It was only a matter of time but we've made it. We're in sequel territory. To be fair we haven't really done too many franchise movies here at 2Spooky, but that will most likely change. We may not always go in order, we may not always do the first movie of a franchise. For example, on our main show we just reviewed Friday the 13th so an article here is probably not going to happen any time soon. Sequels, though? That's fair game. But were not here to talk about Friday the 13. We're here to talk about Hellbound: Hellraiser II. The followup to Clive Barker's original work sees both writing and directorial duties shift. What does that mean? Let's get in there and break it down and as always, spoilers.
The first thing to note about Hellraiser II is that it has a significantly worse approval rating among both critics and audiences. If you recall, the original Hellraiser's approval was sitting comfortably at 68% and 73% respectively, while Hellraiser II drops considerably to 54% and 58% respectively. For casting we have some familiar faces which is to be expected with sequels, mainly Ashley Laurence as Kirsty, Clare Higgins as Julia, and Doug Bradley as series mascot Pinhead. Also making a return is, as far as I'm concerned, one of the most epic soundtracks in all of horror which is a definite upside, but that's all I'll say about the music. There are a few new faces, but the only important one to remember is Kenneth Cranham as Dr. Channard for story purposes.
Speaking of the story, what is it? Hellraiser II picks up either immediately after or shortly after the events of Hellraiser, and they make sure you're up to speed by recapping the entire end of the first movie at the beginning of this one which, in all honesty, is kind of a lazy way to pad out the run time of your movie. If people are going to see the sequel odds are good they saw the original. You don't need to explain how your last movie ended during your current movie. They even do this again almost immediately when Kirsty is relaying her story to a detective, using seemingly alternate takes of the original movie as flashback footage like we wouldn't notice or something. Also, at the start of the movie she's being held in a psych ward because of...reasons. Literally, they don't explain how or why she got there, they just roll with it. And that's only the beginning. Buckle up, boys and girls because it's about to get really weird really fast.
So Dr. Channard also here's Kirsty's story and tells the cops to deliver the mattress Julia died on in the first movie to his house even though the detective told them to tag it as evidence and the cops just go ahead and do it, again because of reasons. Once we get inside of his house we find out that he knows about puzzle boxes and already has 3 of them, because more than one exists now because of REASONS.
So Channard pulls one of the crazy patients out of the sub-basement of his psych ward which, can we just pause there for a minute? Why is he keeping patients in a sub-basement? Like, it's labeled "Maintenance" on the elevator button which leads me to believe that he doesn't want people to know they're down there but like, they have to be admitted, right? So people know these patients are there? Does nobody inspect this hospital? Wouldn't anyone see him leaving the hospital with the patient? I'm so confused. Anyway, he takes one of the crazies back to his house and sets him down on the mattress and then gives this dude a razor so he can try and cut out the maggots that he thinks are crawling all over him and what follows is actually a pretty great body horror scene. If you don't believe me, check it out, but keep in mind that everything in this scene is happening because of reasons:
If you're reading this without having watched the movie and you're confused about the last bit, that's Julia. In a not-quite-the-same-way-it-happened-in-the-first-movie-but-close-enough-nobody-is-keeping-score kind of way Julia is revived once this dude's blood makes contact with the mattress. From here it kind of becomes a soft reboot of Hellraiser. Channard is tasked with bringing Julia people so she can...drink them and get her skin back? Similar to what Frank was doing but instead of having to steal someone else's skin she actually does get her skin back so I guess she was just stronger than Frank? I don't know, none of it is explained so I assume it boils down to reasons. But I'm getting a little ahead of myself.
Anyway, Channard's helper doctor Kyle (seen in the clip above) sees all of this and goes back to bust Kirsty out of the psych ward and she, after seeing a vision of what she thinks is her dad asking her for help, vows to go to Channard's to get one of the boxes so she can save her dad. Meanwhile, Channard grabs this girl out of the psych ward (not from "maintenance" mind you, from the mine floor. The room next to Kirsty's to be exact. How does nobody see and/or stop him??) and brings her back because she's some kind of puzzle genius which I guess means you're a crazy person, but whatever, we all know where this is going. He wants her to solve the puzzle box for him so he can see what's on the other side or something. Kyle and Kirsty break into the house while Channard is gone but Julia ends up drinking Kyle and knocking Kirsty unconscious but she doesn't drink her because she's the main character.
So Tiffany the puzzle master obviously solves the puzzle because what kind of a movie would we have if she didn't, and if you thought the movie was weird up until now, it's about to crank that dial up to 11 and yank off the knob. For my younger readers, televisions used to have knobs on them, and you had to physically turn the dials to change the volume or channel and why am I even talking about this? Back to Hellraiser II. The cenobites show up and somehow know that Tiffany didn't call them on purpose EVEN THOUGH they didn't have a problem with it a few hours? days? ago when Kirsty solved the box. Whatever. Pinhead knows that it was someone else who really wanted them here but oddly enough they don't go after Channard and Julia either. They go after Kirsty again and she wasn't even the one who opened the box this time but they don't seem to care.
Meanwhile, Julia is leading Channard through this giant labyrinth and ends up explaining to him that she now worships a giant floating diamond-shaped puzzle box that can turn people into cenobites because of, you guessed it, reasons. She pushes him into this giant box stating that her new god requires souls and he proceeds to become a cenobite. His transformation scene is actually a pretty cool one as well. More good body horror effects with the piano wires slicing his face up. He eventually reemerges as a cenobite and this giant worm thing latches onto his head and I guess controls him? You tell me.
So Kirsty and Tiffany are looking for a way out when they stumble upon what looks like the front door to the house in the original Hellraiser. Kirsty goes in and who does she find but Frank. Turns out he was the one calling out to her to lure her in. Just when it looks like gross stuff is about to happen Julia shows up and kills Frank since he killed her in the first movie. At this point we're so far beyond things making sense in this movie that I'm not even going to attempt to walk you through the rest of it. Just know that the end of the movie basically becomes a showdown between the Channard cenobite and the other cenobites because of MORE REASONS. Why are they enemies? Why don't they work together? Literally nothing is explained. Channard ends up shooting these things out of his hands that turns the other cenobites into the humans they were before they I assume also stumbled into the magical box that turns people into cenobites? Then Tiffany reverse solves a smaller version of the diamond-shaped puzzle box to kill Channard so they can escape? The movie closes with even more confusion, with a pair of movers tasked with cleaning out Channard's house coming across the mattress and it killing one of them while a pillar of cenobite faces rises out of the floor to greet the other one.
Man, I spent so long trying to make sense of the story I haven't really talked about anything else, so let's do a lightning round sum up. The acting was better than the first one for the most part, the effects were far and away more interesting this time around, and as I stated earlier the soundtrack is amazing. Where this movie really suffers is the bloated script. I literally don't understand why half of what happens in this movie happens. The best I can come up with has been the word of the day, which is reasons. They had to move the plot along by any means necessary and the movie certainly suffers for it. Where it lacks in storytelling, however, it more than makes up for visually. Overall if you haven't seen Hellraiser II I would recommend that you do so, just know that it's weird. It's very weird. If you have seen Hellraiser II what did you think of it? Leave me a comment and we'll talk about it!