Director – Tony Randel
Cast – Ashley Laurence, Clare Higgins, Kenneth Cranham, Imogen Boorman, Sean Chapman, William Hope. Doug Bradley, Barbie Wilde, Simon Bamford, Nicholas Vince
Release Year – 1988
Reviewed by John of the Dead
It is very rare that a sequel to one of horror’s greatest films is more than just a positive experience, but a truly great watch as well. This is the case for the sequel to Clive Barker’s “Hellraiser”, “Hellbound: Hellraiser II”. Full of amazing visual, eroticism, and multiple layers of elements not seen in the first film, t his flick is one sure to please fans of Clive Barker’s epic masterpiece of a film.
Taking off right where the original left off, Kristy(Ashley Laurence) has been transferred to a mental institution after the aftermath that left her entire family dead. She tells the authorities of the horrible events she just went through, but nobody believes her. This is the worst of her problems though, as the head of the institution, Dr. Channard, is an occultist who has been searching for the door to hell for years, the very door Kristy has seen. In an attempt to save her father from the eternal damnation he is currently undergoing, she follows Dr. Channard in his successful effor to open the door to hell again. Things become much worse for Krista when Dr. Channard resurrects Julia, Krista’s former step-mother and instigator of the hellish troubles Krista has been through. With only a short amount of time tos ave her father, she must do battle with Julia, as well as the heinous Cenobites who have been waiting to reunite with her.
This film surprised me, and in several different ways. Sequels usually benefit easily from the fact that the previous film got the story started, which allows the sequel to take off right away and reap the benefits of nice pacing. “Hellbound: Hellraiser II” did not go that route, and instead came off as its own film, with its own development and continuance of the story. Now, the negative of this is that we don’t get any real amount of action(there are mild scenes thrown in sparingly) until about 50 minutes into the film, after the development of the story. Personally, I enjoyed this and found it to help this film stand on its own as more than just a quick run-on of the previous film, as other sequels tend to do(for instance: “28 Weeks Later”, which I did enjoy BTW). Another thing that surprised me with this film is that it took off in a different direction than I expected. We didn’t get another home-bodied atmosphere in this flick but instead were given much runtime taking place in the hellish underworld the Cenobites reign in. I liked this, especially because it brought out many artistic and amazing visuals, including many symbolic elements and a fair amount of eroticism. This came as a surprise to me given this film’s director, Tony Randel, was pretty much a no-name and had only one non-credited directing nod before this film. Nicely done.
The storyline is an enjoyable one, and is one that takes a bit of development to get going. Once the going “gets” though, the fun and developments never stop. Be sure and pay attention though, if you find yourself drifting a bit during the development process you may be asking more questions about the film than you should when you get into the latter half of the story. We get a bit more action from the Cenobites in this film, especially regarding their origins and how they came to be. It isn’t a lot of information, but it is something to suffice to those wondering where the heck these awesome beasts came from.
I really have no major complaints regarding this film, just keep in mind that it will develop somewhat slowly during the first half of the film, then kick you in the face during the second half.
Overall, this is a great sequel to one of horror’s greatest films that stands on its own as a film, instead of simply reaping the benefits established by its predecessor. Great gore, Cinebite action, awesome visuals, and a great storyline to go with it, this film is a must watch for fans of Clive Barker’s “Hellraiser”.