Hellbound: Hellraiser II Tony Randel

Hellbound: Hellraiser II Tony Randel
Horror might be an easy genre to gain membership into but few movies have ever come close to actually evoking the genuine sense of "horror" the way Clive Barker's Hellraiser did. The celebrated author's 1987 feature directorial debut developed such an unsettling environment that I struggle to think of anything more terrifying than the underworld inhabited by Pinhead (Doug Bradley) and his Cenobites. In an era where horror sequels became a quick cash-grab and the butt of many jokes (read: the '80s), amazingly, Hellbound held it together without much of Barker's assistance. Developed by screenwriter Peter Atkins and director Randel, the first Hellraiser sequel picks up soon after the original, finding heroine Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) safely committed to an institution. However, Dr. Channard (Kenneth Cranham), an obsessed artefact collector, discovers the sinister little box and revives Kirsty's evil stepmother Julia (Clare Higgins), who comes back in the same form as her former lover Frank - bloody and in need of flesh. Of course, he doesn't stop there, moving onto unleashing the sadistic Cenobites and initiating another onslaught of extreme torture, journeying into a labyrinthine hell. Even more bananas and brutal than its predecessor (a sexual scene with Channard and a skinless Julia is gut-wrenching to say the least), Hellbound is successful because even though it's on the brink of falling into incomprehensibility, it doesn't lose the threads of the original. Atkins sticks close to Barker's initial idea with the story, while Randel uses the same twisted visual design. They both push their imaginations further, such as the ridiculousness of the Channard Cenobite, but include Pinhead's human origin and his transformation into the torturous icon. A series of new and worthwhile featurettes examine many aspects of the film any gore hound will find fascinating. Included are in-depth discussions with cast members about making the film (discovering that the gruesome look for Chatterer Cenobite was based on actor Nicholas Vince's unfortunate accident when he was younger is a frightening thought), as well as Randel's inspiration, and original interviews (including Barker, who describes it as "cool, but uneven") discussing how the franchise was basically decided on from the outset. Of course, it's listening to Bradley make sense of his character and the overall enigma of Hellraiser proves to be the best of the bunch; it just doesn't get better than hearing Pinhead himself try to make sense of something so outlandish. Plus: commentary. (Anchor Bay)