3 out of 5
Directed by: Tony Randel
Swapping out the dreamlike, blood-soaked soap opera of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser for straight 80s goreness, director Tony Randel has the benefit of a Clive Barker-backed story – screenplayed by Peter Atkins – to somewhat “ground” the sequel-itis (i.e. it’s like the first one but MORE) with the vague pain and pleasure mish-mash that fuels the world of the Cenobites. …Although with the introduction of the power-hungry Doctor Channard (Kenneth Cranham), who works his way into a relationship with the resurrected Julia (Clare Higgins) and plans to use the patients at the insane asylum he runs to unlock further hooks-on-flesh fun, ‘Hellbound’ starts actually referring to its nightmarish locations as Hell, and maybe gets even further lost behind whatever Barker was trying to say with this general “puzzle box unlocks experiences beyond comprehension…” premise (which is much clearer in the book, based on the wikipedia summary).
But there’s at least a nice linearity from film one to here, with Kirsty in Channard’s hospital after ranting and raving to the police about demons and whatnot, and some nice callbacks via the reappearance of Frank (Sean Chapman), and at least mentions of Kirsty’s unseen boyfriend, and having the Cenobites recall Kirsty from their last encounter. This doesn’t make the plot hold together any better than the half-written scenes in the first movie, as the hospital never seems like a real place, the friendly doctor (William Hope) who gets an instant boner for Kirsty doesn’t display much doctorliness at any point beyond wearing scrubs, the cops absolutely disappear after an opening interrogation, and Channard’s general machinations are very much of the generic villain take over the world variety – they’re just a means to get him into Cenobite costuming.
Which we do, and as with the original, the practical effects are again pretty cool, though they lack the sense of being motivated by some type of Barker logic (or emotion) and instead are just horror movie props; like, Channard is a doctor, so his Cenobite self has a lot of surgical blades, see?
The final rescue sequence is rather hilarious, but inspired in its own ridiculousness. However, the very last scene of the flick has never been good; it’s a groan-worthy effect that asks you to shut off the movie before you get to it.