Friday, March 30, 2012

Project Hellraiser: Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002)

Ha ha, holy crap, I’m finally almost done! I’m finally on the last Hellraiser movie I have to review this month, because it’s the last one on the DVD box set I have, and that’s an excuse if I ever heard one! I’m not even doing one of those silly Project Hellraiser Logs I’ve been half-assing for a while now! And who knows? Maybe this, the sixth sequel, will FINALLY BE THE BIG BREAK OUT THIS SERIES IS WAITING FO---oh, no it won’t be.

Director: Rick Bota
Starring: Dean Winters, Ashley Laurence, Doug Bradley

Yeah, so this movie starts off…well, about as sprightly as the sixth sequel of any horror franchise could. We get this dorky guy named Trevor and his wife driving in a car. They’re laughing and happy, and then suddenly get serious and say they can work out all their problems. Then they start making out passionately WHILE HE’S STILL DRIVING.

And now on Stupidity News at 12...making out while driving DOESN'T usually help your concentration on the road!

And wouldn’t you know it? They’re fine afterwards! Not even a scratch on them! They’re just fi---oh, no they aren’t:

This should be a promo video in every Driver's Ed class.

I can’t even pretend to be sarcastic anymore. That’s how much I really just don’t care about this movie. Trevor wakes up in the hospital and is greeted by a rather seductive nurse…odd, being that his wife just died, but I’ll chalk it up to the director having zero idea what the flying blue hell he was doing. We learn that his wife was actually Kirsty Cotton from the first movie. If you’re wondering what relevance this has to the overall story, the answer is none, as she barely even appears again after this except in short, nonsensical flashback snippets. I’d make an over the top joke about this but…hell, I just don’t give a crap. This movie’s failure is so complete that I don’t even need to make jokes! The writing itself is a joke! That’s a goddamn miracle.

We see some stuff where these doctors are doing brain surgery on him for no reason and insert a pin into his brain…it’s never referenced again, so hey, it fits right into this asinine abomination of the silver screen.

He gets interrogated by the cops, who tell him the doors were open in his car and his wife was never found, so he goes to his incredibly bland office where he fits like a glove. When he gets there, he talks to his co-worker and then gets raped by his female boss while trying to get a candy bar out of the snack machine…hey, it happens!

The actor is clearly enjoying this more than his character is probably supposed to.

The confusing thing about this is the way the office building has cameras set up to catch everything that happens…oddly Orwellian, but okay. Obviously, they catch the rape in the break room, which Trevor is easily able to subvert by going into his computer file and deleting in like a second. For one, how the hell did he do that? These cameras are set up all over the place but any low-level goon can just log in and delete whatever he or she wants? What the hell kind of system is that?

And two, WHY would the boss character even come onto him like that anyway? I get it, this movie is weird and surreal, but it’s like in The Uninvited – you can’t just use ‘weird and surreal’ as an excuse for a lack of BASIC HUMAN LOGIC. That is shit writing, with no redeemable qualities whatsoever.

Ugh, so Trevor goes home and gets jump-scared by a barking dog right in front of his face, which by all logic he should have seen when he was walking up to his building. But I guess that would be too smart for this movie. Inside, he has convulsions and spits out water plus a big eel thing. Charming. This apparently is the mating signal for this girl:

Ooooh, yay, flirty flirt flirt!

…who also flirts with him and tries to get him to have sex with her. Is he just Casanova all the sudden? Why is everyone attracted to him now? Is losing a spouse the equivalent of really good cologne in this movie’s ass-backwards universe?

Later his boss comes over to his house and strips down to her underwear, and then crushes his crotch with her high heel, which is a feeling this movie replicates quite well actually. They have sex but Trevor then has a crisis of conscience, and pushes her off. Somehow, I guess, there’s a video camera in his living room now, and even after she leaves, it’s still recording the two of them doing it. Only then we see this:

Okay, I admit, this was a good, scary scene - even though she left his apartment a minute ago and nobody is sitting in front of the camera anymore, he still sees them making out and then her dying on the screen - spooky! But it's ruined completely by the fact that the next scene just makes it look like another hallucination and completely downplays it. This movie's knack for doing that makes it incredibly frustrating.

So basically the next hour or so of the movie is just this: we get a few random splices of pointless shit with the cops trying to interrogate him, and one or two scenes in the office with him talking to apparently the only other guy who works there, but mostly it’s just sex. Lots and lots of sex, with people who just come into his apartment and start doing him. So basically it’s just Hellraiser: The Porno. And didn’t everyone need THAT in their lives?

Getting a little old at this point...

And then we get a cameo appearance from Pinhead! Yeah, remember him? He shoves a nail into Trevor’s neck and asks if he likes pleasure or pain better. Weird, being that I thought the whole point of this series was that the Cenobites treated them like the same thing, but hey, if I had a nickel for every inconsistency in these movies, I’d be rich enough to pay other people to review them for me.

Then Trevor makes out with his acupuncture doctor…surprised?

OH MY GOD. Can't this movie do ANYTHING ELSE but show poorly written sex scenes? The first time or two I wasn't complaining, but this is what, the seventh time this has happened in an hour? I think I get it now. This was meant to be a porn flick, but then some idiot stepped in and said "durr, hey, we need a new Hellraiser sequel!" and thus this was born. Christ.

Afterwards, he’s walking home at night when he gets a gun pointed at his head by his old buddy from the office, who tells him they had a plan to kill Kirsty and take some inheritance money from her to get rich. That’s actually an interesting plot point! It could have made for a good movie on its own. So how much do you want to bet it will be mentioned for only about 3 minutes of the film’s combined run-time, and feature very little in the actual “story”? If you would bet money on that…well, you’d be right. Ugh.

Through some more asinine dream-to-reality transitions and jumpy schizophrenic directing, Trevor gets taken in for the murder of some woman and the cops are even less credible than the ones in Hobo with a Shotgun. That’s incredible. They lock him up in the basement of their torture chamber, because yeah, in the Hellraiser films police stations just always have torture chambers built into them, and then we get…well, probably the strangest thing I’ve ever seen in one of these movies:

Two heads...they're the same person...I just...I'm losing my mind at this, I really am.

So then we get to see Pinhead again; how nice of them to give him two cameos in the same movie! He puts chains in Trevor’s face and body and reveals to him what really happened: apparently Trevor was actually an asshole all along who was cruel to Kirsty and cheated on her with a bunch of women, ALSO aspiring to kill her for her money on the side! I love how shocked she is about all of this stuff; it’s like, if a guy was doing THIS MUCH BAD STUFF behind your back, wouldn’t you be able to catch on just a little bit? I guess the answer was no. So she pointed a gun at him and they drove off the cliff, where he died instantly and she was able to get out and survive.

In answer to your questions, yes. Yes, this movie just pulled the whole ‘he was dead the whole time’ plot twist. One of the oldest clichés in the book, but I guess it was good enough for the sixth installment of the ever-so-good Hellraiser series…ugh, was there anyone in the entire world who could have enjoyed this garbage? I don’t think there was. This is the bottom of the barrel, people. No entertainment value, no plot, no characters, just pure crap from beginning to end. The directing is a mess of awful flashbacks and vague transitions and the acting is forgettable as hell, even from series “veteran” Ashley Laurence, reprising her role as Kirsty.

And what is up with bringing back Kirsty in this one anyway? There’s no connection to the other films; there’s no character development from her early days in the first two. She’s just shoved in there as if to say LOOK, LOOK, THIS IS A HELLRAISER FILM. WE HAVE ONE OF THE MAIN CHARACTERS FROM THE ORIGINAL! Well, it doesn’t work. Not to mention how there really is no story to this thing until the last 20 minutes when we find out Trevor and his friend were trying to kill her to get the money she inherited from Uncle Frank apparently. THAT would have been a cool story. Why didn’t they just make a movie about that? But no, we got pointless dream sequences that even Inception would laugh at, nonsensical sex scenes that didn’t add anything and a bunch of non-sequitur ‘hallucinations’ that are about as scary as your cat’s hairballs.

Yeah, so I didn't like it, but hey, I guess if you REALLY want some softcore porn and can't be bothered to go down the street to the adult video store, this might suffice.

So yeah, that’s the first 6 Hellraiser movies. It’s been a wild, crazy, stupid, ridiculous ride and I am glad it’s over. The thing with all of these movies is, they all had potential. Doug Bradley always seemed to be into what he was doing and the stories were all intriguing on paper, but the execution was just SO POOR that it completely ruined any chance of them being enjoyable. I really like a good occult horror movie, but none of these movies were good! They were all either dull, ridiculous or both. I’ve never seen a franchise with so much potential screw up everything in such a monumental way, and for that I thought these movies were worth reviewing. This has been Project: Hellraiser. Glad you’ve been along for the ride.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Project Hellraiser: Hellraiser: Inferno (2000)

Project Hellraiser Log: I seem to have woken up in an unfamiliar place. It looks like a motel room. The wallpaper is paisley-patterned and the lighting is all a rather puke-ish green. Weird. And it all feels like I’ve been here before…

Director: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Craig Sheffer, Nicholas Turturro

Hellraiser: Inferno is the first Hellraiser sequel that didn’t have “creative genius” Clive Barker involved, which means it doesn’t have the same goofy slapstick-style horror and lack of any kind of dignity that the other movies had…but is it any good? Actually, I’ll spoil it for you and say no; no it isn’t. In fact, it just replaces what was bad about the first four films with entirely new flaws.

We start off with this guy named Joseph Thorne, who you might remember as Lowell from Dracula II: Ascension! Oh, wait, nobody ever saw that…my bad.

Anyway, in this MUCH DIFFERENT and DEFINITELY NOT BAD movie, he is a hard-assed cop who plays chess at high school basketball practices, does cocaine, lies to his wife and screws hookers on the side; isn’t he just a peach? He also narrates over the top of some scenes in a boring monotone; because of course what we need to see in a corrupt cop movie is his justifications for cheating on his wife! That makes it deep!

The other stuff he does is bad, but playing chess on a basketball court? He could really distract those kids! What if they decide they don't want to play sports anymore and instead take up chess?!

At one point he does cocaine with a hooker while lying to his wife and then drinks alcohol shortly after. And if THAT isn’t enough, he ALSO steals evidence from crime scenes!

Yeah, this is one of the very few reminders that this has anything to do with Hellraiser. Don't get used to that.

What a top notch guy! I think he deserves some kind of award for behavior.

So yeah, that knocks him out, and then we just flash forward rather haphazardly to the next day…we see that his best friend is a guy who has nothing better to talk about than his crossword puzzle of the day, which apparently needs a word for his own name that is ten words long. Thorne gives it to him – “palindrome.” I know this kind of detail is mundane and uninteresting, but hey, it’s what the movie gives us, and if I skipped every mundane and uninteresting thing in this movie, I wouldn’t even have a review.

Thorne gets a very distressed call at his office from the hooker he was with the previous night…what, so he just gives hookers his work phone number now? Does he also give them his wife’s cell phone number? I mean hey, you gotta be thorough!

And so this prompts him and his buddy to go running off to the motel to see what happened to her. We don’t see exactly what happened to her yet, but we do see that Thorne is visibly disturbed. His buddy ends up going to look, too, and also has a similar reaction. Thorne spills the beans about what happened, but he also frames his friend as well, implicating him because otherwise he would get all goody-two-shoes and tell on Thorne. Well, gee. It’s almost like it was a STUPID IDEA TO BRING HIM ALONG. Maybe keep the super-honest good-guy cop who wouldn’t want to cover up a mistake from the bosses OUT of the scheme next time? Just saying.

And seriously, THAT'S all it was in the bathroom that the film was trying to hide and build up to? That's not even that gory. The other movies had way worse moments!

So through some stupid dialogue, we stumble onto a plot involving a guy called ‘The Engineer,’ who is a mysterious pimp figure that kills his hookers…or something…yeah, it doesn’t make sense. We meet some guy who drives an ice cream truck who talks only in low indiscernible mutters and whispering. Of course, he’s given a long scene in which we’re supposed to be interested…are you really showing us a flashback with that stupid muttering voice narrating? Go to hell, Hellraiser: Inferno.

Then later the ice cream truck driver gets killed inside his truck, and a video is taken and sent to Thorne while he’s eating at a diner. Being a genius, he puts the video tape into the machine at the diner, instead of just taking it home where he could watch it himself, and sees the guy getting killed and all…unfortunately nobody else who watches the tape can see it and now Thorne looks like he’s crazy, oooooh!

Also, why is the ice cream truck just sitting there with the guy’s dead, skinned body in it right next to a park? Did nobody notice that and freak out or anything?

Apparently the story is ‘The Engineer’ has kidnapped a child, which Thorne knows through…some kind of psychological mind link or something? I don’t know. Thorne is put on the case and he takes his partner to this seedy looking bar in the middle of nowhere, where we see…

Okay, I have no idea. But to be fair, it doesn’t matter – none of this is ever referenced again. You know, it’s really bad when even Dracula II upstages your movie in the logic department. This movie is making Dracula II look good – THAT IS AWFUL.

Thorne goes to see a psychologist played by James Remar, who honestly gives one of the most bored, tired, sleep-inducing performances I’ve ever seen in a movie. He’s constantly about to nod off to sleep and none of the lines he gives sounds like he’s awake in the least. No conviction, no energy, no, NOTHING worth talking about!

"I am the physical embodiment of the viewer's that's deep...zzzz...."

And what’s the pay-off of this whole scene about Thorne seeing the psychologist? He tells Remar that he wants to reschedule, and Remar says okay and that they can do it tomorrow. That’s literally it; they don’t talk about any important subjects or anything like that. How hard is it to make a movie that has any kind of redeeming quality? C’mon. Tell me. Because I’m starting to really wonder about that, watching stuff like this.

So he goes back home again and tells his daughter he has to leave again immediately only to stick around and lie in bed for a while; glad he’s so good with his kids…his wife gets a call from the hospital that apparently tells them that his parents got a visit from The Engineer – apparently they’re in the hospital, but no real explanation is ever given and it’s not really brought up much after this at all, so we can mostly skip it. Anyway, he goes to the hospital and a bunch of weird shit happens:

This is a weird scene because they do the whole 'guy sees weird stuff that may or may not be real' thing, but then just stop after like one they just gave up all of a sudden and said, no, we don't feel like doing any more of this. Kinda takes the creepy factor out when there's only this one very brief, passing hallucination...

He opens a door and goes through it and is suddenly back in the hotel where the hooker died, oooooh…he wakes up, finding out that the previous scene was apparently all a dream, and goes down to the hospital for real, drawing his gun and getting arrested like you damn well would if you did that in real life. Finally. Just keep him there!

But unfortunately the show goes on, and Thorne’s best friend who he framed for murder gets killed by one of those freaky guys in masks. Thorne goes back home to find his wife and kid dead and tied to some pillar thing. James Remar comes back and reveals that he’s been Pinhead all along – does Remar ever just play a normal, non-supernatural being? Ever? – and then…well, alright, I can’t hide it anymore. The movie breaks after that. It just breaks in half, and after that it’s smashed into a billion little pieces, and those pieces are broken into a billion more little pieces, and those pieces are…okay, you get the idea:

Yeah, screw character development that actually expands our knowledge of who Thorne is and why he treats the people around him so badly. WE NEED MORE GORY FAST-PACED ACTION SCENES! STAT!

I guess he’s supposed to be…fighting his inner demons, or his sins, or something like that…but honestly, it’s done so poorly that I am astounded nobody in the studio just took a big hockey stick and whacked the director over the head with it to knock some sense into him. Why is the fantasy world falling apart around him now? What was the catalyst? Nothing was really resolved. He didn’t find out any groundbreaking clues that would make Pinhead take apart the world he constructed for him. So why? You can’t just…throw random scary images into a blender and turn it on ‘puree’ and expect it to work! You need some kind of cohesion and thought put into it! For this kind of thing to work, you need subtlety and an underlying theme to it!

But no. Hellraiser: Inferno just gives us scary old people with no eyes, and vampire hookers. I think the part that pisses me off the most about this is not just the lack of subtlety, but the fact that they have character development and an interesting story right at their fingertips, and they just throw it all away! Like there's the scene where he's fighting his dead eyeless parents, right? This could be a very subtle, well-done scene that explores why he neglects his parents and also allow him to grow as a character. But they just scrap that stupid idea and just throw in a goofy fight scene, right before he blows them away with a gun, like he didn't even know them. This is just despicably poor writing and a HUGE missed opportunity for what COULD have been a really good scene.

Anyway, Pinhead is in this movie!

He's in this movie for so little of the runtime that I bet he thought he was just shooting a commercial or something. 

…surprised? I was! What, are you trying to tell me this was a Hellraiser film or something? Pfft.

Thorne’s face gets pulled apart by a bunch of hooks and stuff, because if you didn’t know this was a Hellraiser film before, you at least know now. It’s revealed that the child he was trying to save all along was a younger version of himself, and then an evil version of himself kills the younger version of himself, and then kills the Thorne we’ve been following for the whole movie…okay, seriously, I give up. Movie…you need help.

The film finally ends its long, drawn out cascade of nonsense with Thorne waking up again completely unharmed, ready to repeat his own hell all over again. He answers the phone at work, it’s the hooker screaming bloody murder again, and the whole thing starts over again. The next time he wakes up, he just shoots himself in the head with a gun, which implies he can make choices in this “hell” of his…so why not just NOT answer the phone then, genius?

He wakes up a third time in the green-lit hotel room after the hooker has already been murdered, which makes sense, because that’s totally congruent with how he’s supposed to just repeat the same thing over and over again…oh wait…no, this movie is just retarded.

To add a cherry on top of this whole delightfully wrong-headed festering abomination of a movie, there’s more narration over the top to point out that Thorne is living in hell, as if we couldn’t guess that by now – thank you, movie! Thank you for treating your audience like a bunch of sloped-forehead mongoloids! Thank you for having no logical story or cohesion at all! Thank you for absolutely DRIVING ME UP THE GODDAMN WALL WITH YOUR BULLSHIT!

This movie is a complete disaster! It’s not as bad as the last movie, but GOD DAMN did it nearly drive me nuts! There’s just nothing sane about it; it’s completely bizarre, ridiculous gibberish with no higher thought put into it than ‘durr, I wanna make a movie about psychological stuff, that’ll be REALLY deep!’ Well I spit on you, Hellraiser: Inferno. I spit on everything you stand for! Maybe instead of talking down to the audience next time, fix your own plot-holes and inconsistencies. How does THAT sound, you bunch of…

Wait…no, what’s happening? I feel like I’m being…sucked in….NOOOOO!

I realized at last that I died at the end of the Bloodline review from how awful the film was, and that I am now being punished in Hell forever for making fun of the Hellraiser films. With horror and dread I realize that I am doomed to repeat this review forever. I know you could probably figure that out on your own without me writing this italics-bullshit, but hey, I don’t think you have the mental capacity to think for yourself. I think you need to be held by the hand and led around like a child, because I’m a condescending prick who doesn’t know how to tell a good story. Oh well, off we go!


Project Hellraiser Log: I seem to have woken up in an unfamiliar place. It looks like a motel room. The wallpaper is paisley-patterned and the lighting is all a rather puke-ish green. Weird. And it all feels like I’ve been here before…

Director: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Craig Sheffer, Nicholas Turturro

Hellraiser: Inferno is the first Hellraiser sequel that didn’t have “creative genius” Clive Barker involved, which means it doesn’t have the same goofy slapstick-style horror and ridiculous over the top plots that the previous films had…but is it any good? Actually, I’ll spoil it for you and say no; no it isn’t. In fact, it just replaces what was bad about the first four films with entirely new flaws…

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Project Hellraiser: Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)

Okay, all bets are off. I’m out of the torture dimension of Pinhead and I’m ready to kick these demons’ asses for keeping me trapped there for two of their god-awful films. This time I’m fighting back! I’m going to DESTROY THEM ONCE AND FOR ALL! And unfortunately for me, that means I have to sit through the worst Hellraiser film, Bloodline.

Director: Alan Smithee (Kevin Yagher), Joe Chapelle (finished the movie after Yagher left)
Starring: Bruce Ramsay, past, present and future...groan

This is a real horse’s rectum of a movie – I mean how much worse can you even get than this garbage? This utterly repugnant slime? It’s so god-awful it actually renders the other movies in the series completely pointless, and those were already bad enough! You heard me right. Bloodline is the kind of movie that not only poisons itself, but also everything else around it too. This is the cancer of horror franchises, folks. The utter black plague that decimates them all.

There are three horrible things about it even before you play the movie itself.

Number 1, it’s a prequel AND a sequel at the same time. Confused yet? What ever happened to the days when movies were just movies, and didn't have to jump around to five billion different time lines in order to please the caffeine generation that can't sit still for two seconds?

Number 2, 85 minute runtime. Keep in mind that this is a movie that encompasses three vastly different time periods hundreds of years apart, and the film is supposed to tell the story of how Pinhead actually dies once and for all as well as how that evil puzzle box was actually created in the first place. And it’s supposed to do that in 85 DAMN MINUTES?! How is that supposed to contain such an epic story? The only possible conclusion is that the movie is REALLY gonna suck or it’s REALLY gonna be a damn wonder of a film by someone clearly gifted beyond human conception. And if you can’t guess which one of those THIS PILE OF FELCH is, I suggest you watch the film, because you’re probably its intended audience…

Number 3, Director Alan Smithee. Apparently original director Kevin Yagher's version of the film was a lot different, contained more graphic imagery and explained everything that happened, but the studios disagreed and just wanted Pinhead in there in the first 30 minutes or something, so Yagher was booted off the production and had his name changed to the generic pseudonym Alan Smithee. Another guy, Joe Chapelle, was brought on and re-shot some scenes and did things the way the studio wanted. Because you know any movie will be good when you have this kind of editorial control being exerted over it, right? It just spells success in big bold lettering! I bet this is really gonna be something good, what with THAT sterling recommendation…

...okay, enough with the sarcastic bullshit. I’m ready to start kicking this movie’s ass into next Tuesday.

The film starts off with rejected Star Trek sets and a bald guy who can’t act, so of course the movie has him in three separate roles throughout the different time periods. Because, you know, gotta play to your strengths…anyway, his ship gets ambushed by a bunch of people led by an agent who looks like a fashion model, and they take him in and make him give his best flashback!

In the flashback world, we see the Victorian era, more specifically France at the time, because that’s a sensible place to set a Hellraiser movie…and we see the world’s most overjoyed toy maker finally finishing up his new invention, a gold puzzle box, which he intends to give to the guy who commissioned it from him. That would be this lovely human being:

If this guy was paid in pennies for every over the top, hammy, scenery-chewing delivery he gave, he probably got rich off this movie. 

He talks in a constant awful Hannibal Lecter impression and seems to be trying to beat his influence in how much he can mimic a snake when he speaks, with that constant slithering inflection he has. Him and his buddy kidnap some chick and tie her to a chair before killing her and then bringing her back to life. All of this is witnessed by the toy maker. I guess he should have gotten specifics on what exactly the old man and his freak show were going to do with the toy he made, huh? Maybe even a little bit of a general idea of the person he was doing work for, even? Nah. That would be logical.

Also I really love how none of these morons has anything even close to resembling a French accent. Was that really so hard?

I just love how the toymaker's wife character couldn't even keep a straight enough face to look interested in her husband's creation - she looks like she's about to burst out laughing. She's like "c'mon, this crap is whack, man!"

The woman then comes back as Angelique, a sultry temptress demon who kills off the toy maker and…somehow gets that doofus working with the old man, whose name is Jacque I guess, to live forever. We then fast-forward to the present time when we find out Angelique is living in France in the modern day, and finds out that the descendant of the toy maker, John Merchant, is living in America and is a famous architect or something, I guess, and apparently his bloodline is a threat to Angelique even though he has absolutely no idea what the hell dimension is or how to activate it…BUT HE’S STILL A THREAT!

Look at that blank expression on his face; can you even get any more innocuous and silly looking? I don't think you can. And yet THIS is the face that will bring down Pinhead forever someday...

We get a really long scene where she scratches up Jacque’s face and kills him for standing in her way, because hey, wouldn’t want to waste even one second of this movie’s 85 minute runtime, right? When we finally get to America, Angelique meets up with Pinhead, who teams up with her, I guess, and they work out a stunningly brilliant plan to…kidnap John Merchant’s son to threaten him. TRULY A PLAN THIS GOOD HAS NEVER BEEN SEEN BEFORE! Using a person’s loved ones against him to get him to do what you want? Damn brilliance right there. Damn. Brilliance.

New, the Pinhead Babysitting Service! He'll take care of your kids! Really!

I dunno, I just feel like Pinhead would be able to get Merchant to do what he wants a lot easier without kidnapping his son or whatever else – I mean, the guy’s pretty much the pinnacle of evil in this movie’s world. You’d think he would have something a little more advanced up his sleeve.

Anyway, Merchant’s wife gets involved and gets kidnapped, too, and they both get held hostage by what looks like a demonic pitbull turned inside out…

That's just silly. And if you're wondering if its existence will be explained at all...well, do I even have to say anymore that you'll be disappointed? I didn't think so.

…threatening, I guess. Even though he does exactly NOTHING in this film and is pretty much useless. But that sums up a lot of things in this rotten moldy cheese of a movie.

So Angelique dies, and that’s pretty much the entirety of her character in the movie. See, movie, there’s a little thing called coherence of story. It’s pretty easy to grasp. You just have to have storylines that ACTUALLY GO SOMEWHERE. IS THAT SO HARD?!? What was the logic behind this? You numbskulls couldn’t fill up 85 minutes of a movie so you just had to pad it out with a useless character that amounted to absolutely jack-shit NOTHING? What kind of hellspawn created this slop? I want his head on a PLATTER!

I mean seriously…this is the kind of writing M. Night Shyamalan and Tommy Wiseau only dream of. This is the omega-pointless. The be-all-end-all of nonsensical plot threads. And hey, how about the fact that we already know that nothing of any consequence is going to happen in this present-day time period, being that we’ve already seen the future? TRY HARDER TO HAVE A GODDAMN POINT, MOVIE. This whole thing is like a wild goose chase in search for meaningful plots.

Then back in the future world, bald man and hot supermodel-looking chick see that Pinhead is loose and go on a hunt for him with the rest of the space idiots. But not before we see some of Pinhead’s speeches in this movie, which I forgot to mention before now.

"I'm a philosopher! Can I have a cookie now?"

That’s right. He has a bunch of awful speeches in this thing that, aside from his cool voice, are the screenwriting equivalent to jerking himself off. Every single one of these things is the same: “I’m going to show you pain you never imagined. I will open up the hell dimension and make you all suffer. Your suffering is going to be beautiful, so beautiful it could win a beauty pageant.” Well, maybe not the last part.

Then we get some seriously interminable, never-ending slew of scenes with nothing but these morons hiding on the spaceship from Pinhead and his cenobites and their stupid dog, too. This goes on for what feels like forever, and it isn’t interesting in the least. God. Everything this movie does – every god-forsaken thing – hurts me in a new way. If the filmmakers were trying to make something that accurately described the feeling of having Pinhead’s hooks digging into every part of your body…well, they succeeded! On a metaphorical level anyway.

Then we get our final big twist as Pinhead tries to kill McBaldGuy but fails as McBaldGuy set up a hologram system to blow up the ship with some vague ties to this super-formula that the Merchant family has been working on for years, or some shit like that, while the real McBaldGuy, as well as supermodel agent, leaves in an escape pod. So Pinhead melts, the ship blows to smithereens and that’s literally the end of Pinhead FOREVER. FOR REALS.

It's seizure-vision!

So yes. That means you know the ending to the Hellraiser franchise. Nothing matters anymore, because the only thing that apparently ever mattered in this story was that deus ex machina formula the bald guy used at the end of this one. The rest of the movies? Nothing really matters! Because you know the ending to it all! There’s no suspense at all anymore! All the previous storylines are thrown out the window! Kaput! Thrown to the wolves! Gone for good!


This movie is stupid! Everything about it is horrible. It makes the other ones I’ve reviewed look like masterpieces in comparison. Hellraiser: Bloodline? More like Hellraiser: Bled Out. There was no coherency here – it was a big mess of epic proportions. I mean, even if I’m supposed to take it that this was intended to be the very last Hellraiser film ever, and no one had plans to do any more, it’s still a giant pile of suck. The meager 85-minute runtime is padded out to ridiculous levels with nonsense like Pinhead’s speeches, the garbage with Angelique doing stuff despite her storyline going nowhere in the end and of course the scenes of the military guys hiding from the cenobites – seriously, it’s worthless. Padding so fluffed up it might as well be thicker than the actual substance of the movie.

Not to mention the acting is the pits, the writing is dated and tired and the directing is all over the place – seriously, why did we even need the three different time periods? It’s not like any of them really added up to much, and what they did add up to was completely random and inconsequential, like two different people directed it.

Oh, wait. Two different people DID direct it. Ain’t that just the best?

This thing is just a big old advertisement for exactly how not to run a movie in the production department, as everything that could have gone wrong went wrong, from director changes to editorial meddling, and what resulted is nothing less than asinine. I have nothing more to say about this movie. In fact, I’ll just sum it up by showing the following images:

Suck it, Hellraiser: Bloodline.

REVIEW: Black Sabbath (1963)

Classic horror is from a more innocent time. The genre spawned fantastical tales of mystique and intrigue, whimsical yet frightening stories of foreboding and human folly turned sour. This is Black Sabbath, a veritable example of exactly that kind of pulpy greatness.

Directors: Mario Bava, Salvatore Billitteri
Starring: Boris Karloff

This is actually a little anthology of stories, narrated by none other than Boris Karloff, the horror legend himself. That is cool as hell. There are three tales here, and I will review each one of them in a relatively compact fashion…

The first story is about a woman who steals a ring off of a dead body, only to have the ghost come back and haunt her. It’s a fairly typical tale of revenge from beyond the grave for an injustice, and follows all the usual parameters as such – she acts incredibly vain and selfish before, and then after she steals it, things start to seem all the more creepy and haunting with every passing moment, and she becomes paranoid. It’s not a very complex story, and as such, it’s the shortest tale here. This one isn’t bad, but it doesn’t really have a lot going on…well, except for the ghost’s creepy as hell face at the end:

That pretty much makes the whole thing worth it. There are a few other good scares, and a definite atmosphere, but overall it’s just a straightforward, workmanlike horror story.

The second one is a Hitchcockian thriller about a woman who starts to receive threatening phone calls from her dead ex-boyfriend. This was a really gripping and claustrophobic little tale that reminded me a lot of Dial M for Murder. But rather than just rip off that classic, it uses the Hitchcock influence to a good end and creates a very tense thriller. The lead girl is sexy as hell even when she’s in distress, and the movie gets more and more deranged and paranoid as it goes on. The ending doesn’t make much sense, but the movie as a whole is a grim, chilling slice of 60s style horror pie. Glorious.

The last story is the longest one, about a creature known as the Wurdalack, which is a sort of vampire that kills only people it loves. Well, they always did say that you hurt the ones you love, so I guess I’ll buy this. The main character is some foppish Spanish prissy-boy who rides around on a horse and follows a bloody trail to find a headless body, which leads him to an old mansion where a family lives. The family is keeping secrets, though, and once their father (also played masterfully by Karloff) returns, things get bloody fast.

This was apparently the most famous story here, and I can see why. Sometimes it’s a little off, and I really hate the main character’s attitude towards the female lead – “you should forget all about your family’s deaths because I say so!” – but the atmosphere is excellently macabre, the lighting is theatrical and showy in that great old-school horror style and Karloff and the vampires around him are all really well done. It’s a really cool flick, and well worth your time.

So that’s Black Sabbath, and wasn’t it wonderful? It’s nice to go back to a time when horror movies were geared to be fun, like campfire tales. Too many modern movies in the genre forgo that aspect for extremity and overly serious tones that just end up falling flat and coming off as immature. So this was a treat, and if you love old horror you will dig the hell out of this. Plus, it inspired a great band!

Images and music copyright of their original owners.

REVIEW: Rubber (2010)

Folks, I am here to talk to you today about a movie so bizarre and so out of this world that it is its own genre entirely. I am here not just to criticize this bizarre little freakshow of a movie, but to try and explain it, and figure out how we as a society are to look at it as a work of a---okay, seriously, it’s a goddamn movie about a psychic tire who falls in love with a woman and blows peoples’ heads up. It’s really not that big of a deal.

Director: Quentin Dupieux
Starring: Stephen Spinella, Roxanne Mesquida and a tire; yes, these people are sharing their star billing with a tire.

But the thing is, the movie sort of treats it like it is. I expected a really schlocky campfest out of this movie, but that’s only about half of what I got. The plot is pretty much what I said – a psychic tire goes on a rampage and blows up peoples’ heads, and falls in love with some chick he sees on the road. However, there is also the secondary plotline of the audience watching with binoculars out in the middle of the desert, who apparently have to be killed off by this mysterious man in a suit, so the movie can end, or something. If there’s some kind of commentary in that, I missed it; it’s mostly just odd. Only one of the guys is too smart to fall for the assassination attempts and ends up surviving, thus forcing the movie to keep going on. Even when you don’t want it to and the characters don’t want it to.

In the beginning of the film, a man climbs out of the back of a car and breaks the fourth wall to talk to the viewer about the ‘great’ movie tradition of “no reason,” he calls it. This means the nonsensical things we overlook due to suspension of disbelief in many classic films – why characters don’t go to the bathroom, for example. Apparently, that is his excuse for the rest of this film, which features, again, a psychic killer tire lusting after a woman at a cheap motel. Isn’t there a bit of a divide in magnitude there? Overlooking not seeing a character go to the bathroom is a world away from overlooking a tire that comes to life for absolutely no reason and kills people with psychic powers. Those are very, very different things, and the fallacy of the movie’s argument goes right over its own head, resulting in a rather humorous effect, but not for the reasons the director intended. It’s more funny in spite of itself.

And okay, I get it, it’s supposed to be ridiculous and make no sense. “Congratulations” to the “clever” people who made it. But would it have been too much to ask for a movie that wasn’t this boring? There are a few stand-out moments, but a lot of the movie is just dull, and drags on for no reason. The novelty of the psychic tire gets old fast, and then you’re just left with the occasional stupid line from one of the film’s far too many characters. This just doesn’t really have much going for it. Shame. I never actually thought I would say I was underwhelmed by a movie with this plot summary, but here it is. The world is a funny place…

Images copyright of their original owners.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Project Hellraiser: Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992)

Project Hellraiser Log: How can mankind create such films? I watch this film and feel myself slowly drifting off into the land of sleep, countless times! The hooks of its chains dig into me and force me to keep my eyes open. No, I can’t sleep; they won’t ever let me again! The movie is sinister and terrible. I have no choice but to go on and do…well, what I usually do…

Director: Anthony Hickox
Starring: Terry Farrell, Doug Bradley

I mean seriously, how is this movie THIS BORING? I can’t even describe how boring it is except to say that I couldn’t remember what happened in it right after I finished watching it. Hellraiser III is a miracle of bland characters, nonexistent story and phoned in directing so perfectly unmemorable that it will be like you never watched the movie at all, and isn't that the ONLY way to watch a movie? After all, that way it will seem BRAND NEW again when you watch it a second time, and brand new after that when you watch it a third time!, that's actually really stupid.

The movie begins with some asshole discovering the big pillar of Cenobite faces that rose from the ground at the end of the last movie. It’s still not explained and never truly is, so let’s just skip it.

Then we see our new main character Joey, who is very different from Kirsty as a main character, in that she’s about three times as annoying. Joey is a TV journalist who is hard up for stories and needs a good one to send her career on the right path because her manager seems to think he’s Billy Mays and shouts all the damn time. So in response, she shouts at everyone else in a loud, commanding voice, because being intimidating is DEFINITELY gonna get you some good interviews! Grade A journalism! Two thumbs up!

"I'm a crappy journalist who can't even emote the simplest lines into anything resembling the same ballpark as credibility! Hooray for incompetence!"

Oh, and her cameraman is Hulk Hogan:

"I was the stunt double from Mr. Nanny. I think this is a step up!"

…or Hulk Hogan’s stand-in, I guess…

Okay, so the story seems to be that Joey is in the emergency room hunting stories when they drag in a guy with bloody chains dangling out of him and a black haired goth-looking chick. The guy with the chains has a seizure from Hell as the chains whip out and start to attack everyone and electrocute him somehow – it’s never really explained, don’t worry; the movie isn’t getting any smarter on us magically. Joey of course thinks this is the coolest thing ever and wants to do a story about it!

Her first step is to go to this night club called The Boiler Room and just ask around if anyone has seen a pretty girl. What, does she expect the bartender to just point her in a random direction and go “there’s the only pretty girl in the entire bar”? I guess she did, because that’s what happens, and the black haired goth-chick from before tells her no dice. So Joey’s response is to go home and have a contrived flashback dream that serves no purpose at all, except a rather empty scare way later in the movie:

"If I open my mouth wide enough, people will take me seriously and really believe that I'm in battle in this bright, sunny, peaceful-looking field."

So then she gets woken up by a call from the goth chick, whose name is Teresa, and who wants to come over and talk now. Joey tells Teresa her entire backstory about how her dad died in the war, or something, because I guess telling random strangers intimate details about her past seems like the logical thing to do. The weird thing about this scene is that even though Teresa wanted to come over and talk about the stuff Joey wanted to know about, she still gets mad and starts screaming about how she doesn’t want to talk about that stuff. So why did she come over at all then? Because she’s a terribly written character.

"Don't judge me, I'm a pouty stripper with a heart of gold! I'm supposed to be the emotional connection in the movie so I'm gonna over-act times a million to try to get any measly little reaction out of you!" 

Oh, and the acting in this movie is awful, I mean awful. Nobody in this movie is any good. The chick playing Joey is just terribly bland and unconvincing, reciting every line like she’s reading it on a cue card. Is this really the best actress they could get? The Hulk Hogan lookalike who follows her around is somehow even less convincing. But on the other end of the spectrum, the girl playing Teresa over-emotes everything and acts like she’s on crack the entire time. I can’t even decide which one is worse!

Then we flash back to Mr. Discovers-The-Cenobites, the guy from the first scene who owns the bar, who is having sex with a random chick from said bar. He acts like a douchebag to her afterwards and she gets really surprised for some reason I’m not sure. Did she expect him to sweep her off her feet and marry her? “Oh no, the guy I slept with at a sleazy bar is treating me like crap? HOW UNEXPECTED!” Pfft. Then she gets eaten by the Pinhead statue and turned into a high school biology diorama:

There's a caption contest for you!

The Pinhead statue goes on a long rant about how Mr. Bar Owner Guy has to help him out because they’re both the same kind of evil. Mr. Bar Owner Guy tries to say he isn’t, but Pinhead says “The evil has been in you since you killed your parents…” Wait, what? He killed his parents? That’s an interesting plot thread…will it be elaborated on or even brought up ever again? Of course not! It’s just one throw-away line shoved into one of the last scenes this guy is in. This is just astronomically stupid! It’s like if I made a movie about a bunch of real estate brokers doing normal things except for one line where one of them says “I remember when I was a space traveler from the seventy-sixth dimension of Zaxar…” and then it’s never brought up again. HOW IS IT THIS HARD TO TELL A COHERENT STORY?!

So he kills Teresa – glad she was in the movie – and then Pinhead comes out and starts wreaking havoc on the whole bar, killing everyone inside:

Death by CDs! That'll teach you to pirate music., I have no idea WTF the filmmakers were smoking when they made this scene, or why there are no other deaths in the entire movie like it. It's just a strange aberration of nature.

Afterwards, Joey is walking outside when she’s attacked by the cenobite versions of all the people killed in the bar. Her cameraman Hulk-Hogan-lookalike has been transformed into a cenobite with a camera lens sticking out of one eye, and the DJ has been transformed into one that can shoot CDs like bullets – it’s really ridiculous and gimmicky, but…no, actually I have no ‘buts.’ It’s just ridiculous and gimmicky. I especially love the stupid little lines the Hogan lookalike says after he kills people, like when he kills the cops, he says “That’s a wrap.” And when he kills this other guy, he says “Ready for your close-up?” It’s like a 60 year old trying to be hip and write “witty” lines for the kids. Both funny AND embarrassing at the same time!

They get killed off and Joey is chased into a church by Pinhead himself. The priest in the church assures her that she must be delusional because there’s no such thing as demons…wait, really? A PRIEST says there are no such things as demons?! Isn’t that a bit counterproductive to their whole belief system? Oh well. Pinhead does a whole thing where he crucifies himself in mid-air with some nails out of his head, and the scene was pretty obviously just made for the trailer…

Joey finds some kind of portal to the past where the human version of Pinhead for some reason is telling her how to stop his evil side, although it’s not really clear why, as in the last movie he wasn’t portrayed anything like this. I expected it to be some kind of farce or trick, but SPOILERS, nope actually, not at all – it really is just his human form trying to suddenly foil his demonic form, without any kind of deeper subtext or explanation to it besides ‘WE NEED A CLICHÉ GOOD VS EVIL SUBPLOT IN THIS MOVIE.’ Go figure.

Pinhead ties Joey up in some bondage BDSM stuff and hangs her from the ceiling because….because. Then he meets up with his old human self and…this happens:

Okay, seriously, whoever commissioned this part needs to be locked up.

Personally, I liked Scott Pilgrim’s version better:

Joey escapes and decides to hide the puzzle box in the first random place she sees, which is the wet cement of a new construction site right nearby, because THAT isn’t stupid as hell. Seriously, why doesn't she just take it home and bury it in her attic or something? Oh, right, because then we couldn't have any more brilliant sequels, and the makers of the franchise couldn't rob the audiences of any more money. Excuse me for being so dense. 

God this movie sucked; it was just so…lacking in anything resembling life that I couldn’t even stand it. Hellraiser III was like the first two movies on Ritalin. It was completely tired and unexciting in every way possible. I’m serious; this shit was putting me to sleep for most of the runtime. Even Doug Bradley wasn’t as good this time, and he didn’t use his cool deep voice at all, instead opting for a more generic British-accented voice that sounds like a third rate James Bond villain or something. And if you don’t have Doug Bradley being awesome in a Hellraiser movie, then what do you have? Nothing, that’s what.

But at the end of the day, this was just a boring movie. It was forgettable and it didn’t leave any real impact on me at all. It was just a big old lump of nothing and while I gained nothing from watching it, I technically didn’t lose anything either. Some people think these sort of movies are the worst, but then again, some people haven’t seen Hellraiser IV: Bloodline…