This might be the greatest thing that’s happened to our reviews in a long time, (horror wise), certainly since A Girl Walk Home Alone at Night (which is really amazing, if you haven’t seen it yet).
I was so happy when Jillian suggested this film for Horror Month. I love the first Hellraiser (1987) very much, not least because it reminds me of actually great horror movies and iconic horror characters.
Pinhead is up there with Freddy, Jason and Michael Myers for me, so much so that I feel like these slightly misunderstood band of brothers could be my movie uncles. Sure, I’d probably keep them at arm’s length but at least Christmas would never be boring.
Anyway, despite being a big fan of Hellraiser, I’ve never attempted to watch the sequels. Of which, in this case, there are eight of the slippery little suckers. 9 Hellraiser films in total! I can’t say that I’ll spend much time digging any deeper into the franchise from here, but it’s nice to know that the option is open to me if I want it.
But, to number 2 which was thrilling, ridiculous, nostalgic and wonderful – and so much more. SO MUCH MORE, MAN.
Before we begin, this is your weekly *Spoiler Alert* warning, plus I feel as though I should slap on an additional, *this is kind of gross* disclaimer as some of the screen caps I’m going to use might make you feel sick. There’s a lot of gore in this bad boy.
Off we go, horror heads!
Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
IMDB Synopsis: Kirsty is brought to an institution after the death of her family, where the occult-obsessive head resurrects Julia and unleashes the Cenobites once again.
Kirsty, from the first film, has been kept in a mental ward while the cops and doctors work out what the hell went on back at her house. Her dad is dead, her step mother slaughtered and the whole building needs to be condemned as it’s literally crawling with maggots and grime from the corpses of dozens of unwitting strangers.
(Don’t worry if you’ve forgotten what the fudge went down in the first movie, a short amount of the way in there’s a handy recap in the form of Kirsty re-telling her story to a doctor, which is very smoothly done, I think.)
Oh but, before we meet up with Kirsty again, we get a brief origin flashback to the man we’ve come to know as Pinhead, before he was eviiiiil. I mean, you didn’t think he popped out of his momma with a head full of spikes, did ya? (Yeah, I kind of did. How cute would a baby Pinhead be?). It looks as though he was some sort of explorer before he got his hands on the box.
Back to ‘present day’ and Kirsty is struggling with the fact that her father is dead but still visiting her to tell her he’s in Hell and needs her help. Thanks Dad, but what’s she supposed to do, really?
While she’s being interviewed, she overhears an inept detective saying that they’ve found a bloody mattress in her old house. She goes mental and says that it must be destroyed otherwise Julia, Kirsty’s bitch step mother could come back.
Somewhere around here, brain surgeon Doctor Channard (Kenneth Cranham) pops up and he’s got wind of this mattress situation, weirdly. His colleague, nice Kyle McRae (William Hope) overhears Channard organising delivery of the mattress to his home address and not the hospital, though I can’t remember now why or how he has any authority over its destination, given that he’s a surgeon, not a police officer but never mind.
Channard is seen near the beginning of the film performing a lobotomy on a conscious patient and waffling on about the power of the mind, or whatever, and then he takes us on a depressing tour of the hospital’s basement, which is essentially a Victorian lunatic asylum.
The patients are all straight-jacketed up, mostly incoherent and some are hallucinating, like the poor man who is haunted by crawling insects. Channard swans around like the evil proprietor and you can just tell he’s not a warm and fuzzy type.
Kyle McRae is nice to Kirsty and believes her story when a lot of other people are suspicious of it. For some reason he takes it upon himself to sneak into Channard’s home to have a little snoop about. He lives to regret this decision when Channard brings home an unsuspecting victim (poor old insect dude) and feeds him to the mattress.
You don’t read a sentence like that everyday, do you? What follows is probably one of the most disgusting scenes I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen the Human Centipede franchise) as Julia is bloodily resurrected.
She’s pretty foxy for a skinless woman, I’ll give you that and Cannard is smitten. Turns out he’s been obsessed with the little puzzle boxes for years, and owns several of them. There’s a plan somewhere in the works, involving another of his patients; the mostly mute but clever Tiffany, whose speciality is complicated puzzles. Oo-er!
But before that, Channard brings home a lot of strangers for Julia to suck the life force out of, until she is a complete woman again. Unfortunately, her last meal is Kyle McRae so he’s not much use in the end. Leave it to the girls to rescue themselves, as usual.
Once Julia is back, she and Channard get Tiffany to open the box, and subsequently the gateway to Hell because Julia is apparently now the Queen down there and Channard wants to see it with his own eyes. Kirsty wants to find her father and make sure he’s okay.
Once in Hell, which now looks like a thorny castle grounds with a lot of weird mazes, corridors and an abandoned fairground (basically the set designer has gone all out), shit kicks off and the Cenobites appear again. This time they want Kirsty’s flesh, not another plea bargain.
Pinhead tells Kirsty she can’t do anything for her father as he’s in his own personal Hell, while she’s about to face hers. Then he very kindly tells her to have a look around, because they have all eternity to savour her.
This review has got massively long already and there’s loads more to cover so I’ll highlight a few points before we wrap up. Pervy Uncle Frank pops up again and tries to get his former lover Julia back but she’s done with his shit finally.
Channard is turned into the most gruesome (and phallic) Cenobite to date and goes on a rampage across the hospital, amputating limbs as he goes. Later he squares up to the other Cenobites but not before Kirsty does a big speech, and gives Pinhead an old photograph she found of him, which reminds him he was once human too.
He actually let’s her and Tiffany go before facing off to Channard’s fucking hideous Cenobite. This particular scene is really quite sad and thought-provoking, which isn’t something you’d ever imagine about these heinous creatures but defy you not to go “Aw”.
To the Questions, Holmes and don’t spare the horses! Will evil Queen/step mother Julia get her comeuppance? Also, is she a Queen just because she’s telling everyone she is, or is she actually kind of a big deal down in Hellsville? Will Tiffany and Kirsty survive to make the sequel?
Can everybody please stop french kissing each other please? It’s gross and most of you don’t have skin.
I’ll leave it at that but please know that if you watch this movie, you are in for a bloody, surreal and fucking brilliant ride. You know, if you like that kind of thing.
I loved this, I did. It was horrible and made my stomach turn more than once but it reminded me why horror was such a great genre back in the eighties.
It very rarely gets this good nowadays but I understand that these things have to evolve. I don’t know how well Pinhead would go down to the modern crowd if he were to be introduced for the first time but that’s okay, he’s a classic and to me, always will be.
A few times I was a bit confused, like, I don’t really get what happened to Tiffany’s mother, though it looks like she was harmed in a flashback scene. Why?
I also don’t get why, when Frank was fully resurrected in the first film (but shown in flashback in this one), he had to have Kirsty’s dad’s face (because Frank used his skin) but that Julia got to look like herself when she used a total stranger’s. I mean, continuity peeps!
But otherwise, what’s not to love? It’s fun, it’s disgusting, at times it’s genuinely scary and I also really enjoy that this is an English horror movie, unlike the Halloweens, etc. It’s nice to know we can/could do Video Nasties with the best of them.
My Rating: 4/5 (because I ❤ Pinhead 4 eva).