Hellraiser 6: Hellseeker (2002)
Director: Rick Bota
Sarah Jane Redmond/Gwen
Trevor (Winters) and his cutie wife Kirsty (Laurence), who also happens to be the heroine from the first two Hellraiser films, get in a car accident that leaves the latter RIP. When Trevor wakes up, he finds himself living in a surreal reality where not much makes sense. Oh and Pinhead (Bradley) pops up for some reason; I think he stepped into the wrong movie again. Let’s go to hell…again?
The “Hellraiser” series as we know it took a new turn for the better and the worst with "Hellraiser: Inferno" and Hellseeker follows in those footsteps. On the upside, this new sequel aims for a more mature, if not overdone mind fuck/film noir type vibe, but on the mucho downside, it doesn’t have much to do with the “Hellraiser” series as we first knew it. Here’s the scoop on the pleasure and the pain which the film brought me. Whip it, whip it good!
Pleasure: Much like Part 5, Hellseeker pulls an “Angel Heart”-light on our asses and plunges its lead character, as well as the audience, into a trippy world of visions, mind-bending reality, confused identity, flashbacks, what not.
I groove on mind-fuck films and although the conventions used in Hellseeker are far from unique, the film is still right up there in terms of total brain rape. This baby doesn’t waste any time in ravaging our senses with its constant leaps from the present, to the past, back to another time in the present, back to another time in the past and so forth. Needless to say that sitting through this picture was much like putting the pieces of a puzzle together, and in the end, I was pleasantly surprised when I found out what the puzzle revealed. Let’s just say that I didn’t expect the narrative to take that route and that the slick cap-off elevated my overall enjoyment of the picture.
On the whole, the film kept me engaged throughout most of its odd happenings, its constant sexual energy (lots of horny chicks in here), its “The Crow” like flashbacks, its good/bad cop on the case subplot, its nods to the first "Hellraiser", its winks at other horror movies (catch "The Hills Have Eyes" reference?) and its spooky situations. Lastly, although very brief, it was a blast for me to see our gal Kirsty (Laurence) back in action. The sight of her holding that puzzle box and talking shop with Pinhead made me feel so nostalgic. We missed ya, Kirsty! Is that a tear in my eye?
Pain: This flick’s biggest stab in the back is bringing our beloved heroine Kirsty back to the series and totally under-using her. The DVD's director's commentary mentioned that they cut a lot of the scenes that connected this sequel to the rest of the Hellraiser series down, so that they would not alienate the uninitiated viewer. Hey man...how about not alienating the hardcore fans? I mean, we’re the ones who are going to rent this sucker NOT “Mr. Everybody”! How about a little fucking respect for all the cash we put into this series over the years! On a storyline level, the flick doesn’t waste any time in plunging us into a whacked out world but tended to overplay that card. It got a tad redundant at times and tension was rarely felt. It would’ve been nice if the film hit more levels. I also felt that the lead (Winters) was way too “passive” about everything for me to genuinely give a damn about him. Dude, your wife is dead, you have hooks in your face...REACT FOR THE LOVE OF PAIN! When our hero spat out the famous “Angel Heart” line “I know who I am”; I didn’t buy it or feel an ounce of sympathy for him.
To make the lashes more painful, the Cenobites in this sequel are underwhelming to say the least and look more like duders in rubber suits than creatures from hell. NOTE: Chatterer briefly pops up (don’t blink). As for Pinhead, he’s one of the film’s weakest links; he’s just so useless here. Much like in Inferno, he only pops up to talk the occasional mumbo-drivel and slap a morale the hero’s way. I felt embarrassed for our cherished Prince of Pain and it’s obvious to me that this flick could’ve easily done without him or the Hellraiser elements. The hooks, the box and Pinhead are solely there to justify the title and that in itself, is a damn shame. I expect the next installment “Hellraiser Deader” to take the same treacherous highway.
Overall, "Hellraiser: Hellseeker" did provide for some quality entertainment and I dug it as a stand alone. But much like Inferno, who the fuck are they trying to swindle with this? This movie hardly has anything to do with the Hellraiser series and even the brief inclusion of Kirsty can’t fool this fool into thinking that this is a true Hellraiser sequel. Let Pinhead retire already and continue this series under a “supernatural, film noir collection” tag or something. Hook on this!
We get some red wet gifts: a nasty brain surgery, a CGI heel, a needle in the throat, ice pick in the head, a head popping out of another head (you heard me), bullet in the head, hook action and more.
Dean Winters (Trevor) does ok with the material that he’s given, but I found him to be a bland and unexpressive lead. He gives under-acting a new meaning. Ashley Laurence (Kirsty) shines in the limited time she’s given, it was great to see the dame kicking it again. Doug Bradley (Pinhead) walks through this one; I think he also knew that Pinhead doesn’t have much to do with this sequel. Sarah Jane Redmond (Gwen) does the S&M jive very well and has a belly I’d love to lick 24/7. William S. Taylor (Det. Lange) charmed me with his unique behavior; there was something about the guy that just made me want to watch him go. Good job!
T & A
We get lots of broads in their undergarments and two tit shots. The ladies get Dean Winters in a tank top. Nothing to call the boyz over.
The “Seven”-esque look kicks in again with the colors being washed out and the tone being all grim. It still works although it’s starting to get a little tired. Bota handles his directorial duties well by slapping in potent slow motion, giving the images an effective bluish tint, using the occasional blurry cam and delivering stylish camera angles. Competent.
I hated the rock soundtrack blaring about, but the score worked when it played its game on a subtle note. Unfortunately, it overdid it most of the time. A bummer; where’s Christopher Young when you need him?
Distribution: Dimension Films Home
DVD Release Date: October 22, 2002
IMAGE: The 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen image is mostly sharp but I found it to be too dark at times and the occasional grain popped out.
SOUND: I was satisfied with the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track that put out the dialogue very clearly and amplified the spooky sounds of the chilling situations in the film.
Audio commentary: This commentary by director Rick Bota goes a lot into specific shots, trivia on what original scenes were supposed to be, why they wound up they way they were, the characters and the look of the film. Overall, a very interesting commentary.
Alternate scenes (~ 2 minutes each): Here we get to see 3 scenes that were cut down in the final cut of the film. They are named: "Old Man and Trevor," "Kirsty Confronts Trevor" and "Pinhead Talks to Kristy". What do the three scenes have in common? All three solidified the connection of this sequel with the Hellraiser mythology and that’s mostly why they were cut out. This feature is particularly slick from a “Hellraiser” fan point of view. NOTE: We get the option of listening to a commentary by Bota while the scenes unravel.
Visual Effects Walk-Thru (~ 2 minutes): This feature has a narration by effects artist Jamison Goei as he takes us through before/after looks at how some of the effects in the film were accomplished. It’s aight!
If you boogied with "Hellraiser: Inferno", you’ll most likely get a few hooks in the throat from this one. The flick is well shot, eerie and will mind-bang your every orifice. But if you’re going in here expecting Kirsty, Pinhead and the Cenobites to be relevant factors in this hallucinatory ball game; get ready for a letdown, because they’re basically window dressing to allow the makers to call this baby “Hellraiser”. What is Dimension doing? Guys, we’re the fucking audience for these sequels! We’re the ones who are going to rent this! I would suggest making the future Hellraiser sequels more “fan friendly” because this half-ass way of using the Hellraiser elements will come back to bite you in the ass sooner or later. When money walks, Pinhead can be inserted in any film so they can cash in! Now that is hell.
The film was shot in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Rick Bota was the cinematographer on “Valentine”.