So Horrorview gets a double dose of comeback this week - I return from my hiatus where I've relocated to the middle of No-Where, North Carolina AND I've brought with me the latest sequel in the lost Hellraiser franchise, Deader. I really don't know which will be more received by you, the viewers, being that the Hellraiser franchise has been a complete embarassment of late, or my writing, which.... well... is at least good enough to script a Hellraiser movie!
Believe it or not, after putting forth the surprise hit "Wrong Turn," Director Rob Schmidt and Producer Stan Winston set out to do the Hellraiser: Deader film in Romania. After Dimension adopted the Rick Bota script for the film, Schmidt was moved into a producer role with Winston and the two crafted a very dark and diminutive setting to supplement Bota's "evil resurrection" plot. Staged to have all of the key elements for a successful turning of the franchise, Deader began in 2003, finished in 2004 and was shelved by Dimension until June 7, 2005. Perhaps this is a boon as to what type of title we're dealing with, folks.
Journalist Amy Klein (Wuhrer) is an anti-social type who delivers hard hitting stories for the London Underground. Her boss is sent a video tape depicting a cult that can resurrect its members through the efforts of an oddly dressed white man. Naturally, Amy's boss wants her to investigate and sends her to Romania to track down the cult member that sent the Underground the video tape. Arriving at the return address provided with the tape, Amy gets access to a filth ridden apartment where she finds the tape's originator dead and hanging in the bathroom, clutching the wonderful puzzle box that is a staple to the Hellraiser series. Being a journalist, Amy grabs all the info she can from the apartment, including the puzzle box.
Naturally, every viewer KNOWS that Amy is going to open the box and invite Pinhead into the "real" world. However, much like the previous Hellraiser installments of Inferno and Hellseeker, Deader focuses primarily on a story that has nothing to do with the Clive Barker lore. Much time is spent on the hallucinatory effects of the Deader cult, and exploration of Amy Klein's past abuses then that of Pinhead and his legion of Cenobites. Perhaps this is why I feel these sequels are a complete disappointment and waste of time. The 15 minutes that Pinhead and his creeps are showcased is filled with silly rhetoric from past Hellraiser installments, and the sensationalistic cenobite creations of Gary J. Tunnicliffe are mainly used for a backdrop, receiving only glimpses from the camera. Maybe I've become accustomed to the disturbances of the first three Hellraiser films (yes, even Hell on Earth seems superior now!).
The odd thing about the Deader film is that Dimension did shelf the flick for roughly 2 years, but upon its release sanctioned a great deal of exras on the R1 disc. Perhaps an apology of sorts for purchasing the film? Included are a bunch of deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel, "making of" featurette, a "Behind the Visual Effects" featurette, a session with Gary Tunnicliffe, storyboards, location scouting, a photo gallery and a couple of commentaries from Director Rick Bota. The visual effects featurettes are always fascinating for the Hellraiser films because we get to see an artist attempt to re-create or re-invent the Barker Cenobite masterpiece.
In the end, Deader is just another generic spinoff of the Hellraiser series. It avoids nearly all connections with the previous films (save for Pinhead) and does its very best to entertain with the little rights that it may have. Seeing as how Hellraiser: Hellworld isn't due out until September of 2005, I now have the opportunity to become depraved enough over the next 3 months to shell out another $20 for a mediocre Hellraiser sequel. Welcome back........