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 penultimate Hellraiser film in the franchise and the first to not feature Doug Bradley as Pinhead, This is Hellraiser Revelations. I never watched this far into the franchise when these films first hit the market so this will be a new experience for me as well. Let’s see what pleasures await us, shall we?
Today’s Key Movie:
Hellraiser Revelations follows the story of two friends who run afoul of Pinhead and his Cenobites only for their fates to visit upon their family when the box turns up in their belongings. Hellraiser Revelations takes an interesting approach to the franchise mixing found footage with traditional film style as it follows the stories of Nico and Steven as their family begins to discover what happened to them while they were in Mexico.
What follows is a much more traditional Hellraiser story than we have seen in the previous entries following the machinations of Pinhead as he hunts down someone who escaped his grasp. Returning to it’s roots where the Cenobites are harbingers of ultimate pleasure and sensation, Hellraiser Revelations acts as somewhat of a soft reboot for the series moving past the strange psudo-Hellraiser stories we have had in previous entries. The question is, does it work?
You like it, but is it really a ‘good’ movie?
Yes and no. Hellraiser Revelations is more in line with films like Rob Zombie’s Halloween or the latest remake of Child’s Play in that it should be considered a remake rather than a sequel. Riffing on elements from the original story but with a slight twist, this entry tries to be something new and enticing but ultimately ends up a rather disappointing attempt at continuing the franchise without either Bradley or Barker involved.
The story itself is actually pretty decent as it is a rehash of the original but in a new setting. Screenwriter Gary J Tunnicliffe pens a fascinating tale that fully embraces the Barker mythos but, due to the rushed production and lopsided cast, it never quite lives up to the legacy of Hellraiser. Human Leads Tracy Fairaway (Emma) and Nick Eversman (Steven) do a great job in their rolls as siblings who are reunited through the Lament Configuration but not in the way either of them expect. These two young actors do a great job in their roles playing up to a rather predictable twist that is straight out of Barker’s original. The rest of the human cast do a great job as well remaining convincing in their concern for the lost kids as they all find themselves isolated in their home facing the evils of the Cenobites themselves. This is where the film just doesn’t work, The Cenobites specifically Pinhead himself, and that makes it all the more a tragedy.
As with any ‘reboot’ or ‘remake’ the lead character is typically recast and this is what happened in this entry. Doug Bradley passed on the roll when he learned it was going to be rushed in development and was soon replaced by actors Stephan Smith Collins playing the physical manifestation of Pinhead and Fred Tatasciore as his voice. The fact that Bradley had to be replaced with two actors is telling as Bradley had certainly become synonymous with Pinhead and the Hellraiser Franchise. Stephan Smith Collins is a pretty imposing man in real life but somehow, his role as Pinhead just doesn’t work. Sure, he has the nails and the black leather but the makeup makes him look more like a Pinhead cosplayer who tried a little too hard only succeeding in making himself look like a poor copy of the original as opposed to the real thing. Tatasciore does a decent job voicing the role as he has quite the career in voice work (including Star Trek Lower Decks!) and, sadly, he is the only part of Pinhead that actually works.
In fact, the rest of the makeup and gore effects are more in line with an upscale haunted house than a film production. Every kill, and every creature looks and feels as soulless as the Cenobites claim to be making the film feel fake and disingenuous the entire time. Sure, you may think gore is gore but in horror, it matters and should always be done right or not at all.
Overall, Hellraiser Revelations is essentially a poorly executed remake only taking the best parts of Barker’s and injecting them into a sad reflection of what once was. It’s not a bad movie per say, just a poor imitation of the original which makes it all the worse. I almost feel as if the filmmakers should have just made a pure remake of the original instead of churning out this rushed production.
OK, where do I get this movie?
For some reason this is one of the only Hellraiser films not available digitally. I had to track down a DVD copy for this review and really, I wish I had been able to rent it instead. It is one I will likely never watch again even if I re-watch the franchise. To me, this film is confirmation that Hellraiser died when Barker left, but was finally buried when Bradley quite as Pinhead. If you want to watch it still, grab a copy here, just don’t pay more that you have to for it.
Well, only one more left in this franchise which we will discuss next week closing out our Hellraiser review series with Hellraiser Judgement. Until then…
Late To The Game 7/29/2021
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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