Directed by: Tony Randel
Written by: Clive Barker (story), Peter Atkins (screenplay)
Hellraiser II maintains many of the cast and ideas from the first film; which in my opinion benefits the film as it could almost be watched immediately after the first with no break between them!
Ashley Laurence returns as Kirsty who wakes in a mental institution after assumedly attempting to explain what happened in the first Hellraiser; which of course the authorities were unlikely to believe. The head of the institution, Dr Channard (Kenneth Cranham) however, is personally obsessed by the potential of a gateway to hell; and of course the lament configuration puzzle box provides such a gateway. After Kirsty speaks of such a possibility in her explanation to the hospital’s staff, Dr Channard takes a more personal interest in her and what she has to say, and proceeds to resurrect Julia (once again played by Clare Higgins) by similar means as Julia did Frank in the first film.
Meanwhile Kirsty has visions from who she believes to be her father who writes ‘I AM IN HELL. HELP ME’ on a wall in blood. Once the gateway to hell has been re-opened by Channard with the help of one of Kirsty’s fellow mental patients; a keen puzzle enthusiast called Tiffany (Imogen Boorman – now part of the British Jiu-Jitsu team!), Kirsty goes looking for her father. However once the gateway has been opened, Dr Channard is turned into a cenobite by Pinhead (Doug Bradley) and the other cenobites from Hellraiser and forms one of the most terrifying and original horror villains in ‘living’ memory! A truly gruesome and horrible character – my congratulations go out to the effects crew!
The rest of the film moves on as Kirsty tries to find her father in Hell and there is an interesting power battle between the original cenobites and Dr Channard with also a surprise reappearance from Julia’s lover; the detestable Frank.
As I say, the film does follow well from the first; this despite Clive Barker being an executive producer and having Tony Randel as director. The ‘feel’ of the film is maintained and Barker’s visual style is attempted, and quite successfully attempted, to be replicated. Peter Atkins wrote the screenplay, who later wrote Hellraiser III and IV and also one of my favourite 90’s horror films; Wishmaster. Possibly the main downfall of the film is the seemingly random plot as the film goes on with the viewer not tending to be able to guess where it may go next; compared to the clearer structure of Hellraiser and some of the other sequels. However, this unpredictability may add to the viewing experience in a way, and the film certainly does not bore! The acting is again good, for an 80’s horror film particularly, and personally I believe that it is a pity that much of the cast could not again be roped in for the third instalment.
As horror franchise sequels go, Hellraiser II certainly ranks up there with the best.
Gore Score: 8/10