Friday, August 10, 2012

Watched Hellraiser 2: Hellraiser, revisited

at 8:19 PM
I'm from time to time a bit of a movie geek and I like to sit down with Netflix and watch basically anything it tells me to. This can have some shocking and fun results; I've discovered great B movies like House and Terrorvision, documentaries I never would've touched like Grizzly Man, and a whole, fucking lot, of shit. There are bad movies out there. I mean there are movies where it's like, not only who the fuck is making this and who the fuck is watching this, but how was this even conceived. I imagine every once in a while you have someone with a bunch of money who wants a movie and the result doesn't matter - essentially a vanity press, just a lot more expensive. My point here is that I've seen a lot of movies for not a lot of reasons. I just like watching a flick some nights.

Recently I stumbled across Clive Barker's Hellraiser, after having stumbled across Clive Barker's Candyman by word of friend. Clive Barker is one of those names that gets attached to things without a clearly defined role; think of it as the name of a fantasy universe. Your Star Wars or Lord of the Kings. That's essentially what it boils down to - works from a common authorial perspective or those wishing to (with license) mimic it. I've always associated this franchise title with that peculiar pinhead character, Pinhead, assuming he was some kind of slasher mascot akin to Freddy Krueger or Jason the 13th. To my surprise, the films (at least the first few) hardly pay this character any significance and instead flaunt some dark gothic visuals that'll give you an idea of what it would be like if the Borg opened up a butcher shop.

Yeah they're gory, in a sort of creative way. It's not "realistic" gore like a run of the mill slasher, nor is it the silly surprise-type violence of something like Final Destination or the rotten mean-spirited torture porn of Saw. It's more like the artistic directors see humans in different states of disarray as something interesting to look at, like a normal painter would think of natural poses of the human body. It's, in a way, an extrapolated sense of nudity. If you've seen this scene (linked because the picture is a little gross and maybe NWS), you probably can see what I'm talking about.

At the same time, this second film in particular kinda sucked as a story. It was full of intriguing imagery and twisted monsters (who, yes, sometimes stray a bit into the comic) occasionally let down by a low budget (though certainly not nearly as low as something like, say, Basketcase, which I still find gruesomely effective). Yet these dark visuals were used for what was more a visual collage akin to a 90-minute music video than a particularly effective story-telling device. Around 45 minutes I started to wonder whether there was going to be any plot at all, and having finished I can't say that there was. As a matter of fact, I kind of wish they would have relinquished the vain efforts at shoving in any semblance of story and just let the artwork stand for itself. It would have made for a more honest picture, though admittedly not one particularly marketable.

The other dumbass thing about it, and a lot of cheap/low-budget/bad movies do this, is that it has a bunch of flashbacks. At minimum, five minutes are spent retelling the first film, using clips directly therefrom. I assume this type of thing is done to extend running time. It's a technique I find relatively unforgivable. The worst of the shit movies (and I'm talking like Sleepaway Camp 2 bad) flash back to scenes from EARLIER IN THE SAME GODDAMN MOVIE. Point is, this pissed me off a lot in Hellraiser 2, especially because I just watched Hellraiser like two months ago, and twice at that.

So is Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 any good? It's worth watching if you can stomach maggots crawling out of the skin of a still-living man. That sentence is your litmus test - if you're still with me, go check it out. If the thought made you want to barf, skip it. But I recommend everyone go check out the first film. It's a compelling horror film that only for one unfortunate second takes itself too seriously, and it's certainly better than anything they make these days. For sights and sounds alone, you'll remember it.

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