Hellbound: Hellraiser II (20th Anniversary Edition) – DVD Review

You ever think you remember how awesome a film is from when you watched it in your younger days? Or maybe a DVD finally comes out for this awesome flick you recall as being one of the best films ever and it’s about time you pick it up today? Most of the time your memory doesn’t entirely escape you and it allows everyone to think they had a little bit of taste when they were teenagers. But there are those times you pop the DVD in, sit back ready to watch one of the greatest films ever, and then you end up staring at the screen in utter disappointment because it just isn’t like you remember.

Kirsty Cotton is now in a mental hospital being treated by doctors and questioned by police as to the events that took place in her household leaving a number of people dead and blood everywhere. The police just don’t want to believe a word she says, and the doctors insist that she is just insane. Things really get out of hand, though, when one doctor does believe her deep down inside, but has plans to take control of Pinhead and the Cenobites so that he can be in charge. Another younger doctor also believes Kirsty and wants to help her, but his good intentions only end up costing him his life. But his work does get her out of captivity and face to face with Julia who had died, is now back to life, and out for blood. Kirsty must once again deal with the living dead and all that comes from hell before Pinhead can take total control again.

Hellbound used to be a film that I thought was incredibly awesome simply because Pinhead is cool and the first Hellraiser was just so good. And the thing is that I recall it being very good, but maybe it’s because I had compared it to the numerous sequels that came after it and were so godawful. Well, now watching Hellbound again at the age of twenty-nine, maybe fifteen years since my last viewing, and it just isn’t very good at all. There are so many problems with the first fifty minutes of the film that it was almost unbearable waiting for things to get going. So much of Hellraiser is shown again so that those that may not have seen it could catch up. Is that necessary? Just do a quick flashback or a simple conversation, but don’t start out the sequel with the first film’s highlights and then do it again minutes later. That is pointless and annoying. After that, things just drag on and on without much happening. By the time Pinhead finally arrives, you’re bored to tears and have half a mind to turn it off.

Maybe I’m coming off as being a bit harsh here because it’s not all bad, but it’s hard to give it much credit when less then half of it is worth watching. Hellbound does manage to continue the original story nicely unlike the later sequels that just go off in directions that only Jason X could understand. This second film decided to continue the story albeit beginning in the middle of it all instead of at the start, but still not a bad job nonetheless. The Cenobites are just as creepy and gross as they always have been so be prepared to see a lot of blood and some deaths unlike that of which you’ve ever seen. Man, I hope this doesn’t mea my taste for cheesy eighties horror flicks is waning because that would just be depressing.

The film is shown in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and while it does show its age a little bit with some grain problems and color fading, nothing is too drastic or that much of a big deal.

The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and it has some issues. When things get rolling and the creepies are out and doing their thing all sounds great in the surrounding speakers. During most conversations, especially in the first forty or so minutes, the dialogue is very hard to hear. I was constantly adjusting the volume to hear what was being said.

Audio Commentary – This track sees director Tony Randel, writer Peter Adkins, and actress Ashley Laurence team up to discuss the film. It’s really not that bad, even though it seems as if Randel gets quiet from time to time. They discuss lots of filming locations, shooting with other cast members, and how it was working with the monsters and fire. Good stuff here and well worth the listen.

The Soul Patrol – All those who played the parts of Pinhead’s Cenobites gather to discuss what it was like to wear the make-up, be the fearsome characters, and work with Clive Barker. Simon Bamford, Nicholas Vince, and Barbie Wilde really give some good information and tell some cool stories as to things that went on during filming. (22:09)

Outside The Box – Director Tony Randel sits down for an interview in which he discusses a lot of his early work and even how he got interested in film-making during high school. It’s cool in that he actually talks about how he ended up making his way to being the director of Hellbound and calling that journey his “road to hell.” This is one of those tales that you hear about in films where you see the young guy starting out in the mailroom like Randel did and ending up as a big time director. (15:06)

The Doctor Is In – Kenneth Cranham tells a very cool story at the very beginning of this interview in how he is amazed at the legs that Hellbound has had to stay popular for so long. Cranham goes on about why he took the role in the film and it was mostly due to enjoying the first film so much and also having Gary Oldman be jealous of him. This is a fun interview that is laid back and he’s one of those people that you could just listen to for hours because you know what he’s telling you is the truth and he also keeps you interested with every word he speaks. (13:31)

Lost In The Labyrinth – A lot of the cast and crew simply discuss the film and what their roles are in it. This is a sort of “making of” featurette without actually showing how things got done, but talking with everyone about how they got involved with the film and how they felt about the shoot. While it’s good, it’s not necessarily informative at all because so little is actually given forth. (17:03)

Under The Skin: Doug Bradley On Hellbound: Hellraiser II – It’s always nice to get the point of view from the creepiest dude in a film and in this case, Pinhead. What Bradley does here is simply go into every account of how Hellbound happened after the release of the first Hellraiser. Again, this is a good feature but you just kind of wonder why it’s there. A lot of these featurettes tell much of the same information and are starting to get a tad repetitive. (10:55)

On-Set Interview With Clive Barker – This interview seems to have taken place before the film was released because of the way Barker is speaking. The narrator even mentions moments of the film as if no-one has seen the film yet so it’s a cool look at it all. Barker simply describes the plot of Hellbound and how it continues the story from the first film. (3:16)

On-Set Interviews With Cast & Crew – Again, the narrator and those being interviewed speak as if the film hadn’t yet been released. Barker is back again along with other members of the cast and crew to talk about Randel’s work and what they think of the film. Nothing too moving here. (4:38)

Trailers & TV Spots – Four theatrical trailers and two TV spots

Poster & Still Gallery

TrailersSurfer, Dude

Hellbound is a damn creepy flick and will surely give you some nightmares as the Cenobites and Pinhead make their way into your head before you sleep. The only problem is that it doesn’t live up to the first Hellraiser, but it had a tough task ahead of it because that is just an awesome horror film. I’m not entirely sure what was so wrong with this film, but it appeared to be missing something that didn’t even seem very Clive Barker. In a way, it’s almost as if they toned it down a bit and wanted to make it a film that everyone could see, even though it would still scare the crap out of them. That sounds more present day MPAA-type crap then something that would happen back in the late eighties, but its how I feel. The special features may feel a little monotonous after a while, but they are still all very good to watch. Lots of information is given forth and seeing the old school interviews really makes me long for the days of the past when people had imagination and knew how to come up with something original. Most of these special features are new to this release from previous versions of Hellbound and that makes this a must-buy for horror fans.

For those of you that have never witnessed the glory that is Pinhead before I urge you to do it with the first film in the franchise and then stop after this second one. There are six more sequels after Hellbound and while they may not get as much press as say the Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th films, they are just as crappy. Stick with the first couple films in each series and you’ll be just fine even though this second one starts off super slow. I am curious to see if the rumored remake of Hellraiser is done with the proper respect, though but only time will tell.


Starz / Anchor Bay presents Hellbound: Hellraiser II 20th Anniversary Edition. Directed by: Tony Randel. Starring: Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Ken Cranham, Doug Bradley. Written by: Peter Atkins. Running time: 99 minutes. Rating: R. Released on DVD: December 30, 2008. Available at Amazon.com