Hellraiser: Judgment Get the Hell Out of Here

Anyone who knows me, even if just from the podcast, knows my favorite horror movie is Hellraiser. To be fair it’s one of my favorite movies period, and has been since I first saw it one sunny September day in 1987. It’s difficult to believe that was 3 decades ago, as the memory is still as fresh as if I had seen it only yesterday. I’d gone with a friend who was not fond of horror movies to say the least, and finally walked out after Frank’s classic, “Jesus wept,” line. I’m not sure he ever forgave me for dragging him along, but I couldn’t have been happier.

Everything about the movie appealed to me, and Clive Barker cemented himself alongside Stephen King as one of my idols. The idea of the Cenobites, their reason for existence, and Frank’s obsession with extremes was something that resonated with me, and has never been very far from my thoughts. With the advent of VHS players, Hellraiser became the movie to which I judged future friendships. If someone was able to sit through it, or even better, like it, I knew they’d be a keeper. It’s a test I still use to this day and has served me well.

I can’t say the same about the sequels. Even Hellraiser II, which some prefer to the original never had the profound effect of the original, and while I enjoyed 3 and 4-everything after that was nearly as painful as the implements hanging from Pinhead’s belt.  Even 3 and 4 weren’t especially great, but they were entertaining, and at least attempted to do something different, or expand the world that Barker had created.

When the rumblings of yet another sequel started rearing its head a couple of years ago (not to mention the remake which has fortunately not come to fruition yet), the news was greeted with an eye roll and shoulder shrug. Yet every time I read something about it, I have to say my interest was piqued more and more. Even when Doug Bradley said he wouldn’t be playing Pinhead, I still had hope.

And now after several postponements and some time in limbo, Hellraiser: Judgment will be available on VOD Feb 13. The short answer to the question of whether I like it or not is, “Well, it doesn’t suck!”  And while it’s probably the best of the direct to obscurity sequels, it’s not exactly a good movie.

 

The first 10 minutes or so is spent expanding the mythos that Barker began all those years ago, and it is easily the best part of the entire movie. We follow what turns out to be a pedophile to an abandoned house where he is strapped into a wheelchair. A tube winds itself from the victim to a typewriter, where The Auditor types his sins with blood flowing from the tube onto pages made from flesh.

Once completed The Assessor comes in, seasons the paper with tears of children and eats the paper, then vomits it into a funnel. The vomit then makes its way into a trough where The Jury, 3 women with their faces stripped away plunge their hands into the mess and deliver a verdict.

When that’s completed the pedophile is then strapped to a table where The Cleaners come in, lick his entire body then pour their spit into his mouth to cleanse the inside. The final step is when the Butcher makes his appearance, an obese dark Angel who carries The Surgeon on his back who filets the victim and strips his skin off.

The whole process is so fascinating; I really wish there had been more, as I was mesmerized and sickened by the process. Sadly, the rest of the movie doesn’t live up to this beginning, as we then get treated to a substandard serial killer/cops on the trail flick. Pinhead and the gang are relegated to the beginning and end with just a couple of quick scenes in between. Paul T. Taylor is a fantastic Pinhead however, and makes you realize a Hellraiser movie can succeed without Doug Bradley. This incarnation really hearkens back to the original movie. Pinhead here is all business, and scary as hell. His black eyes and calm, almost bored demeanor are a highlight for sure.

Director Gary J. Tunnicliffe also plays The Auditor and is also a highlight, and as I said, wish there had been more of him and his level of Hell in the film (he’s not a Cenobite, but another aspect of Hell). Heather Langenkamp, of Nightmare on Elm Street fame has a sneeze and you’ll miss it cameo, and I have to believe there’s a lot more of her on the editing room floor than in the movie.

This brings us to the “detectives” working on the case; a pair of brothers, played by Damon Carney and Randy Wayne, as well as a female detective assigned to the case, played by Alexandra Harris. These characters are easily the weakest link in the movie. You never believe they’re actually brothers. Let alone detectives, and in spite of solid performances, the script really lets them down. Harris does a fine job as well, but feels like she was thrown in there just to spice things up.

The biggest problem the movie has is the small budget. There are so many cool ideas that could have been explored but had to be cut because there simply wasn’t room in the budget for them.  The “detective’s” office looked more like a closet with some furniture thrown into it, and the finale takes place in an empty warehouse. I don’t blame the director for these choices, as you work with what you have, but still I can’t help but wonder what this movie could have been had they had a decent budget.

While I would have a hard time recommending buying the DVD/BluRay, I don’t think people will mind spending a few bucks to stream it. There are far worse movies out there, but in terms of Hellraiser sequels, you’ll find none that are much better. I just hope we get a proper sequel one day with more than a $1.98 budget, this franchise deserves more.

3/5 Pins

9 Long Nights At Camp Blood: Friday the 13th Part 2

With the overwhelming success of the original, (it grossed $59,000,000 on a $500,000 budget), a sequel was almost a certainty. However, like Halloween before it, the plan was to not feature Jason, but have a different storyline set on the same date. Fortunately (or not depending on your point of view), that fizzled out and we got another killer Voorhees. Steve Miner, production assistant for Last House on the Left, and an exec. Producer on the original F13 makes his directorial debut in the second installment. Carl Fullerton handled the effects this time around as Tom Savini was working on another movie, and didn’t like the idea of Jason being the killer. Stan Winston was also asked to do the effects but a scheduling conflict nixed that idea as well, so Fullerton was it. Kind of like getting picked last for dodge ball.

 

Part 2 picks up a few months after the first movie. Alice is living on her own trying to do her best to recover from the events at Camp Crystal Lake. This is where we see a couple of new elements in filmmaking for the series, The first is a suspension of belief. Jason, disfigured and mentally undeveloped and spent his life in the woods and water of the camp somehow has tracked down Alice and not only found out where she lived but also tracked her there (all while wearing a pillow case over his head with one hole cut out so he can see). There’s a lot of that in this film, but I’ll only cover a couple of areas, because I do like the movie, and don’t want to seem overly critical.

 

The second thing that Miner does differently is tries to give it a sense of humor, in self referential ways. For instance in the opening scene where he finds Alice, once he kills her, he takes the tea kettle off the hot burner and places it on a cool one. I’m not sure Jason really cares whether the water boils over or not, and seems it was done just for a cheap gag. The second thing is we see a dog meet Jason in the woods. We of course think the worst, and the very next shot is of hot dogs cooking on a grill. That Steve Miner, was a cut up. He should have directed comedies. He directed Soul Man you say? Well, my statement still stands in that case.   In many ways I think the style had to change simply because the story was no longer a mystery thriller. I don’t think anyone knew who the killer in the first F13 was, and when the big reveal came, it was a real barnburner. In the second though, we know the killer is Jason, so the tension of who’s doing the killing is missing. Sure we see Ralph creeping around in an attempt to divert our attention, but when he gets killed our suspicions are confirmed.

It’s a death curse! I said that? You’re all doomed! I said that too? Screw it, I’m going home then.

Much like the first, the real beginning of the movie has all the counselors heading to camp. It’s now five years later, but crazy coot Ralph is still riding around town on his ancient Schwinn. He warns the first two counselors we meet, and then spends the rest of his time lurking around the camp. Jason, getting pissed, because that’s his job, kills Ralph with a garrote nearly decapitating him. Jeff and his girlfriend Sandra meet up with another friend, Ted who is this installment’s joker. Jeff is the stud here, and you can tell that by his muscle shirt, tight pants and old fashioned newsboy’s cap. Such a sexy outfit, how could anyone resist. Though it’s never said, Sandra reminds me of the town floozy who would have sex with pretty much anyone. That may be because she reminded me of this girl I knew, Robin who would let you finger her for 50 cents. This was back in the late 70’s, when 50 cents was worth something.

Who knew in 20 years they’d be obsolete. I mean the phone booth, not their acting careers.

Anyway, the next day the lovebirds get caught by the lake where they weren’t supposed to be by the Sheriff. After bringing them back to camp and admonishing the camp manager Paul, he leaves, and on his way sees Jason run across the road in front of him. In one of my favorite scenes in the movie we see him running through the woods after him, only to find his cabin and have the claw end of a hammer planted in his head. Mongoloid Lives Matter! So sayeth Jason.

If I had a hammer, I’d ha—

That night some of the counselors go into town while the victims, err other counselors stay behind including a wheelchair bound wannabe lothario featured in a very uncomfortable seduction scene. Paul his gf Ginny and Ted the wacky sidekick all go drinking, and when Paul and Ginny go back to camp, leaving Ted in town, we never see him again. He doesn’t die, it’s like the forgot about his character in the script.

These three campers walk into a bar…

Of course the killings begin earnest, as the tall, dark, and handsome Scott gets his throat cut while hanging feet first from a tree. Not long after Mark the wheelchair bound victim of a motorcycle accident takes a machete to the head and is thrown down the flight of stairs in his chair, using a very fake looking dummy. Probably even worse than Kevin Bacon’s throat puncture. Speaking of Kevin Bacon (but not his penis this time unfortunately), Jeff and Sandra meet a fate similar as they’re both shish kabobbed after having good old fashioned early 80’s nookie.  Thankfully the hat was not harmed in that death scene.

Getting nailed by flesh and arrow, does not mean it’s double penetration. Or does it>

Paul and Ginny return only to be stalked by Jason, which ultimately leads to the classic ending of Ginny pretending to be Mrs. Voorhees. One of the unique things about number two is the fact that Paul’s ending is left ambiguous. We have no idea what happened to him or Ted. We see Ginny being taken away in an ambulance, much the same way as we saw Alice wake up in a hospital. It’s all the more amazing because these were some very stupid people.

 

You’re not my mother!

Vickie who had the uncomfortable flirting scene with Mark, goes back to her cabin and changes. As almost an afterthought she changes her panties, from a fairly sexy black pair, to a shit brown pair, as if that would be an enticement. When she goes back to Mark and sees he isn’t there, she looks for him upstairs! There are a ton of other things like that in the movie, and while it doesn’t take away from the fun, it certainly dampens the chill factor in my opinion.

Jason likes his vegetables chopped.

As sequels go this could have been a lot worse, instead we got a pretty enjoyable slasher flick, and while it doesn’t have the iconic status of the original, Mark’s death still remains one of the most controversial. I think his death shows that Jason is an equal opportunity killer. Man, woman,  black, white, or whatever, disabled or not, he’ll kill everyone. How can you not admire that impartiality?

I said how much for a cut and shave?

Friday the 163th Part 2 gets 7/10 machetes.