Whoa! We’re halfway there! The Hellbound Halloween continues with the fifth movie in the Hellraiser franchise, Hellraiser: Inferno. This is the first film in the series not to be released in theaters, and also the first where it’s really, really obvious that this was originally an unrelated script before the cenobites were tacked on. As a result the execution is… polarizing. It’s a very strange movie, but I think I can safely say it’s the best Silent Hill film yet!
Hellraiser: Inferno was co-written and directed by Mr. Scott Derrickson–hm, that name is familiar but I can’t quite place it at the moment. I’m sure it’ll come to me at some convenient time. The story follows Joseph (Craig Sheffer, AKA Aaron Boone from Nightbreed), a detective who hasn’t been keeping his nose clean. That’s a reference to his misdeeds as well as his drug addiction, yes. At a gruesome crime scene he realizes he knew the victim back in high school. He finds the Lament Configuration in plain sight, but more hidden was a child’s finger in a candle. While visiting a prostitute–he rationalizes this as a way of saving his marriage–Joseph opens the puzzle box and has visions of hellish cenobites. But everything’s fine in the morning! Except not, because the prostitute calls him at work as she’s being horribly murdered. Another finger–presumably from the same child–is found at the scene, and Joseph plants some evidence implicating his partner in her death in order to keep his indiscretions quiet. The killer is someone named the Engineer–no, not the monster in the Labyrinth from the first Hellraiser–but their identity is a mystery. I mean, we see him as a mostly faceless cenobite dude, but that’s not his real appearance. As more bodies pile up with more severed fingers next to the bodies, a pattern emerges: all the victims are people Joseph hurt one way or another. Turns out the psychologist he’d been seeing (James Remar) is actually Pinhead, and Joseph is actually in Hell. Also he’s the Engineer, and the fingers have been coming from a child version of himself, because–as Pinhead puts it–“Your flesh is killing your spirit.” Then Joseph wakes up the morning after solving the box! Everything is back to normal like it was a horrible dream! Except the prostitute calls him at work as she’s being horribly murdered, and he realizes he’s trapped in this very personal Hell for eternity.
I was kind of joking before, but this really does feel more like a Silent Hill film than Hellraiser. Not that it’s a bad thing! I think this sequel actually holds up pretty well for that reason. Pinhead and the new cenobites–I’ll get to them in a minute–are more like prison guards taunting Joseph, while the real villain is a human who has made some very bad decisions. Sounds like a very, very broad summary of the first two films! Now that formula will not always work, but I’ll get to Hellraiser: Hellseeker soon enough.
The movie’s not perfect, obviously. It feels cheap sometimes, in part because its budget wasn’t much at all. It mostly works since detective stories are usually more grounded, but the new cenobites suffer for it. Pinhead is Pinhead in all his glory, but two recurring members of his gash are the Wire Twins, two sisters who barely even look human. I swear they have so much special effects makeup on that they look incredibly inhuman, like an alien or something. They’re uncomfortable to look at, so that’s a success? There’s also Torso, the new Chatterer who–as his name implies–is just the upper torso of a person. Sometimes he looks really good and creepy! And other times you can absolutely tell that the actor’s lower half is just hidden through shadows and digital effects. But props to that actor, Mike J Regan, who has played monsters in two sequels to Mimic, all three Feast films, and all but one of the following Hellraiser movies (although he still worked as the makeup effects designer for it).
Scott Derrickson… Scott… Derrickson… I got it! He’s the writer/director of horror films like The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Sinister! This was his first feature length directorial job and his second feature length script, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say that he was brought in when someone decided the original script needed to be a Hellraiser movie. Oh, and he also wrote and directed Doctor Strange. I guess people would know him for that, too.
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