October 14, 2010

Day 14- Thursday, October 14th: The Hellraiser Series (1987-2005)

#'s 33-40- The Hellraiser Series- (1987-2005) It took us the better part of the last two days, and we fell asleep during a few of them, but we did it. We watched them all. And for the record, these 8 films are all pretty much of varying degrees of quality, and sometimes in a big, big way.
 Hellraiser (1987)

Clive Barker gave the Horror world the great gift of a perfect mythos when he created the Cenobites. And though their origin story -The Hellbound Heart- contained not a single trace of Pinhead, the instantly classic icon became the epitome of awesome from the moment he uttered his first line. It's all rather ingenious. This isn't storytelling so much as it is world building, and that is why Hellraiser is one of the best Horror stories ever put to film. The box, the lament configuration, the very idea of the Cenobites; what they represent and the things that they do to humans foolish enough to summon them... that's the marrow of it all, and what makes for such a compelling experience. Aside from a few shoddy special effects (it was 1987, we give them some slack), this is as perfect as a Horror movie could hope to be. Also, it's crazy how many awesome quotes and lines of dialogue come from the earlier films, and especially this one. We should make a post about the quotes. That would be fun.

Hellbound: Herllraiser II (1988)

Almost as good as its predecessor, Hellbound has the same feel and care as the first one, while going a step further and brining us directly to the hell that Pinhead represents. It goes perfectly hand in hand with the first movie, giving us more of what made the first movie so compelling; Demons and the hell from whence they came. the hell that waits for us all, if we aren't careful. One of my favorite all time lines from any film in any genre, is in this movie, coming as the Channard Cenobite is revealed for the first time; "And to think... I hesitated." Brilliant. Just fucking brilliant.
Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992)

I may be the only Horror fan I've ever talked to that doesn't completely despise this movie, but I kinda liked it. Sure, it felt more commercial and far less original than the first two installments, and it may not have been developed and created as carefully and lovingly as they were, but it had some good moments. I mean, how can you not love seeing a pre-Cenobite version of Pinhead show his human side. I don't know, it may be shit, but I find it tolerable. Sometimes, I am pleased by the sub par.

Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)

Here's where I'm prepared to take some shit; I loved this movie. Loved it. To me, it feels closer in tone and quality to the first two films than do, and I love how it spans different time periods. They show the origin of the box and its construction, and through the lineage of the box maker, they end up in the future making a crazy space station designed to stop the Cenoobites once and for all. I can hear you mocking me out there. Whatever. I think it's cool. Our very own Erin even calls BS on my shameless love for this film, stating that it's ridiculous that Pinhead went into space. She's no fun.

Hellraiser: Inferno (2000)-Far too little Pinhead, far too much bland exposition. The Hellraiser movies ARE the Cenobites. Period. So when a Hellraiser movie is Cenobite-lite, it is cause for worry. I appreciate the subtlety of it all, but in the end, it felt more like a pure psychological drama than a Horror film, and certainly felt out of place in this series. Good movie, not such a great Hellraiser movie.

Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002)

Another sequel that felt slow and not-so-horror like, this one was a bummer. The return of Ashley Laurence to the series should have been a great thing, but she came back to a movie that was more police drama than anything else. I guess when Pinhead and his crew start punishing mean husbands, it just feels off to me. Since when are Demons allowed to be the moral police? Again, a decent, well made movie, but what in the hell happened to this franchise?

Hellraiser: Deader (2005)

Oh yeah, the one with Kari Wurher. This is the sequel that is made up of 2 scripts; the first half of the movie was originally supposed to be a project having nothing to do with the Hellraiser series which fell through, and so it was tacked on to the beginning of the second half, which was the script for another pending Hellraiser flick. Yeah. This one has a few good moments in the early going (the original script) but just doesn't ever find its footing. Without Clive Barker, this series has really floundered.

Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005)

And finally, we come to the one with Lance Henrickson. Remember him? The awesome guy from Aliens, Near Dark, and a bunch of other cool action flicks? He was Chains in Stone Cold for God's sake! He deserves better than this. So, the Cenobites now have a website that kills people. And something about a Cenobite rave party, where people show up and die... come on. What is this mess, other than a cash in on the name of a franchise? Bah!

Again, a D.

Some of these later films have some alright aspects about them, some decent scenes here and there, and fun parts I suppose, but they just feel amateurish and detached from what the Hellraiser story is all about. You know, the mythos that Clive Barker so skillfully created. Barker's stories tend to be compelling because they are perverse. Pervasive. They show the weakness of the human soul, and that there are forces standing by to exploit those weaknesses for their own pleasure if we let them. Pain is related to ecstasy. Suffering is divine. The secret song at the center of the universe beckons to us all, and the weaker amongst us can't resist its melody. That is what this series needs to get back to. We sincerely pray that one day, it will.

 That's 40/100 movies watched so far, so we had better get back to it... we really need something different and good to cleanse the pallet...

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