with your host, his unholiness, the 13th Dali Trauma
“I want to put on record that the flic [sic] out there using the word Hellraiser IS NO FUCKIN’ CHILD OF MINE! I have NOTHING to do with the fuckin’ thing. If they claim its from the mind of Clive Barker, it’s a lie. It’s not even from my butt-hole.”
-Lord Clive Barker (responding to the announcement of Hellraiser: Revelations)
Go online and you’ll find a generous number of articles and reviews that will explain why Hellraiser: Revelations exists. You’ll learn why the studio had to crank out this quivering pile of shit in under a month in order to retain the rights to the franchise. You’ll learn Lord Clive Barker’s thoughts on it as well as why Lord Doug Bradley refused to be involved in the ninth Hellraiser film.
The studio essentially said “Hey, this is just going to be some bullshit, but you know, one day we may get around to making a Hellraiser film that probably won’t be terrible because we’ll spend a fuckton of time and money on marketing and CG.” Outside of Lord Clive Barker and Lord Bradley, no one else seemed to give a shit.
Imagine if your favorite band came forward and said “Look, we’re going to make this awesome fucking album, but in order to release that great album, we’re going to release an album of just our drummer going to the toilet.” (This is not a swipe at St. Anger)
Creative entropy is easy to understand as it relates to any franchise. The first film is great, second one is okay, and so on and so forth until you get farther away from the original material. When you get past Hellraiser: Bloodline or, as it’s better known to people as “the one in space”, the ass-end of the Hellraiser sequels were just a pile of unloved scripts that, with a free afternoon, could have weird puzzle boxes and that Pinhead guy, inserted into their second and third acts.
Revelations actually had an original script attached to it. Lord Doug Bradley famously called the script “unfinished” and asked when a second draft would be ready. When he was told there would not be a second draft, nor would he be paid an acceptable salary, he hit the bricks.
As if to instantly get audiences to despise this film, Revelations opens with an excruciating sequence of two wretched frat boys on a hand-held shaky camera. They are their way to Mexico and they screech excitedly about donkey shows and getting their “dicks wet” which may, or may not be, code for syphilis.
Soon enough, our terrible frat boy protagonists are murdering hookers and drinking Modelo in what appear to be poorly lit airport terminals. A mysterious hobo shows up and gives them the Puzzle Box along with a variation on the “pain and pleasure, indivisible” speech.
Cut to more shaky cam footage of terrible frat boy A dick-holing around with the box, while terrible frat boy B films the ritual while pacing around and pleading “come on man, let’s just go get laid, come on man…”
The next thing you know, terrible frat boy A is skinless and forcing terrible frat boy B (the pretty one) to murder more prostitutes, so that he may consume their blood. But soon, TFB A just says “fuck it” and kills TFB B.
In the original Hellraiser film, Frank’s physical form is only brought back after his brother’s blood seeps into the floor where he first encountered the Cenobites. He needs to feed on rats and vermin and then try and convince his former lover Julia to kill for him.
The relationship between Julia and Frank, and this notion of blood bringing back these lost souls that are trapped in a hellish dimension, is one of the most compelling pieces of the Hellraiser mythology. Julia is almost reluctant to carry out these murders at first, but it doesn’t take long for her to become completely desensitized to it. When Frank feeds on the bodies, he rasps “Don’t look at me…” from the shadows. Julia clearly wants to see Frank’s transformation. Her love for Frank is terrible and obsessive.
Meanwhile, in this terrible Revelations film, TFB A just needs to call TFB B a pussy to inspire him to murder prostitutes and babies. TFB B wanders around with his shirt halfway off, drinking beer, and picking up prostitutes that appear to be old enough to be his mother. TFB B looks to be about 14 in this film.
Interspersed with this shit is an awkward dinner party. The parents of the terrible frat boys come together to suck down Cabernet and try and come to grips with the disappearance of their terrible sons. Emma, the sister of terrible frat boy B (B for blonde), takes everyone to task for being stupid boring yuppies who don’t care about their awful progeny.
(Real world watch: The disappearance of two wealthy frat boys in Tijuana would have created an enormous media firestorm here in the States)
Emma, is actually the most developed character in the film. And when I say developed, I mean that the writers seem to have spent actual time discussing her character. Somehow she manages to release her brother from the puzzle box, attempts to seduce the father of the other terrible frat boy, and then makes out with her brother after bringing him soup. While the weird scene with her brother contains the psychological weight of a Geico commercial, she’s probably the only actor in the cast who actually does something with the material, while the rest of the cast struggles to get through the inane dialogue.
The last hour of the film involves terrible frat boy B leaping around in his Target brand Stafford pajamas, screeching about how “fucking lame” his suburban upbringing was, and how “fucking lame” everyone involved in his suburban upbringing is. His father gets shot point blank with a shotgun, but manages to live until the very end of the film.
At the end of the film, the Cenobites show up. Pinhead, or the defacto “Lead Cenobite”, is now played by someone who is not Lord Doug Bradley. New Pinhead mugs and snarls through the film like Dick fucking Dastardly and look, there’s terrible frat boy A, who is now like a mini-Pinhead. We have plenty of films ahead to discuss what and who Cenobites are, but, in this installment, everything looks wrong. Pinhead’s face is rubbery. The other Cenobites don’t really do anything. There’s nothing memorable, or genuinely creepy about them.
Everyone gets ripped apart by hook-chains and then Emma wakes up and reaches for the box. The end and thank fuck.
Now, I will say that Revelations is refreshingly CG free. There are some intense gore scenes that are creative and well done, however, that’s about all I can positively say about the film.
I’m not going to be some kind of Hellraiser snob, oh wait, no, I am, but I am not going to pretend for a moment that there is some redeeming quality to this film that I am just too stubborn, too old, too fat, too pretentious, too drunken to see.
This isn’t a film. It’s a product that was created out the necessity to continue to create more product. There was no artistic vision, there was no deep desire to tell a story, hell, there wasn’t even a motivation to try and get people into a theater. It was just a “thing” to be sold, while they moved on to the next “thing”.
What is so resoundingly fucked about a film-thing like Revelations is because it exists at the ass-end of what was one of the bravest and boldest films in the horror genre. Connecting the original Hellraiser with something like Hellraiser: Revelations would take some seriously poor decisions and fucked up prioritizing.
That’s where I come in. An enormous fan of the original film who has only just begun watching and trying to make sense of the ass-end of the Hellraiser franchise. I hope you’ll join me, I have such mediocre sights to show you.