Cinematic Putresence #2: Hellraiser: Revelations (2011)

Horror film franchises typically take a beating from critics, but you really step in it when the fans who embraced the characters and ideas at the beginning turn on you like the trusted family dog who realizes that your pants are made of bacon. The people responsible for the steaming pile of poo that is Hellraiser: Revelations have done just that. Hellraiser: Revelations (the ninth film in the series if you can believe it) already upset fans by dismissing Doug Bradley from the villainous role of Pinhead that he started nearly 25 years ago.

For those unfamiliar with the Hellraiser series, it is based on the novel “The Hellbound Heart” by one of my favorite horror writers, Clive Barker. The basic idea is this: a puzzle box exists in our dimension on Earth. When curious people open the box, they are confronted with demons called cenobites who trap their souls in pain and suffering for all eternity. Bradley is Pinhead, the leader of this S&M group from hell (they all wear tight leather or vinyl). He’s aptly named for the nails puncturing his flesh and bone all over his skull. Anyway long story short, you open the box, you get all kinds of fucked up with chains and hooks. Hope you aren’t too attached to your skin, because it won’t be attached to you for much longer.

Revelations is yet another low budget horror film trying to use “found footage”. Damn you, Blair Witch, look what you started…. A group of of guys head down to Tijuana for a weekend of fun with tequila, prostitutes and perhaps taking in the local donkey show. Naturally they record most of it, but most of that is these clowns screaming TEEEEWANNNAAAA into the camera. Then we catch a glimpse of one guy not wearing a shirt (a Hellraiser standard) opening the puzzle box. The guys disappear and their rich, snobby SoCal family are worried sick until one of the missing kids shows up in a daze and turns out to be a bit psycho. Once we get out of the hand held camera section of the film, its a bit more bearable, but not by much. The box gets opened and Pinhead kinda struts around with his leather and chains and hooks, not really intimidating at all. Previous Hellraiser sequels had possibly 5 minutes of total screen time for Pinhead, but Bradley made his presence felt in everyone of those. There’s just something disturbing about a proper English gentleman with nails in his head speaking in a very calm, low tone of voice. His replacement Steven Smith Collins has a substantial amount of screen time and squanders it. For the first time the other cenobites are more gruesome and fear inducing than Pinhead. I’m not really familiar with Collins, but he sucked any chance of this movie being watchable with his watered down version of Pinhead. The violence is toned down more here than ever before in a Hellraiser film. There’s a really good chance that Elmo from Sesame Street would have been more hardcore and definitely more fun to watch than this pansy.

This franchise has been slumming it hard for the past 10 years. Revelations was shot in 11 days, with a total production time of 3 weeks and it sure as hell shows. The Weinsteins slapped this together only to keep the rights to the franchise for the upcoming reboot. Well, they may have just screwed the pooch when it comes to that film. Without Doug Bradley or Clive Barker on board we might end up with something like this or worse it will be rated PG-13. The original Hellraiser (also directed by Barker) is one of the goriest British horror films of the 80s. Quite a nice piece of ultra-violence, if I do say so myself. Revelations is a faint shadow of the original and deserves its place in the dollar bin at Walmart next to Dorf Goes Fishing.

-Wes

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