Hellraiser

I just watched all nine Hellraiser movies. No, I didn't know there were nine of them either.

The decision-making process went something like this:

"There is some unfinished business in my Lament screen saver. I really ought to add the last few moves to that."
"...Hmm, I guess I need to watch the movie again to make sure I got it right."
"...Hmm, I wonder if any of the later movies added new cube behaviors?"

  1. Hellraiser

    Wow, is this movie dated! It's so 80s, with its giant shoulder pads and nuclear family and unfamiliarity with guys in gimp suits with lots of piercings. I remember this being a lot gorier and more shocking than it seems now. Some of the practical effects hold up reasonably well, but it's really not that great a movie.

    The cube goes through the four basic moves, plus there's an impossible shape during the scuffle at the end. It looks like they broke two of the models and just glued them together randomly.

  2. Hellbound

    At the time, I remember thinking this wasn't as good as the first one, but now I think it's a lot better. The Channard and Tiffany characters are pretty interesting, and the whole Leviathan situation is pretty cool. There's really a lot more running and screaming than there needed to be.

    Two new cube behaviors: the opening door, and the transformation into Leviathan. The Leviathan transformation annoys me because some of the pieces of the cube just fade away in a jump cut, and it doesn't even remotely conserve mass. But they are in a hell dimension at the time, so... ok. Also, they changed the orientation of the faces. I assume that was an accident.

  3. Hell On Earth

    This movie is absolutely terrible. They even made the "evil owner of an evil nightclub" boring. (The Crow did that trope much better.) They turned the Cenobites into low-rent late-period Freddy Krugers. This one dimensional character is a cameraman, let's stick a camera in his head. This guy's a DJ, he can shoot CDs out of his mouth. Oh, and since we have a female lead, don't skimp on the daddy issues! Ugh. This is definitely the second worst of the entire series.

    One new cube behavior: a tower pops up and zap, zap, zaps Cenobites. Also, instead of having six distinct faces, the cube only has three faces that are duplicated. Come on, guys, can nobody keep track of the original props?

  4. Bloodline

    Overall, this movie is awful, but it has some good scenes. I really enjoyed the fifteen minutes or so about Lemarchand creating the box, and the Angelique character is kind of interesting, as a Cenobite who predates the gimp-suit fashion trend taking over the hell dimensions. The rest of it is crap: the 90s plot is crap, the Hellraiser In Space plot is crap. I liked the idea of the office building that was itself a Lament Configuration, though they didn't do much with that. Directed by Alan Smithee: probably his finest work since Dune.

    One new cube behavior: instead of the door opening as a square, it opens as a pointy octagon. Nothing special.

  5. Inferno

    This movie is not bad. But it's only barely a Hellraiser movie. It's a noir-ish story about a dirty detective chasing a serial killer who (dum dum dum) might be himself. The extremely small amount of Hellraiser fu in it leads me to believe that the first draft of this script wasn't a Hellraiser movie at all, before they re-tooled it.

    No new box behaviors, since the box barely appears.

  6. Hellseeker

    Oh, hey, Kirsty's back! This one is pretty good. Probably the best one so far. Kirsty's jerk husband finds the box, hallucinates wildly, and maybe murders a bunch of his friends. Nice twist at the end.

    One new box behavior, which might have been a dream: it starts out as a sphere, and then turns into a cube. Whatever.

  7. Deader

    Deader? They actually called the movie Deader? This is another script that pretty clearly started out its life as not-a-Hellraiser-story, but I think it was pretty good. It's kind of Flatliners Go Romania. How do you run a nightclub in a subway car? Note to self, look in to that.

    One new cube behavior: when the chains come out, the whole top of the box breaks open. Dumb.

  8. Hellworld

    This is one of the worst movies I've ever seen. This is some shitty student film that they somehow got Lance Henriksen to be in. This movie is so bad, I think I liked it better when it was called House of Wax and starred Paris Hilton. There are a bunch of assholes who play an online Hellraiser game and someone invites them to a party and kills them all. There's a reason but you will never care even remotely what it is. Or whether any of them live.

    One new cube behavior: nails come out of it. But it wasn't a real Lament Configuration so it doesn't count.

  9. Revelations

    Despite the reviews, I must say, I enjoyed this one! Maybe I was a little punch-drunk by the time I made it this far, though. And anything would be a step up from Hellworld. It starts off with some shaky-cam nonsense, but fortunately they didn't keep that up. A couple of jerky bro teens go to Mexico, murder a hooker, and pick up a Lament Configuration from some dude in a bar, you know, like you do. Most of the movie is told as a flashback at a dinner party with their jerky family, when one of them escapes from hell and shows up skinless on the veranda. Antics ensue.

    The box barely moves at all, but the glowing effects are much better. Oh, and the guy who plays Pinhead is the worst. The worst.

So! While I was at it, I also made a supercut of every on-screen appearance of the box, in all nine movies! It's 26 minutes long.

As soon as I posted it, it was immediately blocked with five or six content-ID matches. So I filed a DMCA fair-use counter-claim, and whattayaknow, it was back up less than a day later. I assumed they just ignored those...

Update: Oh, I see that it says the counter-claim is still "being examined". So you'd better download a copy of it in case they change their mind.

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25 Responses:

  1. Alan Smithee says:

    "Directed by Alan Smithee: probably his finest work since Dune."

    Hey, thanks! It's not quite on par with The Birds II: Land's End, but I'm still proud of it.

  2. grahams says:

    Did you watch these all in one day/sitting?

  3. George McKie says:

    My understanding is that five through eight were just Pinhead injected into random scripts in order to retain the rights. Whereas nine was an original Hellraiser film, produced in thirty days. That is, one month from "oh crap, the Hellraiser rights are expiring" to having a boxed DVD in hand. If they'd had ninety days it might've been a decent reboot.

  4. Ryan Russell says:

    Have you played The Room and The Room Two games for iOS?

  5. Jack says:

    This isn't really related to Hellraiser (although I didn't realize Revelations existed so I should probably go watch it now), but since you linked to your youtubedown script I remembered I wanted to say thanks for making it available. I used it recently to grab some silly clips for a roast we did for my friend's 40th birthday and it worked great.

  6. I liked the idea of the office building that was itself a Lament Configuration, though they didn't do much with that.

    I hazily recall that the short-lived but often surprisingly good Hellraiser comic book (which was really just a horror anthology series that was loosely based on the Hellraiser mythos) had a story or two based around the idea that under the proper circumstances everyday objects (buildings, people, computer programs) could function as Configurations. Possibly worth picking up if you happen to stumble over them somewhere.

    • jwz says:

      I read some of that way, way back and remember thinking it was ok, though I don't remember much of it now. I also picked up a bit of the current run, with Barker writing again, and it didn't grab me.

    • Pavel Lishin says:

      under the proper circumstances everyday objects (buildings, people, computer programs) could function as Configurations.

      Reminds me a bit of Stross's "mathematics is magic" stuff.

  7. jml says:

    19 hours and nobody's commented on the soundtrack yet? One of two favorite Coil albums.

  8. wetdog2 says:

    Hellraiser IV: Bloodline is worth it just to see a young Adam Scott getting the Hellraiser treatment.

  9. Scott teplin says:

    Loved your reviews and video. Thanks for doing the work. It would be awesome to have a companion video with all the phantasm ball shots too! I saw all these movies as an impressionable pre teen and they reall stuck with me.

  10. Felis says:

    #5 is notable for starring Craig Shaffer, who also starred in Nightbreed (another Barker film).

  11. As long as you're updating the screensaver:

  12. Hero says:

    From the tone of your reviews I get the impression you rank the original pretty low. A few of the sequels at least god a "this is actually pretty good" while all you had to say about the original was that it was cheesy and dated and "not too great". Even Revelations's review had a more positive tone, and that's easily the worst movie of the series. It could have been better had it not been so cheap and rushed, but in the end it's like a second-rate fanfilm.

    • jwz says:

      Yeah, the original is really not that good. I remember liking it a lot when it first came out, but it doesn't hold up.

  13. Joe Thompson says:

    Hell on Earth came out when I was in high school. I distinctly remember a classmate describing the CD Cenobite as the most awesome movie monster ever -- to me it sounded like the most ridiculous thing I'd ever heard of. I think the implication (or maybe just assumption) at the time was that this was the concluding installment of a trilogy, so maybe some self-deception in the vein of "I want this to be a worthy final act of this series" was in play.

  14. Stephen Harvey says:

    The box used in the original Hellraiser was a Mayer's Cube, designed by Derek Mayer and produced by Pentangle, a UK puzzle company. There were several different designs of Mayer's Cube, of which Pentangle produced three (I think; I have two of them). The reason for the impossible shape (as I was told by one of the founders of Pentangle) is that one of the crew was playing with the cube on set, took it apart, and then nobody could get it back together again. They therefore ended up breaking one of the pieces to put it together, and glued it back wrong. It is not all that surprising; the Mayer's Cube puzzles are pretty tricky. Beautiful, beautiful examples of puzzle design, though, and Pentangle did a superb job of making them: the pieces slide against each other like oiled silk.

  15. Steen says:

    This may be some of your most important work. Thank you. Also, thank you for using the Correct soundtrack.

    Although, as soon as I clicked play six squad cars drove by my house so, I may not thank you in the future.

  16. Someone I know makes similar puzzle boxes like this out of fancy wood. I think he made a puzzle desk for Darren Aronofsky. It doubles as a musical instrument, and if you play the right melody, shazam! a secret chamber opens up. No gateway to Hell, though.

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