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 believability...wow, NOTHING worth talking about!

"I am the physical embodiment of the viewer's boredom...now 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 hallucination...like 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…