Hellbound: Hellraiser II, 1988
directed by Tony Randel
starring Ashley Laurence, Imogen Boorman, Clare Higgins
It’s rare enough that a sequel can nearly match the original, but Hellbound: Hellraiser II is definitely one of the exceptions. Although, it picks up exactly where the original ends, it has a few differentials in style and doesn’t quite follow the same formula as the original. Following the gruesome first, Hellbound keeps the gore flowing and contains some rather grisly moments. Without spoilers, the first victim of the film is taken in a scene that is actually hard to watch, creating a truly gruesome and disturbing death. With the benefit of much of the story having been told already, a lot of the action starts a little quicker than the first this time. Like the predecessor, the film relies on strong use of physical makeup and it is again wonderfully effective. Before the Hellraiser series dived into the woeful depths that it did, it had two very strong films to start that were “strange, surreal, and nightmarish.”
Several stars of the original rejoin the cast, most notably main character Kirsty, again played by Ashley Laurence. Two new main characters join: a sinister-seeming brain surgeon named Dr. Philip Channard, whose self-indulgent reasons lead him to help Kirsty at the hospital, and Tiffany, another patient that Kirsty quickly feels an odd connection to. Although the acting never really bothered me, a few of the weird plot-points early on seemed odd and briefly took me out of a few moments. The house of many murders is searched by two police officers? Kirsty is very loosely interrogated by one police office, in a room that is barely lit, with nothing and no one around her to care for her condition? I can see much of this for budgetary reasons, and they are little, minor points, but moments where realism is glanced over make the first fifteen or so minutes a little awkward.
That being said, Hellbound is tons of fun. It’s bloody as hell and the villains are again great. Unlike recurring villains of other horror franchises, there is something about the Cenobites that just feels heartless and horrifying. They are devoid of any trace of humor or sympathy, and their detached position from pain and torture is terrifying. While the soundtrack of the first was sharp and harrowing, Hellbound feels much more orchestral and robust. The labyrinth that the characters go through is thrilling. The old-school effects are again impressive and refreshing, and if it weren’t for the ending which feels out of sorts with the rest of the film, Hellbound could easily be considered as great as the first. While it falls just short, it’s absolutely worth your time.