Tag Archives: modern day

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.

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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.


Kaze No Stigma: Avatar’s Estranged Cousin

Let me first start off by saying that the wikipedia description of this show really doesn’t describe what I actually witnessed in this show about wind and fire and earth powers (water was sadly left out). I must say that for an anime, straight out of Japan to pale in comparison to the Nickelodeon version of a similar show, is sad. But this show has achieved the impossible. And yet, this gives a lot of props to Avatar: The Last Airbender and the amazing creators behind it. It was a worthwhile show. But that’s not the point.

Let me kick something at you. “Kazuma Kannagi was considered useless within his family because he could not use “Enjutsu” (Blaze Technique), the power to control flames. When he was defeated by Ayano Kannagi, one of his very distant relatives, in a bout to decide

If only it were truly like this...

who would wield “Enraiha” (Blaze Lightning Supremacy), a sword that was wielded by the family heir, he was banished from the family. Four years later, he returns as a master of “Fūjutsu” (Wind Technique), the power to control wind, and with a new name: Kazuma Yagami. Soon after his return, he is reunited with Ayano and his younger brother, Ren, who is also gifted in Enjutsu. Soon, however, Kannagi family members are killed and the murder weapon is revealed to be Fūjutsu. Now Kazuma has to fight his family to prove that he is not the murderer and follow a series of adventures with Ayano.”

Okay, that is the bare bones plot… of the first 6 episodes. This show may start here, but it ends in a different dimension entirely. Thanks for not ruining the plot in your summary, Wikipedia, but you sure as Hell didn’t clue me in as to where this show was headed.

Stranger things have happened in this show.

And from that description alone, I got a different vision of what I thought this show would be. I was envisioning samurai fire sword wielders. Dynasty warriors shit. Real harcore fights. The reality? Modern day Tokyo with some decent fight scenes and not a whole lot about really redeeming himself with that murder on his hands. Nice.

That’s not to say that Kazuma Yagami (Robert McCollum) wasn’t a compelling character. He is by far one of the most compelling characters I’ve encountered in anime. Cast out by his family because of his differences at a young age, Kazuma must make his way in the real world with no real support. And he doesn’t just lay down and die. Oh no. He gets up, makes a pact with the Wind Gods, and comes back to lay waste to his family. Not actually kill them, but bleed them dry of their money by becoming hired help. And at every turn, Kazuma consistently tells the entire Konnagi family to go shove it. He truly doesn’t care if they live or die. Pretty much up until the last episode. You can’t deny that a character with those emotions shouldn’t be messed up. Well he isn’t, and he gets the job done when, with most other characters, he would sit down and cry about his dilemma. Job well done, Kazuma.

But back to the plot. After this little 6 or 7 episode arc of catching his framed killers, Kazuma and Ayano Kannagi (Cherami Leigh) go on random adventures that don’t come together into a coherent end that begins to form in episode 17 of 24. Yes, as small sections the first season and beginning of the second season seem

I bet you anything he's about to cry.

interesting. But when you see the leapfrog style of the entire anime, it almost seems senseless.

Other than that glaring problem, most of the voice acting in the english dub just doesn’t hold up. I know I really should’ve just watched this dubbed, but I wanted to give what I thought was going to be a decent anime a try. This anime that was neither here nor there in genre really took me for a loop. Wow. Cherami Leigh became an annoying time bomb, who, as in most shounen, couldn’t do a damn thing for herself. Ren (Josh Grelle) became a provincial crybaby over his big bro Kazuma, and most other voice actors fell by the wayside with their sub par performances.

I think that reason I’m tied up about this show is that it was so weak in plot, characters, and direction. It wasn’t what I expected and it showed. There’s a whole episode about perverts and panty shots for god sakes. I didn’t mind it for the comic relief, but a lot of this show, even in its most serious moments, came of as just plain comic and sad. I sadly give what I thought was going to be The Last Airbender, 4.1 out of 10.

I think this sums up everything about this show… And it’s not even good subbed…


Paprika: The Inception Anime

So based on my new obsession with anime, my mom picked this little anime film up for me from the library. I had not expectations and I was delightfully surprised. This anime film, which got positive reviews across the board in 2006, is an anime about dreams. In my opinion, anime is one of the few mediums that can accurately depict dreams. (Nice attempt Christopher Nolan, but this film came 4 years earlier than your Inception.) If I had seen this before I had seen Inception, I would’ve considered Inception a rip-off (sort of is). But it’s comparing apples to oranges. And that’s the way in which this anime stands out.

Paprika is a story that appears to take place in modern day. A Japanese technology company has created a piece of technology known as the DC Mini. These apparatus is used by psychologists to analyze the dreams of patients firsthand in order to diagnose and treat their patients. The one problem? The machine hasn’t been finished. And then it’s stolen. So the members of the company must go on what appears to be a wild goose chase in order to find who stole them before dreams become fused with reality.

That’s what makes this film unique. At any moment, the characters in the film could be dreaming, awake or asleep, and the

What's going on here? Probably why it's rated R...

mind-bending elements that present themselves in this film as the characters navigate the dreams is done beautifully. The film incorporates a love of parades, movies, and the thrill of flight all in one. Although I myself do not dream in terms of surreality, I could appreciate the elements of dreaming used that most people experience. The vivid colors and feeling of a warped reality and drawn beautifully and the movements of the characters are animated fluently and gracefully, something I’ve found that some anime have trouble with. (I guess it all depends on the budget and skill of the artists…)

Yuri Lowenthal. Fat, but good.

The voice actors are decent, most notably is Yuri Lowenthal. I didn’t pick up on his voice immediately, but he is one of those A-list voice actors that get a lot of work today. I think now would be a good time to explain voice acting in terms of skill. In the past (1970’s to 1990’s I believe) voice actors were picked more often for the sound of their voice rather than their acting skills. (It’s like choosing a sports announcer.) But in recent decades, voice actors are being chosen for their versatility and their acting skills. It’s this change that has given a lot of credit to an industry that is not seen as all that credible in America. In a more dramatic sense, in comparison to cartoon voice actors, these actors can perform dramatic as well as comedic and everything in between. And this gives us a better viewing experience because sound is half the battle in anime. Big league hitter companies in anime dubbing are ones like Funimation and Aniplex.

Paprika. Worth the jump.

Other than that, there is a certain cute element to Paprika. If you watch the ending romance you’ll understand. Characters are thrown into each other’s dreams and the underlying feelings that are discovered help bring a happy ending. I do enjoy those snapshot films where a problem arises and returned to normal through understanding and conflict resolution. A “slice of life” if you will. And that’s what Paprika is. A little slice of dreams. 8.1 out of 10.