Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Hellraiser 2: Hellbound – review

Director: Tony Randall

Release date: 1988

Contains spoilers

Having decided in a recent ‘Vamp or Not?’ that the original Hellraiser flick can be classed as Vamp due to Uncle Frank (Sean Chapman), and the manner of his resurrection into our dimension and the continued need for blood to reconstitute his body, then it falls that Hellraiser 2: Hellbound should get a review.

Uncle Frank does appear in this episode of the series – in a vision and then in Hell – but it is actually the duplicitous vixen (and, in the more mundane sense of the word, Vamp) Julia (Clare Higgins, Being Human) who draws us to this film.

when Pinhead was a lad
After an introduction where we see the creation of pinhead (Doug Bradley, Umbrage & the Reverend), discovering that he was originally human, the film directly follows the first film. Having foiled the plans of her Uncle Frank and also having closed the puzzle box to send the cenobites back to their Hell dimension, Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) finds herself in the Channard Institute – a hospital for those with mental health impairments – under the care of Dr Channard (Kenneth Cranham, Tale of a Vampire) and his assistant Kyle (William Hope, Dark Shadows).

sacrificed for Julia's return
Kyle hears Channard asking the police for the bloody mattress that Julia died on – and asking for it to be delivered to Channard’s house – and decides to do some snooping. He discovers that Channard is obsessed with the occult and has three lament configuration boxes in his possession. He hides as Channard returns to the house and, from his vantage point, watches as Channard places a deeply disturbed and hallucinating patient on the mattress and hands him a razor. The patient believes that bugs are crawling across him and hacks away at them, spilling blood on the mattress and allowing Julia to reform. It needs noting that she reforms in a much more whole way than Frank did.

a bit of suckocity
Following this Channard provides her with victims to allow her to fully heal. Whereas Frank seemed to put his fingers into the flesh and seemed to somehow draw the blood that way, Julia actually sucks the blood from their mouths (bar the first attack which is much more physical and seems to involve a bite). In folklore we hear of vampires having sucked blood, but they were also known to asphyxiate and from that we can also tie in the idea of sucking breath from other folklore. This feels like an amalgam (though probably not deliberately so) and she also seems, as their skin mottles and pustules form, to be taking their lifeforce with their blood. It should be noted that we discover later in the film that Julia is not an escapee, as Frank was, but apparently has been allowed back to harvest souls.

Kenneth Cranham as Channard
Channard has a young mute girl, known as Tiffany (Imogen Boorman), in the institute. She is a dab hand with puzzles and he intends to use her to open the box. Meanwhile Kirsty has had a vision of her father’s skinned body and believing that he is in Hell (whilst we later discover it was actually Uncle Frank) she decides she has to rescue him. As such they all end up in Hell – but once in they have to get out…

Despite the occasional wobbly wall – and the fact that the some of the SFX is dated – this is a great film. It follows directly on from the first film, was written by Barker and he makes his heroine suffer. Not all the film makes a huge amount of sense; giving the Doctor the mattress needs some suspension of disbelief, the Victorian bedlam conditions in the basement doesn’t necessarily stand scrutiny and the “take over” in Hell seems odd. But for every moment like that there are truly great bits – like the real identity of the cenobites.

Julia's victims
The film does exactly what you’d want it to do and delivers some gruesome horror in spades. 7 out of 10. The imdb page is here.

Incidentally – it is the return of Frank and Julia that makes me look at these films for TMtV. The return (or probably the de-petrification) of Pinhead in the third film involves blood and flesh as an agent of his escape but is not a resurrection as such and does not lead to a greater need to hunt for flesh for continued restoration. Thus the third film does not have a vampire element in my opinion.

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