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John’s Horror Corner: Hellraiser X: Judgment (2018), an inspired yet completely uninnovating retelling of Hell’s mythology.

March 26, 2018

MY CALL: Great ideas do not necessarily make great films. Great ideas, awful execution. I mean… it’s passable as an almost interesting bad horror film if you’ve never seen a Hellraiser film. MORE MOVIES LIKE Judgment: Be 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) and Revelations (2011) are easily the worst.

There was a time when Hellraiser films had substance and depth, building a dark mythology around the perceived reality of its tempters, tempted and victims. Right around Hellworld (2005) and Revelations (2011) this notion was cast aside like a crushed Miller Lite can on Daytona Beach after Bike Week.

So much anticipation had built up before I finally got to see this. And, you know what, there were a lot of great ideas here. But that’s where it stops… ideas. Not execution; not follow-through; not synthesis. This film is a love letter to the franchise, and it’s a love letter written by a deeply passionate heart—but this love letter was written by someone who couldn’t write, and they kept crumbling up their discarded drafts, and then someone gathered those frayed balls of paper from the floor and gleaned the ideas from them and mashed them into a film with no sense of development.

Emerging from a heavy make-up department background (Piranha 3DD, Apollo 18, Hellraiser: Revelations/Deader/Bloodline/Hellseeker/Hell on Earth, The Collector, My Bloody Valentine), writer and director Gary J. Tunnicliffe clearly loves the franchise and tries his damnedest. For that much, I admire and appreciate his efforts. But despite this obvious passion the writing, characters, dialogue and story run stale. You find yourself constantly wanting to like what’s in front of you, but the weak set design and uninspired lines strip any possible joy from it. That, and the sophomoric use of the bethonged, big breasted bimbos of Hell that get way too much screen time. Apparently, Hell is big on plastic surgery and lingerie to complement the crass blood-dousing of naked women as if a fifteen-year-old had crossed his notions of damnation with a wet dream.

But despite some of these cheaper tactics, attempts (all inspired yet completely failed in execution) were made again and again to be thoughtful and provocative. Such notions as eating ones scribed sins with a gravy of children’s tears, then regurgitated and judged by infernal mistresses… Lord, what am I even writing? See how that idea started okay and then…? I mean, this is curiously entertaining, but nothing worthy of comparison to the franchise.

We truly feel the meager $350K budget in the special effects. Skin peeling and flaying have never had a weaker screen presence in the series, and none of the gore or effects occur on-screen. In terms of effects, I think I was more impressed with the equally budgeted Revelations (2011). But to Judgment’s credit, Paul T. Taylor fares well as Pinhead—if we can look past the script and focus on his presence and delivery.

But again, the delivery simply wasn’t there for the most integral components of the mythology. Was the Puzzle Box there…? Sort of. Were there hooked chains? Yes, but they sucked. How about Cenobites? Yes…but they served no purpose.

Was this a brave endeavor? Sure. But were any of the requisite skills present in the filmmakers? No. Not beyond bravado. This is a terrible Hellraiser film, but perhaps a passable bad horror movie. Temper your expectations accordingly.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. John permalink
    March 27, 2018 4:48 am

    Great review guys

    • John Leavengood permalink
      March 28, 2018 3:26 pm

      Thanks. It was one of my more passionate negative reviews. lol

  2. March 27, 2018 9:47 am

    Great review! Not seen this new Hellraiser movie yet, but will look forward to checking it out.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      March 28, 2018 3:27 pm

      I’m curious to get your feedback. Most people are giving scathing reviews; few note the glimmer of hope hiding behind it. A different director and a rewrite could’ve done wonders for this.

      • March 28, 2018 4:43 pm

        Once I’ve seen it I will. I’m not sure if this had a cinema release in the UK, or if its on DVD yet. I do like the Hellraiser films, especially the first film, Hellraiser 2 Hellbound, and Hellraiser IV Bloodlines. I was sceptical about this new Hellraiser movie, but prepared to give it a chance, it certainly seemed to have potential.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      March 28, 2018 7:29 pm

      I quite enjoyed VII, VI and V (in that order) as well as standalone stories offering minor development to the franchise mythos.

      • March 29, 2018 9:38 am

        Yes, they’ve certainly done different things with the standalone films in the Hellraiser series. Some have worked better than others, but at least they try something different each time.


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