'Hellraiser' sequel: The horror of it all Movie review: Clive Barker's latest demon film is pure torture of the weirdest, goriest variety. Run. Save yourself.

March 09, 1996|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,SUN FILM CRITIC

Another movie or two like "Hellraiser: Bloodline," and sado-masochism will pick up a bad name!

This fourth installment in the all but incomprehensible Clive Barker-generated series of films about a pin-studded demon who wanders the Earth in search of a mechanism to open a gate to hell, it might even give incomprehensibility a bad name. It won't do hell any favors either. You either have to have an IQ over 150 or under 30 to get it; those of us in the dreary middle won't have much luck.

This one opens on a space station, flashes back to pre-revolutionary France then forward to New York in the '90s, and wraps up in outer space again. Who does this guy think he is, Stanley Kubrick?

A possible final episode (but wait to see the grosses Monday before you commit to that idea), it follows the twisted gyre between the LaMarchand family of France, one of whom (a toymaker) invented that ghastly little puzzle box that sprang the bad boys, and the bad boys themselves, for control, I guess, of the universe or the gates of hell or some such.

The new wrinkle is the presence of a femme fatale, Angelique (Valentina Vargas) who, although she's not been in the previous films, has been around since the 18th century when it all began.

A peasant girl murdered by the original Duc De L'isle who conjured the demons with the toymaker's box, her body was infiltrated by a demon and so she's the original 200-year-old woman.

As for the LaMarchands, they are all played by unprepossessing Canadian actor Bruce Ramsay, whether as a French toymaker, a New York architect or a 21st-century space scientist.

Ramsay is not nearly as charismatic as the filmmakers seem to think he is; he looks a little like Jean-Claude Van Damme after six grouchy months on the Weight Watchers regimen.

But what the movie is really selling isn't sense but sensibility. It loves to boot the recondite imagery of graduate level sado-masochism into the public bijoux before the astounded unwashed, who have never seen such a thing.

Think Tom of Finland crossed with the Marquis De Sade and you get some idea of the weirdnesses inside, the allusions to sexual torture and exotic sexual practices unimagined even in the days of internet porn with all its little compartments for fetishists. Gives a normal guy like me the shivers! I much prefer Marilyn on the subway grate! Now that was hot stuff!

Now and then "Hellraiser: Bloodline" stirs itself into a macabre spectacle that's so astonishing it gives your nightmares nightmares, but considered as story, it's all but impenetrable and considered as ordeal it's all but unendurable.

'Hellraiser'

Starring Bruce Ramsey, Valentina Vargas and Doug Bradley

Directed by Alan Smithee

Released by Dimension

& Rated R (extreme gore)

Pub Date: 3/09/96

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