Film Corner: Hellraiser 7

Hellraiser 7: Deader

[Trigger Warning: Drug Use, Suicides (multiple), Flashback Child Sexual Assault]

Kissmate continues his Hellraiser watch-a-thon:

I can do this. I can do this. I can do this. This is a bad one. This one is SO bad! This is the only one I can say to 100% skip with no questions asked! This is the WORST Hellraiser movie out there, as of 2021. Why is it bad? Let's separate the shit from the shine, shall we?

Review: The Seven Towers

The Seven TowersThe Seven Towers
by Patricia C. Wrede

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Seven Towers

Patricia Wrede has been one of my favorite authors for years. I recently re-read Seven Towers in a fit of nostalgia, and reaffirmed just how much I love this story and its characters. Amberglas, the absent-minded sorceress. Vandaris, the mercenary aunt who refuses to put up with nonsense. I adore them both so much, and every other one of this ensemble cast.

This is an epic multi-kingdom spanning story of war and politics, and I love how it manages to be beautifully complicated while still being accessible to the reader. Though I should note that I was reading this together with my spouse and he had some trouble keeping the names of the foreign countries straight, so I may have been aided with the help of my nostalgia and childhood memories.

I'm so pleased this is finally available on the kindle. I noticed a couple of very minor errors, probably as a result of the conversion to ebook, and otherwise the book was perfect as of my reading in 2022. (I can't speak for content prior to this date, obviously.)

~ Ana Mardoll

Review: Eichmann In My Hands

Eichmann in my HandsEichmann in my Hands
by Peter Z. Malkin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Eichmann in My Hands

I remember reading this in college and being entranced by this factual first-person narrative. I've just finished reading the book again on my kindle and am once again blown away by just how much information is in this book, and how accessibly it's all arranged and written.

When I was younger and reading this book for the first time, I didn't even know who Adolf Eichmann was, but Peter Malkin anticipates this issue and carefully lays out who the man was, what he did, the vast extent of his war crimes, and why his capture was so important to Jewish people and Holocaust survivors. This book is... I won't say the narrative isn't heavy in parts, because it is, but it's got a hopefulness to it that keeps it from being inapproachably sad. Malkin has a bright hope for humanity in his heart, despite everything he's been through (and there are times when his leaders do not come off well at all), and I greatly respect him for his outlook on life.

I highly recommend this book and think it is valuable for understanding the Holocaust and its impact.

~ Ana Mardoll

Film Corner: Hellraiser 6

Hellraiser 6: Hellseeker

Kissmate continues his Hellraiser watch-a-thon:

I feel like we've been getting spoiled rotten with 5 decent-to-great movies in a row. That's unheard of in a series! I'm trying to keep my hopes up, but also recognizing that it can go south with any film now. With my expectations set, let's see what Hellraiser 6: Hellseeker will give us! (*After a Long Watch*) So this is another one of those movies that is hard to talk about because of an ending twist. So here's my warning, again: If you have wanted to watch this movie before, stop reading. Go watch it. Come back and continue reading. If at any point in this write-up you are interested in watching this film, stop reading. Go watch and come back.

That said, I'm not rating it as high as Inferno. Just because a movie gets cerebral / twisty doesn't mean it's worth any weight in gold. To me, Hellseeker is a solid 6/10. There's nothing terrible about it, but my patience was wearing thin pretty fast. I'll get into why that is further on. That said, I'll waste no more time getting into the meat of it! SPOILERS GALORE!

Our story begins with our protagonist tickling his wife breathless while he's driving. Because safe driving is optional! We follow Trevor and Kirsty as they drive along the country roads. Is it the same Kirsty from the first two movies? It turns out yes! But we're not focusing on her just yet. We're following the far more interesting white man, Trevor! He loses control of the car and lands into a river. We see that he's able to save himself, but he's unable to rescue Kirsty.

Trevor wakes up in a hospital bed, and gets a shot to help him relax from a nurse named Allison. He dreams about a doctor giving him brain surgery to help with his patchy memory, then wakes up to see Allison again. She mentions wanting to do some tests to see why his head is hurting so bad, but the doctor releases him saying that he's fine and shouldn't take too many pain pills. "Don't want to become an addict and start trying to get hook-ups from the hospital!" (Ana and I proceeded to flip him off hard enough to hurt everyone involved.)

Just as Trevor is walking out, a detective stops him to talk. Turns out the car crash happened over a month ago and Kirsty has been missing ever since--they couldn't find a body in the river. Detective Lange notices a few problems with what Trevor has been saying and what reality is showing. Trevor doesn't know what to tell the detective, because what his memory tells him is all that he knows. Lange is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but there's a tension there that maybe he still doesn't believe Trevor.

This is where we have to talk about this movie's overall theme: Duality. Everything in this movie shows two sides, though not always at the same time. One small example is a man covered in tattoos and piercings. We first see him on the bus listening to loud metal music. Trevor asks him to turn it down, but the man instead turns it up louder in defiance. Later on, we see the same man walking around the police station dressed as an officer. What does this mean? Perhaps the dichotomy of rebellion vs law? Another simple example is a dog chained up next to Trevor's apartment building. The first time we see the dog, he's straining at the end of his chain barking at Trevor. The next, he's passive and whining in fear. A total difference from before! I'll try to point out what I can find, or think I find, as we come across them.

After resting at home that night, Trevor heads in to work. Almost everyone avoids him, save for a very chummy coworker named Bret. Bret is the kind of man that high-fives you like a college frat boy after you got laid last night, even though you're both reaching forty and work in accounting. In fact, he almost does that to Trevor before slinking off. "We're all here for you, Trev!" What a way to express remorse for a missing presumably-dead spouse.

As Trevor works through his ever-present headache / amnesia, he sees a curious business card on his bulletin board. "ALL PROBLEMS SOLVED" it promises. He has a vague recollection of going to a warehouse sweatshop that he went to some time in his recent past where he found a creepy shop keeper. But before he can recall much, Bret annoys him with random trivia about headaches. Frustrated, Trevor goes to get a snack and clear his head.

In the break room, Trevor begins a fight with the vending machine over a bag of pretzels. His hot female boss walks in and pushes him against the vending machine in a sexually-aggressive way that seems inappropriate for the workplace! As she makes out with him, he starts to recall that he has had sex with her before, although he doesn't remember if it was during his marriage. Or he doesn't want to. Either way, he pushes her off him and asks what's going on. "Nothing we haven't done before," Gwen says while fixing her jacket. "Now get some fucking work done. We're watching you." She motions to a camera in the break room and walks out.

Trevor goes back to his desk to see that someone sent him a loop of surveillance footage with audio that stars Gwen and himself making out loudly in the break room. After putting that away, Detective Lange calls him to talk to him further downtown. At the station, Lange says there's evidence of foul play with regards to the car crash, and asks if there was anything that happened before the crash that Trevor might have forgotten. Trevor says no, that he remembers nothing different.

That night, he fears he's being stalked by a faceless neighbor. Suddenly he coughs up water and a phallic-shaped eel, and just as suddenly it's reveled to have been a hallucination. The hot Girl-Next-Door knocks on his door and shows off her new sexy cobra tattoo. Trevor isn't sure if he knows her, but she knows him! After she leaves him, he takes out old VCR tapes he made of his and Kirsty's wedding and anniversaries to watch. He's interrupted by yet another horny advancement from his boss, Gwen. She slips into his apartment and strips down. Gwen tries to record her dominating him, but leaves when he says no. But... the camera keeps rolling and is showing them making out in the chair. As Trevor tries to make sense of it, Cenobites show up kill Video-Gwen in front him. Just as he tries to help her-

-Trevor wakes up at work under Bret's glare. "Must be nice. Getting paid for doing shit." Still, Bret hands Trevor an address for a local acupuncturist named Sage. Trevor heads there post-haste for a session and tells her about his recurring headaches since the car accident. She tries to give him some spiritual advice, and that gives us a flashback to Trevor buying the Puzzle Box. We break out of the flashback for some creepy bit with Pinhead walking out of an acupuncturist body chart and skewering Trevor. "Which do you find more exhilarating, Trevor: the pain, or the pleasure? Personally, I prefer pain."

Trevor starts awake and Sage asks if he's okay. It was all another "dream". Trevor gets called down to the police station again, but this time by Lange's partner, Detective Givens. Givens aggressively asks Trevor about a massive inheritance Kirsty had--and which Trevor stands to gain, if Kirsty turns up dead--but Trevor denies knowing about it. Givens pushes, saying that no one else is alive to take her family inheritance. He's implying Trevor had motive to kill Kirsty. These two detective partners are a hell of a duo. Givens is an aggressive white man with a short temper and a potty mouth. Lange is a gentle Black man with patience and jovial sympathy. It's the definition of "Good Cop, Bad Cop". It's strange we don't see them together even though they're partners. Maybe that'll change later in the movie.

Trevor heads back to his home and is seduced by the hot Girl-Next-Door neighbor with a tattoo. This time, he gives in and doesn't say no. There's some flashes of a Cenobite hurting him and then he's awake in his bed. The hallway and dining area is covered in blood. Girl-Next-Door is tied up in a chair, clearly dead from some kind of trauma. As Trevor washes her blood from his hands, Pinhead appears in the mirror and utters a single line: "ALL PROBLEMS SOLVED." As Trevor lifts his hands to touch the mirror, they're perfectly clean and dry. No blood is to be found anywhere now, and no body in the dining room! That was a better cleaning job than John Wick's Table-For-Twelve!

Ah, but it's easy if you make the Girl-Next-Door alive again. Which she is! And now she's acting like it's very odd for Trevor to even *talk* to her, much less spend time together in any sense. She even has a very protective boyfriend that helps Trevor get the hint that she should be left alone, and she seems to like Protective Boyfriend quite a lot! Loaded with more questions than answers, Trevor heads back to his apartment, where he just missed a call from Lange who wants to see him. So guess we're headed to the police station again!

As Trevor walks and talks in the station, a couple of odd things stick out to him. One, Lange and Givens were heard talking to each other in the same room, but only Lange was in the room when inspected. Two, Bret was at the station talking to a cop and clearly giving some information, but no one will give Trevor a clear answer of what was said. With no one else to turn to or trust, Trevor heads to the hospital to talk to Nurse Allison. I'm not sure why exactly. My best guess would be that there was a cut scene where Allison told Trevor to come by if he wanted to talk. Either way, all we really learn that he definitely has clinical amnesia (which was never SAID OUT LOUD until now).

Trevor grabs Bret at work and tries to tell ask him why he squealed and what he said at the police station, but there's Detective Lange to interrupt the scene once again! He pulls out the Puzzle Box to show Trevor and talks about some blood found on it. Trevor says it looks familiar, but he can't place it (which is a LIE). Lange says he's let him off easy so far, but his partner wants to pull him in and arrest him on murder charges. Lange walks off, but when Trevor looks to make sure Lange is gone, we see Givens storming down the hallway of cubicles.

Bret takes Trevor to the break room to talk. I think we're supposed to forget there's surveillance in there, but don't worry! There's a little camera-whir noise to remind us it's still there! Bret says he's quitting as of today because he needs more money to make ends meet. He mentions that Trevor has it lucky because his wife had the real dough. Trevor gets angry, asking how he knew that and if he told the police that information. Bret denies he said anything, but he doesn't look happy. "You know," Bret sneers, "we're all here for you, Trev." It's an ironic repetition of the well-wishes that Trevor received from his co-workers earlier.

Trevor cries out from another headache while scenes of Kirsty in distress and then in anger flash across our screen. Nothing real concrete yet, but something tells me this marriage wasn't super happy. Trevor tries to hold himself up, but ends up breaking a glass cupboard pane and cuts his hand on the glass. Trevor leaves via the bus, not wasting a moment to get away. He heads to Sage to get another session in, and Sage... seduces him? Can no woman resist Trevor's blandness?! While she straddles him, Sage reaches for the ice pick and stabs him!

Trevor wakes up in an ambulance. Turns out he passed out on the bus, not at Sage's. At the hospital, he asks for Allison by name, but no one knows who he's talking about. Even her office is just an empty room. Allison comes by to talk anyway and tells him that he'll have to confront his past alone. Just as he was enjoying the talk, the nearby janitor asks who he's talking to. Turns out he was talking to the air the whole time! Trevor runs back to the bus and is hit with flashes of Kirsty yelling at him. "I know about Gwen... and the others."

He decides to make all the problems go away, to solve them, by going back to the shop where he bought the Puzzle Box. He screams out in desperation and confusion. An unexpected voice answers: "Poor Trevor. Still in the dark?" Pinhead talks to him through a puddle in the warehouse in his typical cryptic ways. He says the killer is here, but Pins won't say who it is. As Trevor leaves to make sense of it all, Bret finds him outside and puts a gun to his head: Trevor's gun. Bret vents that they had a deal to split Kirsty's money 50/50, but Trevor fucked it all up by killing Kirsty early and playing his little "amnesia" game. Now Bret is going to get back at Trevor... by shooting himself in the head with Trevor's gun. I guess to frame Trevor for Bret's "murder"? That's not the best revenge, my dude.

Trevor rightfully freaks out and runs to Sage's place, the only place he can think of. He walks up the stairs and enters her rooms, and sees her laying bloody and dead on her table, with an ice pick in her head. Just as he closes the door, someone tries to force their way in--the killer?? Trevor grabs the only weapon he can find, the ice pick, and prepares for combat. Detective Lange bursts in with a small number of police. I don't think Trevor's getting out of this one.

Detectives Lange and Givens grill him a little at the station, and it sounds like they may have found a body in the river for him to identify! Maybe his wife, maybe not. Givens forces Trevor to see a wanted poster of Trevor's face which claims he's wanted for homicide. Givens is immediately replaced with Lange, almost to the mark, but where is Givens and how did he disappear so fast? How are they entering and leaving the room so fast, and why? We're shown four pictures of four dead bodies: Gwen, Bert, Sage, and Girl-Next-Door.

Lange takes him down to the morgue, which is apparently located in the police station basement, and locks him on the other side of a set of bars which bifurcate a long hallway for no adequately obvious reason. Trevor freaks out and asks why Lange is locking him away. "I thought you believed me?!" He should be asking about this weird dream-logic architecture that we're being subjected to. "Believe?" Lange looks through the bars with an air of amusement. "I believe we're both the sum of two entirely different people!" A worm-like tendril with Givens' face slips out from Lange's neck. They laugh together at Trevor's obvious fear as he runs away. Now we know why we never see them in the same room at the same time, I guess, and how they've been able to swap places so effortlessly.

Trevor runs away and comes across a body in the corridor which I like to believe is Frank from Hellraisers 1 and 2, but we really don't know for certain. Trevor slips into the morgue and finds a covered cadaver. Perfect! It feels like all the answers are underneath that sheet! Before we can lift the veil, though, the Cenobites make one more entrance.

The building shakes. Bottles break open. Electricity flickers. Cracks in the wall break open to create a hook-like spotlight that shines on Pinhead. "It seems you've reached the end of your journey." Pinhead tells him about poetic justice and that it's time to pay the price. Trevor says he just wants to see his wife. Pinhead tells him to wait, but Trevor insists. Pinhead chains him in place in the typical Hellraiser fashion. "All problems solved? Not so simple, I'm afraid." Pinhead tells and shows him what we finally waited for.

During their 5th anniversary, Trevor gifts Kirsty the Puzzle Box that ruined her life. He seems to know what this object means to her as he has the camera ready to film her reactions. She yells at him in pain and betrayal, but he just wants her to open the Puzzle Box. (I guess he thought that nothing supernatural would happen but she'd freak out anyway because of her trauma? And then he'd use the filmed reaction as evidence that she was insane so he could lock her away and keep all her cash himself? It's not made clear in the film why he gave her the Puzzle Box.)

Heartbroken and furious, Kirsty opens the Puzzle Box just as Pinhead wanted. See, Pinhead was after Kirsty all along. She was always The One That Got Away, and Pinhead didn't like not having a perfect record. Confronted by him once again, Kirsty demands a deal. Five souls in exchange for her own: the three women Trevor cheated with, Bret, and now Trevor himself. Pinhead tells Trevor that she fulfilled her end of the deal and that now he is the one who is trapped. "Welcome to the worst nightmare of all: Reality."

So let's review the movie with new clarity: Kirsty never died. She killed Trevor via car crash and swam out of the car perfectly safe. It's Trevor who died in the river, and it's his body that is laying underneath the morgue sheet. Kirsty pinned all her murders on him and told the police that he killed himself while driving. We get a final scene that explains a lot of little things and wraps this all up in a neat little bow. Yes, even the phallic eel: it had crawled inside Dead!Trevor's mouth, and thus was felt by Spirit!Trevor while he suffers in Hell.

Kirsty turns to leave the crime scene blame-free, having gotten away with it all, but she's stopped by Detective Lange. He gives her the Puzzle Box, since it was her anniversary present and he doesn't think it counts as any kind of evidence. She thanks him and walks away, knowing that she's free but also always being watched by Hell. Never Free, Always Escaping, as it were. The End.

This was a headtrip and a half. Whatever you keep expecting, the movie pulls the rug from under you and keeps going! (That is both a praise and a critique.) It took the previous movie's idea of a Hellraiser afterlife, mixed it into the main story from the Hellraiser 1 and 2 plotlines, and got a great story thread spinning! The only thing that falls flat is the execution. The amnesia angle wasn't made obvious, nor was the month-long time jump, nor was the actor's reactions. Trevor had the same bland confused reaction to everything, which was "I'm sorry, what?" and that will just puzzle the audience more if they're already lost! This movie needed to give us a more solid anchoring point than Trevor, is what I'm saying. Otherwise, like I said, this movie's worth a watch or two.

(Ana's Note: Trevor is played by Dean Winters, who I know is a better actor than this. I'm not sure what happened here, because it feels like he's sleep-walking his way through the film, and the film suffers for it. I would love to see a remake of this with clearer writing and more enthusiastic actors. Credit where it's due, though: Kirsty and Pinhead brought their best game, as always.)

Film Corner: Hellraiser 5

Hellraiser 5: Inferno

Kissmate continues his Hellraiser watch-a-thon:

This movie falls into a particular category of films. The category of "say too much and it's spoiled" or "the best way to experience is knowing nothing beforehand". Of course, that makes this hard to write about, so here's my only warning: If you have wanted to watch this movie before, stop reading. Go watch it. Come back and continue reading. Furthermore, if at any point in this write-up you become interested in watching this film, stop reading at that point. Go watch and come back. You have been warned. For those leaving the reading, I give it a sweet 9/10! This has to be one of my favorite Hellraiser movies so far! For those staying, let's get started, shall we?


We start the first scene with our protagonist, Detective Joe Thorne, playing chess against a professor while a fast-paced basketball game continues in the background, and gives us our "music". After winning (and gloating), Joe goes into the locker room to get dressed, suited up for work, and take a little bump of cocaine! Coke was the number one drug in the 1980s after all. Can't forget it! Oh wait, this movie happened in 2000. (Ana's note: But it sure does FEEL like a classic 1980s flick, and I mean that as a compliment.)

He narrates noir-style about how he's always loved puzzles as a child and had a real knack for solving them. "I learned that careful examination of how and what and why would inevitably lead to understanding, even to control." Ah, proving yet again: ACAB. But, unlike copaganda, this movie wants us to agree that he's a bastard! We're taken out of the way to see his failures, shortcomings, and misdeeds. When he wins at chess, he smugly announces his win and pockets the old man's money. He tries to engage with his cop-partner with word puzzles that mostly go over his partner's head, and feels superior every time he stumps his partner. At a crime scene, he secretly takes the dead man's cash from his wallet and steals cocaine from a secret book stash. And you should hear the slimy way he justifies picking up sex workers off the street while his wife is none the wiser! In short, there is NO way in which Detective Joe Thorne is not a bastard!

Getting back to the narrative, Joe is called to a crime scene where a man named Jay Cho has been murdered with giant hooks and chains. Ring any bells? Joe pokes around, uses some slight of hand to steal the cocaine vial, and notices the Puzzle Box underneath a lit candle. Inside the candle looks to be a child's finger! Set inside the wax! Seemingly no reason for it! As Joe mentions it, the camera zooms in on his face and I swear I was waiting for the NCIS or any of the CSI theme songs to start up. It felt like the perfect commercial cutaway! Instead, we see Joe rummaging through Jay Cho's personal effects. He takes $300 cash and the Puzzle Box before heading home.

His daughter lays asleep in her bed and we see his wife tried to wait up for him, but he just got home so darned late. His wife asks if he's home for the night, but Joe just leaves saying that he caught a case. He starts narrating as he drives. "I believe in loyalty and fidelity. I understand the concept. My parents have been married for 40 years. But I live in a different world. Most marriages fail. Most men just leave. I know that would kill her. But if she doesn't know, if doing this keeps me coming back, then who's to say what's right and what's wrong?" Joe picks up a sex worker named Daphne off a corner and takes her to a hotel. He shows off his magic slight-of-hand by making money and coke appear out of thin air. She's all for it as she stays with him all night long.

As she rests post-coitus, Joe heads to the bathroom with the Puzzle Box and opens it quite easily. He walks out of the bathroom to...not the motel room, but a child's room? A child cries out for help and he can't help but go look for them. But instead of a child, he finds two Cenobite Ladies named the Wire Twins out in the hallway. They lightly push him against a wall and make out with him, even pushing their hands underneath his chest skin and rubbing his muscles directly! Of all the scenes in this series, this one has felt the most pornographic and sinful. Especially since he's not experiencing any pain from the bloody muscle-rubbing; it's all pleasure! But Joe hears the child cry for help again and breaks free of the twins to rush to help the child. On the stairs, he's met with a Torso-Only Chatterer coming to gnaw on his ankles! Joe manages to dodge all three and runs to the front door to safety! He hears the child cry for help one last time, but he puts his survival above all else. Joe opens the front door and finds Pinhead! Pins grabs at Joe's face, we hear a ripping, and-

Joe wakes up on the bathroom floor of the motel, with not a scratch on him or hair out of place. The Puzzle Box lays before him, and Daphne lays on the bed asleep. Everyone is untouched and unharmed. Odd. Usually when the Puzzle Box is opened, one is ripped apart with hooks and chains, like what we saw with Jay Cho. But Joe goes to work and goes about his morning like usual.

At work, he learns that the child's finger in the candle wax came from a living child. He worries over the case some more before getting a call on his private number. Daphne begs him for help over the phone before being killed brutally. Joe rushes over to the motel room to check on her, and sees her hanging in the shower with her throat slit open. Joe tells his partner, Tony, that he stayed with the woman last night and did cocaine with her. His prints are all over the room and on her. He begs Tony to help him clean the room before calling the body in. Tony is hesitant, but ends up helping anyway. Joe, to make sure that he has all the pieces in his hand, plants Tony's pen and cigarettes in the room secretly. As Tony calls the murder in, Joe sees another finger in the shower. A child's finger with no stiffness.

Joe goes to check on the prints that were found on the Puzzle Box. One set belonged to Jay Cho, but the other is a hard find. Joe forces the AFIS technician to run under his own specific parameters to get quicker results. There's 7 million print cards and AFIS can only go through so many at a time, but we immediately get results! The most accurate match is a piercing artist named Leon, who works at the Stigmata Studio. Joe heads to Leon's workplace and grills him for info. Leon is pressured into giving up that the Engineer, an underground Mob Boss known only by his pseudonym, owns the Puzzle Box. Cho stole the Box when he couldn't afford the Engineer's price. Joe promises he'll find the Engineer with or without Leon's help. "Hunt for the Engineer and the Engineer will hunt you," Leon mutters.

Detective Joe leaves Stigmata Studio, feeling he found enough here to go forward. He goes to his cocaine hook-up named Bernie who runs an ice cream truck. They have a lovely chat until Joe mentions the Engineer. Bernie looks confused and says he doesn't know an Engineer. Joe doesn't believe him, so he slaps Bernie around and threatens to take away his van and therefore entire operation. Suddenly, Bernie knows a lot about the Engineer! Mostly just stories, nothing anyone can say for certain is true, but it's more than nothing! It's genuinely unclear if Bernie was lying before or if he's only just now "remembered" the information. Is it being fed to him supernaturally?

We learn that a pimp named Terry who worked for the Engineer received a girl from him and Terry fell in love. Terry wanted to marry the girl, but the Engineer said no. Terry defied him by eloping with her to a cabin in the woods to start a new life together. But one day, Terry came home and found his girl was gone. Terry got pissed and tried to hunt the Engineer down. "Hunt for the Engineer, and the Engineer will hunt you." Terry never found the Engineer, but the Engineer left behind little presents to let Terry know that the Engineer still had his girl: locks of hair, jewelry she wore, and even body parts. One day, Terry came home and saw his girl sleeping in bed like she never left. When he moved the covers back, there was only a note where the body should be and her head on the pillows. "You win, Terry. I kept what I needed. The rest is yours." Joe tells Bernie to keep his eyes and ears out for fresh information about the Engineer's location, and to get someone to tell him where the Engineer is by the end of the day. Joe hurts him one more time, and walks out of the ice cream van.

Joe and Partner Tony have a drink in the bar to cool off from the day's stress. Tony starts asking for any information that Joe might have found out, but Joe gets a little defensive. "What's really on your mind?" Tony mentions that he feels bad wiping prints at a crime scene and wants to come clean to the captain. Joe, anticipating this move, asks Tony where his pen and cigarettes are. Tony gets confused, but Joe tells him that they were at the crime scene, so probably already in the evidence files. Joe threatens to tell the captain that Tony is the one who slept with the dead sex worker, but if Tony does as he's told then Joe will vouch that Tony was just shaken by what he saw at the scene and forgot those items while they searched the motel. Blackmailing your partner: always a good idea!

Tony rightfully calls Joe a scum bag and walks out of the bar. A child walks into the bar and hands Joe an unmarked tape. Joe puts it into the nearest VCR he can find and hits play. On the tape, Bernie is shown being whipped bloody by the hooks that Leon had in his office. A faceless Cenobite with only a mouth and black tongue was doing the whipping, and we see it lick a child's finger before putting it in the cash register of the ice cream van. Joe tries to show the tape to his boss and partner, but now there's nothing there save static. Joe tries to convince them that something was there, but his boss stops him and tells him to visit the department counselor, and this request is not optional. Joe is reluctant, but does so.

The counselor, Dr. Gregory, is a former episcopal priest that asks a lot of simple questions that shake Joe. The line that really hits home is "Close-up magic. I bet your daughter loves that." Joe never thought to use those little slight-of-hand tricks to entertain his child. He says he uses them to entertain himself, but there's also the sex workers he uses it for. Never with his wife and daughter? How odd. This further proves Joe is a self-absorbed asshole. He asks to reschedule the meeting, and the good doctor agrees. Joe rifles through missing kids' files in hopes it'll bring something up, but the only thing that happens is someone being arrested has the appearance of the faceless-licker! When Joe catches up to him, it was all a trick of the mind: the guy's face is fine! But we do get word of the ice cream truck's whereabouts.

Tony is waiting for Joe and says it's just as he described it. Joe tells everyone to get out as he goes through Bernie's phone. Terry left a voice message telling him to meet up at the end of Old Mining Road. Tony mentions that they haven't found the finger, but Joe opens the cash register and shows everyone where it was. At Tony's questioning glance, Joe exclaims that he saw it on the videotape. You know, the one that no one else saw because it magically deleted itself. Tony looks worried as Joe starts getting more tense.

They head to the Old Mining Road and come across a Western-themed casino where the room is smoky and everyone is wearing cowboy get-up. No one speaks and the only sound is chips hitting the table. I have a hankering for beans and beer while watching Maverick. Joe offers to play poker while asking about a name he's heard. Sure enough, the owner of the name comes forward. Mr. Parmagi is a tall man that comes off as very intimidating. He's calm and unwavering while Joe seems unhinged in comparison. Parmagi tells Joe that he's not the Engineer, but he knows Joe is caught up in one of the Engineer's games. Joe sees a faceless-licker walk out of the room and runs after him. After getting lost in the woods and running past a Chatterer-Torso, Joe meets two of Parmagi's guards that kick his ass.

Parmagi approaches and Joe stubbornly tells them that he's going to find that child. "I suspect that's the object of the game," Parmagi says and returns Joe's gun to him peacefully. Tony finds Joe one second later and gets him out of there at top speed. He even turns the sirens on to keep Joe awake, but Joe tells him to take him back to the squad. Joe bangs on Doctor Gregory's door saying they need to talk. Joe swears he's going insane and is even afraid to sit down. He starts talking about how he heard of the Engineer when he was first on the force, but thought it was a campfire story to scare the rookies. But today, he started hearing his name again. Joe demands to hear what the doctor knows. Doctor Gregory tells him a story which boils down to: a cop tried to hunt the Engineer and committed suicide at his desk when he couldn't take it anymore. What was important was that the detective had the Puzzle Box with him when he perished.

Doctor Gregory laments that he never got to see the Box himself, so Joe places the Box in front of him. Doctor Gregory admits he's done some research on the Box and says it's the Lament Configuration and that, when opened, the person who opens it is dragged into Hell. Joe: "Oh, they didn't drag me into Hell." Joe says that he's been seeing the Cenobites ever since he opened the Box, but he's not been dragged anywhere. Doctor Gregory tells him that maybe they really are here in the real world with them, since the Box summons the Cenobites to get you. "I believe in this Box."

Joe leaves on that note and heads home, suddenly very worried about his family. His wife tends to his wounds but a phone call interrupts his thoughts. His wife answers and manages to only get the briefest of info. Something about how his mother and father had a visitor that was an engineer? Joe gives his wife a revolver to protect herself and their daughter as he runs out to try to stop the Engineer from doing whatever he plans to do with Joe's parents.

He runs into the nursing home with a great urgency that the lady behind the desk can't seem to notice or match. Even pulling his badge out doesn't work as she still tries to get him to sign in the visitor books. As Joe makes his way to their room, his head spins into giving him double vision. A patient becomes two women walking by him! A man in a wheelchair with hooks in his cheeks wheels past while giggling with a child's voice. When Joe does make it to his parents' side, his mother doesn't even look up at him or welcome him. She asks why Joe never visits anymore, tells him that his father gets worse every day, and how they hate it here. His father is bedridden with tubes in his throat to help him breathe, so he's not much help.

Joe looks his parents over and seems happy that they're both okay, but is on alert when he hears a child begging for help. Joe's mother practically orders him to put "that thing away" when he draws his gun, but he pays no mind as he bursts into a nearby room. We're in the childhood room again? Pale white walls and washed-out colors surround Joe before the door closes and locks. He hears the brutal murder of his mother and possibly father on the other side, but he's unable to help. He bangs against the door, trying to break it down, and then-

Joe opens his eyes to a ringing telephone. He's at his home, with his wife tending to his wounds. His wife answers the phone and manages to only get the briefest of info. Something about how his mother and father had a visitor that was an engineer?

Instead of doing as before, he leaps out of bed and races down to the nursing home. He even races past the desk lady and the guard with his gun out, which proves to be a bad idea: just as he gets to his parents' door, the guard demands he drops his weapon. Realizing that he's maybe a touch out of line here, Joe follows orders and tells them gently that he's a detective and he's looking for the Thornes. The lady tells us that they've been missing since dinner and they called the police an hour ago. Joe enters the room and searches for anything out of place. All he finds is a bed covered in blood and a gift-wrapped box with two child's fingers and a note with an address inside.

As Joe leaves the scene, Tony catches up to him. Joe tries to ask him for help, but Tony says that the captain wants to see him. See, the only person who even thinks it's this "Engineer" is Joe. The only other connection to every other murder is Joe himself. He knew all the victims and had info on Bernie's crime scene that he "found" on a blank tape. Either Joe is losing his hold on reality and is committing crimes without realizing it, or Joe is just a normal murderer and his "losing hold of reality" is an act to cover his crimes. Either way, Tony's been told to bring him in. Joe refuses and starts asking the classic "Do you really think I'd kill those people?" question, which leaves Tony to answer with the equally classic "Maybe? maybe not? does it matter what I think?" answer. Joe fist-fights Tony off him and drives off, now feeling truly alone. He heads for the address the Engineer gave him and bee-lines for the room.

Inside are painted-over windows, a locked-in-place telescope, and a phone. Joe watches the faceless-licker kill a helpless Tony and stuff a child's finger in his mouth. The phone rings with the Engineer on the other end. "Six murders. Six fingers. Four more to go." Joe begs him to just say what he wants. "I want you to go home." Joe rushes to his wife and daughter, but it's too late. They're frozen to a pillar and dying slowly. Joe tries to go to them, but they break apart at his touch and shatter. Doctor Gregory walks out, with his cross pin now turned upside down. "It takes hours to die from exposure. Hours, in which no one came home."

The doctor says that they ran the fingerprint from the finger in Tony's mouth (the first one that wasn't burned) and found a match. The child is Joseph Thorne, our protagonist. It's his fingerprint, but how could it be his finger? Joe laughs in his despair and confusion with at least one thing becoming clear: "You're the Engineer." Doctor Gregory smiles and replies, "It's a good a name as any." The doctor shifts before Joe, turning into Pinhead. "I am not the killer. To find him, you must go back to where it started. Go home." Pinhead disappears.

Joe takes his shotgun and blasts his way through a door. The room is the childhood room again, but now there's a boy named Joseph. His mother calls for him and the boy walks downstairs. Joe follows, scared and confused at witnessing his childhood playing out before him. His father sleeps in front of the television while his mother bakes brownies. As Joe tries to call out to his young mother, the house shakes and begins falling apart, aging. The boy fades away while the mother stays, older now. Her eyes are gouged out and bloody. As she attacks Joe, his father appears the same way. Joe is forced to kill these facsimiles to protect himself, but it's clear he's upset by his actions.

As Joe stumbles to the open window in the bathroom to close it, he's jumped on by Daphne. She's sporting her slit throat and bloodied underwear, so she looks exactly like her corpse. Joe kills this facsimile too, not as fazed. Then Tony is in the hallway with literal daggers in his back. Joe looks so guilty as Tony accuses him of lost trust, but he goes down with one more shotgun blast. Bernie, the ice cream truck driver informant, gets his hits in too. Joe still tries to apologize, but his shotgun speaks a little louder. The Cenobites he passes to the final door don't even reach for him as he opens it. He's defenseless, out of ammo, and freaked. But at least he can save the boy, right?

In the final room, a dark room of inky blackness, Joe finds a small boy that looks familiar. Is it his younger self? The faceless-licker walks forward and exposes his real face: Joe's face. Joe was the killer. It's a cerebral twist that Pinhead explains to Joe. His fleshly desires and sinful actions have been destroying his innocence and spirit. There's no God's Rules here that he broke. There's no Holy Scriptures that he failed to read or keep. Joe was a person who took a love of puzzles, games, and riddles and twisted it into ways he could extort, abuse, and control others. Because he was a terrible person, he's now going through this version of Hell, one made just for him by him. Joe perishes by his own hands, by his own twisted hooks. He's ripped apart as the killer version of himself watches with hatred in his eyes.

Joe wakes up on the bathroom floor of the motel room with the Puzzle Box only inches away. He gets up and checks on Daphne in bed. "C'mon, haven't I earned my money?" she mumbles sleepily. Joe smiles a little, happy to see she's okay, and walks out with an apology. He goes to work with a new outlook on life and a new appreciation of what he has. Joe jokes around with his coworkers before answering his phone. Daphne is on the other end. She begs and pleads for her life as she's being killed, just like in the beginning. Instead of reliving another 24-48 hours of Hell, a horrified Joe takes out his gun and commits suicide in front of everyone, not caring who sees.

He wakes up on the bathroom floor of the motel room with the Puzzle Box only inches away. Joe doesn't walk out to Daphne this time. He walks out to his childhood bedroom and sits on the bed as his narration closes us out: "I lived in a world of facts, of a reality that I thought I understood. I believed I was the center of the design and I was certain that I knew all the answers. But now I face the truth about what I've done to hurt those around me, and in hurting them, what I've done to myself. I've confronted my own demons, and now the only thing I know for certain is that I will live with them forever." The End. Not For Him, But For Us.

There are a LOT of levels going on here! Lots of symbolism and different ways to take this and UGH it's so good! The movie did good by making sure we weren't on Joe's side from the beginning. He was an asshole who was a controlling prick and had no business being that way, and unapologetic up until the end. Any information about any of the crimes is given to us after he opens the Puzzle Box, meaning that it was all in his head / in Hell rather than in reality / Earth. The symbolism is a touch on the nose, but it gives us insight into how Joe feels about others or even how they feel about Joe. Pinhead wasn't really a huge part of this movie, but that's okay in my opinion. Pinhead isn't the slasher villain we come to see; he's not like Freddy Krueger or Chucky. He's more like a dungeon master or a dominant, making sure everything is going according to plan and hurting in just the right ways. I like him better as the Engineer rather than an active role.

I have a theory that after a lot of torture and realizing where he went wrong, Joe wanted to punish himself in a unique and terrible way. Pinhead did say it was a Hell of Joe's own making. That can have a lot of meanings! Anyway, my rating stays high at 9, and I hope you all had as much fun as I did!

Film Corner: Hellraiser 4

Hellraiser 4: Bloodline (Amazon Cut)

Kissmate continues his Hellraiser watch-a-thon:

Before we even start, Ana goes apeshit over the director credit: "Alan Smithee". I'm forced to dig deeper.

The actual director is a make-up and special effects artist named Kevin Yagher. The only other directing he's done is 2 episodes in "Tales from the Crypt". Yagher was making a version of this Hellraiser film that he ended up not satisfied with. Miramax / Dimension Studios begged him to finish it so they had something to put on the shelves and theaters, but he refused. Yagher walked out and washed his hands of it. The movie was then handed to Joe Chappelle. Chappelle did his best and shot whole new scenes to cut in with Yagher's, but his actions weren't enough to earn him even a co-director's credit. With no one else worthy of the title, the studio had no choice but to label it under "Alan Smithee", a name reserved for directors who wanted nothing to do with the final result (think of it as a "John Doe").

In short: It's a badge of shame, and it's one we now must witness.

SPACE. We start in SPACE. WHAT? Space Station Minos, 2127. A bald man looks over a "prison cell". Inside a maximum security cell is a lean robot sitting cross-legged while holding the Puzzle Box. The bald man, Dr. Merchant, puts on gloves to operate the robot and open the Puzzle Box. A safe way to trap Pinhead, perhaps? Just as he opens the Box, the robot EXPLODES and security personnel stop Merchant at gunpoint. All we see is Pinhead free inside the secure cell.

Through the security team we learn that Merchant helped build the space ship and then hijacked it for his own personal gain. He sent the rest of the crew home so he was the only one on-board and tries to trick the security team off the ship as well. A female security officer (slash psychiatrist?) says she won't go without understanding *why* he wants her to go, to which he reluctantly agrees. Via flashbacks!

One of Merchant's ancestors, a French toymaker, made the Puzzle Box we know and love so well. It was made it to the specifications of a very rich magician and occultist, De L'Isle. After the toymaker drops off the Puzzle Box at his patron's house, he sticks around to sate his curiosity. We watch as De L'Isle kills a woman, skins her near perfectly, and summons a demon to fill the skin. As one does! And the scene is genuinely freaky! De L'Isle even has a sense of humor as he names the demon Angelique, because what else does one name a demon summoned from Hell?

The toymaker flees the scene and confides in a doctor-friend about his findings. The logic salad that follows is honestly bonkers.

1. Demons don't exist because 18th-Century France has reasoned away God and other such nonsense.

2. However, if you can make a device to *summon* demons, then you can make one that kills or at least banishes them.

The toymaker decides to do none of the above and instead steal the box back. (Ana's note: Why? There's no indication yet that the box is anything but a one-way portal! I guess it makes sense to keep the guy from summoning MORE demons, but this feels a bit like closing the barn door once the horse has gotten out.) Whoops, the toymaker walks in on Angelique killing De L'Ilse and stealing both the box and De L'Ilse's servant (Jacques) for herself. Because De L'Ilse tried to stand in the way of Hell, he must die. So die he shall.

BACK IN SPACE, Dr. Merchant says that Angelique tried to get more Puzzle Boxes made, but most of his bloodline treated the whole story like a fairy tale and...I guess didn't take her commission requests? So since we milked the toymaker for all of his flashbacks, let's go to another ancestor!

Modern-Day, 1996: A man named John Merchant has dreams of Angelique calling to him, saying how much he wants her. He's troubled by these dreams to the point his wife is demanding he see someone about them. As for Angelique, she finds out the Merchant bloodline is still intact by seeing John's face of the cover of a magazine. In order to make her way to America to find them, she chooses to kill Jacques: the man she's been keeping alive and otherwise "serving" for 200 years; he broke their agreement by choosing to "stand in the way of Hell".

I want to ask about this odd little rule. Does "stand in the way of Hell" mean "stop a demon from furthering Hell's betterment", or more like "stop a demon from doing whatever it wants"? There's a difference between the two! Considering how Jacques treated her request, I want to assume the first, because it doesn't seem like this is the first time he's told her 'no' in the last 200 years.

John goes to a fancy dinner to accept an architectural award, but it's clear he's not feeling well. Especially when he catches glimpses of Angelique in the audience! As John rushes home with his wife, Angelique decides to get to business. She strings along a nearby man and takes him down to the basement where she bare-handedly yoinks the Puzzle Box from a concrete pillar and hands it to the business man. "Do you like games?" Angelique gets the man to summon Pinhead, who tells her how orderly Hell is now. We see the building from the end of the third movie is the building they're in right now. Pinhead calls the architectural design a "holocaust", but of what I'm not sure. (Ana's note: I *think* he means that the design of the building is sacrilegious because it uses the sacred design of the puzzle box in service of a secular building for business, but I do not believe he used the correct word there.)

Angelique tries to get more information, but Pinhead grows bored. He says something about fear being better than temptation and orders a hell hound to kill some guards. So far, this Pinhead feels very non-canon. (1) He's shown impatience, though patience is something he usually has in spades. (2) He disses Angelique's methods of temptation, despite temptation being a tool he used often in previous movies. (3) He has a new hell hound dog that we've never seen before. (4) This movie treats him as if he's lived a lot longer than his canonical age, which we know was bounded by one of the World Wars. (Ana's note: Maaaaaaybe there's a handwave here that the High Priest of Hell inherits the memories of his predecessors or something, but yeah, he should not know and remember Angelique, who was summoned from Hell hundreds of years before and has never yet had a chance to check back in and see how things are at home.)

There's a weird aside with two doomed guards, apparently twins, talking about whether or not they'd have sex with a trans woman. This "Would You Fuck A Trans Woman" scene isn't good. We've seen worse, of course, but it's still objectifying and not good. When watching, beware of this throwaway conversation. The twin guards find a new door that wasn't there before and go check it out. They lose a lot by meeting Pins. Now it looks like they'll be together forever. Maybe in a new Cenobite form. One can hope!

The guards had been interrupting Pins and Angelique talking about how best to continue. Pins goes on about how temptation is illusion and worthless, and how pain is a much easier and quicker way to loosen the tongue. He plans to threaten John's son's life! Which should be impossible for Pins to do, because John's underage son is an innocent and we have clearly-established rules about how Cenobites deal with innocents! Or is this covered under the "stand in Hell's way" clause? When you need a lawyer to figure out which rule overrides the others and why, your rulebook needs polishing! Pins ends up capturing both son and wife as bait. John rushes in to rescue them, but is instead forced to work on a special light-show that would theoretically open a larger gate to Hell. It fails, like he told them it would, and Pins kills him out of spite. I don't know why Pins would kill him if they still needed him, but I guess this goes back to his newly-found impatience. The wife grabs the Puzzle Box and sends all the Cenobites back, including Angelique. The son lives to further his lineage.

BACK IN SPACE, we learn about current Doctor Merchant's doings! He warns the security team that he summoned a few demons. "Maybe more." In the cell, Pins, his dog, the twins, and Princess Angelique stand waiting while Merchant tells his stories. All he wants to do is kill the demons and end Hell's campaign of terror once and for all. The security team burst in and threw a wrench in his plans. The only Black team member gets fooled by the classic "little child trapped inside a high-tech prison" trick. Instead of looking at the cameras aimed inside the cell, he shoots open the door with his laser gun and walks inside while talking off his helmet. In the history of bad ideas, this guy takes the cake. He dies, and the Cenobites walk free.

The rest of the team start dying one by one until only two are left: the female team member slash psychiatrist named Rimmer and Doctor Merchant. Rimmer takes out the dog Cenobite (still don't know where that came from), while Merchant faces off with Pinhead with two minutes left to complete the mission. As they talk of the past and faith, Merchant disappears! Pinhead had been talking to a hologram! As Merchant escapes on a shuttle, the station's satellites send out beams of light and the station closes in to reveal it was always meant to be a box. A new box to trap the demons that haunted Merchant and his family for centuries. On the close, Merchant says one final line.

Merchant: "Welcome to Oblivion."

Pinhead: "Amen."

Pinhead, in searing pain, can do nothing but watch and scream as the station explodes. All that remains is one small shuttle heading to Earth. The Toymaker has outdone the Demons once and for all. The End. What a fucking end that was! WHOO! Not gonna lie, folks, that was super fun! Three stories with the one IN SPACE as the frame narrative, which tickles a soft spot of mine! Pinhead wasn't at his best in the middle, but that finale! Made up for it, lemme tell ya!

This movie is what I expected from this series: a thoughtful tale (or two or three) with some gore and special effects being shown off from time to time, but not to the point of taking over the characters and story. I can see those who came for the gore being disappointed, but those who came for a good story came for a decent ride! So you win some, you lose some. Overall, I'm happy with this film and... am a little scared to see where the next one will go. This was intended as a series ender! It had a bow tied on the top and everything!

Until then, my rating: 7/10, it put my faith back into the light.

February Newsletter (2022)

Good afternoon, patreon friends. I'm posting later than usual this month because I wanted to get past the winter storm that was coming in to Texas, figuring that it might change the contents of the newsletter somewhat. Good news on that front: the weather this year was much more mild than last year, and we only lost power briefly and never had to go any length of time without heat. We're thankful.

In other February news, we have rescued a stray orange cat from our backyard and he is coming to terms with things like "living in a house" and "being part of a cat colony" for what seems to be either the first time or the first time in a while. We got to pet him for the first time yesterday, so we're very happy. You can follow his adventures on Twitter under my "Cheddar Updates" threads.


Cinder the Fireplace Boy has been out for a month and everyone who ordered on Etsy or by Patreon tier should have their paper copy in the mail by now. Please let me know if yours hasn't come!

Setting a book loose into the world is always complicated and hard, because you never know how people will react to it. In the case of Cinder, reviews have been strongly mixed; for every 5-star review praising the book there seems to be a 1-star review (falsely) claiming that I changed nothing except the pronouns. It's... been difficult to get back to writing this month because my plan had been to plunge in and continue with the fairy tale stories but now I am not certain if that's what the world wants and needs right now. I just don't know, and my winter depression isn't helping.

I can't think of more to say right now, I'm so sorry. Please drop me a line in the comments if you enjoyed Cinder and/or the fairy tales on the patreon. I'm trying to work out whether this project is something I should continue or shutter. It was bringing me a great deal of joy, but that doesn't mean anything if it doesn't help others too. Yours most humbly, Ana.

EDIT: I forgot to post a picture of Cheddar, I'm so sorry. Here he is.

Film Corner: Hellraiser 3

Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth

Kissmate continues his Hellraiser watch-a-thon:

This movie occurs after Kirsty convinced the Cenobites to die to protect her and Jennifer. So wonder what this is gonna be about. Their resurrection, or something else?

Before we begin, let me start off on a small rant. All the DVDs I have of this series have not come with captions. I have to use outside sources or re-buy the movie on Amazon just to know what's being said! If you're going to make an artsy film with poetic lines that aren't the usual words said in every day English, then either give the audience words to read with it or balance your sound properly so everyone can follow along! I'm not even Hard of Hearing and I can't hear a single word anyone is saying without deafening myself with the overly loud ambient noises. Chains and footsteps rise louder than the main characters. It's very annoying and frustrating and not very good! I would say this is an old idea that's been solved, but I swear if it's not this with sound, then it's this idea with light!

We start off with a dark-haired man in a loud car with steel-toed Cherry Red cowboy boots, leather jacket, pompadour, and a cigarette pack. Who does this guy think he is, the Fonz? He looks like he thinks he's the most important thing on the planet. He walks into a storefront called "Pyramid Gallery". Dark inside, random Orientalism. He's drawn to a spinning pillar depicting bodies, naked and writhing. There's a face that looks like Pinhead and a quick flash of the Puzzle Box. The rich kid is interrupted by an old scruffy man. He says it's not his, but he'll sell it for "however much you think it's worth". Without looking at the wad of cash, the scruffy man grabs the kid's outstretched hand filled with money. "Exactly the figure I had in mind. Take pleasure in it." What the fuck....?!

Cut to a new scene of a journalist, Miss Joey, getting a shit gig: sit in an empty ER and wait for something to happen. As her cameraman gets pulled into another direction, she's left behind to contemplate how shitty her life/career is. She walks around to get a break from the boredom, and finds excitement as a man covered in hooks and chains is rushed into ICU on a gurney! She tries to get some answers from a fleeing girl, but before she can ask any more beyond WTF, he gets electrocuted and blows up! It's a very sudden course of events!

Bereft of fleeing girl and any answers, Joey starts looking for her answers at a rave called "The Boiler Room" owned by the douchebag from before, known as JP. It takes her a while to find anyone who will help her, but assistance finally arrives in the form of a phone call late at night. (A particular note here is how she keeps mentioning how pretty the girl she's looking for is. It feels kinda sapphic!) Joey dreams of her father being left behind and dying in the Vietnam war, but is interrupted by a call from the girl who brought the boy to the ER. She's named Terri. She'll spill some answers if Joey will get a guest room ready. Joey agrees, not thinking twice about it.

Terri takes her time talking and milling about Joey's apartment before saying anything about the incident. She clearly doesn't want this good thing to be over as her whole life has been shitty ex after shitty ex. Terri finally does give Joey some information and a piece that fell off the pillar and was in the dying boy's hands: the Puzzle Box imitation from the Pillar. We go to look at the pillar and see the piece that's missing left a huge hole. JP notices too- OMFG, JP PUT HIS HAND IN THE HOLE WHY OH WHY YOU SHIT FOR BRAINS!!!! Of course, a rat bites him and gnaws on his fingers. The pillar drinks the blood that spews from his wound and gains a pinkish hue. JP's reaction is a very simple smile and "whoa".

Seeking more information, Terri and Joey break in into the art gallery where JP got the Pillar and find out that the Pyramid Gallery gains its items from high school art clubs, bankrupt sales, and closed-down asylums. Like the Channard Institution. OH NO. CHANNARD. YUP, THERE'S THE BOX DRAWINGS. FUCK.

For some reason, we cut back to JP. He's at his club seducing a girl who looks and sounds like a Barbie doll. JP talks about how wonderful she is but after they have lack-luster sex, he tells her that he doesn't care about her and to hit the road. I'm honestly surprised *she's* surprised at his reaction! The girl flips out with a very wooden performance while backing away, getting closer to the Pillar. Suddenly, chains burst out of the Pillar, rip off her skin, and drag her into the art piece! JP freaks out as Pinhead's eyes stare at him.

"Not quite."

Pinhead waxes omnisciently poetic as he persuades JP to help him. I believe JP's arrogant and foolish enough to fall for this shit. And he proves me right! If Pinhead doesn't screw this guy over, I will be very disappointed in everyone. Meanwhile: Joey's cameraman gives her a package that came in the mail, a tape. It's Kirsty detailing what the Puzzle Box is/does/houses. There's a portion of the tape that doesn't exist when re-winded, but it calls to Joey. It's Pinhead's human-part telling Joey that Kirsty is telling the truth. Weird!

We cut to Terri back at the condo as she picks up the Box. I get worried as she plays with it, but she interrupted by a phone call. JP tries to bring her back with words and pleases, but she resists. It's only after someone calls to congratulate Joey on getting a job in Montreal does she leave. I don't recall anyone saying anything about Montreal before, which makes this feel like a trap. An upset Terri splits, leaving behind a goodbye note which makes Joey very unhappy. Pinhead's residual Humanity calls out to her in her dreams. "You must help me!"

Terri goes back to JP's place as she feels she has nowhere else to go. JP plays the part of the abusive ex wanting her back, but it's all a setup to get her close to the Pillar so she can be Pinhead's next meal. She manages to escape with Hidden Brass Knuckles To The Jaw (an old classic!), but Pinhead's words draw her back in. Either go back to an uncaring world, or kill JP and open a world of pleasures. Hmmm, what is a girl to do...? HOLY FUCK THE PILLAR COMING TO LIFE IS AMAZINGLY GORY AND AWESOME! HI, PINS!

Joey wakes up to an old vacuum-tube radio playing by itself in the closet. Pinhead's Humanity tells her to look out the window, which she does with no emotion on her face. The view of the city is gone, replaced with Pinhead's Humanity's Tent. She walks through the window and through a few war-horror-filled rooms before finding the man named Elliot Spencer. He waxes poetic at her about ghost stuff. Bottom-line, Pinhead isn't playing by the rules anymore and he needs to be stopped. The plan: Drag Evil!Pinhead to Elliot's World where Elliot can spank him. Joey is apprehensive, but Elliot soothes her anxiety telling her how special she is.

Back at The Boiler Room, we notice something isn't right as all the creepy imagery comes to life little by little. Pinhead blows up the door and walks down the staircase. He looks like a king walking down to meet his subjects. I expected the people to start partying harder, but they seem genuinely freaked out and start trying to get away. Barbed wire, hooks, ice, killer CDs; he's releasing a bloodbath in that club. Joey sees that the Boiler Room is bleeding from the news and gets her cameraman to help her. He doesn't see the same story; a careful camera pan shows us her TV was possessed and not even plugged in!

No sign of her cameraman or Terri as she brings the Box to the club. Dead bodies everywhere. It's like Hell moved into this place. We see some mild ideas for Cenobites that might have been scrapped at some point: Billiards-Mouth, Ice-Breath, Long-Tongue, Cross-Face, Dice-Eyes, etc. Oh wow, the cameraman is literally a Camera-Head Man now! Shit. I liked him. He wasn't shitty or creepy at Joey, just fatherly and friendly. I'm gonna miss him.

Pins walks in, waxing poetic again, and tries to grab the Box from Joey, but is repelled by the very Box itself! Rules must be obeyed! Other Cenobites made from the dead club-goers and Joey's friends come after her, but she does her best to escape them! Aw, the cameraman and Terri are both Cenobites now and that's sad. What's sadder is Terri has a less interesting Cenobite design than the cameraman. Then again, she didn't have must physical character besides shitty exes and smoking, so a smoking Cenobite she'll be! (Ana's note: It feels like they wanted to keep Terri "pretty" and skimped on the creativeness of the design rather than risk making a female character ugly. I hate that.)

There's a scene with a church and a priest and.... Look, I'm all for religious philosophizing in movies, but this wasn't that. This scene was a middle finger waving in the general direction of a church while the owner of said finger skateboarded by. The priest said and did nothing wrong. The church had no one else in it. There were no other mentions of the church in the movie to reference back to. All we have is this scene of Pins going apeshit and forcing the priest into a Black Mass. And that's it. Honestly, it feels like a scene made just for the trailer.

Joey opens the box to trap the Cenobites inside. She thinks it's over when she finds herself in a dream where her father approaches her. He calls her by name and tells her that he's here to take the Box away. Joey hands it to him and realizes too late that he shouldn't know her name: her father died before she was born! Pins morphs back and cackles at his trick, but it gives her an idea. Before he strikes her down, she changes their location to be the tent where Elliot opened the box, the place she saw in her window. Elliot thanks her, but Pins is clever. He ties her up and tempts Elliot with her flesh. "Unable to resist", Elliot allows the two of them to become one person again, but manages to tell Joey one last time to send him to Hell. After some fiddling with the Box, she stabs Pins and ends it all for good!

Joey wakes in the construction site she opened the Box in and breathes a sigh of relief. She finds a nice patch of wet cement and buries the box deep under the surface. She walks away, content that no one will find the Box again. Years later, we see the land that has emerged from that spot. A large modern business building stands tall with a golden box-like sculpture outside. Inside, the high ceiling reveals a particular design that seems to mimic a particular Puzzle Box we've all seen before... The End...?

This Movie had some ups and downs (the lowest being the church scene), but there are some good ideas being thrown around here! The resurrection theme came back, as I predicted. It's cool to see a Cenobite come back very similarly like a human. The Humanity vs Evil!Pins is an interesting idea. Elliot already went down the path of evil once, so his tempting was genuine! Elliot's clever haunting through Joey's dreams was inventive, and is further proof that he is Pins. Gods, how does one play mind-games to win against oneself? I still think Elliot lost as he is now in Hell, but it was enough to stun Pins and get him vulnerable enough to send him to Hell too. A bittersweet end, really.

The new Cenobites were... hit or miss. It makes me question what kind of person makes a Cenobite and who's just another victim. In the first two movies, I felt it took a sadistic/selfish person to be changed into a Cenobite while the rest are just victim fodder. Channard was a sadist and an immoral doctor, thus making him a perfect Cenobite. Julia was always a little selfish and cold, but her love and servitude to Frank changed her to be more like a Cenobite. So when she comes out of the mattress looking good and feeling in charge, it's clear she's different from that unhappy wife of Larry's. JP was definitely self-centered enough that I could see him being a shitty, but true, Cenobite. The rest, though? Doc the Cameraman was sweet and generous. He cared deeply for his coworker and friend! Terri had been hurt all her life and wasn't afraid to lash out if she felt hurt again, but I wouldn't call her sadistic. I felt like the filmmakers wanted to make new Cenobites and just us shocking reveals, so they made them and to hell with the lore if it didn't make sense. That bugs me.

An interesting character study done in this movie is Pinhead himself. His human self, Elliot is the show of restraint we see in the first two movies. He's the side that doesn't move or speak without purpose. No word or movement is out of place. His emotions are in control. He doesn't try to go against the rules because it's physically impossible. But we see Evil!Pins dive for the Box and fail. He reacts strongly to small needling. Evil!Pins doesn't have the same restraint that Regular/Full!Pinhead and Elliot has. I like the juxtaposition we see in this film. Will it continue? Only one way to find out!

For this film, 7/10. I enjoyed it and will enjoy watching it again, but it has a different feel that the other films, so definitely keep that in mind when watching. Also, HOLY SHIT WAS THIS FILM SAPPHIC! Both Kissmate and I were begging Terri and Joey to get together, but alas. It was not meant to be. (Maybe in fanfic it will, though.)