I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Hellraiser: Hellworld

tn_hellworldThe penultimate HELLRAISER, Rick Bota #3, is not really better than the previous DTV entries, and definitely way worse than any of the theatrical releases, but after three pretty samey ones in a row it was briefly refreshing to see the series, for the first time, try to pander to dumb young people. Elements include: an addictive internet game, an exclusive invite-only theme party, teen suicide, masked orgies, cell phones. Coming only 3 months after DEADER and from the same director it’s nice that it’s crappy in a completely different way.

Whoah, it's like the Matrix
Whoah, it’s like The Matrix

In the interim, LAND OF THE DEAD and THE DEVIL’S REJECTS had come out. That’s about it. Impossible to detect a change in the horror landscape. Instead of sticking with the times I guess they wanted to pull a LAWNMOWER MAN or BRAINSCAN type deal and base it around computer technology, so that the movie would already seem laughably dated and out of touch by the time it was finished editing.

The story is about a group of twenty-something friends (and one ex-friend) whose buddy Adam has just died horribly. We don’t know how it happened, but it had some connection to their shared obsession with a video game called Hellworld.

Two years later they’re thrilled to solve a virtual Lament Configuration and get invited to “a Hellworld party!!!” at a mansion on “86 Hillbound Drive.” It’s hosted by the great Lance Henriksen, who has a collection of puzzle boxes and weird babies in jars and claims the mansion was designed by LeMarchand, all of which delights his guests. There are young people dancing, drinking, mingling, some of them topless or just having sex right out in the open like it’s EYES WIDE SHUT. The host gives them all a cell phone and a paper mache mask with the phone number on the forehead so people will call and proposition each other.

Our group comes in and does not play it cool at all. Instead they run around with giant grins, excitedly pointing things out, like when the cast first sees the house on any season of The Real World.

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I know, I thought for a second that the subtitle transcriber was a real prude, but I listened again and that’s what she really said. In another part she says “holy sugar!” so I guess that’s just her character. Though timid about language, they have no compunction about loving this macabre shit even after whatever it was that happened to their friend. Only mopey Jake (Christopher Jacot, BATTLE IN SEATTLE) still seems hung up on the tragedy, and he still comes to the party (to hook up with an online girlfriend).

Oh, by the way, you know who’s in this?

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Fucking Superman! Henry Cavill! It’s not just a bit part, either. He’s one of the main characters. He has a thing for Chelsea (Katheryn Winnick, SATAN’S LITTLE HELPER, Vikings), but when she rejects his advances he opts for a blowjob from a stranger whose mask grows fangs at one point but luckily she doesn’t bite his dick. Instead she later lures him into the basement and locks him in and then he, uh, learns how to fly.

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Before that he actually gets the movie’s goriest moment, when he thinks there’s a dummy of his friend but it turns out to be the actual guy split open. Yuck.

Two things to note about the deaths in this movie:

1, they use a lot of chains on cranks, a chair that you get strapped into and blades spin toward you, stuff like that. Old fashioned torture chamber type business, so I guess this is our proof that a HELLRAISER came out during the HOSTEL era.

2, the traditional horror movie sign that he kind of deserves it is the face he makes when the girl wants him to return the favor for the oral sex she provided:

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That’s not MY Superman!

Motherfucker didn’t seem so scared of girl parts when he used this pickup line:

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Meanwhile, Jake is trying to hang out, but everybody ignores him. In their defense, his way of starting conversations is stuff like saying to the bartender “Some party, huh?” And also they are in a different reality than him and can’t see him.

See, the party devolves into a Derrickson/Bota style reality-bending situation which alternates with scenes of Pinhead (Doug Bradley) and two Cenobite interns tearing people up. Chelsea gets locked in a room and tries to call the police, but when they come they look up into the window where she’s standing and they don’t see her. So it’s like they’re in two different dimensions or something. That kind of stuff.

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This one is written by Carl V. Dupre (HELLRAISER: HELLSEEKER, DETROIT ROCK CITY), from a story by Joel Soisson (DRACULA 2000, MIMIC 2, HOLLOW MAN II.) I was a little confused about the reality the movie takes place in. They refer to “Hellraiser,” there is a Pinhead t-shirt, they know about him and Cenobites but they say “Cenobites aren’t real” when somebody wears a mask to look like one as a prank. They know about LeMarchand and that the box summons Pinhead and the Cenobites. They also mention a “Wall Walker,” which must be The Engineer. They refer to all that as “mythology.”  For a time I thought it was a NEW NIGHTMARE deal where the previous movies are just movies but they will turn out to be based on a real thing. I guess not. They must know those things just from the video game?

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(By the way, I lose track of time, but 2005 doesn’t seem that long ago. Didn’t they have more sophisticated online games back then?)

Anyway, then Henriksen talks about LeMarchand as a real guy. I guess they think he’s LARPing?

I never quite figured all that out, but there is a twist ending that sort of explains what’s really going on (kind of like HELLSEEKER), until Pinhead and the Cenobites actually show up to get Lance. In his memoir with Joseph Maddrey, Not Bad For a Human, Henriksen doesn’t sound too fond of it:

“My character knows he’s running out of time – that’s the cynicism of power. So I’m sitting in a room, getting drunk. And why do people get drunk? Because they don’t want to feel the pain of payday. He knows the bill is coming due… So I’m sitting in that room, thinking: How did I get here? And then these fucking clowns walk in, with their leather outfits and their righteous Wagnerian voices… I just thought: Ahhhh… fuck you.

Which is a pretty fair review of any of these DTV ones.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

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27 Responses to “Hellraiser: Hellworld”

  1. I want a Hellraiser movie, where Henriksen really says that to Pinhead and Pinhead has no idea how to reply to that, because Lance Fucking Henriksen just insulted him with a huge amount of disinterest.

  2. Crushinator Jones

    October 22nd, 2015 at 9:49 am

    This is possibly the best “Not my Superman!” joke I’ve ever read. Also, thank you for enduring this mentally destructive odyssey for our collective amusement.

  3. Wow. You managed to get through this. Congratulations on keeping your sanity so far.

    Only one left. Will you be able for it? Actually, if I’m being honest, I think Hellworld is the worst of the bunch. Revelations is cheap but there’s some interesting stuff buried in it.

  4. Man, I am shocked so many of you guys managed to get through this entire series. Don’t you have anything better to do?

    *cues up copy of 1989’s The Curse 2: The Bite that took him two days to download and burn onto DVD with custom menu screen*

  5. The Curse 2 is terrible, but it has Jill Schoelen and a guy with a snake for a hand, so you are absolutely correct to have downloaded it.

  6. This is a very definition of having the willpower to overcome insurmountable odds. I cannot believe you have gotten this far, Vern, but I will cheer you on.

    Speaking of Katheryn Winnick, aside from this and Satan’s Little Helper, she also starred in an interesting slasher/horror movie, Amusement. I am not sure if you have reviewed or seen that yet.

  7. Cavill is notable for probably giving the most cartoonishly awful performance in the whole movie, which in THIS case is really, really saying something.

    This has to be the hands-down worst one of the series, reducing Pinhead to a catchphrase-spouting slasher, and, in fact, basically repudiating the entire series in a cheap effort to flee to that last refuge of a true scoundrel: meta nonsense. The last three sequels were cheap, disposable garbage, but at least they were making some baseline attempt to be a real movie. This one demonstrably is not.

    I am sad Vern didn’t mention the hilarious cock-rock ballad that plays over the credits, though.

    (my take, from when I undertook this particularly misguided quest:)

  8. SATAN’S LITTLE HELPER is an interesting little movie that I want to like but I wished they’d waited a few years to make it to give digital video technology a chance to become watchable. As it is, the fact that the movie looks like a Spanish-language soap opera makes it a pretty difficult obstacle to overcome.

  9. The Original Paul

    October 22nd, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    I legitimately feel bad for enjoying this series of reviews. (Plus Subtlety’s “cursed” ones. But did you like this movie, Mr S? C’mon now, don’t be a fence-sitter.)

    Here’s a question: the latter movies seem to refer to the cenobytes themselves as “evil”. But was that really the case, at least in the early movies? I know they’re demons who cater to some pretty sick people, but still… evil? Seems kinda harsh.

  10. Paul – Well the tagline for the original’s Pinhead starring poster always said “Demon to some. Angel to others.”

    This was the last one I saw and you know it’s something else when it even made HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION seem more plausible.

    My condolences in advance in making it through the one with Nu Pinhead. From what I’ve heard that is enduring a tremendous trial if I ever saw one. Vern truly is a man of the people for even daring to explore those waters.

  11. Paul — I enjoy HELLRAISER III more than just about anyone ever, but I must admit that this is clearly where the series began to totally miss the entire point of the cenboties by just turning them into generic hellions who wanted to kill people. In the first two, they’re interesting antagonists because they’re not really villains at all, they’re sort of an extreme hedonism cult. I mean, you have to summon them, you have to want them. They’re dangerous, but something as trivial as murdering a human means nothing to them, and they certainly don’t care about taking over Earth (HELLRAISER IV) or, for god’s sake, teaching people to be nicer (HELLRAISER V-VII). And by HELLWORLD, it’s not even clear what their deal is, I have no early idea why Pinhead feels he needs to actually show up at the end and punish anyone.

  12. This movie shares a “haunted game” element with STAY ALIVE. The latter film came out in 2006. I refuse to entertain the notion that someone watched HELLWORLD and decided to rip it off.

  13. You are truly doing the Cenobites’ work by undergoing pain while watching these films to give us the pleasure of reading about them. (Is that how this Cenobite thing works?). This was the first of the direct to video Hellraisers that sounds enjoyably bad, and it was the most enjoyable review since the legitimately good Hellraiser films.

  14. I maintain Hellworld is at least crappy in a fun, goofy way. The previous DTVs are crappy in a dreary, boring way.

    Sadly the last film is one of those “rush it out the door so we retain tbe rights” contractual obligation deals and it shows. It looks at the other DTV Hellraisers and decides that what’s missing here is technical incompetence.

  15. grimgrinningchris

    October 22nd, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    No, no Macblayne, no… there is NOTHING interesting in REVELATIONS. Nothing at all. Unless you’re interested in why they would even attempt to make a “Hellraiser” movie without Doug Bradley. It’s the worst.

    And I still want Vern to review it.

  16. Has anyone seen “Leviathan: The making of Hellraiser 1 & 2”, an independent doc that came out this year? Curious about it; some reviews say it’s great, but some reviews say it’s just a 4 1/2 hour (!) slog that could’ve been edited down to 1/2 hour.

    Kinda sounds like “The Madness of Max” doco that was released either shortly before or after Fury Road, which is a feature-length retrospective of the very first Mad Max movie which is almost twice the length of the original movie…

  17. Almost there, Vern. Can’t wait for it!
    I also reviewed this thing, but it was forced upon me in a round table (back when I was single and had time to waste). Since it seems okay to share:
    https://badmovievirus.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/your-suckiness-will-be-legendary-hellraiser-hellworld/

  18. Mr. Majestyk, what makes watching Satan’s Little Helper difficult to watch is just how much of a giant pile of shit that movie is.

  19. Well, and that.

  20. Ahhhhh, the mid-aughts.

  21. “(By the way, I lose track of time, but 2005 doesn’t seem that long ago. Didn’t they have more sophisticated online games back then?)”
    Just to answer this, World of Warcraft started in 2004. And it sure as fuck wasn’t the first game of it’s kind.

  22. I don’t know, grimgrinningchris. Whereas all the DTV sequels feel like another film series with Pinhead crowbarred in, Revelations at least works within the original Hellraiser concepts.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s still turgid. Bless him, but Stephen Smith Collins is no Doug Bradley (or even a Pinhead cosplayer). It looks like it was shot on a SD tape. And the disappearing cars was taking the piss.

    Revelations is bad. Not “we just doing as technically competent as we can” bad, but truly, irredeemable bad. And a god-awful film is always more interesting than a “meh” experience.

  23. Hey, I should mention as a public service that if you want to see a movie which is borderline watchable and stars both Doug Bradley and Lance Henriksen, I conditionally recommend PUMPKINHEAD 3: ASHES TO ASHES. It’s not exactly a good movie, but they both give good performances (and are collectively in it quite a lot, something of a rarity for both actors) and it has kind of a spartan, nightmarish quality that makes it feel unique. At the very least, its much more in the spirit of its predecessors than HELLWORLD is.

  24. Mimic 3: Sentinal is another DTV sequel featuring Lance Henriksen that is far better than it needs to be, thanks to the stewardship of J.T Petty, director of the fantastic Soft for Digging. Come to think of it, Mimic 2 wasn’t half bad either. Vern should give those a look someday.

  25. AnimalRamirez1976

    October 24th, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Well, it wouldn’t be Hellraiser sequel if Mr S and I didn’t have completely opposite opinions about it. I found this disarmingly dumb: taking elements of ELM STREET, SCREAM and SCOOBY DO (are those last two references redundant?) and smashing them together in an entertainingly stupid way.

    Also, the end makes perfect sense: nothing that happened in the house was real, because…. what was Hendrickson’s character’s name again?!… drugged them. So the Cenobites had no motives per se, because there were no Cenobites. Yes but since the victims’ imaginations made the Cenobites in their minds, shouldn’t the made up Cenobites have acted like Cenobites? Maybe that means that Hellworld the video game is based on the HELLRAISER DTV sequels? Well, I think I’m taking this a level too far…

    Anywho, the point is that nothing was real, but then Lance really opened the box at the end, so THAT Pinhead was the real McCoy. It’s pretty clear. Or it was clear to me, anyway. Stupid leading the stupid etc…

    Needless to say, Cavill is genuinely great in this. He is a very talented comedian! Hope he busts out some of those hilarious facial expressions in SUPERMAN V JUSTICE: THE BATMAN OF RISING.

  26. Pinhead looks really sleepy on the cover there, like he’s trying not to yawn. Also, I would say that spelling out the tagline on his forehead is something he would not approve of.

  27. I was at one point cackling like a lunatic. That gives you an idea.

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