Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hellbound: Hellraiser II

Roger ebert summed up Hellraiser II thusly in his review of the film:  "Hellbound: Hellraiser II" is like some kind of avant-garde film strip in which there is no beginning, no middle, no end, but simply a series of gruesome images that can be watched in any order."  He also said that the movie was for people with little taste and atrophied attention spans who glance up at the screen from time to time just to ascertain that something was still happening up there, but who probably wouldn't be bothered to read his whole review of the film.  Well, I read the whole review, sir, so go fuck yourself with your own elitist attitude, but you have a point about the movie not really having much of a plot beyond the graphic images onscreen.

Except for the review's quip about the nightmares in Hellraiser II only happening in movies because our real nightmares have low budgets (my nightmares tend to have budgets as big as whatever movie supplied the idea for the imagery therein) the review is pretty spot on in its assessment of the movie's plot (or rather its lack thereof).  I always tell people that when I first watched these movies, I didn't like the first Hellraiser and I liked the second Hellraiser.  Then they ask me why, and I sound like a freak or a shallow ass, because the truth is that I didn't like the first movie but really liked the second because honestly, even though the story is better in the first movie, the second movie is a lot cooler to look at.  It's got great special effects and there's a real sense of menace because the horrors onscreen seem real and not like something I can construct with sub-par animation skills and props from Goodwill.

I DO appreciate a good story that is well-told, but when the first movie started to fall apart into really silly looking special effects, I start to get annoyed.  It was only upon repeated viewings that I came to appreciate the story the original Hellraiser was trying to tell, whereas the really cool imagery onscreen in part 2 is still just as cool even if you don't know much about the story.  I think the filmmakers tried to insert some plot into the special effects display that is "Hellbound: Hellraiser II," but it doesn't really manage to hold up to much scrutiny because there's just not much there to hold it.  We know who Kirsty is from the first movie, and Tiffany is barely given a backstory that is only revealed through vague clips and snippets of memories distorted by the demons of hell to scare her, so we're not really sure what to think about her.  I cared for these two and wanted them to defeat the demons, but that's really all that's going on here.

I suppose I could argue that there's a subplot about the doctor who wants to know the secrets of hell and gets more than he bargained for and blah blah blah, but he's a tool, and thus beyond wanting to see what the demons are going to do to tear his soul apart, who really cares?  I still maintain that this movie is good though, because the special effects really are special, and if you watch this and the first film together, it does an interesting job of adding some details to the story.  Sometimes style over substance works, folks, and this is one of those times.

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