Hellraiser: Judgement is the latest installment into the beloved Hellraiser franchise, which seems to endure and suffer its own hell, as this movie serves more as a fan film, than for the general audiences to enjoy, and releases on February 13th. This flick nowhere near the quality of the first 2-films, and the heavily enjoyment of part 3, it doesn’t contain the financial resources of a required budget, the distribution saved by Lionsgate Home Entertainment after the tormented Dimension Films struggled. Hence special effects master Gary J. Tunnicliffe (who held many positions throughout his 89-horror film credits) this marks his second feature length horror film, the first Within the Rock (1996 TV Movie). Now before moving on to review this flick, one needs to understand the wretched path of the franchise and Tunnicliffe connections. He did in fact, pen this latest tale, and dreadful Hellraiser: Revelations (2011), while also writing three short Hellraiser tales. Although his involvement goes further, with his special effects/ make-up work covering the films since Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002).
Just last year Hellraiser (1987) turned 30-years old, and for awhile the return of the investment garnished much attention, however of late, including this film, a cascading mess occurred before the fans’ eyes. The series at one pointed slated for a reboot, then a reimaging, even a versus concept design floated on the rumor trail before it too sunk in the murky depths. Now 7-years later after the miserable Hellraiser: Revelations this storyline returns, with a little love to the fans, and perhaps a step in a new direction, which is stepping away from Pinhead and exploring other demons and cenobites. The reason, simply most known the iconic figure Pinhead, portrayal wonderfully by Doug Bradley and since his departure two others stepped into the role first Stephan Smith Collins (Part 9) and now Paul T. Taylor.
Aside from the screenplay and its translation on the screen, it still generates some sickening macabre bliss with a few cheers and less jeers, this borders on torture porn and hint of ‘Saw-themes’. It opens with a man, invited to earn justified rewards, finding himself tied to a chair and a crafty special effects sadistic slashed faced man called The Auditor (Tunnicliffe) asking the individual questions of his crimes. From there the moment getting the freak on occurs, with a man puking into a trough and then three naked women sift through the vomit to determine someone’s judgement. Sadly, the film turns into a sluggish crawl for the next hour, as a trio of detectives (Randy Wayne, Alexandra Harris, Damon Carney) work to solve the ritualistic crimes though highly confusing this portion not well fleshed out, as its switches to Biblical references and back to Hellraiser mythology. It appears a little like the very good psychological thriller drama Se7en (1995) and the crimes done in reference to the deadly sins. However, Tunnicliffe tosses another twisted scene a little dog (still alive) sewn into the belly of dead woman, a creative element, for the gore hounds to enjoy. Aside from the focusing a lot of the story on Pinhead, the conceptual design works with others such as The Chatterer (Mike J. Regan) and The Assessor (John Gulager), and like many independent films it brings a bit of name recognition to screen and top billing with Heather Langenkamp, as a landlady with a very foul mouth.
Even though the film contains some gross scenes that might leave a bad taste in average horror fans mouths, it strides to deliver nostalgic moments and give the best it can on a shoestring budget. Tunnicliffe excels with his knowledge and experience however it all appears a quagmire mess at times, sluggish trying to reestablish itself as something respectful to the fans of the franchise.
While the story remains unclear, and bleakness appears on the horizon for what’s next from this hellish creation, it still serves for the dedicated fans of the storied franchise.
IMDb Rating: 4.3/10
Baron’s Rating: 5/10
This movie follows this Franchise History:
Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)
Hellraiser: Inferno (2000) (Video)
Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002) (Video)
Hellraiser: Deader (2005) (Video)
Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005) (Video)
Hellraiser: Revelations (2011)