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 complete our journey into the nightmarish hellscape known as Hellraiser. It has been quite the journey unlocking the secrets of the Lament Configuration but here we are with Hellraiser Judgment the Tenth and, at the time of this writing, Final entry in the franchise.
Today’s Key Movie:
Attempting to find a new way to attract souls into their dimension, Pinhead and the Cenobites attract a killer who may be able to act as a new conduit so they do not have to rely on the Lament Configuration any longer. Soon Detectives Sean and David Carter begin hunting for the a serial killer known only as the Preceptor only to discover that this killer is connected to some darker and more sinister things.
The film plays out as a reimagining of the Hellraiser mythos taking the franchise in a very unique and fascination direction. Determined to ‘get Hellraiser back on track‘ writer/director Gary J Tunnicliffe dove in writing a story that he felt was a Hellraiser story in only the truest sense. Not wanting to rehash any of the old stories, Tunnicliffe introduces the Stygian Inquisition as a support to The Order of the Gash and it’s Cenobite members. This expansion of the mythos plays out in an interesting detective story that is reminiscent of Seven (only with a killer using the 10 commandments as a guide) while also managing to play in the universe created by Barker. It is abundantly that Tunnicliffe, who happened to also write the previous entry but did not direct it, understands the mythos that is Hellraiser and this film is his love letter to that franchise.
Now, you can be a fan of something and still not do a series justice…so how does this one stack up?
You like it, but is it really a ‘good’ movie?
Hellraiser Judgement goes back not only to Hellraiser’s tonal roots but also embraces it’s low budget quality film history making this less of a visual spectacle and more of a tale of terror. The nightmares that we have gotten used to are still there but those creatures that strike out are only called upon when ultimately needed. This is not the snarky or pithy frights that we have seen in the past, no this is a film returning to it’s horror and darkness core and that is how it manages to pull it all off. Tunnicliffe clearly loves the franchise and he doesn’t just tell another tale in the universe of the Cenobites, he expands on it making it as much his as it was Barker’s but never replacing anything, only adding to what was already there.
One of my biggest fears, especially after the previous film, was who as to play Pinhead. From what I understand Tunnicliffe petitioned Bradley to return to the franchise but Bradley declined unwilling to do what he believed to be a cash grab film. Replacing Bradley in this entry is Paul T Taylor who portrays the head of the Order of the Gash in his own unique way. Both Tunnicliffe and Taylor make it a point to make this version of Pinhead something new and different while remaining faithful to Bradley’s version. No longer humorous or ready with a clever remark, this new Pinhead is more of a dark monarch awaiting his time to shine than that of a Black Knight. He is sleeker and edgier yet retains much of the original’s look and feel. I did not believe anyone could fill Bradley’s leathers but Taylor does a tremendous job at it making him a worthy successor to the nails. The rest of the cast work well with even Tunnicliffe filling in for the new character known as The Auditor. One cool cameo comes from Heather Langenkamp from the Nightmare on Elmstreet franchise. While her role is minimal, but it was great to see her in a modern horror film, especially one of another beloved franchise outside of Nightmare.
The film itself is a slower, more methodic tale that fully embraces practical effects making every moment more real and truly terrifying. Much like the original films, Hellraiser Judgement is a sexually charged thriller that does not hesitate to hide any of the dark pleasures that it plays with. By the time it ends, it sets up a brilliant turn that I can only hope that is not left unfinished. Be sure to watch past the credits… trust me.
Overall, This entry is a true horror film that works on every level adding additional levels to the Hellraiser mythos while maintaining the original’s tone. It serves as a logical next step in the franchise, one that I really hope we get more of in the future.
OK, where do I get this movie?
Unlike the previous entry, this one is readily available in digital format as well as physical. If you love the Hellraiser franchise, you really can’t go wrong with this one. It’s pretty solid and one that is well worth your time. You can pick up a copy here for around $13. Trust me, it’s a good one.
Well, That’s it for Hellraiser for the time being. Next up, we will discuss a franchise that you will have you on strings… What is it, well, you’ll just have to wait until next week… until then,
Late To The Game 8/5/2021
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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