Judge Gordon Sullivan thinks it's a compliment to call him Pinhead, but please say it with a capital "P."
Our review of The Hellraiser Collection, published October 31st, 2011, is also available.
There's no escaping Pinhead…Master of the ultimate evil
Say what you will about "Pinhead in Space," but all of the first four Hellraiser flicks were solid entries in the horror canon. The first was a strange exercise in the weird, and the sequel followed a similar pattern. Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth changed things up, putting a human face on Pinhead, and, despite its flaws, the fourth entry at least delivered on the gore front. Then came that first direct-to-video sequel, Hellraiser: Inferno. It was such a steaming pile of excrement that it retroactively turned me off the rest of the series, and it was only after reading Clive Barker's original novella that I could appreciate the Cenobites again. I made it through Hellraiser: Hellseeker, and although it wasn't as bad as Inferno, it still didn't push those Clive Barker buttons. Hellraiser: Deader continues in its footsteps, offering a film that's a step above Inferno, but still not fit to polish the leather of Pinhead's fetishwear in the original quadrilogy.
Amy (Kari Wuhrer, The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes) is a bright young reporter whose editor sends her on a mission to Bucharest to uncover a cult who claim they can reanimate the dead. Once she arrives in Bucharest, she discovers the body of a young girl and a puzzle box. Despite some warnings, Amy gets involved in both the cult and the puzzle box, and it isn't long before the Cenobites show up to deal out some of their peculiar brand of justice.
The biggest problem with the direct-to-video Hellraiser films has been the fact that they feel like screenplays that were just lying about, onto which Pinhead and his pals have been grafted. The first two films did an excellent job of introducing us to the world of the Cenobites, and the next two effectively explored the mythology of Pinhead and the puzzle box. They could have, and should have, stopped there. Since there was money to be made, these direct-to-video sequels could have either deepened the mythology, or showed us more glimpses of how the Cenobites interact with our world. So far, they've chosen the latter route, and Deader is an attempt to show what kind of impact Pinhead can have on the seedier sides of life.
The problem with Deader is that it's basically a cheesy voodoo story that takes place in Bucharest instead of Haiti. Our heroine investigates, gets deeper into a spooky situation, and then the Cenobites appear to provide a thin thread of justification for the goings-on. Aside from the appearance of Pinhead and Co., there's nothing really new here for the genre, and like the other direct-to-video sequels, there isn't really enough of the Cenobites to satisfy hardcore Hellraiser fans.
On the plus side, Deader does get some things right. The gore this time out is pretty good (even if there are some dodgy CGI chains out of the puzzle box), and the jump scares are used pretty effectively. The acting this time around is above average, with Kari Wuhrer doing a good job of being the inquisitive reporter, and Paul Rhys effectively creepy as the cult leader. At least it's not Inferno.
Deader looks pretty solid on this DVD release. The film's visual style harkens back to those first two films a bit, with a somewhat dingy color palette that suits the mood of the story. Black levels are strong throughout, and the film is alone on this disc, so compression artifacts aren't a problem. The 5.1 audio track is fine, with clear dialogue and a bit of punch during some of the more torture-riffic scenes. Sadly, however, this disc pretty much personifies barebones. There's a menu with a "play" option, and a "chapters" option. Not even a trailer. This disc is obviously aimed at budget-conscious Hellraiser fans. There was a previous edition that included a pair of commentaries, a pair of featurettes, and more. Why they didn't warrant inclusion on this disc is beyond me.
Hellraiser: Deader is a cut above the other direct-to-video Hellraiser sequels, but that's not saying much. Hellraiser fans might be tempted to pick this disc, but true Cenobite lovers will want to track down the previous release for all the extras that didn't make it onto this release.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
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