Well, he we are. Last stop. The final Hellraiser movie. Hellraiser: Revelations. The Omega. The infamous ashcan film. The Hellraiser film panned hardest by fans and critics alike. Even Doug Bradley, beloved actor for Pinhead since 1987 opted out because this was below him. He showed up for Deader and Hellworld to collect a cheque and offer thirty seconds of his face and voice, but this was too much of a hack gig for him to take. I want you to think about that as we dive into this thing.
Hellraiser: Revelations starts the way every good Hellraiser should start: with shakey found footage of dipshit teenagers (played by twenty-somethings). Two guys, Nico and Steve are on their way to Tijuana (constantly pronounced TI-OU-HHHWA-NAH) for a vacation, and they’re ready to record all of their crazy escapades. While out partying one night, Nico drunkenly kills a prostitute with a toilet (yes, really) and while trying to drink away the rest of the night (as I did after watching this) they’re offered an intricate puzzle box by a grubby homeless man. Totes obvi, this is the Lament Configuration, and when they start messing around with it, Pinhead and the Cenobites appear to reap their flesh and souls.
Turns out, all this footage has made its way back to Steve’s parents who are having a dinner party with Nico’s parents. They’re all mourning the loss of their boys while Steven’s sister, who has not yet seen the tape, wants to find out what really happened to them. She gets her hands on the Lament Configuration because apparently it somehow came back to L.A. into Steven’s room and once she begins solving it, Steven appears! His family, shocked and astounded to see him alive brings him inside where he can recount the events of that fateful night in Tijuana first hand.
Boy, oh boy, it’s been a little while since I’ve been to a big theatre to see a movie. Last I saw was Baby Driver (review: it’s great, go see it!) maybe a month ago. It’s been even longer since I’ve seen a horror flick on the silver screen, so considering the immense hype train (which I will admit I was happily riding) surrounding the new version of IT, you can bet your butt I’d be there.
IT (I’m going to refer to the story’s title in all caps to help avoid confusion) is an adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name, and somewhat of a remake of the 1990 TV mini-series. I haven’t seen the version from ’90, but a lot of people seem to love it, particularly Tim Curry’s unhinged performance throughout. I’ve read the beginning of the novel, but it’s snowblinded Stephen King (which I’ve mentioned before) that clocks in at over 1100 pages, so forgive me if I don’t finish it this decade.
IT takes place in Derry, Maine (duh), and follows the Losers Club, a group of kind of nerdy, kind of dweeby, kind of outcast kids who discover that an evil entity wakes up every 27 years to terrorize and devour the kids of the town. The de facto leader of the Losers Club, Bill is interested in investigating this evil force since the mysterious disappearance of his brother Georgie last summer. As the Losers try to piece together the mystery of Georgie and Derry’s other missing kids, they encounter the evil, which has taken the terrifying form of Pennywise The Dancing Clown, because coked out Stephen King that’s why.
YEEEAAAAHHHHH. It feels good to be back. It’s been almost three months since we last opened the Lament Configuration and watched a Hellraiser movie. I mean, I’ve seen a couple existential and nihilistic films since Hellraiser VII: Deader, but man, watching this last ‘Raiser flick is on a whole other level. Hellworld is the eighth and second-to-last bowel movement in the Hellraiser franchise. Released in the same year as its predecessor, I think this movie is the culmination of everything wrong that the later Hellraiser flicks have done.
Hellraiser: Hellworld takes place no discernible time after the previous movies, and honestly, it doesn’t even matter. We’re introduced to an intrepid band of super edgy goth nerds whom are all mourning the loss of their friend Adam. How did Adam pass? Oh, y’know, video games killed him! Pretty topical for 2005. Immediately after Adam’s funeral, they continue to play Hellworld, the Hellraiser-themed MMORPG that allegedly killed their friend because they’re insensitive fucks. Wait, back up. A Hellraiser-themed video game? What the fuck? Is the Hellraiser mythos that popular in this movie world that somebody made a video game about it?
Whatever, it’s not worth trying to fight this movie’s stupitidy.
They all individually beat the game (which usually isn’t possible in games like this, but whatever) and get invited to a secret and private Hellworld Party. It’s a super edgy mid-2000s Hard Rock And Metal Rave™ at a massive mansion owned by The Host (Lance Henriksen, looking for a paycheque). Sex, drugs, and rock and roll ensue in this Bacchanalian party, and this movie be like it do as it slowly picks off our main characters one by one in increasingly stupid and frustrating ways.
There seems to be a new resurgence in Stephen King stories being adapted to the big screen. There were not one, but two trailers for King novels-turned-movies showing at the theater last I was there: one of which is drawn from a book over 1,000 pages, the other is a re-imaginging of a series eight novels long, clocking in at well over 4,000 pages. I’ve been on a little bit of a Stephen King kick recently, myself. I’m currently grinding my way through It (the aforementioned thousand-pager) and a while ago I decided to rain on my own sun-soaked vacation by tearing through The Mist while lying on the beach slaying Yuenglings. I was interested in checking out a feature length film adaptation of a relatively short story, since usually books-turned-movies have to speed through or omit material so they aren’t five hours long. Now, I am a firm believer in distancing movie adaptations from their source material, looking at those movies as standalone works, but more often than not adaptations often do suffer because they try to cram too much in to be clear and concise stories in their own rights. I figured a film based on a 100-and-some-odd page novella would work better.
The Mist is one of the million stories King cranked out during the ’80s while he was, well, cranked out of his fucking mind. While the average person usually confuses it with John Carpenter’s The Fog, most people know it as “the one where people get trapped in a supermarket” or “The only Stephen King movie that Stephen King actually likes”. As the story goes, a massive storm tears through Maine, leaving an impossibly thick mist in its wake. Our protagonist David Drayton (Thomas Jane) and his son Billy are at the local small town supermarket gathering supplies to repair their house when the mist rolls into the plaza. Rather abruptly revealed to us and our characters, spooky scary
skeletons monsters stalk through the mist, capable of tearing through the flesh and bone of anyone foolish enough to to leave the safety of a building. Despite the chaos and terror outside, tensions rise and factions develop inside the store. Rational thinkers and doomsayers split up and being antagonizing each other, because fuck it if a group of people can’t be trapped in a location without devolving into squads of knuckle-dragging deplorables at each others’ throats 24/7.
Martyrs has ascended to an almost legendary status in the horror community. It’s widely considered one of the most violent, brutal, and depraved movies of all time. If horror fans are known for anything, it’s for having full blown dick measuring contests over who can watch the most despicable shit and not be fazed. And every time someone mentions “extreme cinema” or “most disturbing movies” in any corner of the internet, these horror fans all rush in jerking themselves off over how little they feel when watching sickening stuff. This to me defeats the purpose of horror movies, which is to make you feel. Sure, the feelings are usually dread, hopelessness, or disgust, but they all have their place when you allow yourself to open yourself up in a controlled environment such as a when watching a film.
Speaking of opening yourself up, let’s talk about Martyrs.
Martyrs is the infamous 2008 horror film and top dog entry into the New French Extremity scene. Written and directed by Pascal Laugier (who is really not known for anything else of note), this film is burdened with the unending hype of a thousand thrillseekers, gorehounds, and horror fanatics across the globe. It’s been given somewhat of a new boost in popularity since the American remake was released a few years ago to complete critical panning, driving viewers to seek out the original, unbutchered version.
This movie starts with a hard, cold open of a very young girl, Lucie, escaping an abandoned factory. She’s bloodied and broken, limping through the streets. Once she is rescued and brought to a home for traumatized children, she begins seeing a mutilated humanoid creature that regularly stalks her and occasionally hurts her. After fifteen(!) years, Lucie deduces that she must get revenge on the people who scarred her when she was a child in order to appease the creature that has been haunting and hurting her for over a decade. Armed with a double barreled shotgun, she forcibly enters a family’s house and massacres them in one of the most vicious home invasion scenes ever put to film.
And that is all you get as a synopsis before I enter heavy spoiler territory.