Blu-ray Reviews: Hellraiser (1987) and Hellraiser II: Hellbound (1988)

October 21, 2019

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Ahh the Hellraiser series; so iconic and flat out awesome (well at first anyway) it is that it needs no introduction, as I’m sure each and everyone of you creeps has parked your pasty asses in front of it at one time or another. But, just in case there is someone reading this that has no idea what I’m talking about; here’s the elevator pitch; there’s a puzzle box… kinda like a Rubik’s Cube that when solved unleashes emissaries from hell (that are waaay into S&M) who arrive to collect the soul of anyone stupid enough to play their game. So there’s that.

Anyway; Hellraiser, I love it, you love it, Arrow has gone mega-ape shit and unleashed insane-o releases of the first two films in the series…and yeah; review time!

Let’s take ‘em one by one and kick it off with the original recipe Hellraiser!

Poor Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence); all she wants to do is visit her Dad in his new digs, but her dead uncle Frank has to go and get all resurrected and start boinking her step-mom. Oh, and he has also pissed off the Cenobites, demons from hell (or angels…who the fuck knows really; I mean their leader has nails pounded into his melon… not exactly a comforting image) who come back around to collect their soul toll thanks to that puzzle box I mentioned above. Chains, leather, and a skeleton dragon ensue, which happens more than one would expect in life…

Now, Hellraiser is about as fine a fright flick as you will ever come by; it’s unique, visually arresting, and equal parts nauseating and beautiful (kinda like my ol’ ghoul friend, har har). I love this film to itty bitty fucking pieces, and have since the late ‘80’s. But, you probably love it (and own it) too, so why would the version contained here be worth your while? Those mother fucking extras!

Seriously, check this shit out; this disc contains a new 2K restoration of the film, an incredible feature length documentary detailing the creation of the film in minute detail (this is worth the price of admission alone boils n’ ghouls), interviews with actors Doug Bradley and Sean Chapman, an archival making of featurette, a featurette on the abandoned score for the film from Coil, the original press kit from the film’s release, trailers, TV spots, an image gallery, and commentaries from writer/director Clive Barker and actress Laurence (C-dawg shows up on that one too). Yeah, ridiculous right?

Moving on we turn our eerie eyeballs upon Hellbound: Hellraiser II, that rare animal; a sequel every bit as good as the original.

Hellbound picks up where ol’ Hellraiser left off; Kirsty’s family is decimated and she ends up in a sanitarium. Well, the head of the loony bin, Dr. Channard, is a pretty gone guy himself, and before you know it, he resurrects Kirsty’s step mother and unleashes the Cenobites once more. All you really need to know is, Kirsty journeys straight into hell to battle our arcane antagonists.

Bigger in scope than part one, Hellbound expands the universe of the first film while staying true to what fans loved about Hellraiser. It’s a difficult balancing act to go big yet remain grounded to what came before; but Hellbound pulls it off like a fuckin’ champ!

Now, guess what? Yeah; you need this edition, because you get a new 2K restoration of this film as well, a feature length documentary detailing the creation of Hellbound, more interviews with Bradley and Chapman, a vintage making of featurette, on-set interviews, behind the scenes footage, trailers, TV spots, image galleries, commentaries from Director Tony Randel and writer Peter Atkins, and one from actress Ashley Laurence (and you guessed it, Randel and Atkins show up again here as well).

All well and good, but the best feature in my opinion is the inclusion of the legendary deleted surgeon scene…images of which were used on the VHS release roughly 45 million years ago which caused us to go wild because no such image appeared in the finished film.

I really don’t know how to wrap this up… I will tell you that you need these releases like the desert needs the god damned rain… that much I know… they have absolutely everything a Hellraiser fan could want, minus the puncture wounds; those you’ll need to provide yourself cats n’ creeps!

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