You know, I hadn’t quite realized that Clive Barker’s Hellraiser has become a bonafide franchise, a juggernaut set to rival even those most stalwart of franchises, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th. In fact, previous to this past weekend, I’d still only seen the original Hellraiser. I was shocked- shocked, I say!- to find out that Hellraiser: Deader (2005) is the seventh film in the series, and it’s not the last. Where the hell(raiser) have I been?
Kari Wuhrer stars as Amy Klein (shut up I know I’ve totally been on a Kari Wuhrer kick lately but I can’t seem to control myself ok so shut UP), an ultracool reporter who writes ultracool articles with titles like “How to be a Crack Whore”. She’s so ultracool, in fact, that she got booted from The New York Post for being…I don’t know, too ultracool or something, and she’s now writing for an ultracool London newspaper.
One fateful afternoon, Amy’s editor (Simon Kunz) calls her into his office in order to check out a videotape he received in the mail. On the tape, a group of kids who call themselves “Deaders” stand around in a warehouse looking all mopey. A girl Deader is cajoled into blowing her brains out so the leader of the Deaders, Winter (Paul Rhys), can suck face with her and bring her back to life. What a cool club! The girl sits up and exclaims “I’m OK!”, oblivious to the fact that while she may be alive again, she’s now saddled with a giant hole in her head. That’s gross, not to mention unsanitary. Why didn’t she hang herself or something equally less messy, rather than shooting herself in the head to play this little resuscitation game?
I don’t mean to harp, but I just couldn’t get past the impracticalities of the whole thing. “Yay, I’m alive again! Boo, I have a large gaping hole in my head! Mayhaps I shall fill said hole with Spam, using the canned meat like so much caulk. Then I shall get mah hurr did- a little weave here, a little weave there and I’ll be all set!”
At the conclusion of the tape, it’s decided that The Deaders have “huge ultracool blockbuster story!” written all over them and thus Amy must get the scoop. Her only lead is the return address on the mailing envelope, and so it’s off to Romania for Amy Klein.
Once in Romania, Amy gets caught up in all sorts of wacky Deader capers when she finds a dead body, another videotape, and a strange li’l cube we’ve all seen before.
Somehow our plucky and ultracool reporter has become trapped in a battle between the Deaders and the Cenobites- I think. It was all sort of confusing and nonsensical, and there were so many “Omigod did that just really happen? No, it’s just a dream…no wait, it DID happen…no, it was just a vision...” sequences that I kind of stopped trying to figure things out. Eventually Pinhead and His Merrie Bande of Leather-Clad Weirdos show up and I decided to simply enjoy the visuals, the chains, and the goo.
The single biggest problem with Hellraiser: Deader is that it’s glaringly obvious that the film was not originally conceived as an entry into the Hellraiser mythos. It was meant to be an entity unto itself, but at some point a “shrewd” producer slapped the Hellraiser label on it, Pinhead was added, and POOF! Hellraiser 7.
Yeah, that approach? It doesn’t work. I mean, tacking Jason Voorhees into the last fifteen minutes of The Trip to Bountiful and changing the title to Jason vs Gramma doesn’t properly make it Friday the 13th Part 18, you know?
On the other hand, it would make it a film I’d very much like to see.
Had director Rick Bota and writers Neal Marshall Stevens and Tim Day not been bogged down with the need for some added-on Hellraiser stuff, Deader could have been an interesting little thriller. It’s still an ok movie, I guess, though I’m already forgetting about it- it’s another sequel of a sequel in a long line of exercises in character dilution. In the end, however, the film does raise an important question:
IS THERE ANYTHING KARI WUHRER CAN’T DO?