Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
Director(s): Tony Randel
Writer(s): Peter Atkins (Screenplay), Clive Barker (Story)
Starring: Doug Bradley, Ashley Laurence, Clare Higgins, Kenneth Cranham
I wouldn’t consider myself an artistic person. I mean, I dabble in artistry through various forms of comedy, writing (things like this treasure), music, acting, etc. but I always feel myself more of a spectator than one who dedicates themselves to the craft. I say this because maybe I’m the last person on our fine stable of GUARDalites to gush over the aesthetic quality of a filmmaker but here I go folks; *deep breath* No matter how many horror movies I enjoy for all sorts of genre, I’ve always had a deep appreciation for the look of the first two Hellraiser flicks. More specifically, the terrifyingly beautiful beings called Cenobites that act as judge, jury and executioners throughout the flicks led by one of the most aesthetically appealing horror icons in the genre, Pinhead.
I remember watching the first Hellraiser flick for the first time as a kid and although it hit most points on what I consider to be an entertaining horror movie, there was something different about this experience. I started looking at the fine details of the costumes, makeup and general tone of the movie. This was a dark fairy tale, a fantasy of horror that was just as pleasing to the eyes as it was to the carnal part of our brains that wants to see how, why and when the blood would spatter. The Cenobites were never over the top; in fact they seem indifferent to what they did, almost like most folks that work at the DMV. There was no cackling wisecracks, or intimidating silence. Pinhead talked but he did so with authority and a sense of being amoral. Every time Pinhead spoke it gave gravitas to the entire group of Cenobites deciding the fate of their victim. They dressed in black leather, borderline (or on the money) S&M gear but paired up with their grotesque and/or frightening appearances, you would think that these were not figures of authority. They are representatives of a dimension that is fueled by gore and hedonism and derive pleasure and pain simultaneously. Through simple details like the way they slowly pace around a room or patiently waited for their leader Pinhead to say the word before action, bred a form of intimidation usually reserved for evil politicians. The Cenobites were not killers; they were ambassadors of pain and suffering and carried themselves as such.
Hellraiser II did an impeccable job of what most horror sequels (or sequels in general) should strive for and that’s to expand on the idea planted in the first film. The first flick usually lays the foundation of a concept or character and the sequel takes that gem and expands it to an entire treasure trove. The first Hellraiser flick simply established that there is a puzzle box that brings forth beings known as the Cenobites that lead their victim to their world of pleasure/pain. The sequel however expands on the Cenobites themselves. The first scene alone shows a soldier playing with puzzle box in order to unlock its secrets and promises of ecstasy and instead transformed into the leader of the Cenobites as various nails are pinned to his head (hence the name) and in a short and violent span of a couple seconds, you see how Pinhead came to be. The story follows the protagonist from the first flick, Kristy Cotton who is now in a psychiatric ward from the traumatizing events involving the Cenobites from the first flick befriends a patient who has a knack for solving puzzles (yeah, I know). Unbeknownst to the two ladies, the head Doctor of the Psych ward has an obsession with the puzzle box and its connection to the hell dimension (of course). He eventually makes it to the hell dimension but not until he himself is turned into an unstoppable cenobite and that my friends brings us to the BEST scene in the flick; a showdown between Cenobites. You have the original Cenobites lead by Pinhead that carry out their position of being hell ambassadors and the evil Doctor who has an evil agenda. Although it is a brief scene, it’s still one of my favorite scenes in horror flicks because the battle itself was done in a way that you end up rooting for the torture bearers that at the very least, stick to sacred code.
I will always categorize the Cenobites as the closest thing to the Italian mob in horror flicks, Intimidation through subtle acts until they get to the true nature of their work.
But again…not an artsy fartsy person.