Review: Hellraiser Quartet of Torment Limited Edition 4K UHD
(Tina) There are 2 films that I’ve always dreaded having to write about; Blade Runner and Hellraiser. The reason I’m adverse to discussing these particular films is because they have such a deep emotional meaning to me that I am incapable of being objective about either of them, as I regard them both equally as films elevated above all other movies and works of true genius. High praise indeed!
Hellraiser; a much misinterpreted film by being placed solely into a horror ‘box’, tells the tale of a man who is constantly seeking to push the boundaries of life, sex and death, who enters a Faustian pact with the ‘other worldly’ Cenobites, who tear his soul (and body) to pieces and take him to ‘hell’. Yes, horror, but at its heart is a story of love, longing, obsession, lust and the abject boredom and the familiarity of marriage. It could be interpreted as a feminist fantasy, and thanks to Clive Barker’s writing and direction the backbone of the story is a woman. This is a family saga that is more akin to Macbeth than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the stars of film may be the briefly glimpsed Cenobites, throwing hooks on chains and obeying the steadfast rules of their leader ‘Pinhead’ (or as the character himself prefers ‘The Hell Priest’), but for me the real stars are the ménage à trois of Larry, Julia and Frank; their secrets, and how Julia will do literally anything for her man.
I’m not going to analyse this film again (it would be a really LONG review, and I’ve already done it twice before), instead – I hear you cry ‘Yet another box set’! Why bother when Arrow have already released the Scarlet Box, well easy. This baby is 4k. Arrow normally love to leave a bit of grain in, but there’s not a lot to be found in Hellraiser or any of the other films, they’ve scrubbed them clean and my god, the detail you see is incredible. The amount of gasping and ’Holy fuck look at that’s’ emanating from 60MW Towers was … a lot. Things I’ve never seen before, the blue of Clare Higgins gorgeously murderous eyes are all the more startling, as is the smashed in face of her first hammer kill victim.
Normally the films we review here at 60MW are check discs, plain discs with none of the ‘extras’ such as the book included with this set. However, being such a fan I have bought the Quartet of Torment set and am quite disappointed to not be able to review the book in it, as the post didn’t deliver it in time, Never mind. The set is piled with extras, some are the same as Scarlet, however, this really is mostly brand new and shiny. There is a caveat though, unfortunately some of the extras on all the discs are more than a bit …jarring. Seeing The Pursuit of Possibilities; a 60 minute discussion between Paula D. Ashe and Eric LaRocca celebrating the queerness of Hellraiser in their bedrooms on Zoom, is just really out of place, it looks terrible for such an expensive box set, I think the makers could have made more of an effort to produce something more professional (much like on HRII where Hell Was What They Wanted! – an 80 minute appreciation of Hellbound, by George Daniel Lea and Kit Power are equally disjointed, but at least they’re in the same room!).
Alongside the previous Scarlet Box, this is without a doubt the most comprehensive package about Hellraiser, perhaps the only thing that’s missing is…. dare I say…. all the other films? YES, really. 1 t0 8 and beyond. Personally I would have loved this to be a complete set DESPITE the quality of the other films.
Below are the thought of Chris and Ramrod on Hellraiser 2&3 (Dave was due to write about #4, but bless him he’s been both poorly AND worked off his feet.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II
(Ramrod) Making a horror sequel more often than not can produce something on par with and sometimes better than the original. The great thing with horror and fantasy is that you can go in fantastical directions and expand upon these limitless new dimensions. Such films as Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead II and Aliens are prime examples of horror films that dared to be different and to many, are better and more original than the first films.
So here we have Hellbound: Hellraiser II, the sequel to 1987’s game changing original Hellraiser. A film that pushes the boundaries of its own depraved origins. In my opinion one of the best horror sequels ever made.
Released in 1988 quickly after the worldwide success of Hellraiser. Clive Barker would oversee first time director Tony Randel and script collaborator Peter Atkins as they delved deeper into the twisted depravity that was hell and all its forbidden pleasures.
The story takes place after the events of the first film as we see Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) committed to an asylum under the care of the classy yet perverse Dr Channard (played exquisitely by British stage actor Kenneth Cranham) who throughout the film establishes his character as one of the most twisted and memorable in horror cinema. Channard has struck gold after hearing Kirsty’s story and has designs to see what is beyond the trappings of the flesh and after a particularly gory scene involving a straight razor and a mattress, opens ‘THE BOX’ with the help of mute inpatient ‘Tiffany’ (Imogen Boorman) and delves deep into the labyrinth of hell. Returning as ’Julia’ is Clare Higgins. Higgins once again revels in the malice and control of Julia’s character, alongside her is Sean Chapman as the ever sweaty sex pest ’Frank’ and of course Doug Bradley as the iconic ‘Pinhead’. Also William Hope (Aliens) gets a meaty role as a constantly shocked onlooker.
The plot of Hellbound is so bizarre that anymore explanation would not only be spoiling things, but to be honest, quite difficult to pin down….let’s just say that we SEE what hell looks like and just what being turned into a ‘Cenobite’ physically involves! For my money, Hellbound is one of the most original and brilliantly written sequels in cinema. It still manages to disturb and excite. The special effects are magnificent, even the collector’s item of some stop motion animation (a real lost art).
Treat yourselves to this stunning version of a true horror classic. Arrow has given Hellbound a stunning 4K reboot (Ramrod).
Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth
(Chris) When the decision was taken at 60MW Towers on who would review which Hellraiser movie, I almost breathed a sigh of relief when I got Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth. The reason being the weight of expectation for reviewing one of the all time classic horror movies would have been almost too much for me to bear. I’m happy that particular honour has gone to Tina and Ramrod and I very much look forward to reading their thoughts.
I’ve seen Hellraiser 3 a few times and it generally isn’t held in as high regard as the first or second in the series, so it’s the perfect time to venture into hell with this incredible package from Arrow Films.
Joey (Terry Farrell) is a frustrated reporter and during a seemingly boring night reporting at a local hospital she witnesses a victim literally get torn apart. A chance meeting with the victims friend leads her to a nightclub called The Boiler Room.
The owner of the nightclub, JP Monroe (Kevin Bernhardt) buys a mysterious statue containing more than he can possibly imagine. Monroe is a real scumbag who treats women like objects. He even smokes a cigarette whilst having sex! He is easily seduced by the promise of immortality, pleasure and power yet not fully understanding the consequences or the price he will have to pay.
JP’s girlfriend Terri, (Paula Marshall) hooks up with Joey after coming into possession of the iconic puzzle box. Meanwhile Joey is haunted by dreams of her father who died in Vietnam as they start to investigate the origins of the mysterious box.
Hellraiser 3 brings its own ideas and vision to the series but is sensible enough to remember its roots. For example; blood needs to touch the statue to bring Pinhead to life and he needs more victims which is very much like Julia bringing victims to her lover Frank in the original Hellraiser.
Speaking of Pinhead he is undoubtably the star of the show. Doug Bradley is absolutely mesmerising in the role! He’s sneering, charismatic, deceitful, manipulative yet playful with the character. The one thing he doesn’t do is turn Pinhead into a parody like Freddy Krueger became in the later Elm Street movies. He expertly walks the line being a terrifying monster whilst delivering cutting one liners with confidence and not damaging the brand or heritage in the process.
I wish I could say the same about the new Cenobites. Don’t get me wrong, it’s kind of fun to see them walking through the streets causing mayhem, but they are very much from the 90’s.
First off you have CD Cenobite who naturally fires CD’s at his victims. Bartender Cenobite who carries a cocktail mixer and uses it to throw gasoline at victims before breathing fire on them. Then there is Camerahead Cenobite who has a camera for an eye which he uses to impale victims.
The producers wanted to reach a wider audience with these new additions but all they really achieved was reduce the impact of the movie and in turn make it a bit gimmicky. As always though, Pinhead manages to salvage it from becoming too silly.
The one thing I will say in their favour is that the make-up and practical effects are fantastic. Hellraiser has always been famed for its gruesome and grotesque special effects and 3 is no exception. No matter how many times I see Doug Bradley in his “normal” clothing and then in character as Pinhead, the difference is so stark that they almost seem like two different people. It just goes to show how amazing his make up and performance is. The visual effects haven’t aged particularly well but I can’t be too critical based on the budget of the film.
The movie adds extra lore to the series making reference to the Channard Institute and Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence). We also get to see more of Captain Elliot Spencer before he became Pinhead.
In my opinion Hellraiser 3 is the weakest out of the first 3 movies, in fact when I first saw Hellraiser 3 upon its original release I really didn’t like it. It was missing the power and lasting memory of 1 and 2 and seemed cheap and dumbed down. Watching it again for review I have to say that Hellraiser 3 hasn’t aged as badly as I was expecting, and I acknowledge its strengths and weaknesses. It is very silly in places but there are also things to admire and appreciate. A scene in the nightclub springs to mind where there is sheer terror and panic on an epic scale. Pinhead appearing at a church in a Jesus Christ pose is also a really powerful and stark image. Doug Bradley is wonderful and the film lights up whenever he is on screen, whether as Pinhead or Captain Spencer. The final shot of the movie is also excellent.
Arrow Films have knocked it out of the park again and although the movie isn’t the best in the series you will definitely take pleasure in this excellent package.
- Brand new 4k restorations of all four films from the original camera negatives by Arrow Films
- Ultra High Definition (2160p) presentations of all four films in Dolby Vision (hdr10 compatible)
- Original lossless stereo and Dts-hd Ma 5.1 surround audio for all four films
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Ages of Desire, an exclusive 200-page hardback book with new writing from Clive Barker archivists Phil and Sarah Stokes
- Limited edition layered packaging featuring brand new Pinhead artwork
Disc 1 Hellraiser
- Brand new audio commentary featuring genre historian (and unit publicist of Hellraiser) Stephen Jones with author and film critic Kim Newman
- Archival audio commentary with writer/director Clive Barker and actor Ashley Laurence, moderated by Peter Atkins
- Archival audio commentary with writer/director Clive Barker
- Power of Imagination – brand new 60-minute discussion about Hellraiser and the work of Clive Barker by film scholars Sorcha Ní Fhlainn (editor of Clive Barker: Dark Imaginer) and Karmel Kniprath
- Unboxing Hellraiser – brand new visual essay celebrating the Lament Configuration by genre author Alexandra Benedict (The Beauty of Murder)
- The Pursuit of Possibilities – brand new 60-minute discussion between acclaimed horror authors Paula D. Ashe (We Are Here To Hurt Each Other) and Eric LaRocca (Everything the Dark Eats) celebrating the queerness of Hellraiser and the importance of Clive Barker as a queer writer
- Flesh is a Trap – brand new visual essay exploring body horror and transcendence in the work of Clive Barker by genre author Guy Adams (The World House)
- Newly uncovered extended Epk interviews with Clive Barker and stars Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, and effects artist Bob Keen, shot during the making of Hellraiser, with a new introduction by Stephen Jones and Kim Newman
- Original 1987 Electronic Press Kit
- Being Frank: Sean Chapman on Hellraiser – archival interview with the actor
- Under the Skin: Doug Bradley on Hellraiser – archival interview with the iconic actor about his first appearance as ‘Pinhead’
- Soundtrack Hell: The Story of the Abandoned Coil Score – archival interview with Coil member Stephen Thrower
- Trailers and Tv spots
- Image gallery
- Draft screenplays
Disc 2 Hellbound: Hellraiser II
- Brand new audio commentary featuring Stephen Jones and Kim Newman
- Archival audio commentary with director Tony Randel, writer Peter Atkins and actor Ashley Laurence
- Audio commentary with director Tony Randel and writer Peter Atkins
- Hell Was What They Wanted! – brand new 80-minute appreciation of Hellbound, the Hellraiser mythos and the work of Clive Barker by horror authors George Daniel Lea (Born in Blood) and Kit Power (The Finite)
- That Rat-Slice Sound – brand new appreciation of composer Christopher Young’s scores for Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser Ii by Guy Adams
- Archival on-set interview with Clive Barker
- Archival on-set interview with cast and crew
- Behind the scenes footage
- Being Frank: Sean Chapman on Hellbound – archival interview about the actor’s return to the role of Frank Cotton
- Under the Skin: Doug Bradley on Hellbound – archival interview with the iconic actor about his second appearance as ‘Pinhead’
- Lost in the Labyrinth – archival featurette featuring interviews with Barker, Randel, Keen, Atkins and others
- Trailers and Tv spots
- Image gallery
Disc 3 Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth
- Alternative Unrated version (contains standard definition inserts)
- Brand new audio commentary featuring Stephen Jones and Kim Newman
- Archival audio commentary with screenwriter Peter Atkins (Theatrical Cut only)
- Archival audio commentary with director Anthony Hickox and actor Doug Bradley (Unrated Version only)
- Previously unseen extended Epk featuring interviews with Clive Barker and Doug Bradley
- Fx dailies
- Time with Terri – archival interview with actor Paula Marshall
- Raising Hell on Earth – archival interview with director Anthony Hickox
- Under the Skin: Doug Bradley on Hellraiser Iii – archival interview with the iconic actor about his third appearance as ‘Pinhead’
- Theatrical trailer
- Image gallery
Disc 4 Hellraiser: Bloodline
- Brand new audio commentary featuring screenwriter Peter Atkins, with Stephen Jones and Kim Newman
- The Beauty of Suffering – brand new featurette exploring the Cenobites’ connection to goth, fetish cultures and Bdsm
- Newly uncovered workprint version of the film, providing a fascinating insight into how it changed during post production
- Hellraiser Evolutions – archival documentary on the evolution of the franchise and its enduring legacy, featuring interviews with Scott Derrickson (director, Hellraiser: Inferno), Rick Bota (director, Hellraiser: Hellseeker, Deader and Hellworld), Stuart Gordon (director, Re-Animator, From Beyond) and others
- Books of Blood and Beyond: The Literary Works of Clive Barker – archival appreciation by horror author David Gatwalk of Barker’s written work, from The Books of Blood to The Scarlet Gospels
- Theatrical trailer
- Image gallery
- Easter egg