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John’s Horror Corner: Hellraiser IX: Revelations (2011), basically a fan film honorarium to the 1987 original, with a dash of home invasion.

January 7, 2018

MY CALL:  Passable, not quite the worst of the franchise, and uninspired.  But at least the special effects were okay, right?  MORE MOVIES LIKE RevelationsBe sure to see Hellraiser (1987) and Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) first, of course. Then maybe Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth (1992) and Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996).  Hellraiser: Inferno (2000), Hellseeker (2002) and Hellraiser: Deader (2005); all are more standalone films.  Hellworld (2005) is easily the worst.  Oh, and apparently Hellraiser: Judgment (2018) is set to release this year!

I’ve waited a loooong time to finally watch this film, and I waited for a reason: the reviews were abysmal. After Rick Bota’s (Hellraiser VIVIII) long run, director Víctor García (Mirrors 2, Return to House on Haunted Hill, The Damned) boldly follows the worst sequel to come before it: Hellworld.  And not only that, but he is doing so without the very man who breathed life into Pinhead: the beloved Doug Bradley (Hellraiser I-VIII)? Yikes.  But, to his credit, Víctor García has a filmography that I have found highly entertaining; not “good,” but enjoyable.  So, let’s see if the litany of soul-slamming reviews match my opinion… I mean, one would hope it would at least be better than Hellworld (2005), right? LOL

On a quest to get laid, a pair of Los Angeles teens—Nico (Jay Gillespie; 2001 Maniacs) and Steve (Nick Eversman; Once Upon a Time)—decide to cross the border to Tijuana for a weekend of tequila, dead hookers and Puzzle Box experimentation.  They open the box, Pinhead appears and spews exposition at them, and their parents (including Steven Brand; Mayhem) are left wondering what happened to their missing kids for months until one of them randomly shows up to a dinner party with some strange answers.  For whatever mystical convenience, their cell phones have no signal, the land line is dead, and all the cars have disappeared.

Bloodline (1996) took us to France and outer space, Deader (2005) to Romania, and now Revelations takes place in Mexico.  And not since From Dusk ‘til Dawn (1996) have I seen so many Mexican prostitutes murdered, which we see in flashbacks bouncing back and forth between present LA and past Tijuana.

Regarding the special effects, the gore was decent and looked visceral.  Our new puffy-faced Pinhead (Stephan Smith Collins) looks passable, the female Chatterer Cenobite (Jolene Andersen) is fine, and Pinhead’s Mini-Me protégé looks the best (best thing about the movie).  It was all fine… until I had my “good grief” moment: two lesbian Cenobites…  Really?!? 

But, you know what, that was actually forgivable.  The effects were actually pretty decent considering the humble $350k budget—impressive even.  I especially pleased with the face-peeling scenes.  As far as special effects go, I’m going to say this film was victorious at entertaining me.  Now, as a Hellraiser film?  That’s another story…

This sequel replays many familiar notions while painstakingly explaining everything in “no child left behind” detail.  We see reconstructions of Julia bringing Frank (i.e., Hellraiser) victims to reconstitute his body; they literally open a dictionary and define Cenobite; the vagrant is here, however gratuitously forced he may feel; the Pillar of Souls looks like something from an Ed Gein butchery (all mystique squandered); and we even witness a recreation of Frank’s original demise.  So, what am I saying here???

In many ways, this ninth installment to the franchise is to Hellraiser (1987) what Jurassic World (2015) was to Jurassic Park (1993) or what Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) was to Star Wars: A New Hope (1977); a fan film.  And a rather failed fan film at that.

All things considered—yes, there is a dreadful Hellraiser film that tries but fails to do honor to the franchise.  However, the rather even pacing of effects-scene reveals actually make this quite a passable film (although I’d still say the only sequel inferior to it was Hellworld).  Dare I say it, but to someone who knows nothing about the franchise, the “fan film” honoraria were probably helpful in understanding this world.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 25, 2018 8:33 pm

    Slasher movie franchises aren’t usually starting from a lofty perch, so it’s not like the sequels have that much to live up to. For example, I love Friday the 13th, but I’m not oblivious to the fact that it’s a trashy exploitation film. Thus, trashy sequels with no substance don’t bother me.

    Hellraiser, on the other hand, is a textually rich film. You can analyze it nine ways to Sunday. A sequel to that, where you lose all the meaning and the commentary and are left with a series of pointless gore sequences, is more disappointing. Do people not really know what made the first Hellraiser a classic film?

    • John Leavengood permalink
      January 25, 2018 9:06 pm

      The first Hellraiser was utterly incomparable to anything else I have ever seen. I’m glad they made one sequel (bonkers as it was)… and make the best of the later ones.

      • January 29, 2018 12:51 pm

        The first sequel is great as a work of pure visceral horror, isn’t it?


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