[SEQUEL SEPTEMBER] Jesse Bartel Isn't Puzzled By "Hellbound: Hellraiser II"

The first of today's contributions to SEQUEL SEPTEMBER is by Jesse Bartel, who currently writes for GeekTyrant and The Liberal Dead [two great websites you should check out]. Jesse is one cool dude who loves video games, movies, and anything pop culture. A fellow New Yorker like yours truly, Jesse brings a lot of humor wherever he goes and tweets me random funny things every now and then that puts a smile on my face. He was one of the first people who responded when I asked for contributors for this month's theme, so I'm very happy to have him on board.

Jesse decided he wanted to write about one of his favorite horror sequels, HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II, and why he enjoys the film so darn much. Seeing that HELLBOUND is the best sequel in the entire franchise [everything went downhill after its release], it's easy to see why Jesse would love this worthy companion to the 1987 original classic. Thanks Jesse for sharing your love of the Lament Configuration with us!

HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II - Adding More Blood, Sex, and Fantasy
Hellraiser is considered one of the greatest horror films of all time, and for good reason. Hellraiser is concise, fantastical, and it plays with the idea of the "haunted house".  Add that with Barker's love of sex and sadomasochism, you have a film that brings the sexual subtext of horror films to the foreground. Barker played with the horror genre while creating something entirely new and because of its success, MANY sequels were created. For me, I start hating the series at Hellraiser: Bloodline, even though I know a few people who are rabid about that one.

Hellbound: Hellraiser II is often overlooked and it was not as well received as its predecessor, but I find it to be one of the better horror sequels out there. Sure, Hellraiser is a superior film and keeps things terse compared to the ambitious sequel but it is because of that ambition that I enjoy Hellbound: Hellraiser II. I am here today to give you a few reasons as to why I like it so much and hope to either make you see the light or get you to watch it.

Released a year after the first film, H2 (I'll just call it that for now)  picks up where Hellraiser ended with Kirsty Cotton in a mental hospital trying to appear NOT INSANE because of her experience. The film does an excellent job of giving some exposition without making you feel like an idiot or without bogging down the narrative. In a sense, the Hellraiser sequel is like Halloween II, where the narrative is picked up where it left off and we, as the viewer, continue the story.

There are quite a few reasons why I enjoy this film more than the first, so I'll list them out for you.

1. Pinhead
Well, of course! He is the best part of any Hellraiser film (even the bad ones) but in this one particularly, I found him to be endearing. The first film presented him as a malicious, deal-making hell-spawn that didn't have a human side. In the sequel, we learn a little about who Pinhead was before he was turned into a nasty cenobite. He was a military man who came across the puzzle box and was transformed into a bondage-lord after he was transported to hell. This is later used as bargaining power as Kirsty asks for help and shows Pinhead that he was at one point, like her. Some may disagree with humanizing Pinhead but I liked it, it gave a needed dimension to the character and hey, he still ends up being a badass. 

2. Surrealism 2.0
Hellraiser works on a surreal, dreamlike level in which the images presented are from nightmares and our darker sexual desires. Maybe Freud could comment on the sex better than I ever would but the correlation of sex and violence is frightening yet strangely natural. The first film put more of the "fantasy" elements in the background while H2 makes it the entire show by having the characters go all the way to a dimension of hell. This is where a lot of the ambition comes into play as more of surrealism is made a bigger part of the script. What I liked about the original film is that it differentiated itself from horror titles because of that added element and it's cool to see this film take it all the way. 

3. The Return of Julia
Julia was quite the bitch in the first film, a succubus if you will. She would lure men into the comfort of her home with the promise of sexual favors then BOOM, she murders them and her dead boyfriend eats their bodies. Yeah, tell me Freud would not be amused. Anyway, she makes a glorious return in this one (liking the long hair, Julia). Once again, she is the controlling evil in the film, looking out for herself and how to get Frank out of hell. Though the Doctor does a great job playing the villain, Julia steals the show as she manipulates every situation. 

Yes, gore is something needed, usually, to heighten my appreciation of a horror film and H2 does not disappoint. From the raw scene of the patient cutting himself with a razor to the Doctor's transformation into a penis-hand-like cenobite, this film tries to be gross at every scene. Let's not forget Julia walking around as bloody muscle and making out with the Doctor. That was pretty gross, right? With the epic proportions of the script, the intensity of the gore goes up and it leads to me getting all giddy like a schoolgirl. I mean, nothing beats Julia's skin ripping off. Pure gold, yo.

Hellbound: Hellraiser II took all of themes from the first film and amplified them. For better or for worse, depending on who you are, this was a way to take the source material and expand it into a larger narrative. Sure, the third film simplified things again, and the 4th blew it up again, but those films don't really matter to me. This film is a proper sequel and one that should be seen more as opposed to just talking about the first. I hope you enjoy as much as I do, and if you don't, check it out NOW!

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