Echo Bridge Home Entertainment // 2005 // 95 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // August 12th, 2011
Evil goes online.
When one of their beloved friends passes away unexpectedly, a group of friends who have bonded together playing an online video game find themselves mourning while being drawn to a theme party two years later for "Hellworld" (the name of the video game, based on the ideas from the original Hellraiser movies). Chelsea (Katheryn Winnick), Mike (Henry Cavill), Allison (Anna Tolputt), and Derrick (Khary Payton) receive an invite from a mysterious host (genre favorite Lance Henricksen, slumming for a paycheck) whose mansion of the macabre holds dark secrets and terrifying "Hellworld" memorabilia. As the players move further and deeper into the real life "Hellworld" experience they find that not only may head Cenobite Pinhead (Doug Bradley) be real, but he also may be the last game they ever play!
Hellraiser: Hellworld is the very definition of superfluous, a wasted horror sequel that bears little resemblance to the original film. But I'm getting ahead of myself...
The advent of VHS, DVD and Blu-ray has been a giant leap forward for both casual and hardcore movie fans. When the '80s finally hit it was as if a tidalwave of movies came down the pike. Comedy, action, classics, horror, drama...a lot (if not everything) was at viewers' fingertips and disposal. The downside of this technological boom was the advent of the straight-to-video phenomena. Often times the studios possessed a film property that was successful enough to have been a theatrical hit (or cult classic on the home format) but was not worthwhile enough to justify a big budget, big screen sequel. This often amounted to cash cow DTV sequels that bore little resemblance to the original movies but made the studios money because the production budgets were so cheap.
Which brings me to Hellraiser: Hellworld, one of the worst Hellraiser straight-to-DVD sequels and most likely the last starring original Pinhead actor Doug Bradley (a ninth film/reboot with a new Pinhead, Hellraiser: Revelations, is set to hit this October on DVD). This eighth installment is sort of like the clear crystallized crud on your ice cream after it's been in the freezer too long: useless, tasteless and worthwhile only as trash. Hellraiser: Hellworld wants desperately to be relevant, almost to the degree of hopping up and down screaming, "Look at me! I'm about the internet! How cool and hip am I?" I wish I could tell you that this is the one movie that took the idea of the 'world wide web' and made it really work in the context of a horror franchise. I also wish I could tell you I crap solid gold coins, but neither would be true statements. Hellraiser: Hellworld is a very derivative, run-of-the-mill slasher movie that has all the excitement of creamed corn, only none of the texture or consistency. The movie ticks off all the requirements of the genre -- goopy blood, a few entrails, decapitations and screaming, naked coeds -- but does it with all the finesse of a blind moose clomping through glass house.
I would love to start with a discussion about the actors, but none of them warrant any real criticism. The only actor hear you've ever heard of -- or will hear of after next year -- is Henry Cavil as one of the blandly annoying video game players. Cavil has been tapped for the role of Superman in Zach Snyder's reboot Man of Steel, and let's hope that big budget comic book movie vanquishes all memories of this dreary sequel to a sequel to a sequel. The other characters are so lacking in charm and indistinguishable that I couldn't even begin to recite to you any of their names. And what, may I ask, is Lance Henricksen doing in such a terrible film? How far Henricksen's star has fallen, considering he now has this movie and those last couple of terrible Pumpkinhead direct-to-DVD sequels on his resume. Ugh.
Only Doug Bradley makes an impression here, and that impression is: "Please talk to my agent and ask him to help me leave the big screen with even a minuet amount of dignity." Bradley's Pinhead was one of the most memorable horror movie monsters in the last 50 years but has now been relegated (as in the last three of four sequels) to being a second tier character in his own franchise. Combine that with the fact that Bradley has gained some weight (making Pinhead look like he's been hitting the Oreo cookies a bit too hard down in hell) and you get a movie that isn't even a shell of its original -- it's just a bad carbon copy that doesn't deserve to share the same shelf space as Barker's original creation.
As a teenager I had far more patience to sit through drivel like Hellraiser: Hellworld. In fact, for some odd reason I enjoyed it. Maybe it was the hope that the movie would be far better than what showed up on screen. Or maybe I just hadn't refined my movie tastes quite yet. I like to think that I can still appreciate and enjoy trash but not when it is so painfully flaccid and boring. Horror movies can be exciting and terrifying without a huge budget (just look at Sam Raimi's Evil Dead trilogy). Hellraiser: Hellworld is just a depressing, mind numbing poop shoot of a sequel that can't even hold its own in Walmart's $5 dollar bin.
This movie is recommended only as a coaster for your beer.
Hellraiser: Hellworld is presented in a very lackluster 1.78:1 transfer. Echo Bridge Entertainment is not a company known for their quality -- witness the atrocities done to such recent releases as From Dusk Till Dawn and Halloween H20. With Hellraiser: Hellworld they give fans a very mediocre transfer that lacks any depth, excitement or punch that Blu-ray can offer. The colors are so-so and black levels uniformly bland. I'm sure compared to DVD this transfer is a notch above, but I can't imagine that it's by a very wide margin.
The soundtrack is presented in a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that is, at least, slightly better than the studio's usual 2.0 mixes (a travesty considering the hi-def medium). This mix gets the job done but little else -- there are some decent surround sound moments and a few effects mixed into both the front and rear speakers but that's about it. Mostly the Hellraiser: Hellworld disc is just passable and disappointing...much like the film it's supporting.
Surprisingly, Echo Bridge has included two extra features in this package. The first is a thirteen minute behind-the-scenes look at Hellraiser: Hellworld called "Ticket to Hellworld: A Behind the Scenes Look," a very typical promo piece that includes interviews with the cast and director. The second is a commentary track with director Rick Bota, executive producer Nick Phillips, writer Joel Soisson and effects designer Gary J. Tunnicliffe. The commentary is a 'for fans only' affair, since you have to be a diehard supporter to want to sit through this movie a second time.
Hellraiser: Hellworld has the world 'hell' in the title twice, which should give you an idea of what descriptor I'm thinking of for this flick.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R