Why do I do this to myself? If you know me, then you know that my relationship with Pinhead is complicated. He scares me but I respect his swagger. I really got lucky with this movie, then, since Pinhead has maybe fifteen minutes of screen time.
This sequel to the original Hellraiser is directed by Tony Randel with Clive Barker staying on as executive producer. If this movie had a theme, I’d say it was the banality of evil because the bad guys in this movie are so dang banal.
The movie starts with a two-minute flashback that I call “Pinhead: Origins.” An army guy (that I only know is Elliot Spencer because I’m familiar with the Hellraiser universe, I don’t think we even hear his name in the movie for over an hour; Doug Bradley plays Elliot Spencer and Pinhead) solves the Lament Configuration (Fancy name for the Rubik’s Cube O’ Death) and we see a quick montage of him becoming Pinhead.
Then forget that you saw that because we’re back in the present. It’s right after the events of the last movie and Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence) is in a mental hospital after telling her account of what happened to her dad, stepmother, and uncle.
She begs Dr. Channard (Kenneth Cranham) and his assistant, Kyle (William Hope, who played Gorman in Aliens to destroy the mattress that her stepmother Julia (Clare Higgins) died on.
It seems like Dr. Channard doesn’t believe Kirsty but he’s actually been searching for a way to solve the Lament Configuration. Why? Who knows. He says it’s to understand. It seems like he wants to understand consciousness and death but opening an S&M torture hell dimension seems a little extreme. This is a problem the movie has, the character’s motivations never seem clear. At one point, reanimated Julia dubs herself the Evil Queen, but why? What is she even working towards?
Dr. Channard runs home and summons Julia from the beyond pretty quickly. Like Uncle Frank in the last movie, it just takes some blood. Julia shows up in a much more complete state, just missing her skin. The effects with the body horror really shine, even if they suffer the same jerky stop motion in other sequences. The body horror is top-notch.
Meanwhile, Kirsty is receiving Hell-o-grams that her dad is trapped in Hell and is as skinless as a Lean Cuisine chicken dinner.
Luckily, Kyle has witnessed Julia’s return and realizes that Kirsty was telling the truth. Dr. Channard falls for Julia pretty immediately, despite her utter lack of skin and clearly being evil.
This is what I mean about the banality of evil with these characters. They’re motivated to total, unrepentant evil, over the littlest things. At least Voldemort had a master plan and wasn’t just thinking with his Voldepenis.
Kyle springs Kirsty from the hospital and he discovers that Julia’s been feeding on patients that Dr. Channard has provided. Julia dispatches Kyle and attacks Kirsty. When Kirsty wakes up, she finds another patient, Tiffany (Imogen Boorman), who’s obsessed with puzzles, solving the Lament Configuration.
The Female Cenobite (Barbie Wilde) is all for claiming Tiffany but Pinhead is all, “No! It’s not the hands that summon, it’s desire.” So there is a kind of logic to the universe, I appreciate that. Also, this doesn’t happen until 51 minutes into the movie. For almost an hour, this is the Julia and Channard Show. Apparently, Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 was commissioned within a week of the original Hellraiser being released. But Clare Higgins didn’t want to return as Julia and the filmmakers realized how popular Pinhead was. Hellbound was supposed to have the last appearance of Pinhead. Thank goodness they changed this, since Julia’s desires are just so petty, and I find Pinhead to be much more interesting. I’ll continue to watch Hellraiser movies, even though Pinhead scares me, if I can learn more about his origins.
Kirsty enters hell to try to find her father, and Tiffany is wandering in this fantastic, circus-like hellscape. There’s a clown juggling eyeballs and a baby sewing its own eyelids shut. The scene has this jarring, dissonant music that’s just great. I’d post pics but Netflix sent me a funky DVD and I had to switch from my computer’s player to my DVD player. So no screencaps of this really cool scene, just trust me, it was one of my favorites and terribly creepy.
Dr. Channard and Julia are wandering in his quest for knowledge with absolutely no further explanation of what he wants aside from sex with Julia, who’s lost her power mullet from the first movie.
But this is Julia and she’s eternally devious and was just looking for a soul to give to Leviathan, who I guess is the big bad of the dimension. Dr. Channard is taken by this human-sized puzzle box and for a brief moment looks like this Francis Bacon painting, “Figure with Meat.” I guess those art history classes weren’t pointless.
Meanwhile, Kirsty has found her dad’s house but Uncle Frank is really there. He tricked Kirsty because his torment is being surrounded by beautiful women but being unable to have sex. Reeeeeeeally? That’s his torment? How did he even get through high school… Julia saves Kirsty by destroying Frank, not out of any affection, mind you, but in revenge for Frank stabbing her.
You think Dr. Channard is dead but it looks like he’s become Pinhead Two: Electric Boogaloo and he’s ridiculous. He has these worm penis-things coming from his hands and he has this biomechanical robotic penis coming from his head. The worst part? He somehow kills all the Cenobites. There’s something so pathetic watching Pinhead die, although I suspect he wouldn’t have died if Kirsty hadn’t reminded him of his mortal identity.
Julia loses her skin. Literally, it comes off like taking off rubber gloves. Kirsty is out of commission and Channard is advancing on Tiffany when Julia shows up again, looking a little worse for the wear. They kiss and it’s an uncomfortably long scene, seriously, it’s about two minutes long. Tiffany solves the puzzle box that’s been bouncing around and it turns out that that wasn’t Julia at all. Kirsty put on Julia’s damn nasty skin to save herself and Tiffany. The two-minute long kiss bought them time. Solving the puzzle box kills Dr. Channard and they return home.
But that damn mattress is there and a workman emptying Channard’s house gets sucked into it. Would someone please, PLEASE, just destroy the murder mattress?
My favorite part of this movie? Kirsty Cotton. Nancy Thompson and Laurie Strode get a lot of attention as final girls but I think Kirsty is so resourceful, especially for someone facing the actual powers of Hell.
I’m pretty scathing in this recap and I know this is going to upset some horror fans but I stand by what I said. While the effects were good (Some of them. A lot suffered from the stop-motion scorpion demon effect from the first movie, especially the penis worm hands) the plot was muddled and the character’s motivations were mostly unclear, especially regarding the bad guys. The performances of the baddies were good but I just couldn’t care about anything they wanted. I love Clive Barker’s writing but this movie is a mixed bag. Just because something is considered iconic doesn’t mean it’s good. I only recommend this movie if you’re a Hellraiser completist. I’m a completist so there’s a good possibility that I’ll watch the whole damn series, no matter how terrible it becomes. I expect my suffering will be legendary, even for hell.