of saw a very likable character too easily transformed into a despised character and it just didn’t seem to work well.

The biggest complaint about this installment in the series, is that the new Cenobites were awful. One had a television camera for an eye, another threw CDs like Chinese stars, it was gimmicky and atrocious. In fact, they looked like a couple fanboys doing some Borg cosplay at a Star Trek convention.

While this was a step down from the previous films, this one is still enjoyable.

Rating: 6/10

Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996):

Release Date: March 8th, 1996
Directed by: Kevin Yagher (as Alan Smithee), Joe Chapelle (uncredited)
Written by: Peter Atkins
Based on: characters by Clive Barker
Music by: Daniel Licht
Cast: Bruce Ramsay, Valentina Vargas, Adam Scott, Doug Bradley, Phil Fondacaro

Dimension Films, Miramax Films, 85 Minutes

Review:

“Do I look like someone who cares what God thinks?” – Pinhead

Now we have reached the infamous fourth film in the series, Bloodline. I say “infamous” because the consensus is that this film was total shit and it was responsible for all the other sequels not getting theatrical releases. Well okay, it wasn’t a great movie. Although, it still had some good shit in it.

Granted, this film starts off in space and as most of us know, whenever a horror franchise goes to space, it is the end of the franchise. Friday the 13th tried it and failed, Leprechaun tried it and failed and Critters tried it and failed. There are probably others too but you get the picture. Unlike the films I just mentioned though, Hellraiser: Bloodline didn’t turn to complete shit when they decided to go the space route. I guess some of that can be attributed to the fact that this story jumped around in time.

In fact, due to following different generations in time throughout this film, Bloodline felt more like an anthology movie. It also expanded the mythos once again and gave us an interesting origin for the puzzle box a.k.a. the Lament Configuration.

Doug Bradley was fantastic again and at this point, four films in, he has reached the horror icon level only reserved for characters like Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers.

An added bonus, is that the Cenobites are back to being in awesome form and not looking like phaser fodder from the set of Star Trek: Voyager.

Rating: 6/10

And that’s it for the first four films in the series, I will soon follow up with part two of this review, covering films five through eight… and maybe the recent remake, if I can stomach sitting through its weak 75 minutes.