Way back in 1987, the cinema world was introduced to a new villain. The leader of the Cenobites, a group of extra-dimensional, sadomasochistic beings who cannot differentiate between pain and pleasure (not the sort of people you’d want at a dinner party), the horrifying Pinhead became a horror icon. Many sequels followed. In 2011, the ninth film in the Hellraiser series was unleashed on the world – the unanimously hated Hellraiser: Revelations. Shot and produced in a matter of just a few weeks (due to an obligation on Dimension Films’ part to get another entry released or risk losing the rights to the series), the rushed production was the first entry in the series that didn’t feature star Doug Bradley as the iconic villain and that’s just the start of its’ problems.
The contractually-obligated hack-job is an absolute embarrassment to the franchise that made the seven previous sequels look like Citizen Kane, with the best thing about it being original creator Clive Barker’s comments: in response to the marketing of the film that stated it came “from the mind of Clive Barker”, Barker responded thusly – “I want to put on record that the flick out there using the word Hellraiser IS NO F***IN’ CHILD OF MINE! I have NOTHING to do with the f***in’ thing. If they claim it’s from the mind of Clive Barker, it’s a lie. It’s not even from my butthole.”. That is better than any of the dialogue you’ll find in Revelations’ script, anyway.
Revelations is a tedious and laughable effort that feels amateurish and cheap, with dreadful performances and a preposterous script that makes the whole thing feel like a farcical spoof of the series’ early glory. There’s frankly nothing about it worth recommending. Hellraiser: Revelations is a desperate cash-grab fuelled entirely by greed, and the desire to cling onto the ailing series’ rights.
Things don’t get much better with 2018’s Hellraiser: Judgment, another pathetic attempt that served as yet another contract job for Dimension Films to retain the series rights. Although it was received more favourably than its utterly abysmal predecessor, there is still not a lot here worth celebrating. A very obvious low budget, poor performances and underwhelming effects give Judgment an unshakeable straight-to-DVD feel that only serves to further taint the legacy of the series and its’ once strong reputation in the genre. Even the involvement of horror legend Heather Langenkamp (A Nightmare on Elm Street) isn’t enough to save this one from damnation, and original Pinhead legend Doug Bradley was very wise to steer clear of this one, too.
But for those with a morbid curiosity in just how bad the series has gotten, Lionsgate has given these two cringeworthy sequels their home video debut here in the UK on VOD, DVD and Blu-ray. Hellraiser completists will be delighted to finally add these titles to their collections, but anybody else should be wary. Hell, even the most die-hard Hellraiser apologist might struggle to see past the flaws of these desperate and cheap sequels. Both of the films are uncomfortably amateur, with absolutely no passion for the material to be found in any of the performances or production – it is clear throughout that they are simply desperate rush-jobs to keep hold of the rights. But if films like these are the best they can do with the Hellraiser name, perhaps it’s time to let them go. I’m pretty confident even I could do a better job with the rights than Dimension Films at this point.
The less said about these desperate sequels, the better. Stick to the originals.