There were key movies in my life that helped to make me who I am today. Movies that I have loved from the moment the opening credit rolled and still love now. This blog series is about those, My guilty pleasures, my favorites, my escapes. Some were very popular, others not so much. Some of these will have some real life take-aways, others are just for fun.
Today we continue our discussion of the Hellraiser franchise with the seventh installment entitled Hellraiser Deader. Is this film Dead on Arrival or did it revive the franchise from the near fatal blow that was Hellseeker? Well, lets find out shall we?
Today’s Key Movie:
Hellraiser Deader follows hard hitting Reporter Amy Klein (Kari Wuhrer) as she dive deep into a Romanian death cult known only as The Deaders. Trying to determine if cult leader Winter LeMarchand can actually bring the dead back to life, Amy is sucked into twisted game that the Cenobites themselves are playing as well. Starring Amy Klein, Doug Bradley, Paul Rhys, Simon Kunz and Marc Warren, this is a tale of extremes that can only be fulfilled by the damned.
Why this movie?
As I mentioned in the past reviews, by the time this had released I had stopped watching the Hellraiser films all together. Since Barker’s departure from the franchise, it felt wrong to continue with a series that did not really honor the creator’s vision. While I did discover that I was mistaken in that mindset for the first sequel devoid of Clive, Inferno, my fear that the franchise was not following suit has seemed to be pretty accurate through the rest. Not that they were bad films in and of themselves, its that they were bad Hellraiser films as the Cenobites seemed more of an afterthought than a plot point. Sadly, this seems to be the case with Deader as well, but not as much as the last film.
Deader is an interesting entry as it was not originally meant to be a Hellraiser script but was adapted into one by Tim Day. By making the cult leader a descendant of the Puzzle-box creator and linking his heritage with that of the Romanian death cult, day created yet another link in the history of the Lament Configuration. In fact, the title Deader seems to be a play on words as the Winter LaMarchand can resurrect the dead who are now essentially immortal but he also owes a debt to the cenobites from opening the box, so, he is in fact a deader debtor. yeah I know. They even make it a point to call this rather lifeless pun out early on just in case you missed it.
The story itself is actually pretty solid on it’s own, following a story the reminds me of a supernatural Serpent and The Rainbow plot, as it deals with a reporter discovering some pretty dark truths that, this time, actually end up being real. Amy Klein is played by Kari Wuher who, if you are as big a scifi buff as I am, you might recognize her her time on the tv series Sliders as Maggie Becket. She has also done a ton of voice work in recent years for some pretty high profile projects including Batman Gotham by Gaslight. Kari is a tremendous actor and this film is no exception. While it’s a strange story to say the lease, she manages to keep in interesting through and through.
You like it, but is it really a ‘good’ movie?
This is a tough one because as a stand alone movie, yes, it is quite good. The story involving investigating a death cult with ties to the Lament Configuration and LeMerchand himself are pretty great. The problem is, this is not a good Hellraiser film, in fact, the Hellraiser part is only there in the loosest of forms. Much of the Cenobite action and connection comes late in the story with a very minimal link to Pinhead and his ilk. The puzzle box seems to be more of an afterthought with a very loose connection to everything else in the story. Honestly, had this been a just a movie called Deader with no ties to the Hellraiser franchise it would have been a much better movie, but as a Hellraiser film, it just doesn’t work.
Hellraiser Deader is more psychological horror than anything else and that is actually a fitting tone. I was a little excited to see that Stan Winston was the producer on this one as his makeup and special effects are unparalleled. Having worked on Alien, Terminator 2, Jurassic Park and other incredible films, Winston has set the bar but it seems Deader just got the benefit of his name and not his talent as there is really no Winston special effects to be seen. I mean, the ‘undead’ makeup is pretty legit but it seems to be a complete waste of such a talented individual.
Overall, Deader is a good story, just not a true Hellraiser story so I can’t recommend it for Hellraiser fans. Edit out the shoehorned Hellraiser references and you have a pretty decent film that explores everything from abuse to some pretty dark cult activities. Sadly, Pinhead and his friends take away from the film rather than add making it feel like the repurposed script that it is. Deader is one of the better sequels in the Hellraiser franchise, it’s just not a good Hellraiser sequel.
OK, where do I get this movie?
Late To The Game 7/15/2021
If you would like to read more reviews please check out the rest of the Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday.
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