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Hellraiser (SE)
BLU-RAY disk
04.03.2009 By: Sturdy
Hellraiser (SE) order
Director:
Clive Barker

Actors:
Andrew Robinson
Clare Higgins
Ashley Laurence

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A woman tries to help her brother-in-law escape the pits of hell by bringing him “food”. But things don’t go well when Hell’s soldiers come out to get him back. Eventually the entire family has to defend themselves from the evils of hell.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Nearly 20 years since I first saw this film as a much-too-young child, I still don’t see what people like about it. I definitely appreciate the grandness of the film and what Barker was trying to do. I can imagine that with a 20 million dollar budget, the film would have been something much more. But instead, we get a 20 million dollar script and a 1 million dollar movie.

Most screenwriting classes will tell you to write the script for your budget. In most cases, the budget is low, so a general rule is to write a low-budget script. Someone should have told Barker that because with the hell dimensions, scary creatures, special effects and extreme violence, he clearly didn’t adjust his script. The downside to that is that this overly ambitious script looks more like amateur hour when realized on the big screen.

I liked the human stories in the film, but the movie would’ve been better without Kristy (the daughter). They could have split her parts up between the brother and the wife and it would’ve simplified things a little bit. Or at least create some kind of Julia-Kristy hybrid character. Barker also should’ve simplified the Cenobite angle and focused more on Pinhead just “appearing” out of nowhere. We didn’t need any effects with him because he was creepy enough. Just have him appear “alone” and stick to the shadows. I didn’t mind the three-way relationship with Frank, his brother and his brother’s wife. It worked for what they needed it to do.

Maybe Clive Barker knew that the film would spark 7 sequels and that’s why he left a lot of questions unanswered and a lot of themes open. I did like the themes of pleasure and pain and the lengths people will go to in order to survive, but I thought they got lost with the desire to do too much. Overall, I found the movie to be predictable and poorly executed, which took away from the decent story and idea.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary with Clive Barker, Ashley Laurence and Peter Atkins: I didn’t give him credit in my review, but Barker is a smart guy that knows horror. He does a great job in the commentary and Ashley chimes in when prompted by Peter Atkins. Peter, by the way is the moderator and the only reason this track works. This is a good commentary and fans of the series should enjoy it.

Interviews (45:31): This is a collection of interviews, broken up into three sections. The one with the composer was pretty dry, but the one with Ashley Laurence was entertaining. I love how everyone involved with the sequels can readily admit they’re bad. That’s very refreshing.

Hellraiser: Resurrection (24:58): This featurette was made for the SE DVD a while back and Barker was heavily involved with it. It covers the basics of the film, but the treat is to hear Barker speak so openly about the film and the series. Obviously, this was intended to promote the remake of the film, but I enjoyed it anyway.

Under the Skin (12:03): Pinhead himself shows up for his own interview and it’s pretty good. A lot of it is similar to what he said in the making-of featurette, but it’s still worth watching.

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FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I know HELLRAISER has its fans, but to me, it just didn't work. It tried to do too much with too little and that hurt the entire film. If you haven't seen it by now, I wouldn't bother.
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