Tag Archives: Hell

Valhalla Rising: Silence Galore

Silence is not the immediate reaction I had to this movie. I was in shock and awe by the brilliant landscapes and brutal style of the film, but not silenced because of some distaste for this movie. You have to be silent in order to soak this movie in. It’s not often that a movie deals entirely with the image presented in order to tell a story. This movie, in a phrase, is old school. This may as well be a badass silent action film. That’s exactly what I took away from it.

And this is all Nicolas Winding Refn’s intent. After having seen (and reviewed) his other

Does this actor never have a left eye?

film, Drive, I don’t think I can get enough of what this Danish director is bringing to the table. With an archaic and visceral feel to this movie, it plays out in a slow manner, but many of the scenes will stand out to you in your mind way after its all been played out. Same thing goes for Drive too.

If I had to guess how many pages the dialogue took up in this film, I’d probably say a total of 5-6 pages. And that’s all it took to portray the characters onscreen. You know One-Eye (Mads Mikkelsen) is a hardass who never found his voice and expresses himself

The brutality of the Danish.

in violent outbursts. You even have a young child actor, named The Boy (Maarten Stevenson) who understands the idea of dramatic timing and delivery in this film. And that’s rare in such a adult themed film. Saying less gives so much more, and that’s what this film knew how to do.

Basic plot, everyone?

So, One-Eye (Mikkelsen) is a slave held in Scotland against his will. He is passed from barbaric tribe to barbaric tribe in order to fight and kill for the honor of the tribe that owns him. He is such a good fighter, that he has to be leashed up in order to set him at the same level as other fighters. Sleeping in a cage all night with little food or contact with others, he befriends The Boy (Stevenson), who shows him the only kindness he’ll ever know.

Upon being switched between tribes, One-Eye uses the almost-prophetic visions in red he receives at the beginning of

Refn and the gang!

the film in order to kill and escape. Kidnapping The Boy, he heads off for freedom. But not before he encounters a roving band of Crusaders looking and itching for a Crusade to wage. With One-Eye and The Boy in tow, the Christians take them on a boat ride to Hell, and eventually the new world.

As I said earlier, the locales are what impressed me most about this movie. Being shot in Scotland, I had little basis for what it actually looked like in a real context, and so this movie works on all levels for Scotland and America. The absence of human life really works well to isolate the feeling of the film, heightening the chances of death and lack of social norms in a clearly barbaric society. No one is safe in this

It doesn’t get more unsettling than this.

film, and it almost makes you feel uncomfortable when people turn on each other for survival.

Mikkelsen, that one-eyed badass from Casino Royale, is just as good in this movie as well. The cast is relatively unknown to me, which really works for this movie. Because who would be recognizable way back in 1000 A.D.? I just wanna give a lot of credit to the special effects and

Picturesque.

make-up people as well in this movie, because I’ve never seen a more realistic head bashing than in this movie. Visually brutal to the point where your eyes bleed. Hardcore shizz.

The overall delivery was right up my alley. Sometimes I’m just in the mood for an artistically brutal and human psyche revealing film. It’ll make people uncomfortable, but it’ll be an unforgettable experience in the end. No real complaints, 8.9 out of 10.

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Hellraiser IV: Bloodline

As you are introduced to a strangely shaped spaceship in the middle of outer space in the year 2127, do not be alarmed. Don’t even let that pesky roman numeral four fool you in the title. This is not Star Wars. This is Hellraiser 4: Bloodline. This movie goes in a significantly different direction than the previous three in a lot of ways. New characters, an origin/background plot, and a director who didn’t even want to be given credit for the movie. You read that right. Kevin Yagher, the director of the film who left before it was finished decided to use the Hollywood pseudonym, Alan Smithee.

Does that suggest that this movie is bad? It may or may not. Although it got mixed reviews, there are some positives. I’m a sucker for an origins episode of a show or movie, and this is one entire, long flashback. And then a flash forward. The reason Mr. Yagher left this movie is because of the conflicts with script/plot and an unnecessary push for Pinhead to appear way before it was ever

The faceoff: Paul vs Pinhead

necessary. I would tend to agree with this approach, because most of the movie fell flat for me. How was this the first movie with a theatrical release?

Let’s get down to the bare bones plot with this one. So in the year 2127, there’s this famously brilliant scientist named Paul Merchant (faint echoes of Paul Muad’ib?) who is holding up on this space station he created. Seeming to be a bad thing, a crackpot squad of mercenaries travel to the station in order to thwart his “dastardly plan”. Merchant (Bruce Ramsay) is easily apprehended, and he tells a squad mate, Rimmer (Christine Harnos) his entire lineage sob story.

Rimmer gets told a sob story...

This is the point in the movie where things get interesting. Philip L’Merchant (still Bruce Ramsay) is a French toymaker, credited with creating the first box, the Lament Configuration. In creating it for a French nobleman obsessed with dark magic, Duc de L’Isle (Mickey Cottrell) unleashes Hell. Literally. In the form of a demon named Angelique (Valentina Vargas), it is up to the cursed Merchant line in order to create the Elysium Configuration in order to stop Pinhead and the other demons from wreaking havoc.

And, in this way, we are given three sections of the lineage of the Merchants. There’s its origins with L’Merchant, there’s the modern day, 1980’s John

This is the...dumbest of the Cenobite creations.

Merchant, and the futuristic, about to end all this B.S. Paul Merchant. At the same time that having all the Merchants being played by one man was a strange thing, it also strangely works. Bruce Ramsay isn’t the best by any means, but, for this movie, he gets the job done. He does vary his acting personalities and gets across that he is playing three different men throughout the years. I wanna point a little interesting fact out right here. Adam Scott, co-star in such acclaimed movies as Knocked Up, Step Brothers, and Piranha 3-D, makes an appearance as Jacques, the man who betrays his master like a coward. Of course you bring Doug Bradley back as Pinhead because, come on, it wouldn’t be a Hellraiser movie otherwise.

That crazy old Duc...

With less grit and graphic imagery than originally intended, this movie sits solidly among the others, but more as a distant cousin than anything else. This movie suggests a fixed point ending to Pinhead and the Cenobites, unlike any other movie. These undead, Hellish beings should never be killed, and it should be up to the perpetuation of this fantastic series to do so. There has been a new one released recently, Hellraiser: Revelations in 2011, which shows the series isn’t gonna quit yet. And I’m all cool with that. So look forward to a review of Hellraiser 5 in the near future, I’m really looking forward to it myself. An okay 4.2 out of 10.


Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth

And this is where the Hellraiser series begins to fall flat. Bought by Miramax, an American company. Pinhead crosses the ocean and finds his feet on shaky ground in Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth. Claiming that “Hell has come to Earth,” this installment enters the club scene of New York in the early 90’s. (Or some such city…) With Clive Barker becoming a co-producer and a basis for the series, this is where the Jenga tower gets wobbly.

In this part of the series, Kirsty is no longer involved. She did her duty to send back the Cenobites to Hell and gains a well deserved rest. It is now her testimony on a couple of psychiatric tapes that give clues to the new main female protagonist of the film. Pinhead has been rent in twain and his former self as Captian Elliott Spencer and his id as Pinhead (both Doug Bradley as classically usual) are about to throw down. It is up to young reporter Joey Summerskill (Terry Farrell) to reunite the two.

This really was the best scene though. Yay sacrilege!

Basic plot? Here goes. J.P. Monroe (Kevin Bernhardt) is a pimpin’ playa hatin’ psycho club owner of the aptly named Boiler Room. (This club was incidentally the most expensive aspect of the production and was filled with cast, crew, and friends.) In order to exude this strangely masochistic feel, J.P. gets his hands on the pillar of souls from the last movie, containing Pinhead’s veracious killing streak. After sucking in one of J.P.’s sluts, Pinhead emerges, asking for more souls to release him from his prison.

J.P.'s pimpin' Pillar of Souls!

Meanwhile, Joey Summerskill is on the case! Like a modern day Nancy Drew, Joey walks the bad streets of her newly formed beat, somehow stumbling on this supernatural case of torture. With the chance meeting of J.P.’s main squeeze Terri (Paula Marshall). Once they discover the secrets of the Lament Configuration, things get weird. Although, Joey has been having some strange Vietnam flashbacks of her father dying in Vietnam. I don’t know the time frame on this movie, but I really am not seein’ it.

The bastardized Cenobites pull Joey's hair!

With a whole new crew of Cenobites (because all the originals died in the last movie, but come back in the fourth for no reason…), these rip-off cyborgs must be stopped at all costs and Pinhead must be stopped from his sacrilegious ways. I wasn’t so sure about the ending, but hey, this movie was the weak link.

I dunno about this movie, it was just strange overall. After having so much fun watching the first two, the third kind of burnt me out on the series. What makes the next one even better is a little secret about the director (I can’t wait to tell you all!). With Clive Barker as a backseat driver in this series from this point on, it makes it hard knowing he is not the driving force behind what’s going on onscreen. The acting became worse, I cared less about the characters, and the only good thing that came out of this one in the series was a bit more development with Pinhead’s character. Leave it to an American company to make a great horror series lame (insert every Asian horror movie and its destruction when turned into an American remake).

With that in mind, I am not disappointed with the Hellraiser series overall. This one had a bit less gore and animatronics, but just a bit. The kill scenes became comedic, and the Cenobites were bastardized American versions of Chatterbox, Butterball, and The Female. With the amount of over the top gore in this movie, I felt short changed. It gets a bit better in Bloodline, but not a whole lot. Hopefully the stride will be regained in 6… But I gotta give Hell on Earth less than 1 or 2, it’s a saddening 3.8 out of 10.

I will survive.


Hellbound: Hellraiser 2

Round 2

Pinhead is back for another romp in the hellish world of pain and pleasure in Hellbound: Hellraiser 2. I have to wonder where the issue of pleasure comes in though, because it just seems like a lot of pain and screaming without any of the fetish of sadomasochism. Maybe that’s the moral of the story. Sadomasochism really isn’t for anyone. In any case, let’s jump right into the continuance of the first film, as told by Kirsty.

The movie opens on a scene of Pinhead (Doug Bradley) as his normal, WWII self. Discovering the evils of the box in his bunker, I found it was a great opener to delve into the world of the killer, and find out that Pinhead isn’t really the worst guy in the world after all. He was transformed by the puzzle box, becoming the evil person he is in Hellraiser 2. Or so we’re led to believe. Fast forward to a short period after the first film and we’re back with Kirsty (Ashley Laurence). I give Miss Laurence a lot of props for coming back to a series that, at the time, may not have been received all that well. Whether it was for the money who she saw promise in the series, I congratulate her effort in playing the female antagonist in this film.

That can't be pleasant...

So Kirsty is in a mental asylum. I know you’re thinking, “Hey, was the last movie all a part of her delusion? What a cop out.” But no, that’s not it at all. All of the events of the last film happened. Frank killed Kirsty’s dad and wore his skin. Who, accidentally, killed Julia and allowed her to be sucked into a mattress of the Cenobite’s design. And after all Hell(raiser) breaks loose, Kirsty somehow escapes and is now confined to aforementioned asylum. The detectives don’t believe it when they question her and decide to leave her there. Immediately, Dr. Channard (Kenneth Cranham) seizes this opportunity to examine her, because, as we discover, there’s more to Dr. Channard’s interest than we may know…

Look! Frank can spell!

But then a whole lot of redonkulous events goes down. Julia (Claire Higgins) is reanimated from the mattress by a writhing, bleeding lunatic. She proceeds to relentlessly eat Channard’s face (in the sexual manner) and suck the lives out of a few men, Mummy style (I’m glad this idea always comes back in these movies). The Hellverse is opened and Pinhead and the gang are once again allowed into our world. But, and here’s the twist, Kirsty and this catatonic puzzle solving girl, Tiffany (Imogen Boorman) follow Channard and Julia into Hell to bring the fight to the Devil’s door. Well, not necessarily the devil, but something similar.

I don’t want to spoil too much, but it’s worth watching at least up to the second in the series. (I’m up to number 5.) A lot is explained in 4 (Bloodline) although it may be considered the worst in the series. I just enjoyed finding out about

Julia, back with a bloody vengeance.

the Lament Configuration box and its origins in history. Pinhead becomes a better fleshed out villain than a lot of horror series give credit to their slayers. (The only exception to that rule is Freddy Kreuger, maybe Mike Meyers.) We learn about the man behind the pins and begin the road to sympathy, something most people don’t like to see in sadomasochistic serial killers.

As far as this movie doing justice to the first one, I would say it came about 3/4 of the way and then petered out towards the end. The ending itself is kind of a buzz kill to the rest of the series, but don’t worry, it’s not over for Pinhead and Chatterbox anytime soon. It still has all the gore and claymation animatronics you’re looking for in this groundbreaking series. It lays a basis for the series and doesn’t beat a dead horse with its plot. It picks up where it left off with no complaints. I was happier with the acting in this film and I felt the amateur returners to this film hit their stride and knew what was expected of them. I was a bit disappointed in the haunted house feeling that Hell had, or, the MC Escher style the art exuded(shout-out to Max for that one), but it’s all the past. The movie came to do what it did and did it with no fuss. Can’t fault it for that. So I’ll give Hellraiser 2 a solid 6.5 out of 10. And I hope you’re all looking forward to my Hellraiser 3 review.

Ahhhh yes, Dr. Channard...