Archive for the ‘Cenobites’ Tag

Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)   Leave a comment

 

cenobites

Kirsty, Julia, and Pinhead are back!

Hellbound: Hellraiser II starts immediately after the first film ends. Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) wakes up in a mental hospital and tries to explain to doctors and the police why there’s so much blood at their house and everybody’s dead. Oddly, they’re not buying the cenobite story. Nutty Doctor Philip Channard (Kenneth Cranham), who interned with the Marquis de Sade, runs the sanitarium. He also has a wacky hobby. He collects puzzle boxes, phrenology diagrams, and spare body parts. Needless to say, he has a bangin’ social life. The doctor asks the police to bring a blood-soaked mattress from Kirsty’s crime scene house. Yep, it’s completely normal for law enforcement to hand evidence over to some guy who collects kinky dead people stuff. Anyway, the authorities bring Channard the nasty mattress and since he’s done extensive research on nasty mattress dead people retrieval, he knows what to do. Channard’s a sadistic bastard so he brings a highly delusional patient to his home, plops him down on the bloody mattress and waits for the magic to happen. It does. Julia (Clare Higgins), emerges from the depths and steals the poor schizophrenic’s guts and Channard’s heart. Well, maybe the heart is the wrong organ.

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“I’d walk through the gates of Hell for a good Chardonnay.”

Julia’s not ready to settle down, at least not until she gets a face. To that end, Dr. Channard drags his hopeless cases over to Julia so she can eat their innards and get some skin so they can consummate this affair.

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“Bring me the head of a manic depressive.”

Dr. Channard has been yearning for this kind of depravity his whole life. We see flashbacks to the doctor’s misspent youth as a torturer of small animals and scenes of him experimenting on patients. He’s not a right guy. Of course, by now, we all know Julia’s no prize either so the doctor had better watch his back.

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Breaking up is hard to do.

At the same time Dr. Channard and Julia are playing the balcony scene from Romeo and Dahmer, Kirsty and another patient, Tiffany (Imogen Boorman), battle with the cenobites in a weird Escher-like rampart opened by the puzzle box. Full of tortured souls, long hallways, and candles, the dungeon houses the cenobites, their victims, and Uncle Frank. Remember Frank (Sean Chapman) from the first Hellraiser film? He’s been lounging around Pinhead’s playhouse waiting for a little action.

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I think I had this calendar once.

There are a couple side stories too. Tiffany is a gifted puzzle-solver the evil doctor imprisoned in his asylum to help him open the box. She’s compelled to do puzzles of all kinds and instead of curing that compulsion, Channard encourages it.

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Cenobite Puzzle Boxes: You can’t stop at just one!

There’s also Kyle (William Hope), a young resident at the hospital, determined to help Kirsty.

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“Sooo then the guy with nails in his face showed up? Mmmkay.”

That’s when some major stuff goes down. Kirsty, Julia, Frank, Dr. Channard, and the cenobites act out And Then There Were None in the Escher drawing. It’s bloody and thrilling and full of cool, disgusting effects. Dr. Channard’s torture is downright ghastly.

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“Candy bar!”

The writers, Clive Barker and Peter Atkins, interject some humanity into this morass as well. Kirsty and Tiffany are our heroes, of course, but they find an unlikely ally and that adds depth to the film.

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“Does anyone have an aspirin?”

I like Hellbound: Hellraiser II a lot. For a long time, the first film in the series was my favorite, but this one is edging it out. I like it more with each viewing. The acting, especially in the first two films, is far better than in a lot of gory films of the period and the story and characters are riveting. Christopher Young’s music even won a Saturn Award. The best part is you get a lot more cenobite for the buck. The filmmakers must have known they had a good thing so they didn’t hide the leather-clad freaks. Giving Pinhead and his merry band more screen time works a treat. This is a fun one.

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“Anyway, we opened the box.”

 

Hellraiser (1987)   Leave a comment

hellraiser
“We’ll tear your soul apart.”

Clive Barker’s creepy masterpiece about a Pandora’s Box-like puzzle which opens a portal to a nasty, torture-filled realm still brings shivers to my spine. Andy Robinson, in an unusual nice-guy role, stars as Larry. He’s newly married to Julia (Clare Higgins) who’s not very nice. To give you some idea, she has sex with her husband’s brother (Sean Chapman) atop her wedding gown.

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“Nope. No cavities, baby. Now let’s get it on before my brother gets home.”

Sweet. Anyway, Frank, the sexy brother, has gone and gotten himself captured by cenobites and lives in constant pain and torment in some nether world. He escapes and needs blood to bring him back to his former hot, and yet depraved self. Since Julia lost her blood bank library card, she fulfills Frank’s desires for vital fluids by luring lonely, horny men back to her place for a bit of bouncy-bouncy. Hijinks and claw hammers to the head ensue. Oh wait, I mentioned cenobites. Did I forget to describe them? Cenobites are pale, leather-clad creatures with bizarre piercings who show up whenever someone solves the puzzle box. They look like the Harkonnens at a Berlin S&M club.

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“Come here often?”

Cenobites inhabit this weird, hinted at torture dimension and only come out to recruit new meat. Frank escapes from the Marquis de Sade’s rumpus room and brings Pinhead and his pals out into the light to sic them on Larry and his grown daughter, Kirsty (Ashley Laurence), for whom he has decidedly non-avuncular thoughts.

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Kirsty realizes Rubik has an evil twin.

Kirsty has to fight off Julia and Frank and an evil gang dressed like kinky art students to save herself and her dad. She does a good job of it too. She’s a strong character who thinks on her feet. When we first meet her, Kirsty’s not thrilled with her father’s recent marriage, but she doesn’t fall into the trap of doubting her own suspicions. It’s refreshing.

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Julia’s a little cold around the heart.

The acting in Hellraiser lifts the film above other horror films of the era. Laurence convinces as the young woman faced with saving herself and her family from eternal damnation. Along with Laurence, Robinson, Higgins, and Chapman, Doug Bradley, as the leader of the cenobites, gives a wonderful performance. Bradley is menacingly calm. He never raises his voice. He doesn’t have to. His threats are real.

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“Honey, the Welcome Wagon’s here!”

I like the Hellraiser series. It’s grisly and dark and the cenobites are cool. They don’t get enough screen time in this film, but they’re impressive and unlike any other baddies in 80s films. We also get to hear the tension punctuated by Christopher Young’s terrific score every time they appear. It’s a dramatic and scary combination.

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If Clive Barker directed Brazil.

Hellraiser is gory and over-the-top and one of my favorite horror films of the 80s.

 

 

 

 

 

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