Before the ‘SAW’, ‘Hostel’ there was the king of torture porn franchises, ‘Hellraiser’.

In what has to be Clive Barker’s best adaptation of horror yet, have just gone to obscurity with each additional release. Clive directed the original Hellraiser, which to fans even 21 years later is still considered a masterpiece in horror. ‘Hellraiser’ holds a special place in my heart for a horror franchise that went to the limits with also telling a good story in the process.

The first two Hellraiser films tell a tale about a family with deception and how the mystery box opens up the gates to hell. ‘Hellraiser’ really churns things up with the evil Uncle Frank and his jump into the hell gates when he opens the box. Then throw in Julia that is innocent looking at first, but later we learn of how deceptive she is and puts a plot with Frank to bring him back. ‘Hellraiser II’ only further expands on the first film as we see the return of the menaces that have driven Kristy to the brink of insanity. ‘Hellraiser III’ which many fans tend to just ignore and the fourth film titled ‘Bloodline’ is also a big part in expanding the mythos/origins of Pinhead, the box, and the ultra cool Cenobites. ‘Bloodline’ weaves in and out of the past/future filling in the gaps from the first 3 films in terms of origins. Thus the first four Hellraiser films do an excellent job of bringing together the missing pieces of the puzzle (no pun intended) as we learn everything about the depths of hell created by Pinhead.

While the third and fourth films weren’t directly tied to the first two films, we have the origins that tie all 4 films together. Where things started going awry is with the fifth film ‘Hellraiser: Inferno’ and how each new chapter in the franchise became a stand alone feature film. To make things worse is that each film with Inferno and moving forward were first scripted as films that weren’t even a Hellraiser movie. These films were to be a completely different film and then someone over at Dimension decided it was time to toss in Pinhead and the cenobites. It is very apparent in the fifth installment that Pinhead is an afterthought. I have nothing against any of the sequels afterward ‘Bloodline’ because they do tell some good tales in the Hellraiser world, but just disappointed on the approach that each one of these have had in their end product. To its credit ‘Inferno’ is a good film due to taking a different approach as we have the main character having all sorts of memory issues and it causes for his downfall.

The sixth film in the franchise, ‘Hellseeker’ takes the memory concept from ‘Inferno’ one step further. We have the returning Kristy from the first two films. This is one of the those rollercoaster ride of a film where we are all over the place in terms of what is going on, but everything makes perfect sense. The ending will leave you longtime Hellraiser fans shocked. The seventh film ‘Deader’ takes a much more, grittier approach but also works off of the memory tone of the last 2 films. ‘Deader’ is a dark film about a reporter and her descent into the world of hell, but this also involved the dark underworld of life.

In 2005, we get the release of ‘Hellworld’ which is the latest installment in this franchise. The story here is rather basic as this is more of a reality based movie like ‘New Nightmare’, ‘Halloween” Resurrection’. It revolved around a Hellraiser party at the ‘Hellraiser House’ on ‘Hellbound Lane’. While some of the performances are forgettable, this was an alright film that could have been better had it been set in the ‘Hellraiser’ world.

This franchise is set to get a reboot in 2009 with Clive Barker returning at the helm. If anyone could get this series back on track, it is the mastermind behind this universe. If Barker has hands off approach with any sequels that follow the reboot, we will just repeat history.

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