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Hellraiser Trilogy Scarlet Box Limited Edition

Review by: 
Black Gloves
Release Date: 
1987/1988/1992
Studio: 
Arrow Video
Genre: 
Horror
Format: 
Blu-ray
Region: 
B
Aspect Ratio: 
1.85:1
Directed by: 
Clive Barker
Tony Randel
Anthony Hickox
Cast: 
Doug Bradley
Ashley Laurence
Terry Farrell
Paula Marshall
Movie: 
4
Extras: 
5
Bottom Line: 
5

A  year after its publication, Clive Barker’s 1986 novella ‘The Hellbound Heart’ got to serve out its original function: begetting the Liverpudlian horror & dark fantasy author’s self-scripted directorial feature debut “Hellraiser”, which, released at a time when the horror film in Britain was seemingly all but dead and buried, became an unexpected box office smash and made Barker the new saviour of the British Horror scene -- as well as its literary answer to Stephen King. But Clive Barker’s writing career continued to expand fruitfully to include dark fantasy as well as straight horror; although, despite ostensibly giving up his directing career to concentrate on developing -- in long prose, illustration and canvas painting -- the intricately imagined worlds which are to be found throughout, for instance, his ‘Books of Abarat’ series, Barker has never fully escaped his reputation as 80s British Horror’s poster boy --  thanks, mainly, to the now seemingly never-ending Hellraiser franchise. The importance of Hellraiser in Barker’s oeuvre is a fact attested to by his decision earlier this year to publish ‘The Scarlet Gospels’ -- which saw the author returning to what still is, thanks to the film series, his most famous character, Pinhead … although the novel has met with a mixed reaction from fans and critics.

Barker’s career as a director began out of a kind of artistic necessity: after expressing his dissatisfaction with George Pavlou’s attempts to put  his ’Books of Blood’ short story ’Rawhead Rex’ on the screen as a feature, as well as the earlier Pavlou-directed Denholm Eliot-and-Ingrid Pitt-starring 1985 production of Barker’s original story and screenplay “Underworld” which preceded it, the neophyte director was able to conjure a convincingly faithful big screen representation of his novella’s dark, tormented nexus of self-destructive human sexual desire and the perverse metaphysics of a spiritual transcendence that becomes entwined in a fully-realised fantasy world centring on the opaque machinations of a vast, inter-dimensional netherworld: home to a macabre race of pain-&-pleasure-seeking demonic entities christened Cenobites. Although its philosophy apparently refuses to recognise the binary distinction between the concepts of Heaven and Hell, Hellraiser at its core betrays a deeply Christian/Catholic sensibility: compare its metaphysics and imagery, for instance, to Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” and the Christian tradition of ecstatic religious visionary thinking which inspired it … In both works, the line between religious ecstasy and sadomasochism is equally hard to distinguish clearly.

Hellraiser” managed to reinvent the serious British horror film for the 1980s. This was the case despite Barker at the time possessing little experience of the film industry, or of filmmaking, other than that which he’d acquired when directing plays for the stage or making the handful of 8mm experimental underground art films he shot with friends Doug Bradley and Peter Atkins whilst attending Liverpool University in the late sixties/early seventies. The first of these -- a surrealist envisioning of the biblical myth of “Salome” -- was made in 1973 when Barker was just 20 years old. “Hellraiser” was an altogether more accomplished proposition, managing successfully to negotiate the commercial demands that were being made of all middle-to-low-budget horror movie productions of the day circa the mid-’80s, by both audiences and producers ( who were in this case the project’s American backers at New World: a smallish company which imposed on the screenplay some badly dubbed mid-Atlantic accents and a perfunctorily handled teen relationship that had not been present in the novella), to produce a work that more than adequately satisfied the commercial requirements of the mainstream -- even if some of its physical creature effects looked a little ropey even for the time.

But it also brought with it a reinvigorated Grand Guignol-invoking flair for imagery that dealt in grotesque forms of nastiness more reminiscent of European horror sensibilities, as well as the ability to apply a seriousness of creative vision to the British horror film that had been sorely lacking for many years. Its initial success created a cult appreciation based around the film’s lead villain (only later dubbed ‘Pinhead’ by the fans) who was played for seven out of eight subsequent sequels by Barker’s childhood friend Doug Bradley … the same one who’d been in all those playlets and short-film juvenilia projects of the director’s made ten years before. The original film has spawned a long-running direct-to-video/DVD sequel franchise that has provided Bradley with regular work and cult horror status ever since, with still recurring hints that there might one day be a re-boot of the films; and also the potential development of a TV series; as well as the avalanche of related video games, comic books, & spin-off literature. 

The nine films thus far produced in the on-going series constitute an at once predictable and familiar set of instances that denote the sad mishandling and gradual decline of one of the most hugely popular horror characters and related franchises in genre cinema, with Barker’s interest and involvement diminishing with each successive entry. Miramax had farmed the franchise out to its home video and distribution outlet Dimension Films by the fifth film; and the series from then on very quickly became almost entirely divorced from its origins -- Bradley’s chief ‘Pinhead’ Cenobite subsequently becoming nothing more than a mere figurehead who could be placed at the helm of any number of independently written screenplays that had very little to do with the original Hellraiser mythos, but into which the character was henceforth to be artificially inserted at will. The first three films still get regularly packaged together as a trio, though, just as they have been once again here for Arrow Video’s latest, extras-stuffed limited edition luxury box set. It is only the first two instalments that have ever truly felt strongly related to each other though, thanks to their sharing of British London locales (which cannot be disguised even by the crass re-dubbing in the first film and the American cop uniforms in the second) and the continuity and development that is provided by several key characters being carried over from one to the other, the two films being produced virtually back-to-back by most of the same behind-the-scenes technicians and with many of the same cast members involved.

The third instalment already saw Barker (by now happy to move on to other projects) reduce his involvement to a negligible executive producer status, with his friend-cum-co-writer on the second picture, Peter Atkins, now taking over completely on what had by then  -- after the franchise was bought out by Miramax --  turned into an exclusively American concern, losing in the transition the eclectic British approach to cinematic EFX-laden dark fantasy and the downbeat domestic milieu which had characterised the first two instalments (and which had set them apart from the American teen horror conventions of the late-’80s). This distinct ‘Britishness’  was replaced with elements such as the third feature’s quite ludicrous hair metal soundtrack and studio-made Manhattan locations, mostly created on a budget using glass matte-paintings. This third film now starred a young Hollywood cast of beautifully pimped up party-going clubbers who provide the resurrected Pinhead with plenteous fashionable fodder to mutilate and decimate on this fake New York’s neon-lit streets. The character is here promoted into a wise-cracking Freddy Krueger type of villain -- who brings with him a body count to rival the equally indestructible Jason Voorhees, even after he is apparently killed off during the second instalment.

But Barker’s original movie, for all of its low-budget ’80s naiveté, is still really the only one of the series that is truly indispensable: Christopher Young’s sweeping musical passages, with their heightened sense of dramatic wonder and their operatic orchestration, underline the movie’s lush and traditional approach. The films aesthetic judgement, evident even in the ornate faux-oriental design of the mysterious 18th century clockwork-mechanical puzzle box that, when solved, opens up passage into our world for Barker’s regal sadomasochistic entities from the dark side of beyond the Coenobites, provide the film with its reassuring sense of horror classicism, lending the picture that unusual sense of it being both the future of the genre and a yet worthy and reassuring heir to the great British horror traditions of the past as formulated by the high Gothic melodrama of Hammer Films.

The opening shot, designed to suggest the shade of some bustling Moroccan bizarre, in which preening voyager into the extremes of human experience Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman), first gains possession of the Lament Configuration puzzle box and sets out to probe its secrets in a North London attic, lays out a familiar trope from the Hammer school of Horror: that of the vain colonial western traveller, inheritor of an imperialist, Orientalist outlook, who appropriates the works of other cultures whilst poking into areas of experience not meant for his eyes. But almost immediately Barker ensures his viewers are under no illusions about the nature of the areas of experience he plans to present to them -- without the coyness of previous generations of British horror flicks; areas that venture into the realm of fetish lifestyles that were, back then, rarely displayed or discussed in mainstream culture and which in this case involve all manner of lethal instruments of torture and the bizarre figures of the demonic humanoid creatures known as Coenobites, whose bodies have been re-shaped and contorted through otherworldly surgical intervention; eyes stitched shut, grotesque wounds pinned open, and – famously -- pin-like nails hammered deep into the pale head of the group’s lead Cenobite to form a geometric pattern which denotes a sense of artistic purity as well as sadomasochistic pleasure. The Cenobites are introduced immediately after this traditional opening, and Frank learns that the transcendent pleasures he has been searching for in mystical realms beyond are indistinguishable in this dimension from a pain that’s beyond all human reckoning. Meanwhile, the audience learns that they too are to be spared none of this intensity, in images of torture and physical violation that take the film into areas previously only really systematically examined in horror by Lucio Fulci -- who was hardly a mainstream proposition either then or now!

This mixture of the traditional and the transgressive provides ballast for what is in the main (in this first film, at any rate) a defiantly domestic drama that has more in common with the downbeat 1970s suburban Gothics of Pete Walker than with the then-popular mainstream horror franchises of the day such as Elm Street and Friday the 13th. It becomes the story of Julia -- an unhappy, sexually unfulfilled woman on the cusp of middle-age (played by Claire Higgins), who is married to a good-natured but uninspiring American businessman named Larry (Andrew Robinson). The couple are moving back to Julia’s native England with Larry’s daughter Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) in tow after inheriting their new North London home from Larry’s wayward brother -- the disappeared Frank -- with whom Julia had been secretly conducting an illicit, sexually charged affair before Frank went missing. What remains of Frank is, of course, still buried under the floorboards of the attic, and after being revived with the spilled blood from a cut sustained by Larry during the move, those remains take on enough of Frank’s former human appearance to allow him to escape his demonic Cenobite torturers in Hell and rekindle his adulterous relationship with Julia … although not so much of him as to be able to furnish him with a full skin!

There are moments here in the editing -- particularly when Barker illustrates the relationship between Julia and Frank by flitting back and forth between past and present action to convey Julia’s frustrated longing for a different life from the one she now finds herself leading in a Cricklewood suburb -- when Barker’s feature feels like something which has been cast in the Nicolas Roeg school of filmmaking, with a heavy emphasis on domestic relationships, and character delineation that is expertly elucidated without words but merely through using suggestive visual juxtapositions that blur the cine-grammar we associate with editing conventions that denote 'the flashback' with those which audiences take to be illustrative of a display of first person memory taking place on screen. At the same time, the movie is all very ‘1980s’ and heavily FX-laden in the way of mainstream horror from that time.

 Indeed, the sequence in which Frank’s body reassembles itself from scratch is a quintessential example of the decade’s visual effects-centred horror fantasy cinema -- the 1980s being the period when animatronics, model-work and latex bladder effects where in the ascendancy and became one of the major selling points for any horror movie hoping to do well at the box office. The film is at its most unnerving, though, during its more down-to-earth moments, particularly in the section of its proceedings when the obsessed Julia agrees to start murdering a series of anonymous businessmen for Frank, and then proceeds to beat them to death with a hammer after first bringing them back to the house, ostensibly for sex, but really so that skinless Frank in the attic can feed on them in order to continue building up the musculature, ligaments and flesh of his material body. Thanks to Higgins’ committed performance as a woman who starts out willing to debase herself for a cruel lover, but gradually begins to get satisfaction and a perverse kind of liberation out of the act of murder itself, the film remains grounded in an unusually believable and very human depiction of evil despite the supernatural metaphysics, monstrous demonic entities, and the sometimes not-so-successful low-budget FX and opticals that were used to realise Barker’s delirious visions and to take the film finally into the realm of pure cinema spectacle during the final act. “Hellraiser” is uneven but atmospheric, and does indeed manage successfully to hint at much more than it is ever able to show.

Although Clive Barker declined to take the director’s seat for the sequel, his influence can still be felt all over “Hellbound: Hellraiser II” in the form of story ideas that filter into Peter Atkins’s continuation of the narrative as a dark adult fairy-tale of twisted sexuality and combative family relationships, this time given a more sprawling operatic bent. The sequel went into production before the first film had even been released, and another friend of Barker’s, Tony Randel -- a former production assistant at New World who had masterminded the effects sequence added later to “Hellraiser” (when New World got the jitters over what they considered to be Barker’s art house inclinations), in which Frank’s flayed body is seen reconstituting itself from beneath the attic floor -- took over directorial control on it with, it has to be said, varying results, thanks mainly to his inexperience (this was Randel’s first feature as main director rather than second unit overseer) and an exchange rate crash that  also managed to crash what was originally to have been a much bigger budget. Unfortunately, the  screenplay comes across as appearing rushed, possibly as a result of the quick turnaround, with an intrinsic incoherence at the centre of the plot that manifests in the odd motives that are attributable to the first film’s returning heroine Kirsty (Ashley Laurence, appearing once more): who, this time, finds herself residing in a decidedly gothic psychiatric institute where she later joins forces with a fellow patient called Tiffany (Imogen Boorman) – a mute who has a talent for solving puzzles, a talent that makes her the perfect conduit for opening the gates of Hell.

Kirsty intends deliberately to return with the youngster to the realm of the sinister Cenobites on a nonsensical quest to rescue her dead father Larry from their sadistic clutches. There’s a troubling inconsistency in the logic behind this quest since Kirsty’s uncomprehending father was simply murdered by Frank and, unlike Julia, had no contact whatsoever with either the Lament Configuration or the Cenobites, so there really is no reason for Kirsty to assume his soul now resides in their realm of perpetual torment. The fact that actor Andrew Robertson wasn’t willing to resume his role as the father leaves the plotline unresolved in any case. The sequel also sports a rather weak opening act which depends on a slick but excessive re-edit of the finale of the first film, turning it into a trailer-length ‘story so far’ summery that then quickly leads into a further flashback in which Kirsty relates all of the events of “Hellraiser”, in their entirety, for the benefit of neurologist Dr Philip Channard (Kenneth Cranham). These days, such a clumsy method for getting the audience up to speed feels especially unsophisticated  -- although it does allow Randal to include some unused footage from a scene cut in its entirety from the original “Hellraiser”, in which Julia thinks back to hers and Larry‘s wedding day, which was also attended by her lover, Frank.

The film’s strongest material deals with a brand new character created by Atkins: Kenneth Cranham’s buttoned up, obsessive megalomaniac neurologist Dr Channard is the ’80s equivalent of the great deranged medical researchers and ‘mad scientists’ of the Universal Horror cycle of the 1930s who used to be played by the likes of Lionel Atwill, Boris Karloff or Bela Lugosi. The primary influence in his characterisation as scripted appears to be the devil worshipping war criminal and torturer Poelzig, played by Karloff in the 1934 film “The Black Cat” -- since Channard lives in a similarly clinically sterile, white-walled domain that recalls the Bauhaus minimalist-modern Gothic design of Fort Marmaros, which is where Poelzig resided in that film. If his grandiose speechifying about the urgent need to push back the frontiers of knowledge at all and at whatever cost (rather indulgently delivered in the middle of a brain operation on a still-conscious patient!) doesn’t alert the viewer to Channard’s nefarious character, then his ‘obsession room’ --  a study which, in contrast to the tastefully sparing décor and furnishings of the rest of his house, is kitted out with all manner of occult related objet d’art and references -- should do the trick, as it is here that it is revealed that Channard has for years been pursuing his own interest in the arcana that surrounds the Lament puzzle boxes, managing to collect three of them  in total which he keeps isolated under bell jars surrounded by his sketches of the Cenobites, various occult charts, and pictures of Alistair Crowley.

The scenes in which Channard first of all resurrects a skinless Julia with the blood of one of his mentally disturbed patients (which is procured in a gory rite as grotesque as anything ever concocted for Lucio Fulci’s ‘80s work) and then diligently wraps her body in bandages as pristine a shade of white as the rest of his sterile abode, before commencing a long sensuous kiss of her bloodied lips, set off all kinds of hair-trigger tugs on the horror genre’s use of the twin concepts of the uncanny and the abject. Channard seems to possess a morbid fascination with the frankly disgusting spectacle associated with Julia’s ‘rebirth’ (which is supremely bloody and hideous, but also extremely sexual in its imagery: the ultimate association of sex with both birth and death) but at the same time the erotic attraction it sparks in him for her flayed, blood-smeared person (for Julia now seems to have been transformed, after her short time in Hell, from an embittered sexually frustrated middle-aged woman into an ageless seductress, intent on enticing Channard into her blood-raw arms) is something that has to be consciously denied by first of all covering her up, a bloody palm print on one of Channard’s white interior walls being the only physical marker of the twisted desires percolating beneath the surface of the doctor’s outwardly courteous exterior.

All these years later this entire section is still an usually visually powerful instance of the franchise’s use of fantasy surrealism, with the psychiatric patient who believes his body to be crawling with maggots, slashing and slicing at his own torso and groin with a straight razor on a mattress still stained with Julia’s own blood from the events at the end of the last film, being one of the strongest, most repellent images in ’80s horror. As we know from the last movie, the spilled blood of the living is enough to bring those condemned to the Cenobites’ hellish dimension back to Earth -- but it takes plenty of it to resurrect them fully formed. Claire Higgins’s portrayal of Julia’s very human failings were at the heart of Barker’s original movie; here Channard’s megalomania and greed for knowledge, and their exploitation by Julia in her relish for her new role as willing servant of the great god Leviathan, provide this follow-on with more of a fable-like, fairy tale aspect to its character -- which is not to say it’s any less gory than its predecessor. There are also distinctly adult connotations to Atkins’s use of some of these fantasy and fairy tale elements, which becomes most evidently apparent in Tiffany’s extremely suggestive hand gestures when ‘stimulating’ the puzzle box into unleashing its portal into Hell and calling up the Cenobites (“it’s meant to be a girl playing with her box,” realises director Tony Randal in a moment of clarity during one of the commentaries included with the set!)

The film’s attempt to conjure up a convincing screen representation of Hell is where the truncated budget and Randel’s inexperience are most keenly felt to the picture‘s ultimate deficit -- with wobbly sets and matte painted backings that, despite the supervision of the legendary optical effects specialist Cliff Cully, were not utilised to their best advantage and have not fared well in the intervening years. The Channard Cenobite, though, with his retro-looking stop-motion appendages and outrageous ‘penis tentacle‘ skull-cap, connecting him to Leviathan, remains a particularly macabre creation that shows how in tune as a writer of dark fantasy with Barker’s twisted sensibility Peter Atkins was at this time -- although Atkins plays it safe by equipping Channard with a ready-set of doctor-related quips to deliver in the manner of Freddy Krueger before he dispatches his victims.

The film’s depiction of the mythology’s supreme satanic ‘godhead’ Leviathan also provides an original touch, forgoing the gigantic Lovecraftian monster originally suggested by Barker for an inscrutable geometric abstract form that provides no meaningful explanation for its all-consuming interest in human suffering. The picture’s main problem -- which Atkins could not have anticipated at the time because the screenplay was written way before the release of the first movie -- is that the public had taken the minor character of Pinhead to its heart by the time “Hellbound” came out; yet, thinking the franchise’s recurring villain was going to be Julia, queen of the damned, Atkins has the Channard Cenobite unceremoniously kill off this fan favourite, along with all the other Cenobites,  way before the climax of the picture and rather too easily to provide a satisfying resolution. As things turned out, Higgins was also somewhat less than happy about the prospect of becoming a horror villain in a long-running franchise, and so Doug Bradley’s Pinhead is summarily resurrected (without a great deal of explanation) for the third movie -- this time directed Anthony Hickox, eldest son of veteran director, Douglas, who was brought on-board as a replacement for Tony Randel, who was originally slated to direct the second sequel as well but was sacked after a falling out with U.S. executives at the franchise’s new Stateside distribution home.

The third picture, “Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth”, makes intriguing use of Pinhead’s human origins and former identity as Elliott Spencer, a WW1 Captain in the British army; a history that was alluded to during “Hellbound,” where it was used by Kirsty to save herself by awakening Pinhead’s memories of his former life in order to rekindle the remnants of the Cenobite’s still existent humanity. A rather tortured set of production circumstances (elaborated on at length in the extras) had led though, to the franchise rights passing in the meantime from the by-now-defunct New World Pictures to a genre outlet for Miramax called Dimension Films, home to the later Halloween sequels as well as the Children of the Corn series, and then under the stewardship of the Weinstein brothers, Bob and Harvey, before they departed the Disney-owned Miramax to set up their own The Weinstein Company. Hellraiser’s journey from Cricklewood to Pinewood and now on to Hollywood was to have an extreme, some might say deleterious, effect on the direction the series was to take though. New World had previously attempted to banish the first two films’ London settings from audience minds with the aid of crass re-dubbing (in the first) and out-of-place American cop uniforms (in the second), although they never succeeded in fooling anyone; “Hell on Earth”, though, sees the entire production now decamp to the States, with a small studio space in North Carolina standing in for many of Atkins’ New York City locations, with the help of matte paintings and miniatures. “Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth” is a big dumb franchise theatre-filler -- a popcorn seller for gore hounds that plays up to Pinhead’s audience popularity by turning him into a more commercially viable mainstream horror villain. The film’s only saving grace is, perhaps, that its makers never try to disguise the fact that they are quite intentionally redirecting the once sombre, philosophical, intensely sexual tone of Barker’s original mythology into the stuff of routine monster and FX fodder for the multiplex -- full of rubbery latex appliances, cartoon gore and explosions. To be fair, although Tony Randel was removed early on in the development of the picture to be replaced by Dimension Films stalwart Hickox, both Peter Atkins (who wrote the screenplay) and Clive Barker himself (who was happy to accept a cheque to have his name attached to this sequel while also shooting some EPK interview material for it, not to mention actually directing the video for Motorhead’s end credits theme music) were certainly never the least bit precious about the shameless commercial motivation behind this particular venture: Atkins says on the commentary included with this film’s extras package words to the effect that although it might not be a great Hellraiser sequel, “Hell on Earth” is still a great 90s horror movie: an exemplar of where the genre was at during the early part of that decade. We have now arrived at that point in the film’s life cycle, twenty-four years after it was originally first released, when the cringe factor associated with the cultural products of the then recent past has  begun to turn into a kind of semi-ironic enjoyment of those self-same quirks … the final staging post in the process by which we first accept, then come to appreciate the past and its mores and genre conventions, before they eventually assume the mantle of a cosy period nostalgia.  

The film at least starts out like its aim is to stay true to the independent spirit of the first two movies: the Pillar of Souls – the twisted totem full of carved images of writhing bodies that has the frozen face of Pinhead at its core, and which we last saw at the very end of “Hellbound”, has now found its way into the possession of a rich and obnoxious musclebound club owner called J.P. (Kevin Bernhardt), who plans to use it as a piece of dressing to brighten the scenery at his trendy New York club, The Boiler Room. The pillar is but one item in a collection of Dr Channard’s old possessions which has made its way stateside, and which also includes his Cenobite sketches and a library of video interviews with Kirsty Cotton (which gives Ashley Laurence the chance to make a welcome cameo appearance, encouraging the false idea that the movie intends to honour its established history) -- which TV news reporter Joey Summerskill (Terry Farrell) discovers after she witnesses the bloody supernatural results of messing with the Lament Configuration in a hospital emergency room. Eventually she traces the puzzle box to a young nightclub goer called Terri (Paula Marshall), who stole it. Those back references to Kirsty and Channard soon give way to an altogether different kind of tone -- pushing the franchise into a frivolous, cartoony, teen-orientated mode of fantasy gore that’s even more reliant on outrageous special effect set-pieces than were the previous films. The Elm Street movies, with their surreal fantasy flourishes and logic-junking dream imagery, are the most obvious model here -- but the exploding head near the start of this sequel suggests Hickox was also aiming for the cheesy gore and low-budget action spectacle to be found in the later “Scanners” films, which started appearing in the immediate wake of Cronenberg’s far more austere original.

Pinhead is no longer the gliding, priestly Pope of Hell with a nice line in aphorisms who appeared in the shadows as both imperious and ominously menacing in the other films of the series -- even though he didn’t actually do anything much, most of the time, but be very eloquently philosophical and poetic about the eternity of pain he was anticipating inflicting upon those who call him up! After being released from his prison inside the Pillar by the spilled blood and shed skin of one of J.P’s airhead sexual conquests, Doug Bradley’s creation now becomes more of a rampaging demon on the lam: no longer waiting around for pleasure-seeking aesthetes to solve the mysteries of the puzzle box, this new, uninhibited Pinhead gets drunk on the prospect of corporeal existence outside the box, and when he is finally let loose on Earth he’s all too eager to dish out outrageous death in the clubs and on the streets of New York where he soon succeeds in bringing about outlandish carnage on a large scale, transforming many of his victims into bizarrely freakish ‘pseudo Cenobites’ (J.P. becomes ‘Pistonhead’ – which is self-explanatory; the Boiler Room’s club DJ turns into ‘CDhead’ -- who kills people with razor-sharp CDs that spin like deadly blades as they shoot from his head. The roving cameraman accompanying Joey, meanwhile, becomes Camerahead: a video camera imbedded in his cranium!) to help Pinhead accomplish his main task, which is to recover the puzzle box so no-one can ever send him back to Leviathan’s realm ever again. Bradley evidently has enormous fun camping it up, here. Pinhead cackles and growls his way through a series of ghoulish one-liners during a string of flamboyantly over-the-top SFX set-pieces, before saving his grandest entrance for a church scene that involves the Cenobite mimicking the words of Jesus before subverting the Catholic Mass as the centrepiece of a show-stopping piece of blasphemy that one can only imagine must have gone down a treat in some corners of the United States!

The one area where this sequel does follow in the footsteps of its predecessors, though, is in making its two main protagonists young, resourceful, likable females. The first movie may have reluctantly also included a male lead, but he got next to nothing of any note to do and was side-lined as quickly as possible in Barker’s screenplay. In the second film, the franchise hit its stride by pairing up the older and wiser Kirsty with the much younger Tiffany (after quickly dispatching a young medical assistant that the first acts seems to be setting up as the male lead, until he stumbles into Julia’s clutches) whose skills lay in her ability to solve puzzles. Here, Terry Farrell and Paula Marshall make for an interesting combination of ambition and vulnerability. Atkins also tries to make the mythology around Pinhead’s origins slightly more relevant to an American audience by contrasting Joey’s unresolved feelings about her father’s death in Vietnam, with Elliott Spencer’s fate in the trenches and on the Battlefields of France during World War One -- providing Joey with extra impetus to help Pinhead’s human form, which is now suspended in the limbo of a ghostly re-enactment of the horrors of no-man’s-land, bring his rampaging id back under control. This separation of Pinhead’s human and Cenobite identities also furnishes the franchise with an inbuilt excuse for Pinhead’s more outlandish behaviour in this instalment, the logic being that Pinhead’s knowledge of his past has forced the warring Cenobite and human parts of his psyche to split off into entirely separate beings. Without the moderating influence of the moral Elliott to restrain him, the lead Cenobite has become a pure incarnation of the blackest form of evil! The drawback with this handy sleight-of-hand justification for the crass excesses of “Hell on Earth” is that it plunges the franchise back into the usual binary clichés of Judaeo-Christian morality, where good and evil are starkly pitted against each other and are represented by oppositional concepts such as light and dark. One of the most original contributions Barker made to mainstream horror cinema with the original “Hellraiser” was to blur the line between such dualities by demonstrating that there existed lifestyle choices where even clear-cut concepts such as the difference between pleasure and pain could be challenged and undermined. “Hell on Earth” abandoned the philosophy underpinning Barker’s vision but Atkins (who also appears on-screen as a Cenobite in this one) and Barker both appear to have been happy to let their ideas find less extreme and more marketable outlets, although this third movie was to be one of the last big theatrical outings for the franchise.             

The extras package associated with this limited edition collection is as comprehensive and complete as one has, in the last few years, come to expect from the people at Arrow Video, ever since the label began renewing its emphasis, in these days of instant access streaming-on-demand and digital downloads, on creating ultimate collector’s packages that compete as much on an aesthetic level in providing customers with an attractive physical end product as they do through the interest they can generate with their accompanying content. Thus we have everything here that was previously included on the Anchor Bay DVD set, plus a compendium of documentaries and featurettes that might have been seen elsewhere in one form or another since the mid-1990s, all complimented by attractive packaging and a large set of collectable accessories -- which include an extensive 200-page hardback book of new-writing, a fold out poster, and five art cards. Presumably the set will be re-released in a less limited capacity as a standard Blu-ray edition in the near future. (As I write, this Limited Edition is already changing hands for inflated sums.) The films themselves, meanwhile, have been given brand new 2K scan restorations, the first two coming with the approval of director of photography Robin Vidgeon, while also benefiting from a choice of uncompressed PCM Stereo 2.0 or lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 sound options; while the third has lossless DTS-HD MA 2.0 sound.

Disc 1 includes both of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser commentaries from the 1990s: in the first -- a solo effort -- the writer-director provides a nice scene-by-scene breakdown of the film (with plenty of reference to the shooting circumstances) while recalling what he was aiming for at the time, and where the film sometimes falls short of his intentions due to either lack of resources, his own failings as a first-time director, or a little of both. In the second commentary Barker is joined by lead actress Ashley Laurence and the writer of the second and third movies Peter Atkins. Here we get a lot of the same stories only set in a more casual, conversational style; but there’s also more detail on the experience of making the movie -- particularly from the actors’ point of view. During the course of praising her performance Barker hints that Clare Higgins, in the role of Julia, drew on some dark personal history for her performance, while Laurence confirms that the antagonism between their characters contributed to a frosty relationship developing between the pair off-screen as well. Both commentaries remain extremely listenable and manage to avoide the dead air that is sometimes a feature of this kind of cast & crew get-together.

Leading the extensive collection of interviews and documentaries we have on this first disc is a newly edited version of what was originally an nine hour documentary about the first two films produced by Dead Mouse Productions and Cult Screenings UK, called “Leviathan -- The Story of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II”. Here, it’s been re-edited and re-shaped into a three-part four hour film covering all three movies, giving us a ‘snappy’ 90 minute part one Making Of that covers the first movie in loving detail. Spread across the three discs, the cut down version probably makes a better job of relating the genesis, production and after-life of the first two British entries in the franchise than the unwieldy, unedited nine-hour full version does. Pretty much everyone of note involved in the production at Cricklewood, from cast and crew alike, have been interviewed for this, including the usually reticent Claire Higgins. The entire thing is narrated (sometimes in rather clunkily written soundbites) by ‘skinless Frank’ himself, Oliver Smith. Interestingly, this comparatively recent documentary also functions as commentary on some of the previous calls that have gone out to cast members to examine this this much-loved franchise for the numerous DVD releases and box sets which have appeared since the late‘90s. There is an anecdote repeated in an older featurette (as well as regurgitated in Barker and Atkins’s commentaries) created by Nucleus Films in the early 2000s, which illustrates this: Douglas Bradley recalls in some early featurettes and commentaries for “Hellraiser” how he was offered the choice of playing either the Lead Cenobite role or a walk-on part as the furniture removal man who helps lug the mattress which eventually serves as the blood-soaked birthing device of a reborn Julia in the second film. (The part was eventually played by Oliver Parker, who jokes how the role became an ‘iconic’ career-definer for him!) Bradley apparently seriously considered taking the walk-on part, because he thought it would be more of an advantage to his career as an actor in terms of getting other roles if his face could be clearly seen on the screen rather than caked in the latex makeup of Pinhead. In the more recent documentary though, Bradley now claims this was but an idle fancy that lasted ‘all of five minutes’ and that it had always been his and Barker’s intention that he should play the role of the character who eventually became the iconic Pinhead. In other words, the story was just an anecdote or conversation piece exaggerated for DVD features.

Barker is notably absent from the Cult Screenings retrospective, but we do glean plenty of insight into the interests and extracurricular obsessions which fed into the descriptions and drawings Barker proffered to the makeup-effects team and costume and wardrobe departments responsible for designing and dressing the various Cenobites who populate the first film. In a 25 minute featurette on the first disc called “Hellraiser: Ressurrection”, Jane Wildgoose casually mentions that copies of the magazine PFI Quarterly were given to her by Barker in the wardrobe department as an aid in determining the eventual on-screen look and garb of the Cenobites. But it’s only really in an 18 minute interview with Stephen Thrower -- now best known as the author of books on the American Independent Horror scene of the 1970s and biographical career surveys of Jess Franco and Lucio Fulci, but at the time a key member of the industrial synth-&-samples band Coil, who was a casual acquaintance of Barker’s from his Forbidden Planet day-job where the author would often hang out -- that we learn how this magazine was an underground fetish publication that was originally produced during a time when the body piercing trend and other body-altering & self-mutilation practices were still virtually unknown in mainstream culture, and which detailed in its pages, in vivid, eye-watering graphic images, extreme practices such as penis bifurcation! Thrower, who is primarily interviewed in connection with Coil’s legendary lost semi-completed score on how his association with Clive Barker came about, and why the band’s brand of  atmospheric avant-garde ‘sonic weather’ came to be replaced with Christopher Young’s more conventional orchestrated score (the short version is that New World execs wanted some mainstream appeal rather than an underground arthouse movie), casts much light on Barker’s interest in such sub-cultures, and how it was rooted in a rather gleeful delight in uncovering these little-known areas of human sexual experience rather than in any morbidity or angst, though they were areas of sexuality which Thrower had personally heretofore not even considered at all.

So there was nothing at all morbid or angst-ridden about these interests according to Thrower … but the man himself, when interviewed for the Resurrection documentary (in 2000) is at pains to stress how he no longer considers himself to be the same person who made this ‘son-of-a-bitch movie’. He certainly no longer by this point looked or sounded the same as the garrulous fresh-faced thirty-something glimpsed in the behind-the-scenes materials and in on-set interviews conducted in 1986, and which we see throughout these featurettes and documentaries whenever authorial comment is needed from the man Stephen King had by that point christened ’the future of Horror.’ But whatever Barker himself (whose interests have grown away from Horror per se and become more enmeshed in the metaphysical end of fantasy and sci-fi) may have thought, the people who worked with him at the time continue to remember and cherish fondly the creative vision and the enthusiasm Barker brought with him to the set.  One of the most articulate and engaging interviews on disc 1 is provided by Sean Chapman who plays Frank before his flaying and skinless rebirth, and who gives one of the most on-the-money appreciations of this film which Barker managed to get made against all odds. There is also a five minute vintage behind-the-scenes EPK included on the disc in which a youthful Barker is interviewed, along with the main cast members and makeup designer Bob Keen. Barker’s description of the Cenobites, here, drums home how they represent an anticipation of the trend for radical body piercing, tattooing and fetish scarification: “ They have made an aesthetic and a lifestyle out of corrupting their own bodies,” says the director … “tearing them apart and reconfiguring them in various ways -- with hooks and various skinning devices.”

Several trailers, TV spots and a stills gallery, as well as PDF draft scripts, round off the considerable haul that makes up the content of disc one. Disc two, meanwhile is equally exhaustive in its treatment of “Hellbound: Hellraiser II”. Peter Atkins and director Tony Randel contribute two commentaries for the film, the second of them with Ashley Laurence. There’s not a great deal of difference in the approach taken between them, and as before, a good many of the same anecdotes and points are repeated on both; Atkins, as we learn throughout these commentary tracks, is good at rationalising the inconstancies and ‘mistakes’ in the film: here he reveals he was never happy about the story idea of Kirsty wanting to rescue her father from Hell and was happy when Andrew Robertson declined to return for the second film, as it meant less emphasis on that particular plotline. It seems the production had its fair share of VIP visitors, including film critic Barry Norman and film legend Ken Russell, although neither is renowned for being big fans of the Hellraiser franchise. There are, in consequence, amusingly snarky anecdotes about both featured here. One of the issues mentioned in both commentaries and in nearly all the documentaries and featurettes concerned with this particular film relates to the long missing ‘Pinhead Surgeon’ scene: a section of the movie that was cut before the final edit, but which has since become legendary because a still from it was included on early unrated versions of the home video VHS release, leading to speculation that it was just too extreme to be included in the finished movie, even in its unrated version. Atkins (and Doug Bradley, in an interview segment elsewhere on this disc) poo-poos that idea, but his explanation that the scene was just too shoddy to make it into the final cut doesn’t appear to hold up now that Arrow Video have unearthed a VHS work print of it for inclusion on this release: even without a proper post-production soundtrack and finished effects, it doesn’t appear any worse than much of the other stuff that did make it into the film! Anyway, it is now available to the public for fans to judge for themselves.

Part two of the “Leviathan” documentary offers the most complete consideration of the second film included for the extras in this set: running at two hours it’s actually longer than part one and appears to cover all the bases in providing as comprehensive a look at the making of the sequel as it is possible to give. Actors, including Kenneth Cranham, discuss their roles in-depth; crew members recall difficult moments and on-set mishaps (including the strain on director Tony Randel due to his nervousness about being in charge of a fairly large crew on a big picture with a lot of expectation behind it, when this was his first director’s gig) and all the major special effects and make-ups are discussed, along with the film’s excellent use of stop-motion effects. This major piece of work is complemented by satellite featurettes, including part two of Sean Chapman’s interview “Being Frank” (11 minutes), in which the actor discusses returning for his cameo as Frank and considers why exactly he feels the sequel went astray and became inferior to the original. Doug Bradley considers the development of Pinhead in “Hellbound” for “Under the Skin” (11 Minutes) and Clive Barker offers his thoughts on where Peter Atkins took the original concept, in a vintage on-set interview featurette.  Also included, and of great interest, we have some on-set interviews with main cast members and a few with some of the crew; plus Behind-the-Scenes Footage, a draft screenplay (available as BD-ROM content), trailers and TV spots, and a stills image gallery. Perhaps the last word in relation to the Hellraiser franchise as a whole should go to the actor  Nicholas Vince, who played the ‘Chatterer’ Cenobite in the first two films (generally acknowledged by fans to be the two best ones in the entire series): “Stop making Hellraiser films, unless you’re gonna make good ones … They’re fucking shit!”

“Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth” also gets its two commentaries, although this time they’re not both by the same people for once. Peter Atkins is his usual garrulous self on the first track, which is moderated by Michael Feltcher. Atkins is ready with a rather convincing explanation for the once imperious, priestly Pinhead now suddenly getting his Freddy Krueger on and turning into a cackling, scowling, wise-cracking villain who delights in theatrical displays of blasphemy as well as ostentatious feats of mass slaughter on New York’s streets. Atkins rationalises this film’s gaudy excess with the thought that although it’s not the best Hellraiser film, it is a fine example of this particular strain of early-nineties mainstream horror, which, like the Elm Street series and the later entries in the Friday the 13th franchise, had moved away from all pretence at logic or narrative coherence in the process of turning their apparently un-killable antagonists into phantasmal beings capable of moving with ease through varying levels of reality, dreams or multiple dimensions, and of being transformed, reborn or reincarnated in order to ensure their constant availability for yet more sequels.

This third film is the least consistent with the milieu established in the previous two features, but Atkins nonetheless points to some rather rarefied influences on the material, despite the rather more tongue-in-cheek approach to the gory set-pieces which otherwise characterise the film: no less a poetic influence than the Jean Cocteau films “Orphee” and  “La Belle et la Bête” are apparently the origin of the respective ideas of radio messages from the underworld coming to Joey courtesy of Elliot’s trapped soul and the image of Pinhead trapped in the Pillar of Souls which recalls the faces in the stone mantelpiece seen in the enchanted castle belonging to the beast in the latter film.  On the second commentary director Anthony Hickox is joined by Doug Bradley who describes his time making this third instalment as ‘the happiest experience of his professional career’! Hickox is unaware of the Cocteau influences which pepper his own film, but he pays tribute to the matte paintings of Cliff Cully (they work better here than they did in “Hellbound”) which consistently manage to make a small North Carolina set look like a massive New York vista and an empty soundstage and two rows of chairs look like a cathedral! All the commentators on both tracks emphasis how most of the behind the scenes crew, including Hickox and Atkins themselves,  have parts in the finished film – Atkins even gets to play one of the ‘pseudo Cenobites’ cobbled together by this deranged version of Pinhead. The second commentary accompanies a slightly extended cut of the film, although it should be noted that the scenes which appear in it, and which were cut from the theatrical version, are pan-and-scanned VHS quality dupes edited in to the theatrical edit and do not depict anything of any great importance. It’s merely a curiosity for completest fans of the series.

The documentary extras for “Hellraiser III” might not be quite so extensive as those which accompany the other two films in the set, but together with the commentaries they cover the main background, which mainly centres on the rights limbo the franchise was facing after the collapse of New World and the production difficulties which initially marked out this third film’s genesis as Tony Randel fell out with the film’s replacement producers from Dimension Films, who moved in after Christopher Figg severed ties with the series. The movie is very much a transitional work, with key personnel associated with the previous films such as Doug Bradley, Peter Atkins and the special effects team at Image, still very much on-board even if in a reduced capacity, but with new people such as director Anthony Hickox being brought in to alter the dynamic as Barker now takes a backseat, only attaching his name to this sequel for marketing purposes despite Dimension making it very clear to Randel’s replacement that he was being put in the driver’s seat in order to turn a cult concern into a major mainstream movie that would appeal to a younger North American audience who had been raised on Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger.

The 32 minute ‘making of  “The Story of Hellraiser III” covers these initial teething problems but is more of a companion piece to the Dead Mouse Productions’ documentary feature covering the making of the first two films than a dedicated piece about the third film in its own right. Most of its interviewees come from the pool of those who also worked on the other two films, although Ken Carpenter is also included amongst them. The spirited Paula Marshall appears in a separate 15 minute interview in which the Maryland-raised actress recalls working on what was at the time her first ever acting gig at the age of 17, after she started out doing modelling work before moving to New York to start acting lessons. Ironically, Paula recalls being vehemently opposed to smoking at the time -- yet her role as innocent party girl Terri required her not only be seen chain-smoking throughout most of the movie, but for her Cenobite incarnation to also sport a cigarette that is permanently lodged in a throat wound! “Raising Hell on Earth” is a 15 minute interview with easy-going director Anthony Hickox, who is himself wreathed in cigarette smoke throughout. A lifelong horror fan (he claims his father Douglas only agreed to direct the Vincent Price classic “Theatre of Blood” because his son loved horror movies so much) Hickox was excited to be a part of the Hellraiser franchise and to contribute to what he (at the time) thought would be the final part of a trilogy -- although he was glad to have Peter Atkins on set since he was not really up to speed on the mythology. Hickox proves to be a likeable presence who has a ready stock of amusing anecdotes at the ready.

Finally, Doug Bradley talks about his possessiveness over the role of Pinhead, which only became evident to him when he had to play Elliott Spencer opposite a Pinhead stand-in during the climactic confrontation between the two aspects of this same character. Bradley also mentions details of the original story idea Barker had pitched about the Lament Configuration’s ancient Egyptian origins. Finally, the disc features a five minute archive EPK featurette in which Clive Barker gamely does his best to sell the film on the basis that it features Pinhead running amok on Earth, unrestrained by any of the rules which formerly bound him when he could only be summoned from Hell by the puzzle box. There is also footage of Barker directing the Motorhead video for the theme song that plays over the end credits. 24 minutes of FX dallies feature some uncomfortable-looking shots of Doug Bradley made up as Pinhead while stuck inside Hell’s Pillar, filming scenes where chains have to shoot out of his mouth. Shots of fake flesh being torn by hooks and the JP Cenobite with the piston impaled in his head predominate in much of this soundless raw footage. A gallery of promotional stills, plus the pages of the Hellraiser III comic book adaption finish off the disc content, followed by a theatrical trailer.   

A fourth disc, exclusive to this limited edition release and entitled “The Clive Barker Legacy”, contains a selection of new featurettes plus the two student films Barker directed with his friends Peter Atkins and Doug Bradley back when they were all skinny young bohemian student-y types. Both films come with optional introductions that include interviews with all three men, with Barker describing seeing Andy Warhol and Kenneth Anger films at student film societies in the 1960s and being inspired by their disregard for ‘the rules’ to have a go at making his own art films. Both works were shot silent, on 8mm film stock, and, in their original form, contained no added soundtrack. The track of drone music and sound effects heard here has been brought in later; it might be an interesting experiment to try watching the films with the sound turned down, although the soundtracks that have been created for them capture the bleak, weird atmosphere of the shorts’ imagery perfectly.

“Clive Barker’s Salome” was shot in the basement of a friend’s flower shop in 1973 using only one light source. What you get here is, ostensibly, 27 minutes of leering, contorted, broken faces gazing manically out of shadow and darkness -- the only setting a seemingly dank stone corridor (which immediately brings to mind the cloisters of Hell encountered in “Hellraiser” and “Hellbound”). Atkins and Bradley appear as expressionistic versions of John the Baptist and King Herod, but it is Ann Taylor who captures the malignant suppressed eroticism which underpins what is surely a most deranged but captivating abstract telling of Oscar Wild’s version of the biblical story.

In “Clive Barker’s The Forbidden”, meanwhile, we see the Faustian template for Hellraiser take explicit form in what is an actual modern-day telling of the Faust myth filtered through Barker’s unique, bible-inflected sadomasochistic obsessions. The film ends with an extended sequence of Peter Atkins’ nameless figure, stark naked, willingly submitting to be being flayed alive by angelic beings in a sequence that is shot, like most of the film, in negative, to add an unearthly vibe to proceedings. The makeup was merely layers of paint inscribed with illustrated musculature and ligaments, which was then carefully chiselled and peeled away on screen by the performers playing the silent beings (whose faces are never seen) carrying out this bizarre process. The whole procedure looks eerily authentic, but is performed reverently and in total silence, like some strange ritualistic practice. Elsewhere Doug Bradley wears a peculiarly grotesque faceless mask and prances around naked with a full erection … which is certainly not how one expects to remember the man behind the priestly explorer of torment known as Pinhead!

Talking of whom, one of this film’s recurring images is of a pin-board with the pins arranged geometrically in a grid pattern just like the design on Pinhead’s face, but which here appears to represent some occult realm that can provide access to the strange world of dancing naked figures and silent erotic encounters which otherwise take up most of the film’s 50 minute run time. Full of brazen, close-up images of both male and female genitalia throughout, this is an overlong but eerily entrancing experimental student piece, charged with an unsettling alien eroticism that also somewhat takes its cue from Murnau’s “Nosferatu”, a movie which was also full of occult symbols -- placed there by the film’s producer Albin Grau -- although Barker says in the introduction that he can’t remember what any of the hieroglyphs and symbols shown throughout “The Forbidden” actually mean. Both of these provocative abstract art pieces still wield a curious power, and despite being a million miles away from the mainstream blockbuster success of “Hellraiser” and its franchise sequels, the roots of the mythology are already visible in the flicker of their 8 mm grain and shadow. 

The two brand new featurette/documentaries included on this final disc of the set manage to include some illuminating further observations and thinking on Barker’s work and on the Hellraiser film series, with minimal repetition of the anecdotes and stories that one will have by now heard related many times in the course of having made one’s way through every single other extra in the set. The knowledgeable Marc Morris/Jake West collaboration behind Nucleus Films brings us a snappy overview of Barker’s literary career thus far through the eyes of enthusiastic horror author David Gatwald. This 20 minute lowdown for those new to Barker’s oeuvre starts with Gatwald’s personal experience of discovering Barker’s literary work through film, then discovering ‘The Hellbound Heart’ and ‘The Books of Blood’ series; then it backtracks to run through a chronology of the development of Barker’s writing career, progressing from straight horror to fantasy and even branching to include children’s books. Gatwald ends his overview with consideration of the recently published “The Scarlet Gospels”, which he noticeably reviews less enthusiastically than any other of the diverse range of Barker works he’s discussed beforehand. This is a handy guide, though, for the Barker novice, providing much needed bearings with which to navigate the terrain and decide for ones-self how to tackle this rich and imaginative body of work.

“Hellraiser: Evolutions” is a 48 minute overview of the entire film series. Although it only features clips of the three films in this set, it does host interviews with cast and crew members associated with the later sequels -- as well as usual suspects Atkins, Bradley, and Tony Randel -- although discussion of the later films is (perhaps wisely) kept to a minimum, and most of the contributions from those responsible for the more recent franchise entries revolve around their paying respectful homage to the mythology started up by Barker and kept alive by Peter Atkins and Doug Bradley.

Finally, the Legacy disc rounds off the entire collection with something that is really a bit of a curate’s egg, even within the world of unofficial fan created indie productions. “The Hellraiser Chronicles: A Question of Faith” was purportedly meant as a showcase project, shot on a micro-budget back in 2005, with which the film’s writer and director hoped he would one day be commissioned to make a TV series based on the Hellraiser films. It looks to be shot on the most basic DV set-up possible to about the same standard as countless indie projects that can be found all over the net. The story has only a tenuous connection to the mythology, although there is a cheap-looking mock-up of a Lament Configuration box that ties it to the series and opens up a portal to hell in the cellar in a nondescript house in a suburb of Worcestershire, England. Plus there are sequences in which hooked chains shoot out of the portal and snag people to try to pull them in! The story concerns a lapsed Catholic priest who is returning to the site of a former ritualistic triple murder which he managed to come out of back in the day as its only survivor. Haunted by the past, he eventually encounters both the ghosts of the former victims, now stuck indefinitely in limbo, and a Pinhead-like Cenobite who was himself once a priest and who disappeared whilst trying to exorcise a demon from the body of a young woman in Florence. This exorcism sequence, seen in flashback, is probably the most professional part of the entire film (the pasty faced ‘Cenobite meanwhile,’ is something of an embarrassment -- his leather costume being clearly nothing but an oversized biker’s leather jacket), but this is an unofficial fan-made project, one of many amateur films produced over the years by countless filmmakers hoping to get noticed by latching on to the franchise, and whose efforts can be found all over YouTube. A commentary track featuring writer and director R.N. Millward is included with this half hour short, but the whole thing is little more than a curiosity, of interest only to budding indie filmmakers and absolute Hellraiser completests … which is probably why it has a home here, on what is surely the most complete home viewing treatment of the original trilogy ever produced.

 

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