I’ve seen Hellbound: Hellraiser II so many times over the years now, from tape to blu-ray...and I’ve come to the conclusions it’s not the best in the franchise. Oh, don’t worry, I fucking love it. It’s an amazing piece of cinema; original, dark, adult - everything I want from a horror film, but the thing is that it also have some obvious problems with the budget, making more than a few scenes distractingly cheesy - from special effects and to just the execution of them. But hear me out, girls and boys: I don’t hate it and it’s close to my heart, but after seeing it so many times the technical problems with it is getting more and more obvious.
Yeah, you know me: I’m not the one to whine over bad special effects, I have imagination compared to those who constantly whine over even perfect digital effects where there’s no chance in hell they’re bad. I like the story, and maybe that’s what the problem lies. The story just doesn’t hold up well enough to make me ignore the budgetary problems. Lets take a look at it… Kirsty Cotton is back, as usual played by the great Ashley Laurence, this ends just hours after the first movie ends and Kirsty is locked up at a psychiatric clinic under the supervision by the sinister doctor Channard (Kenneth Cranham). This is not a big surprise, considering the stuff she experienced in her first adventure with the cenobites! Anyway, after a while Channards true plans are revealed - he wants to experience the power of the lamet box, and actually owns several of them, and by getting his hands on the mattress from Kirstys house he can evoke her evil stepmother, who joins him in getting in opening the portals to Cenobite hell!
There’s also a young girl who’s an expert on puzzles and a young doctor that falls in love with Kirsty, but both of them feels more like baggage to the story, and distracts the story from what’s interesting: Channards obsession with the box and Kirsty’s fight to get away from yet another meeting with the Cenobites. Those two stories are the key to the story, and the rest is just fillers. You never really feel the young girl is in danger and the good doctor feels like something they put in the movie to attract a female audience, even if he actually looks pretty strange. There’s sequences of pure BRILLIANCE in Hellraiser 2, for example when Channard first tries out the mattress, or a couple of scenes down in “hell” (or what it’s suppose to be). The Leviathan is a brilliant invention and even if the special effects never is 100% successful those scenes a fantastic, a trigger of imagination like never before or after.
I really like the twist with Kirsty’s father, something that wasn’t planned from the beginning and actually is part of a rewrite, which both made it less connected to the first film, but in a creative way found a new path to follow. Except this the story just goes on without much trouble, there’s rarely a sense of danger or dread - something the first film had, but it also felt more like an extremely dark relationship drama, just with a very macabre gory twist. In Hellraiser 2 it was already part of a high concept mythology, which the producers came back to in movie after movie - some good, some bad, but most of the times better than people say. I don’t see either this one or the first movie as holy grails, but instead highly original and sometimes intelligent horror films - always ready to let us expand the universe of Pinhead and friends.