Dimension Films // 2000 // 99 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // October 31st, 2001
The terrifying new chapter in the "Hellraiser" legacy! (no laughing, someone got paid to write that)
Pinhead must be the most uncomfortable of all movie baddies. Freddy Kruger is burned, but at least his wounds have healed. Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees get to wear comfortable (and fashionable!) jumpsuits to work. Leatherface...well, he wears human skin and a cooking apron, but that's of his own making. Pinhead, on the other hand, is forced to walk around rooms filled with hooks and chains with tens of dozens of nails driven into his head. Not only that, but his chest is ripped apart and he's forced to wear a skintight leather suit. Not only is he a big fashion no-no, Pinhead also wins the award for "Villain Most Likely To Have A Migraine By The End Of The Working Day." Unfortunately, Pinhead must show his painful noggin' once more in the fifth Hellraiser movie, Hellraiser: Inferno, now on DVD from Dimension Home Video.
At the end of Hellraiser: Bloodline, Pinhead was destroyed and...ah, what's it matter? Hellraiser: Inferno negates the storyline of the last film, so let's start from scratch, shall we?
Joseph (Craig Sheffer, Nightbreed, Deep Core) is a crooked L.A. cop who fudges the truth on all occasions. Joseph snorts coke. Joseph cheats on his wife with prostitutes. Joseph beats up innocent people. Joseph is not the type of man you want your daughter to marry. While at a sleazy hotel with a hooker Joseph comes across the dreaded puzzle box (or, as it's often referred to, the "Lament Configuration") which opens up the gates to the evil Cenobites and their hideous master, Pinhead (Doug Bradley). Being the dolt that he is, Joseph toys with the puzzle box and opens the gate to eternal damnation (or as I like to call it, reruns of Caroline in the City).
Suddenly Joseph starts seeing things, such as faceless monsters with lizard-like tongues and other strange creatures. Joseph and his partner (Nicholas Turturro, Excess Baggage) are on a new case to stop a killer called "The Engineer" who is apparently chopping off a child's fingers and leaving them at certain murder scenes. Along the way, Joseph is having delusions about these crimes. And seeing those wacky Cenobites. At least I think this is what's going on. At this point, it all gets fuzzy since the writers apparently decided to start smoking opium while pounding out this screenplay.
As the movie progresses we see Joseph confront more and more of his demons. The sins of his past are starting to haunt him, and as he gets closer and closer to the truth Joseph will learn the true meaning of the word "redemption," Cenobite style.
I kinda liked the previous Hellraiser movie, Hellraiser: Bloodline. It wasn't Oscar material, but at least it had an interesting outer space them and some very cool effects. The same cannot be said of Hellraiser: Inferno. What it the name of my Aunt Martha's sphincter were these people thinking? Let me be upfront and honest: Pinhead's screen time is shorter than a Snuggle fabric softener commercial. Right now, I am speaking directly to the makers of this fiasco:
When you make a horror movie that has a solid fan base, include the main villain for more than 76 seconds.
I understand this may be a hard concept to grasp, but believe me when I tell you it WILL pay off when you're finished with the production. When I head to Burger King I don't want to order a taco, just like when I watch a Hellraiser movie I don't want to see a boring detective movie. I liked the first two films because they were the equivalent of watching a Salvador Dali painting on acid -- strange, scary and very, very weird. The third film, Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth, wasn't very good, but at least it stuck to the formula. Hellraiser: Bloodline had a few nice things going for it. Hellraiser: Inferno is like a darkly themed version of an NYPD Blue episode. Where are the Cenobites? Where are the bodies and blood? And what the hell is that ending all about?
Craig Sheffer looks like he's tired and drunk, just going through the motions so he can have a paycheck to cover next month's rent. Nicholas Turturro is...uh, wait, explain to me again why a well established actor like Turturro is in this movie? James Remar (Tales From The Darkside: The Movie) is a Pentecostal psychologist who looks fairly embarrassed to be in this poop shoot of a film. It's pointless to name the rest of the actors -- once studios get a glimpse of this movie on their resumes they'll probably never work in Hollywood again.
Hellraiser: Inferno has many, many problems, the biggest being that screenwriters Paul Harris and Scott Derrickson (I like to place blame when applicable) apparently don't understand the genre they are writing for. I have no desire to watch Craig Sheffer run around the city facing his inner demons. I don't give a hoot about Sheffer and Turturro's partnership. I DO care about monsters, mayhem, and effects, none of which really seem to apply to this movie. Suddenly the makers of Hellraiser: Inferno thought that the fans wanted something different -- in fact, so different that this movie shouldn't even be lumped in the Hellraiser series. Whereas the first film was moody and stylized, Hellraiser: Inferno is just a slight shadow of its predecessors -- a sad end (at least one can hope) to a decent horror franchise. I really had a hard time sitting through this sequel. I could go on and on about it's faults, but let's just leave it at this: Hellraiser: Inferno is boring, confusing, and blandly unoriginal. As a bonus slap in the face, Hellraiser: Inferno tries to give us a MORAL at the end of the film! If I want to be uplifted I'll rent Dead Man Walking, not a movie with the words "Hell" and "Inferno" in the title!
Hellraiser: Inferno is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Dimension has done a fair job on this title, though murky shots and some grain tend to mar the transfer in certain areas. Overall the colors schemes and black levels are all solid and on the mark. Seeing as Hellraiser: Inferno was a low budget film, it's not surprising to see this transfer being decent but not overly stunning.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and sounds fair to average. Directional effects were used, but mostly for smaller background noises and ambiance, not explosive effects or pulse-pounding music. While the soundtrack is only marginal, all aspects of the dialogue, music and effects are clear of distortion or hiss. Also included on this disc are English subtitles.
In a shocking twist of fate, Hellraiser: Inferno actually includes a few supplemental features (a rarity for most Dimension horror titles). Included on this disc is an interview with Doug Bradley ("Pinhead") discussing his character, his motivations, and the process of putting on the make-up. Also included is a section called "Secrets of Hellraiser Revealed" that, by my count, lasts no more than three minutes. This includes a special effects guy quickly discussing a few things about the movie (such as "how many nails are on Pinhead's head?" and "What is the puzzle box?"). Finally, there are "sneak peek" trailers for the films Hellraiser: Bloodline and the Scream trilogy DVD box set.
The back of the package actually has the gall to say "A must-see for horror fans!" yet doesn't list anyone as a source for this revealing accolade. After this revelation, I'm thinking of making a T-shirt that says "Patrick Naugle is THE man to date this weekend!" I'll let you know the results once they're in and tallied.
Hellraiser: Inferno is a terrible movie. I can't believe that people actually took time out of their lives to put this mess together. Do yourself a favor and do something more meaningful with your life than watching this movie. Pet a dog. Vacuum your curtains. Lick a chalkboard. Anything is more productive than watching this knockwurst of a movie.
Hellraiser: Inferno is found guilty by reason of insanity. as the writers and makers were apparently nuts to make this turkey. Case dismissed!
Review content copyright © 2001 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Dimension Films
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Two Theatrical Trailers
* "Secrets Of Hellraiser Revealed"
* A Conversation With Doug Bradley ("Pinhead")