Today I watched Tony Randel’s Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
Hellraiser II kicks off with two of the more boring tropes in horror sequels, It tries to give us a human backstory for the lead cenobite Pinhead, while also checking back in with Kirsty who has wound up in an asylum. We’ll get to the first point soon enough but just let me show my displeasure for the overused cliche of the hero from horror flicks winding up in mental institutions by round 2; I just find it dismissive of the sense and ability the character used to show. Anyways she is in the hospital and the evil doctor is using patients as experiments in occult research. He sacrifices one to bring back Julia, Kirsty’s evil step mother, and then uses another to open the puzzle box by proxy.One thing leads to another and Kirsty finds herself in the world of the Cenobites surrounded by enemies on all sides.
So back to the way this movie humanizes the Cenobites, I think it really detracts from how cool they were in the first film. Firstly it is stated that they all have human backstories and were created by this singular evil consciousness at the center of their world. Then there is the problem that their home world is portrayed as literally Hell, a place where people are punished, which is explicitly contrary to the original film. This is such a simplification and dumbing down of their motives, it’s really a shame. Furthermore the film then introduces a newer, more evil Cenobite whose design I really despise as he just looks like Beetlejuice’s lazy cousin, being hoisted around by a prehensile phallus as he is.
The one saving grace to this movie then in the design of the Cenobite world itself, even if it is a less meaningful place than the first film might lead one to believe. It’s very M.C. Escher with it’s seemingly endless hallways and physics defying architecture. There are also plenty of great gore effects and with one aforementioned example the rest of the creature designs are still quite good. As much as I can gripe about this film I don’t really think it is bad, just disappointing; but really, the acting is fine, the visuals are impressive, and it is all very well paced. So check it out if you can deal with those complaints, there is still a fun time underneath it all. 3/5