The Gore Score: “Hellbound: Hellraiser II” (1988) Review

Hellraiser 1 was extremely successful and had a huge fan base after it’s release and bear in mind this was the 1980s so of course this calls for a sequel! ASAP judging by it’s release date. Respectfully the sequel picks up right after the ending of part 1 and does what sequels should do, expand on the original ideas while trying to tell it’s own story. Hellraiser 2 is only half successful in that department.

Kirsty Cotton is placed in a mental hospital after telling her tale to the police about the Demons from Hell terrorizing her and having to put up with a nut bag uncle who stole her father’s skin, while her evil stepmother sneered, etc. Of course no one can take this craziness seriously, except for the head administrator of the hospital, genius and brain surgeon, Dr. Channard, and his loyal apprentice, Kyle. Dr. Channard himself has quite the secret obsession and is doing Kirsty no favors by getting involved.

After one very well-directed scene where Kirsty has a vision, or dream, or something of the skinless, dripping body of her father, or so she thinks, with the message beckoning “I am in Hell. Help me”. After meeting a fellow mute patient Tiffany, excellent puzzle solver extraordinaire, Kirsty ends up getting sucked back into the world of the Ceneobites, and so does Dr.Channard who ends up resurrecting queen bitch Julia, who is back with some sort of vague agenda collecting souls and maybe seeking revenge on Kirsty, I’m not too sure. Kirsty and Tiffany end up running through endless hallways of the labyrinth overlooked by Leviathan, “a godlike entity that takes the form of a lozenge-shaped beacon floating above the maze.” While the Ceneobites cackle in the shadows, their chains and hooks flying through the air. Ummm, I think that about covers it.

I’ll be honest, and it’s quite frank itself, this sequel barely makes any sense at anytime it’s actually quite laughable. so there goes the suspense. Unlike part 1, this movie has no strong plot or anything to invest in on emotional level. What it lacks in any substance it makes up in pure style. It goes into full sequel mode as well, jacking up the gore and aesthetics to the More is Always better. Gone is the artistry and more in favor of gut wrenching smut. I actually really liked it. My fav scene has to be the schizophrenic scraping maggots that aren’t there off his arms and torso, taking off chunks of flesh in the process, followed by the resurrection of Julia who turns the schizo into a seeping, rotted husk. Great over the top scene.

Now according to many sources, IMDB obviously being one of them, the script had to be rewritten at the very last minute when Andrew Robinson declined to reprise the role Larry due to little screen time, no increase in pay,etc. so that is partly to blame for the lack of coherent plot. Everything is somewhat trivial once you discover the final SHOCKING revelation in this final cut. Still, I have read Peter Atkins original screenplay online and there’s still lot’s that doesn’t make any sense in the grand scheme of things and is it’s own self contained scene, followed by endless running and name calling by our heroines. Also, he recycles Andrew Robinson’s scene in Hellraiser 3, where it was originally suppose to be Larry and Frank and fight and meld into each other. Kind of awful really.

Thankfully Hellraiser 2 stays true to the spirit of part 1 and is the only successful companion piece. It’s helmed by a talented director in my opinion. Lot’s of great imagery backed by slick audio. Loved the tracking shots of the pipes dripping water and blowing steam on the “maintenance” floor while the screams of the insane are heard on the soundtrack. Lot’s of cool shots like that in this candy.

Listening to the soundtrack as I write this, composed by Christopher Young yet again, performed by Graunke Symphony Orchestra, it’s the best thing about it and sounds amazing on DTS. Seek it out.

A grandiose sequel that gets the job done, whatever it’s contents faults.

–Vince Fontaine