Two friends discover a puzzle box in Mexico, which opens a gateway to Hell. Before long, dermatological nightmare Pinhead has returned to make the lives of everyone in his way miserable.
^ Serious props to whoever wrote that plot description for referring to Pinhead as a 'dermatological nightmare'. I'm totally stealing that.
The Hellraiser franchise is one I never really got into. While my childhood was spent devouring the adventures of Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees, it wasn't until much later in life, during my teenage years, that I was properly introduced to Pinhead. I think that's the main reason that I don't hold the franchise in such high regard as I do those others, with the other reason being that many of the sequels just weren't very good. As in, they sucked shit. I'm a big fan of the first Hellraiser but from what little I've seen of the following eight(!) sequels, I haven't been impressed. And it seems I'm not alone on that. Hellraiser is in fact the lowest grossing of the big horror franchises.
Which brings us to last year's release of the eighth sequel in the franchise, Hellraiser : Revelations. Even though he took part in all of the previous Hellraiser sequels, Doug Bradley declined to play Pinhead in this one, which was a pretty strong piece of evidence right off the bat that this thing was gonna be the worst of all the Hellraiser's. On top of that, Clive Barker famously took to his Twitter account, having these harsh words to say about the film, the trailer of which name dropped him ...
"If they claim it's from the mind of Clive Barker, it’s a lie. It’s not even from my butt-hole."
Now the fucked up thing is that the reason this film was made by Dimension was so they could hold onto the rights to the franchise, for a planned near future remake of the original. In other words, they just slapped together whatever garbage they could, as fast as they could, so that they'd be able to soon cash in on the Hellraiser name for an impending big budget remake. Mhmm.
I never got to see Revelations when it hit DVD late last year, for the sole reason that I refused to pay a penny for what promised to be a hunk of hellish garbage. I tried getting a hold of a screener copy, so that I wouldn't have to pay to see it, but Dimension informed me they weren't sending out review copies. Gee, I wonder why?!
Anyways, the flick hit Netflix Instant this past week, which prompted me to check it out. Now that I've actually seen the movie, I can hate on it proper!
OK so here's the deal. There are films out there that are a whole lot worse than Hellraiser : Revelations. In fact, I'd say that it's no worse than any of the other recent Hellraiser sequels, a couple of which I've seen, though I admittedly have no idea which I have and haven't. So in that sense, the hardcore hatred of this one by Hellraiser fans is a tad bit unwarranted, given the fact that it's not exactly like this movie suddenly came along after a slew of amazing sequels and stunk up the franchise.
That said, Hellraiser : Revelations is pretty fuckin' bad. Even at just over an hour and 15 minutes it's hard to sit through, full of horrendous acting and lacking any real story, outside of elements that are aped directly from Barker's original. You know those crappy fan films that are all over YouTube? Revelations is essentially one of those, a terrible fan made remake of Hellraiser with a Pinhead that looks more like a Pinhead fan in a crappy Pinhead costume than Pinhead himself.
I guess the one thing that has kept fans coming back to the Hellraiser franchise is Doug Bradley, who has always been there as Pinhead. And I suppose that's why this one is getting hated on even more than the terrible other sequels which starred Bradley have been. It's hard to recast a speaking character like Pinhead, much moreso than someone like a Jason or a Leatherface, because it's pretty much impossible to not compare the old and the new and thus look down on the new as being an inferior ripoff. Stephan Smith Collins doesn't do too terrible of a job playing Pinhead, but the voice and the look of the character this time around just don't work at all. Kinda the same feelings I had about Freddy in the Elm Street remake. It just doesn't work and it's ultimately fairly laughable whenever Pinhead pops up on screen. He just doesn't look cool and he's not imposing in the least.
Oh and there are two Pinhead's in this one, one that looks similar to Bradley's Pinhead and the other who is more crudely stitched and nailed together. Why? I really have no idea, though I'd imagine it was some sort of odd effort to distract us from the fact that Pinhead wasn't the same Pinhead we know and love. As for the other Cenobites, all we get is a female Chatterer. Seems there was no budget for any others. Boo.
Now if there's any pleasure amongst the pain and suffering of watching this movie, it's that the effects are pretty solid, all entirely practically done. It has the benefit of master makeup artist Gary J. Tunnicliffe on board (he in fact also wrote the film ... stick to effects, dude), who was on the effects team for several of the other films in the Hellraiser franchise (starting with 3). So there's no CGI in sight and the blood and gore looks pretty cool at times, with throats torn open and skin peeled off. Always a plus.
The bottom line is this; I expected after watching Revelations to furiously scream out 'Holy fuck that was offensively horrible!!' to anyone who would listen, but I ended up being more like, 'Welp, that was another bad Hellraiser flick!'. At the end of the day Revelations is quite bad, but it doesn't deserve to be shit on any more than any other Hellraiser films of recent years and it's no more insulting to Barker than many of those films have been. It's got some strengths, in that it plays close to the ideas of the original Hellraiser, comes equipped with solid effects and has a fairly decent twist thrown into the mix, but it's still ultimately a craptacular movie with a godawful script, which is something no combination of minor strengths can ever rise above.
The bottom line though is again that Hellraiser is a pretty crappy franchise all around, full of sequels that even make franchise duds like Jason Goes To Hell & Halloween : Resurrection look good, and Revelations is just another crappy installment in that crappy franchise. Nothing more, nothing less.
All of the other Hellraiser films are currently available for instant streaming on Netflix, so go play catch up on them instead!