As I frequently do with my friends, it’s time to begin the watching and review of another classic horror film series. This time (and soon to follow, others) it’s the Hellraiser series, the brainchild of Clive Barker. In the vein of sadomasochistic pleasure and pain in the extreme, this movie explores the avenues of prosthetics and stop-motion animation in a way to frighten and disturb. With a new chapter in gore created, Stephen King said it best. “I have seen the future of horror and his name is Clive Barker.” Ebert might not believe this statement, but what does he know, right?
At the start of this movie, we encounter Frank (Sean Chapman), a two-bit, no good, gangster of a hoodlum. He has found this box on the other side of the world and plans to use it to explore the extremes of pleasure and pain. Upon solving the box in his “zen temple of an attic”, the Cenobites (creatures from Heaven and Hell) come to him to show him the way of the flesh. As Pinhead (Doug Bradley) says, “We have such sights to show you.” Upon ripping his flesh and bones from his body and dragging him to a Hell brought on through a wall, Frank says bye-bye to the world.
Ahhhh, the Cenobites...
Years later, and for no perceivable reason, Frank’s brother Larry Cotton (Andrew Robinson) brings his strangely detached wife Julia (Claire Higgins) and rebellious daughter Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) to live in merry ole London town. Although only his wife is English. And there may or may not be an issue with accents in this movie for people perceived to be residents of the U.K. You make the call.
Have you learned anything, Frank?
While here, Larry Cotton absolutely destroys his hand on a rusty nail (check dat shizz for tetanus!) and accidentally brings back the remains of Frank’s body from the other side. It is then up to Julia and her past affair with Frank to reanimate his body, Imhotep/Mummy style. Bring on the parallels. Oh, and it’s up to Kirsty and her “boyfriend/interested bystander” (Robert Hines) to stop them. Get it goin’.
There were a few things that, after watching this once before at night, that I was in love with. I loved the reanimation scene of Frank’s body. It was absolutely grotesque and ballin’, all at the same time. Stop-motion animation, like in Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, just gets my horror juices flowing. I wish more movies went back to the days of the clay. Accompany this with a Mummy worthy stand in of Oliver Smith as Frank’s decayed, yet regenerating body and you have the creepy crawlies when you see his muscles moving over bone.
The images of Hellraiser.
There were a few things that doesn’t work either. The believability of Frank and Julia’s affair. I liked the tie in to the sadomasochism with their violently physical relationship, but there was no real sizzle at any point in the movie. Yes, you get a bit creeped out when she kisses Frank’s unfinished body, but what can you do? Another thing. The strangely over the top acting from Larry Cotton. I don’t know what this guy was shooting for, but it really was absurd. Thank God for the Cenobites coming in to bring some acting chops (pun intended with Chatterbox) to this film. Kirsty wasn’t too bad, I mean, they invited her back for the second…
So pair these lacking parts with a breakthrough into the genre of gore/horror, and you have my favorite genre. When you can overload someone’s senses with horrifying images and a few jump scenes, what’s better than that? And the simple fact that Clive Barker’s vision for this film sparked 7 other movies? Let me get a piece of that action. With these cult classics comes some of the best horror of its time, and one of my favorite horror series in the collection. Thanks Netflix! A solid 7.3 out of 10 for this groundbreaker.
Pinhead says word. Rollin' with the homies.
2 Comments | tags: affair, Andrew Robinson, Ashley Laurence, believability issue, breakthrough, Cenobites, Chatterbox, Claire Higgins, classic horror films, Clive Barker, cult classic, disturbing, Doug Bradley, Ebert, English accents, Frank, Frank's body, frightening, gangster hoodlum, gore horror, grotesque, groundbreaking, Heaven and Hell, Hellraiser, horrifying images, Imhotep, Julia Cotton, Kirsty Cotton, lacking parts, Larry Cotton, London, Netflix, Oliver Smith, over the top acting, Pinhead time, pleasure and pain, prosthetics, puzzle box, reanimation, ripping flesh, Robert Hines, rusty nail, sadomasochism, Sam Raimi, Sean Chapman, series, Stephen King, Steve, stop-motion animation, such sights to show you, The Evil Dead, The Mummy, violent relationship, way of the flesh | posted in Movies
So I just recently re-watched The Mummy and The Mummy Returns with my roommate and it was quite the nostalgic experience. I went back to a time where I used to be obsessed with the Eqyptians. I read books about them, I talk with my grandma about her trips to Egypt, she showed me slides, and, most importantly, I watched The Mummy series. I loved the story of Imhotep and how the story was interesting and at the same time based on historical evidence. The people, the places, the times of the Pharaohs, it was all real and interesting. And it was all set in the era of the archeologist. And automated weapons. What could be better?
So, basic plot of both films. Rick O’Connell (Brendan Frasier) and Evelyn “Evy” O’Connell, (Rachel Weisz) (Yes, they get married in the second. They even have a child! Imagine that!) accompanied by her brother Johnathan, (John Hannah) awake a mummy named Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo). He was never meant to be awoken, because of his travesties against Seti I. He was given the Hom Dai, the worst of all curses that transfers over into the afterlife. He fooled around with Seti’s wife-to-be Anck Su Namun (Patricia Velasquez) and killed Seti I. This story is all explained and re-explained in the two movies.
So Evy awakes Imhotep and the whole rest of the movie Rick and Evy race around Egypt attempting to stop the creature. And thus does the first one end. What’s nice about the second one is that it picks up from a point later on, and now Evy and Rick have a kid in tow. Their little “bundle of fun” Alex (Freddie Boath) puts on the Bracelet of Anubis and awakens the Scorpion King (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) who will bring about the next apocalypse. Those are Ardeth Bay’s (Oded Fehr) words, not mine. So this movie is about Rick and Evy vs. Imhotep in their race to the lost oasis of Ahm Shere to stop/utilize the Scorpion King’s army.
And these nice little action/adventure plots are what makes the movies. They’re not hard to follow, the keep up the suspense and action, and they’re academically infused with a bit of mythology and history. All based around the idea of a mummy coming back to life. Frightening, and at the same time mesmerizing.
I might be a little biased in my review because I grew up with the Mummy series, but these movies are quite fantastic. And no, I’m not including that hulking piece of garbage known as The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. That thing was awful. There’s no Rachel Weisz, the plot is rocky, there’s no Egyptian aspect to it, it’s just trash. If I had to do it, I would compare it to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Not as bad, but really detracted from the Indiana Jones series. But yes, The Mummy/Mummy Returns are quite fantastic in their scope. They use the history of the Pharaohs and the rituals of Egypt to spook and entertain. Setting it all in a early 1900’s era gives it that age of discovery and adventure around the world. And the use (?) of actual (?) locations really ties it all together. (I don’t know if it was filmed on location, but I do like all the pyramids.)
Brendan Frasier at his finest.
And the acting, quite frankly, is some of Brendan Frasier’s finest. He’s witty, but at the same time he can be serious. But I feel like that’s the way this movie was set up. It has the witty, corny lines (to a degree), but at the same time it has its serious parts and serious acting shines through. Rachel Weisz is always great (I can understand why she did resign for the Dragon Emperor) and John Hannah (although Scottish) does quite a good English accent. Probably not the point, but you can only see a little Scottish that pops through throughout the films. Oded Fehr is amazing and does a great job as an Egyptian Medjai. Kevin J. O’Connor always makes me laugh as Beni in The Mummy and whenever Rick O’Connell deals with him is great. I really appreciated Patricia Velasquez’s acting in the second Mummy as Anck Su Namun, trying to pretend to be a reincarnated version of herself. And the list goes on with cameos and small supporting roles that are all quite great.
So if you haven’t already seen these films, check them out. They’re worth the watch and are great for their entertainment value and scope in what they deal with. A definite 8.9 out of 10.
Leave a comment | tags: action/adventure, actual locations, age of discovery, Ahm Shere, Alex O'Connell, Anck Su Namun, archeology, Ardeth Bay, Arnold Vosloo, based on history, Beni, Bracelet of Anubis, Brendan Frasier, cameos, corny lines, Dwayne Johnson, early 1900's, Egypt, Egyptian Medjai, Egyptians, Evelyn "Evy" O'Connell, Freddie Boath, Hom Dai, Imhotep, Indiana Jones, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, John Hannah, Johnathan O'Connell, Kevin J. O'Connor, Mummy Series, mythology and history, nostalgic experience, Oded Fehr, Patricia Velasquez, Pharaohs, Rachel Weisz, Rick O'Connell, Scorpion King, serious parts, Seti I, small supporting roles, suspense, the creature, The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, The Rock, witty | posted in Movies