Hellraiser Sequels As Good As Or Better Than The Original

Clive Barker’s Hellraiser is–when viewed in retrospect–hasn’t aged particularly well.

The acting is often campy and overwrought–probably due to a relatively small budget–and some of the special effects weren’t even that good in 1987.

Though Barker did the best with the resources that he had, though I get the feeling that what made the movie most successful was that it took advantage of the ignorance of the average American moviegoer (a ‘cenobite’ is member of a religious order living in a convent or community.  That’s it, though Barker’s genius was that he was able to imbue the word with powers and intimations beyond its humble origins).

Ironically enough, some of the sequels–most of which, rightly so, are maligned in the minds of movie goers–managed to capture that mixture of weirdness and perversity crucial to Barker’s work with even less in the way of budget.

So here’s a list of the best Hellraiser sequels, in order of release.

• Hellhound: Hellraiser II

Arguably the best of the series; it was directed by Tony Randel–who also directed the underrated Amityville: It’s About Time–and took the foundation and characters Barker created and turned them into something greater than the sum of its parts.

It also improved upon Barker’s original in virtually every way, and had some really trippy and disturbing imagery.

• Hellraiser: Inferno

The first Hellraiser film from Miramax, as well as the directoral debut of Scott Derrickson (Sinister, Doctor Strange), Hellraiser: Inferno is interesting because it manages to take the Hellraiser formula and successfully take it into a more psychological direction.  The horror’s there, but the movie is more of a journey into the mind of its protagonist (in this instance, Det. Joseph Thorne (Craig Sheffer).

• Hellraiser: Hellseeker

By this time the Hellraiser movies budgetary restrictions are painfully apparent, but director Rick Bota does well with a story that brings back Kirsty Cotten (Ashley Lawrence) and connects directly to the original movies.

• Hellraiser: Bloodline

For some reason Hellraiser: Bloodline is much maligned–which probably has more than a little to do with the fact that the original director, Kevin Yeager, left the production due to studio interference and had to be replaced by Joe Chappelle, who had to cobble a movie together from Yeager’s completed footage–though I have always found it more interesting that most of the sequels.

Not everything worked, but when it did it was pretty effective.

But don’t take my word for it.  Most of the Hellraiser films are on Netflix, so you can choose for yourself which is the best.


‘Odd Thomas’ Review

Odd Thomas movie poster

“Stephen Sommers’ “Odd Thomas” Is An Interesting Diversion And Unfortunately Little Else.”

I haven’t read any of ‘Odd Thomas’ books by Stephen Koontz, but I did enjoy that last movie based on one of his novels, Joe Chappelle’s 1998 movie, “Phantoms.”  The director handling Koontz’s work this time around is Stephen Sommers, and that may be what makes Odd Thomas so…odd.

The dialog at times has a sing-song, almost lyrical quality that’s a little distracting, as if I everyone is about to break out into song.  People also seem to almost complete each others sentences during conversations, and suffer from terminal hipness, which adds to the strangeness.

Then there’s Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin), who not only has the ability to see and communicate with the dead, but can also see these specters, known as ‘Bodacks,’ that feed on violence and death, though they do not cause it (unless you’re like Odd, and can see them).

The thing is, I am not quite sure what type of film Sommers was trying to make because horrific events are horrific because there’s a contrast between them and everything else.  By way of example, John Carpenter’s “Halloween” is so effective because the people that surround Michael Myers are so, relatively speaking, normal.  Their normalcy provides a contrast to Myers, and by doing so make him even scarier.

And I am not saying that Sommers was trying to make the next “Halloween,” but I am saying that he was trying to build tension and suspense at times, which is hard to do when things are often very jokey, and everyone is so weird.

Or when everyone is so quirky–like they are here–that there’s not enough contrast between them and the threat.

Though that may have been Sommers intention all along, but it does his movie no favors.

Though there are even odder things, related to the production, that distract as well.  There’s a scene where Odd and his girlfriend, Stormy Llewellyn (Addison Timlin) are riding a scooter through town at night that is cut with painfully obvious green screen scenes of the actors doing the same thing that threatens to take you out of the movie.

Madagascan Hissing cockroach - image courtesy of Allpet Roches

Madagascan Hissing cockroach – image courtesy of Allpet Roches

And someone needs to tell Sommers that those exotic-looking cockroaches, like those on the left, aren’t particularly scary, mainly because they’re so exotic that most people have never seen them before.

On top of the fact every other director uses them whenever there is a need for roaches.

“Odd Thomas” is currently on Netflix.