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?

We start with an opium den. No warning and not the fun kind. Drugged out people passed out in various locations of an apartment with a dog in the corner looking for food. A woman wakes up on the couch, lights up a cigarette, and openly takes photos of the people. She walks out and rewinds her audio recorder, showing everyone in the room that she is clearly taking notes on all of them. None of them seem to care.

This woman is a journalist named Amy Klein. Her journalism is praised as hard-hitting and eloquent, but she has fallen from the good graces of the journalism world for reasons not adequately explored. Possibly she fell from grace because she writes pieces titled, and I quote, "How To Be A Crack Whore". Amy gets to her boss' office to gloat about her current scoop (which doesn't seem particularly scoopy? the fact that some random people are somewhere doing drugs isn't usually front page news), but he tells her he's got one bigger.

What's the new scoop? Well, there's a tiny new cult out there somewhere in Europe naming themselves The Deaders. They ritualistically kill themselves on a dirty mattress in various ways and come back to life with the help of their leader. Amy gets shown a video tape of this ritual (WITH NO TRIGGER WARNINGS FROM HER BOSS) that was sent to the office, and is told to go find more information on them. The only lead she has is the return address on the envelope, which is in Romania. So she goes with her burning curiosity to fuel her.

The first thing Amy does is to go to the return address with no previous research at all. This movie is set in 2005. Mapquest, flip phones, and Yelp were all around at the time. There were ways she could have done this safely! But nope! Into the fray with no cares to her own self! She bribes her way inside the apartment, which smells terrible, and finds the girl who made the tape. Problem? She hung herself in the bathroom. Amy sees there's another envelope near the body, and a Puzzle Box in the girl's hand. It takes three gross-out close-up passes before Amy finally gets all her goodies from the dead girl. As she leaves, the body comes alive long enough to lunge for her! Amy makes a quick escape to her hotel room to see what she found.

The envelope Amy retrieved from the zombie girl contained a key and a video tape of the selfsame girl. Video Girl tells her to find Joey, do NOT open the Puzzle Box, and help them all. Amy opens the Puzzle Box, which makes musical notes as it opens. That's a new detail that was only found in the books. Unfortunately, this will be one of the only pieces of canon of the Hellraiser mythos this movie contains. As Amy completes the Puzzle Box, chains pop out of the box and rip into her scalp. Pinhead warns that she's never not in danger before letting her go. Wound-free. I'm...pretty sure that's a first. People don't usually survive the box-chains.

Next day, Amy walks into a subway that's not like others. It's more like a Subway Train Club. She finds the only interesting character in this movie, Joey. He runs this little Train Club that brings up a very particular topic that magnifies the problems with this movie. Now I have to digress into film theory, apologies.

There's a feeling that some auteurs like to invoke in their art which I can only describe as Shock or Disgust. It's like an uncanny valley feeling when you see something that doesn't fit a scene or make sense in reality. For example, as Amy walks through the barely lit Train Club, she notices the following: a topless woman breastfeeding a plastic doll, a shirtless man getting a tattoo on a moving train, people dressed in mild leather BDSM gear, two girls playing with each other's nipples, and a mannequin with the throat painted to look like it has been slit open.

It's not fear or horror we're left feeling as she walks by these scenes, but rather shock ("why are they doing that?") and sometimes disgust ("why are they doing THAT?"). Some artists think that these feelings are the same as horror and fear, but it's not. Fear is worrying that Chompers and Pinhead may kill Kirsty before she can make her deal. Horror is seeing Doctor Channard start out as a human being, but watching him turn into a terrifying and powerful Cenobite before our very eyes. We get none of these emotions in Deader.

Amy makes her way to Joey, played by Marc Warren! He's also known as Mister Teatime from Hogfather, and it shows as he has the dual-colored eyes again! Joey tells her, though reluctantly, where to find the Deader's hideout. He warns her to walk away and stay out of it, but she's adamant not to listen. Amy walks out of the club to see a man that looks like the Cult Leader following her. Instead of hurting her, he jumps in front of the next subway train in an act of apparent suicide.

Amy calls the local police to report the jumper, but the body has disappeared. The Cult Leader appears again to walk onto another train as another passenger. Amy tries to stop him, but the police stop her. The only thing that keeps her from being shipped to an asylum is her boss, who is used to getting her out of trouble. (Ana's note: flying to other countries to post her bail? This part makes no sense. I thought the boss would turn out to be secretly Pinhead or something, but NO.)

After she gains her freedom, Amy heads to the Deader hideout immediately. Because lying low after getting on the police radar is not how a GOOD journalist does things, I guess. She gets in with the key that was in the second envelope and walks through a ton of small corridors. I thought she was following someone at first, but she seems to be picking her direction at random. Must be that journalist instinct, or something. After squeezing through a narrow passage and almost getting stabbed by a shadowy hooded figure, a man gets her attention. Turns out she was freaking out in a spacious room. No tight narrow ways. And it's left unexplained why that was as she follows the mysterious man into a room where another ritual is occurring.

This time she gets to see a man stabbed with a knife come back to life with a gasp. The woman with the bullet hole in her head is also here and is congratulating him with the others. In fact, most if not all the members have a lethal wound on their bodies somewhere. But she's not interested in them! Instead, Amy goes to a private room to talk to the Cult Leader, a man named Winters Le'Merchant. She shows him the Puzzle Box, which gives him a chance to talk. Talk about the Box, about his cult, about his beliefs. During his preaching, Amy gets a terrible vision which causes her to black out.

[TW: Childhood Sexual Assault] The vision has shown up before and will show up multiple more times, so I'll describe it here bluntly. Amy was raped when she was a young girl by a male family member. The movie does not tell us this outright, nor does it seem to have any actual meaning to the story. I feel it was here to shock us instead us make us feel fear, which is funny since this vision is about what she fears.

Amy comes to laying on the ritual mattress with all of the cult around her. Winters asks what she saw and what she fears, but she's resistant to him. Just as he's about to stab her, Amy wakes up naked in the bathtub in her hotel room. With all her piercings still on. She falls asleep that night while dreaming of her Fear Vision, but is woken by a weird feeling in her back. She goes to check it out in the bathroom and sees that she was stabbed back there! As she screams that this is a dream, she finds a way to remove the knife while bloodying the rest of the bathroom. She walks around the apartment in a daze, which is broken by Pinhead's entrance.

Pinhead is a problem here. His dialogue is a LOT less poetic and a lot more prattling and sneering. I never imagined Pins that way? Smug, sure, but not sneering. When there's a mortal in the room, it's a soul to play with and poke at, or even a new toy to break. With Amy, it feels like he's talking to a toddler he doesn't want to babysit, or a child he's been forced to teach. The approach is all wrong, and therefore so is Pins.

Pinhead tells her that she's been recruited to join Winter's army against Hellworld. Winters has previously opened the Box once before and thus owes his soul to Pins. Or something like that. It's hard to make out. Either way, Amy throws a lamp at Pinhead as a universal "fuck you" to show her disinterest. Amy patches herself up as best she can and walks outside to the subway station. It's a problem, trying to cover up all the blood she's leaking, but she tries her best and apparently nobody cares enough to interfere.

Back at the Train Club, Amy tries to force Joey to help her, but it's revealed that him and all his party-goers are already dead, even as he's talking to her. It's the only scene that was even a little interesting, but was ruined by the slow walk through all the "shocking gore and disturbing images". Mostly because it's not that shocking or gory or disturbing. Video Girl, in the decaying flesh, catches up to Amy. Video Girl tells Amy that they're both living dead girls and Amy needs to figure out what she wants to do next. Something Winters said earlier makes Amy think of the Fear Vision and she blacks out. Or faints? Can zombies faint?

Amy wakes in a psychiatric hospital. Her boss is here again (Ana's note: This guy is supposed to be running a reasonably sized media outlet, but he just hangs out in Romania repeatedly bailing Amy out of police stations and psych wards? Can you see why I thought all this was building up to him being Pinhead in disguise?) informs her that she'll be released after she shows some good behavior. Amy seems pleased and agrees. All she wanted was to go home, I guess! She has a few minutes of free time before she gets released (Ana's note: her boss filling out the release paperwork?) so she wanders around the ward and finds Video Girl.

Video Girl tells Amy that Winters can't solve the Puzzle Box. (Ana's note: was established that Winters opened the Box once and that's why his soul is forfeit to Pinhead. It's his whole motivation for waging war on Pinhead! He wants his freedom. Is the implication here that Amy can solve the box *without* being forfeit? That would explain why she survived her earlier encounter with the box and its chains.) Only a few select souls can, and he's been searching for one such soul. SOMEHOW (??) Amy fits the bill. On this realization, the blood from her wound starts spilling and we get the full Fear Vision: Amy was harmed by her father (?) and she stabbed him to death. Somehow this memory pops her back to her senses on the ritual mattress.

That's right, Amy was dreaming from that moment onward! Winters gives her a knife, telling her to make a choice and take the final step. Amy sees the Puzzle Box close by and decides to open it by throwing it as hard as possible. Pinhead and two friends come out. They make short work of Winters and his cult, leaving only Amy to fend for herself. She grabs a knife to fight back, but decides to stab something else. She stabs herself, letting her soul go free from his grasp even if it means she dies instead. It's a bold move, and I think her only one. The decision makes the Puzzle Box explode, strangely enough, ending the scene.

(Ana's note: I'm pretty sure that we've seen other movies in which death doesn't preclude Pinhead from harvesting a soul. Julia died but ended up in Hellworld, and Kirsty's husband did the same. But regardless of whether Amy's escape here makes sense, why does she need to escape? Either she's the only person who can OPEN the puzzle box, in which case Winters' soul can't be forfeit and he loses all plot motivation, or she's the only person who can open the puzzle box SAFELY, in which case Amy shouldn't be in danger here. This movie was clearly made in a hurried rush and the script is a mess, as you can see. This one feels the least canonical of everything else we've seen so far.)

Amy's boss watches the news, pondering where Amy has disappeared to. The only thing found at the scene was the Box, now in the hands of a Romanian newscaster. (Ana's note: A new reporter comes in to be interviewed and the boss hires her. It's a strange scene to the point where we were wondering if the woman is Amy, possibly in disguise?, but she appears not to be. This movie was a MESS and needed heavy editing.)

The End.

The only good thing I know to say about this film is the title. I felt deader after watching it! OH-hohohoho!
*Waldorf and Statler laugh here* Jokes aside, this was bad. It was hard to know which scene was dream or vision or real. There was no Hellraiser in this Hellraiser movie until the final 5 minutes. The writing was sloppy. The tension was non-existent. It was barely watchable. This is the first Hellraiser movie I have to ask anyone curious about the series to PASS. HARD. DO NOT WATCH. I left the movie feeling uncomfortable and begging for more, and I want that for no one!

0/10, just use the DVD as a Frisbee. You might get actual enjoyment out of it that way.


Post a Comment