Hell Week: Hellbound: Hellraiser 2

Today’s post is about the Hellraiser series and unfortunately is NSFW – mostly because it’s damn near impossible to show work-safe images from the movies. Also LOTS OF gore, S&M, torture, physical, mental, and sexual abuse…

….Man… you start listing all the disturbing things in this series and wonder what you’re doing with your time…

ANYWAY! On to the review!

October is Horror Movie month, where we let down our hair and celebrate all things macabre and scary! Not that we don’t during the rest of the year, but still… HORROR MOVIES! People who don’t like horror are encouraged to check back November 1st for less bloody and/or disturbing films. For everyone else, let’s put on our galoshes and WADE INTO THE MIRE! 

Today’s post is about the Hellraiser series and unfortunately is NSFW – mostly because it’s damn near impossible to show work-safe images from the movies. Also LOTS OF gore, S&M, torture, physical, mental, and sexual abuse…

….Man… you start listing all the disturbing things in this series and wonder what you’re doing with your time…

ANYWAY! On to the review!

HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER 2

Pinhead's Driver License Photo
Pinhead’s Driver License Photo

I saw Hellraiser 2 first, at a girl’s slumber party when I was about 12… as one does. Suffice to say it scared the holy living balls out of me and I believe I had my eyes covered for most of the viewing. I wish I could remember whose party it was, because if it was mine GOD I AM SO SORRY OTHER LITTLE GIRLS PLEASE FORGIVE ME.

Hellbound begins with the creation of Pinhead, showing his human side fiddling with the puzzle box before being flayed by disembodied hooks. He’s a British soldier who physically survived the horrors of the Great War, but didn’t make it through mentally and he’s been searching the world for his next big thrill as a means to combat his PTSD.

"Dude, could you just... not?"
“Dude, could you just… not?”

The story begins in a mental asylum where Kirsty has been dumped. Due to her somewhat far-fetched story about a magic puzzle box that summons a gang of demonic S&M enthusiasts who skinned her uncle and father, and murdered her stepmother before burning down her house (although the house still seems to be standing, maybe I was drunk and missed something), she’s having a rough time. She’s under the care of Doctor Channard, the kind of mental healthcare professional who is not above experimenting on his patients, experimenting with the occult, or experimenting with large, bloody mattresses that act as gateways to hell.

Kirsty’s dad leaves a bloody post on her wall (HA!) begging for help as he is now trapped in hell.

Me, hungover
Also an accurate depiction of a hangover

Channard has a secret; he already knows about the puzzle box and has been trying to solve it himself, by exploiting a possibly autistic girl named Tiffany who saw her mother murdered. Once Channard has the aforementioned bloody mattress, he leaves a poor, disturbed man prone to self-harm on it and the man proceeds to butcher himself in a heart-wrenching scene that was deeply upsetting to me. The patient is hallucinating that maggots are burrowing into his skin, and when given a straight razor, ‘shaves’ the maggots off himself. The blood-soaked mattress becomes a door and a skinless Julia is resurrected, who wrestles the mental patient to the floor before messily slitting his throat. Imagine a piece of jerky with eyes coming to life, covered with strawberry syrup, and you’ve got Julia.

I am not finding an image of that and needed a break from Googling hellraiser jpgs so here is a corgi in pajamas.
I needed a break from Googling Hellraiser jpgs so here is a corgi in pajamas.

Kirsty realizes what Channard’s up to with the help of a handsome doctor who lasts barely into the first 3rd of the movie, and then she and Tiffany escape into a portal to try and release Larry from hell. Instead, Kirsty finds Frank, who has gone full creepy uncle while trapped in hell and makes disturbing moves on Kirsty. He was the one who sent the original message it turns out, because he and his brother bear a striking resemblance when they aren’t wearing skin. Kirsty escapes him, and she and Tiffany encounter The Leviathan, which is the inanimate master of the hellish labyrinth, and there’ s a lot of running down decrepit stone hallways. That is as close as I can get to explaining what was going on.

File under 'You Had To Be There '
File under ‘You Had To Be There ‘

Meanwhile, Channard was duped into the labyrinth by Julia and turned into a cenobite himself, apparently a more powerful one than the other cenobites, as he kills them. Fun fact: Channard is played by Kenneth Cranham, who appeared as Pompey Magnus in HBO’s wonderful Rome. He does a wonderfully understated job in this film, playing Channard as a man who is not blind to the horrors he’s witnessing, but not put off by them, either. Although he’s the mad doctor in search of truth and it’s a familiar trope, his pursuit is much more earnest than other portrayals I’ve seen. Great job, Mr. Cranham!

"Is there something huge and penile stuck to the back of my head? You'd tell me, right?"
“Damn Caesar! Must he have everything?”

It’s at this point that I got really thrown by the rules of the world. The Leviathan of Christian Mythology is a giant sea monster that symbolizes many different things, but I always understood Barker’s interpretation of Leviathan to be a Prince of Hell. So you’d think it/he/she’d kind of be in control of things, but Channard runs wild, even going into the real world, and kills many of the cenobites. I suppose Leviathan is like a Roman Emperor, waiting to see which of his combatants will emerge victorious. Which makes me wonder, who is in control of the cenobites? The same four appear in both the first and second movies, then die, and then they come back in the third, establishing the pattern of Main Quartet + Guest Star Cenobites. It seems to be another way Barker was bucking the ‘slasher horror’ tropes in that his monsters were sometimes the antagonists and sometimes not. Or maybe there was an overbearing film executive who kept saying things like ‘Just do like in the first movie but more,’ even if it made no sense. Maybe I’m missing a huge chunk of the mythology.

Before He's Put His Face On
Before He’s Put His Face On

Pinhead’s human side is revealed, and he sacrifices himself to save Kristy and Tiffany. Perhaps since he and the other cenobites remembered their humanity they have become weakened and the Leviathan no longer lends them its power. Or something. Channard is pulled apart by the big phallic tentacle growing out of his head and dies, and Kirsty and Tiffany escape to find the puzzle box and close the portal.

All is right with the world, until it isn’t again and the bloody mattress is opened and the whole thing starts over.

Last Thoughts:

I suspect that the less creative input Clive Barker has over the movies the less cohesive their mythologies. In the first film, Pinhead was an enthusiastic enforcer of Hell’s torments. He and the other cenobites only appear to those who summon him, and since the summoners have usually been toddling down the road to self-destruction for some time before encountering the puzzle box, they’ve got some crimes to answer for. The cenobites fulfill a role in their victims’ punishment, and nothing more. In the second film, Pinhead experiences an existential crisis and loses his powers, or seems to. This splits his character into the human and the cenobite and sets up some of the conflict in the 3rd film, Hellraiser: Hell On Earth.

And that’s Hellraiser 2! Thanks for reading and join us on Friday for a discussion of the third installment. Hellraiser: Hell On Earth!

My God, it’s Full of STARS…

What if every club in the cinematic multiverse intersected at one, single point?

BEHOLD. The greatest action/sci-fi/crime thriller/horror film mashup in the history of EVER!

Seriously, I could not stop laughing and clapping and grooving. Every time a new face popped up I was like ‘NO WAY BUT YES!’

Made by this genius: ANTONIO MARIA DA SILVA AMDSFILMS

Ultimate PastBlasters – Tales from the Darkside: The Movie

TFTD:TM is the most 80s movie that ever 80s movied, although it was made in 1990; I suppose by then the formula had been distilled to perfection.

Tales From the Darkside: The Movie: The Poster
Tales From the Darkside: The Movie: The Poster

HORROR MOVIE ANTHOLOGIES!

I love them! I’m out of the loop on the modern ones so I’ve no idea what I’m missing, but I LOVE old horror movie anthologies. Since horror stories don’t always have the staying power for an entire movie, anthologies mix things up and also cater to my ADD. If the story’s not great, I can wait twenty minutes until the next one starts!

Tales from the Darkside was another horror anthology tv show big in the 80s. I actually saw a few episodes and I remember them SCARING THE SHIT out of me because the stories were so raw. There was a particularly gruesome one involving a parakeet and some kind of vacuum cleaner monster attracted to sound, and another one about some kids dealing with an ancient Babylonian/Old Testament demon dwelling in their basement. The show was created by George A. Romero (The Grandfather of Zombies) and notable contributors included Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Harlan Ellison. (!!!!!!!) Since most of those writers had a hand in shaping modern horror, that is a hell of a pedigree.

TFTD:TM is the most 80s movie that ever 80s movied, although it was made in 1990; I suppose by then the formula had been distilled to perfection.

It has EVERYONE. Debbie Harry from Blondie, David Johansen ( of New York Dolls fame and probably best known to The Kids These Days as the Ghost of Christmas Past from Scrooged), Steve Buscemi, Christian Slater, William Hickey, Rae Dawn Chong (the chick from Commando) and a weensy Matthew Lawrence make appearances; most incredible of all, none other than Julianne Moore makes her film debut! She looks about 17! There’s also a delightful vein of dark humor running through the stories.

The movie is bookended by a story about a totally upscale yuppie woman (Debbie Harry) living in an eponymous 80s movie mansion house who happens to be a witch. She’s got a kid chained up in her walk-in pantry/dungeon and she’s getting all the fixins’ ready to cook him. Like Scherezade, he must tell her stories to keep her from killing him.

Worlds! They Are Colliding!
Pictured: Two Very Different Actors Wearing Very Two Different Vests

The stories are somewhat bananas. In Lot:249, Steve Buscemi is every Angry Nerd Ever as a bookish type obsessed with antiques and Egyptology. Christian Slater makes his character of Douchey Rich Kid #4 still likeable, and Julianne Moore as his sociopathic sister is awesome. There’s a love triangle, a mummy, you know where this is going but the ride is still great.

In Cat From Hell, David Johansan is a hit man hired to kill a… cat from hell. Seriously this is one badass cat. That’s almost the whole story right there, and it’s kind of mindblowing how simple and yet engaging it was.

NIAGARA FALLS, FRANK.
NIAGARA FALLS, FRANK.

I originally saw TFTD:TM about 20 years ago and the reason that it stuck with me is because of the last story: The Lover’s Vow.

Lord protect me from bad boys because I cannot protect myself, forever and ever AMEN.
Lord protect me from bad boys because I cannot protect myself, forever and ever AMEN.

Although it does have vintage James Remar, the reason it stuck with me is multifold:

  • James Remar plays a struggling artist, a career I was considering at the time
  • He and Rae Dawn Chong and have some beautiful multiracial children, which I had never seen addressed  in a horror movie
  • The monster is a woman

THIS JUST IN: After checking the writing credit for The Lover’s Vow I am astounded to find it written by someone I had never heard of and yet who was the architect of a great deal of my childhood real estate. Michael McDowell also wrote:

  • Beetlejuice
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Clue

GASP. I love finding out new things! I need to investigate this writer further! I wish I had a time machine so I could spend a year Groundhogging and reading/watching/experiencing all the shit on my ‘To Do’ pile. Further, McDowell was inspired to write the story by yuki-onna stories from Lefcadio Hearne’s Kwaidan books. I have those and enjoyed the shit out of them, and can’t recommend them enough to fans of Asian horror and just old fashioned ghost stories.

Tales from the Darkside: The Movie is available on Instant Watch.

Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Never: Horror Movie Ice Cream Flavors!

Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Never: Horror Movie Ice Cream Flavors

I found this delightful link in a forum I frequent and it gave me many hearty chuckles!

Cool Down With Ben And Jerry’s Horror Movie Ice Cream Flavors

I would NOT be able to pick just one! And so many delightful horror movie memories!

Some examples:

never

ice22

ice8

And THE BEST:

ice14

“Come get some.”

Gonna skip the Human Centi-Peach though. Gross.

(All content belongs to the wonderful artists who created them – well done!)

Apples and Oranges Entry: OZ and Orange is the New Black

I love Orange is the New Black. Unflinching without being obnoxious, it was brave and awesome and it took a huge risk and totally paid off. It brought Laverne Cox onto the world stage, and started a lot of intelligent conversations about race and how people of color are portrayed in the media. It was AWESOME. And to compare apples and oranges, I am comparing it to HBO’s brilliant prison show OZ.

Welcome to Apples and Oranges! This is a new feature I’m trying out where I compare incomparable things only because of a thin thread connecting them.

[Some spoilers, but I haven’t finished the 3rd OITNB season yet so please avoid spoilers in the comments!]

Ain't no party like a Litchfield party!
Ain’t no party like a Litchfield party! Also this is clearly from season 2. 

I love Orange is the New Black. Unflinching without being obnoxious, it was brave and awesome and it took a huge risk and totally paid off. It brought Laverne Cox onto the world stage, and started a lot of intelligent conversations about race and how people of color are portrayed in the media. It was AWESOME. And to compare apples and oranges, I am comparing it to HBO’s brilliant prison show OZ.

OZ was literally what gave HBO its middle name of “god damn this is some fine television right here.” It began airing in 1997 – almost twenty years ago! – and depicted the lives of inmates and staff at the fictional Oswald State Correctional Facility. It contains many alumni of other HBO shows, particularly The Wire. OITNB is similiar in a lot of ways, although WAY less brutal.

I admit it’s unfair to compare the shows because OITNB takes place in a prison, and OZ takes place in a max facility. Basically, it’s the prison where you go if you don’t behave in regular prison and they get tired of your shit. Please also note that I am not going to try and make some grand point about the difference between men’s and women’s prisons, because that would be asinine; these are fictional products inspired by reality, but do not function as examples of such.

In OITNB, people get their feelings hurt and sometimes get beaten up, or even beaten to death.

In OZ, they got their faces caved in or fed ground glass until they bleed out.

So, you know, different playing field, different rules.

Oz’s legacy is so ubiquitous its title sequence was lampooned on the Venture Bros, which is a major benchmark of pop culture– sort of like being parodied by Weird Al.

AND when Homer went to jail on the Simpsons, his little hat was a nod to Simon Adebisi’s own ever-present accessory. THAT Is a whole other level of pop-culture achievement!

Requirement of Being Cocked at A Sassy Angle: Check!
Requirement of Being Cocked at A Sassy Angle: Check!

And the original in all it’s glory:

Granted it's a little bigger, but it's ALL in the angle.
Granted it’s a little bigger, but it’s ALL in the angle. Also if you find this picture frightening, you should; Adebisi is not a nice man. 

That photo accurately depicts the real Simon Adebisi; he’s a handsome, highly intelligent man played to the hilt by the magnificent Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje, but my GOSH was Adebisi a great villain. On the show, almost every character, no matter how brutal, was given some kind of humanizing moment that allowed another facet of their personality to shine through. My memories of the show are hazy but I don’t recall Adebisi ever having that moment (although dropping his pants and fiddling with his bits during his physical was hilarious, and apparently the actor’s improvisation).

One thing that OZ did so much better than OITNB was letting the viewer pick their narrative; for white, middle-class viewers like me, the story of Tobias Beecher heading to prison after drunken vehicular manslaughter was our window to this world. But the beauty of the show was how it drew us into those other windows as they opened wider and wider, providing other characters – Alvarez, Augustus,  Poet,  Kareem Said, Wangler, a forum for their stories.

I will totally admit that the premise of the first season of OITNB, of a ‘good girl’ going to prison, was what drew me in. That and curiosity about what women’s prison might be like, especially since I’m too lazy to go read about it myself. And naturally at the base of such curiosity is the self-absorbed First Wonder of the First World, Could I make it on the inside?  Piper’s story was the main narrative, and that got me watching. But you know what? By about midway through the second season I was absolutely done caring about Piper because the characters around her were so much more compelling and had eclipsed her. At this point, everyone else in the prison is more interesting to watch.

So when season 3 began with her reunion with Alex and the selfish thing she did to achieve that, I sort of stopped giving a shit. Now obviously I have a lot more of this season to get through and since it’s OITNB, shit will go down and things will happen, but I’ll be honest, every time Piper is onscreen my mind starts wandering. She doesn’t seem to be growing as a character and her emotional gurning is so infuriating. When Red tells her to get in touch with her inner Russian and she immediately puts that into practice by pretending to ignore Alex and then having hatesex with her, I threw my hands up into the air because I just didn’t care. And then Alex forgave her! I get that they’re stuck inside and have to make the best of it; I suppose the one character’s (can’t find her name, sorry!) monologue about how prison is a band-aid and nobody who’re friends on the inside can sustain their relationships outside comes into play here, or will later in the season.

I wouldn’t mind if the story wandered away from Piper and her boring entitled bullshit to focus on more worthy characters. I know that Taylor Schilling is doing her best with her performance, and the show has certainly pulled back from her narrative, but I wouldn’t mind if it left her even farther afield. It still feels like she’s the sun and all the other characters orbit around her, but she’s very slowly collapsing in on herself and in danger of becoming a black hole.

Awful But Accurate Depiction
Awful But Accurate Depiction. Also I think they PS’d Chapman’s eyes blue; in the show her eyes are dark brown. Also Daya looks AMAZING here! That glow! Those lips! 

Oz’s strength lay in the showrunners following ALL the stories, not just one. It feels like when Piper finishes her sentence, OITNB will end, and that’s just not what the show is anymore. It’s done too much for the LBGT community (Laverne Cox was on TIME MAGAZINE!) and for actresses of color to go out that way.

Have you watched either show? What are your thoughts?