Hellbound: Hellraiser II

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While it doesn't quite match its predecessor in terms of originality, director Tony Randel's "Hellbound: Hellraiser II" is in general a slick, satisfying sequel that builds off the first film and expands the mythology of the franchise.

Picking up shortly after the heart-stopping climax of the last movie, "Hellbound" once again follows protagonist Kirsty Cotton as she is pulled into a new conflict when her evil step-mother Julia is brought back from the dead by a devious doctor with ulterior motives. And this time, Kirsty will be forced to enter hell itself in order to complete her journey.

Written by Peter Atkins from a story by series creator Clive Barker, "Hellbound" for the most part does what a good sequel should - it takes familiar elements from the original and expands on them, while also taking the story in something of a new direction. It also appropriately raises the stakes and the scale in order to keep it fresh, and builds up the mythology of the setting and the characters. This includes delving into the backstory of the devilish cenobite Pinhead, who by this time was quickly turning into the series mascot.

Director Randel has a pretty sharp eye for composition and a good sense of pace, crafting a suitably grim experience that should appeal to fans of the first film. It's bleak, inky and grotesque in the way you'd expect from a "Hellraiser" film. And with the exception of only a few scenes that feel slightly hampered by odd choices, it really works for the most part.

And just as the case was in the first film, the cast is a ton of fun. Clare Higgins once again knocks her role out of the park, as other returning actors such as Ashley Laurence and Doug Bradley do very well in their parts. I also have to comment on newcomer Kenneth Cranham as the evil Dr. Channard. This guy almost gives Higgins a run for her money - he is wonderfully evil in a scenery-chewing performance that I just loved. It's a shame that neither he nor Higgins returned for any future films.

The film's faults primarily lay in the occasional sloppiness of the script, and the aforementioned sequences which feel odd and out of place. The story goes that the script had to be hastily rewritten at the last minute after a major cast member bailed, and you can kinda tell. Parts of the second and third acts feel very patchy and don't always add up. It may not be the writer's fault, but it's still a fairly sizeable issue at times. And as I said, Randel does very well for the most part, but there are a few scenes that feel sort-of out of place or abrupt, and thus don't work quite as well as they could have.

But despite those flaws, I think "Hellbound" is still fundamentally a very solid sequel. It's still mostly well-executed. The story is generally solid and interesting. The atmosphere is effective. And the cast is great all around. Is it a perfect sequel? No, not really. But is it a good, serviceable follow-up? Most definitely.

I'm giving it a very solid 4 out of 5.


Continuity mistake: At the beginning of the movie, policemen are inspecting the deceased Rory's house to retrieve the bloody mattress for Dr. Channard yet at the end of the first Hellraiser, the house completely collapsed.

More mistakes in Hellbound: Hellraiser II

Pinhead: It is not hands that summon us. It is desire.

More quotes from Hellbound: Hellraiser II

Trivia: Dr. Channard's name in the script was Dr. Malahide. "Channard" is derived from Christiaan Bernard, who performed the world's first successful heart transplant.

More trivia for Hellbound: Hellraiser II

Question: When Elliot Spenser is being transformed into Pinhead, who was cutting lines into his face and head and driving nails into him?

Answer: All we can see (in abstract closeup) is serpent-like tendrils cutting him and driving the pins into his head. As someone else said, it's likely another cenobite, although alternately it could also be the same "contraption" that turns Channard into a cenobite late in the film, given the tendrils are similar to the ones he sprouts.

Answer: Presumably another cenobite/cenobites. The choice not to show them makes for a better scene, as that moment is all about him, becoming the iconic Pinhead; the cenobites who made him that way are of no consequence to the story, and their own grotesque appearance would have distracted from his transformation.

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