Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
Release Date: December 23rd, 1988 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Tony Randel Actors: Ashley Laurence, Clare Higgins, Kenneth Cranham, Imogen Boorman, Sean Chapman, Doug Bradley, Nicholas Vince, Simon Bamford, Barbie Wilde
ll of the bloodcurdling uniqueness and extreme visual style that were present in the original “Hellraiser” return (one year later) for the aptly named sequel “Hellbound: Hellraiser II.” The stupefyingly graphic makeup effects and gore have gotten even better and certainly more vivid, although the story this time around is so surrealistic and outlandish that almost nothing makes sense. But with the reappearance of Pinhead, the king of suffering and a legendary screen icon cemented in the annals of the horror genre, this movie is still the closest audiences can get to the shocks of the preceding cult classic.
Young, frightened Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence) finds herself locked up in a mental institution after witnessing the barbaric death of her family at the hands of a savage group of demons known as the Cenobites. Unleashed by a puzzle box that has the power to unlock the doors into hell, the bloodthirsty spirits, led by the hideously tortured Pinhead (Doug Bradley), had previously traded Kirsty’s life for that of her uncle Frank. But she can’t stay out of their grasp forever.
Dr. Channard (Kenneth Cranham), the head of the asylum, is secretly infatuated with the Cenobites, and manages to resurrect Julia (Clare Higgins), Kirsty’s stepmother, with the bloodstained mattress that she died upon. As Julia gathers victims to murder to rejuvenate the skin on her fleshless body (Stephen Sommers’ “The Mummy”  snagged this idea, which is repeated from “Hellraiser”), Channard summons the Cenobites with the help of mute patient Tiffany (Imogen Boorman) so that he can explore the zeniths of pleasure and pain firsthand. But the result is not what he bargained for – the crazed doctor is instead possessed by the hellish fiend Leviathan. To stop the hybrid monstrosity, Kirsty and Tiffany must solve the puzzle box, defy the Cenobites, and permanently close the portals to hell. If all of that sounds like a convoluted mess, you’re not alone.
“Hellbound: Hellraiser II” starts with a recap – something that really only has a place in TV show episodes. It picks up immediately after the events of the first film and was shot about one year after “Hellraiser’s” successful release. The special effects have not improved (including the hand-drawn animation, with the rushed production and decreased budget taking their toll), though the makeup and gore is still impressive and has doubled in quantity (specifically in Julia’s ridiculously gruesome, bloodbath resurrection scene). And Pinhead, who is easily the most enjoyable element in the entire franchise, gets a grandiose entrance with lights and music; it’s evident that he is the unforgettable star that fans have come back for.
Kirsty hasn’t gotten any smarter, blindly marching into Channard’s home with the intention of stopping Julia. Armed only with steadfast defiance and a surprisingly strong stomach, she’s forced to aimlessly wander the Escher-like labyrinths of hell, filled with never-ending tunnels and cobwebbed forests. Nothing can prepare her, or the viewer, for the hopelessly bizarre dream sequences, phantasmagoric hallucinations, and demonic visions that attempt to narrate the nearly incomprehensible plot. It’s as if director Tony Randel prodded his crew to make everything weirder than the original, even if the natural end result is utter senselessness. And he succeeds, though even this highly jumbled orchestration is the last of the many sequels to retain author Clive Barker’s tone and atmosphere.
– Mike Massie