Posts tagged with "Horror movies"

Hellraiser: Judgment (Reveiw)

Frank Ford

To Hellraiser fans around the world nothing is more heartbreaking than seeing their beloved Cenobites fall victim to endless bad sequels that do nothing to expand the Hellraiser mythos, but rather fall back on old horror movie tropes and clichés while rehashing the same stories over and over.

Most fans will agree that the first two Hellraiser films are horror classics; both fresh and innovative at the time, changing the cinematic landscape of horror and give us some of the best kills, blood, and gore of the 80s, and launching Pinhead and the Cenobites into household names. Not only that, but the films pair well together. One can view those films individually or watch them back to back. Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 are connected within the same universe, with similar tone and feel – mostly thanks to Clive Barker and crew returning from the first movie to shoot the second.

Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth took a different approach. The tone was vastly different, and instead of telling a tale of tortured souls, it quickly turned into a body count movie once the box was opened – to some, this was the last good Hellraiser movie.

After Dimension Films bought of the franchise rights (and has had them since) they produced their first Hellraiser film – Hellraiser: Bloodline. Most fans will agree Hellraiser took a turn for the worse starting with Hellraiser: Bloodline in 1996 (Bloodline is also the last Hellraiser film to play in theaters).

After the failure of Hellraiser: Bloodline at the box office in the Spring of 1996, the following six films were released onto Dimensions direct to video market, starting with Hellraiser: Inferno, (directed by a then unknown Scott Derrickson, Dr. Strange, Sinister, and The Exorcism of Emily Rose). Not only was Inferno the first Hellraiser film released on video, it was also the start of Dimension trying to save money by not writing new script for the Hellraiser films, but rather, reworking an existing script and tailoring the Hellraiser universe into the films – a trend that would continue up until Hellraiser: Hellworld.

But the biggest blow to the series would come when Doug Bradley left the role of Pinhead, after feeling the script for Hellraiser: Revelations wasn’t finished, and that his pay for the film was small. In 2011 Dimension Films realized they were about to lose the rights to the Hellraiser films, they quickly rushed Hellraiser: Revelations into production with just $350,000 budget; prepping for the film was three weeks (including casting a new Pinhead, Stephan Smith Collins) and shooting took place in eleven days – though this time they were working from a script that was written to be a Hellraiser film.

By now, most know the real horror that is Hellraiser: Revelations, so there is no need to go into it here.

That brings us to the newest film: Hellraiser: Judgement.

And most want to know: is Hellraiser: Judgement even worth the time to watch?

Simply put: Yes.

The film follows the Auditor (Tunnicliffe) as he tells head Cenobite Pinhead (now played by Paul T. Taylor) that the Lament Configuration (the box) is outdated, and if they want to collect new souls, they need to find another way – which The Auditor soon sets out to do by finding murderers, rapists & pedophiles and other individuals who have sinned. These people are then interviewed by The Auditor, where they are questioned about their sins and logged on paper by a typewriter that uses the victims own blood as ink. After a trial process, first going to The Assessor (John Gulager, Feast, Piranha 3DD) and then to the jury for final verdict. Once found guilty, the victims are sent to be cleaned and then to the Surgeon.

At the same time this is going on, Detective brothers Sean and David Carter are hunting down a serial killer that is leaving victims around the city, leaving a religious quote from the Bible at the murder scenes. While at the latest crime scene, they are informed by Detective Christine Egerton that she has been assigned to help them solve the case, and may or may not be there to spy on them. Soon the killer they are hunting, and the world of the Cenobites, begin to cross paths that will lead the three of them into Hell’s open arms.

Hellraiser: Judgement is quite different than the previous films, almost rebooting the series without really going that far – it still fits in the Hellraiser universe and as a sequel, but the film is its own thing. At the same time Judgement is trying to expand the Hellraiser mythos, something that hasn’t been done since Hellbound.

Directed by make-up effects artist, Gary J. Tunnicliffe, who also plays The Auditor, set out to make a gruesome, world-expanding, Hellraiser film, and for the most part succeeds with what he was given to work with – just $350,000. The script, also by Tunnicliffe, is decent and builds upon the world already established in Hellraiser, while at the same time adding things not seen before, like The Auditor and The Assessor, and even a gateway where Angels and Demons interact.

The film looks dark, dirty and nasty, like it was soaked in piss, with a nasty yellowish/brown lighting pallet that leaves one feeling like one needs a bath after watching it. The tone of the film is just as nasty as it’s lighting, with depraved characters, topless faceless women, nude female “cleaners”, the dirty, fat Butcher, and the leather-clad Surgeon that looks like something straight out of a bondage film. Gore, depravity, and nudity are abound in this instalment.

The Cenobites are twisted mutilated bodies, souls that have been bound and tortured in Hell and are now doing the Hell Priest’s (Pinhead) bidding – look for another famous Cenobite to make his return in the film as well.

The acting in the film is decent. The leads do their jobs to the best of their ability and fully commit to the film. The stand out performance might be Tunnicliffe himself as the Auditor. The scenes where he’s interviewing characters are fascinating to watch as the dialog unfolds and you begin to discover what he’s up to.

Paul T. Taylor as Pinhead was also well cast in the film. He looks similar to Doug Bradley in size and facial features, pulling off Pinhead’s prowess – you can quickly forget that you’re not watching Doug Bradley, but another actor play the Hell Priest as they feel they are one in the same at times. Not only does he have a similar look to Doug Bradley, he played Pinhead very similar to the way Bradley played Pinhead – stoic, unflinching, menacing, with a speech pattern that was almost identical to Bradley’s performance. If another Hellraiser is made, and Paul T. Taylor returns, he could possibly be the new face of the series going forward.

There are times where the low budget does show, especially when there should be a room filled with cops but only the three main leads are in the room – though they do explain most of this away but it still shows. Tunnicliffe uses a lot of close-ups to hide the fact that there isn’t high production behind the camera, but makes it work none-the-less to tell the story, which is mostly inside dimly lit rooms.

The effects in the film are done very well, with plenty of blood, body parts, and Cenobites to fill up the 81 min run time, and Tunnicliffe, handles these parts easily and knows how to shoot them since his background is in F/X. Now, after seeing the film, this was where most of the budget probably went.

Tunnicliffe’s direction on the film is decent and he handles the subject matter affably, while at the same time steering the ship of the Hellraiser franchise in the right direction. If Tunnicliffe returns to direct another Hellraiser movie, and Paul T. Taylor is back as Pinhead, it will be interesting to see where they take the series.

Also make sure to watch the post credit sequence.

7/10 Stars

Annabelle: Creation: Movie Review

Westley Smith

A few months ago The Crimson Screen reviewed the trailer to Annabelle: Creation and were not overly impressed with what we saw, not to mention confused on how this film related to the 2014 film Annabelle and The Conjuring. As noted in that article: it’s a real head scratcher.

To say that Annabelle had overstayed her welcome may have been a fair assessment. The first film, directed by John R. Leonetti (Wish Upon) wasn’t horrible, and it did have a few moments that were scary: The scene where Annabelle sits up and the demon is behind her, holding her, and the basement scene were both particularly well done. But there was WAAAAY too much padding in between the scares, with an overly predictable plot and stiff characters, and the way Annabelle (the doll) became cursed by a demon seem…well…odd – a drop of blood falls onto the doll and it’s suddenly cursed by a demon.

Okay…? It made no sense?

I know that Annabelle is pretty disliked around the horror community and people have voiced their opinion on the film openly on social media, being far less kind than I was above about the film. I think the point to Annabelle: Creation was a way of righting the wrongs made on the first Annabelle film without rebooting, resetting – whatever you want to call it – the Annabelle storyline.
So do they succeed?


The story follows a doll maker, (Anthony LaPaglia) and his wife (Miranda Otto), after losing their daughter in a horrific car accident. Twelve years after their daughter’s death, they welcome in a nun (Stephanie Sigman) and several children into their lavish, but out in the middle of nowhere, home. But what seems to be the ideal place for these kids, soon turns into a nightmare when Annabelle is unlocked.

The film was directed by David F. Sandberg (Lights Out) and produced by James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring). This time, Annabelle was handle right. The thing is: Annabelle – the doll – isn’t really that scary. She, unlike say Chucky from Child’s Play, doesn’t do anything; it’s what’s lurking inside of her that is scary, the demon, so everything around the doll needs to be scary, more-so than the doll itself.

That’s how this film is built. The tension is so tight with a slow burn story that by the end you are riveted to the screen, unable to take your eyes off what is happening.

There were several times in the film where I found myself gripping the seat in terror – there is a really effective jump scare that is nothing (and I mean that, nothing) but the way the tension is built around the scene I damn near came out of my skin. Seriously I did. And this is how Annabelle: Creation is, you find yourself jumping at just about everything, including small noises and creeks because the tension is so thick you can cut it with a knife at times. There were several times I heard people gasping at just noises.

The cinematography is fantastic in the film and Sandberg really knows how to use the camera to provoke fear with very effective use of low lighting, shadows and spots of pitch blackness where the demon lurks; it leaves so much to your imagination about what’s in the darkness that you can’t help but become frightened. There were times in the film where people started laughing, not because the scene was funny, but because they were so scared they had to release their fear, laughing was the only way. It was great!

I also really enjoyed the religious symbolism throughout the film. If you keep your eyes open you’ll see there are a lot of crucifixes in the movie, both upright and upside down, and that at times, sunlight casts crosses on the walls. This little added detail really helped the mood of the film and the battle of good vs evil.

All the actors in the film do a wonderful job, especially the two young leads (Talitha Bateman and Lulu Wilson) who have to endure most of the demons torment. The always wonderful Anthony LaPaglia was convincing in his roll of heartbroken father and caretaker of Miranda Otto’s creepy, but mysterious, Ester Mullins who’s locked herself away in her bedroom for unknown reasons.

Also keep an eye out for some Easter Eggs in the film that are going to be expanded upon further as this Conjuring Universe begins to build. There is one scene in the film (that is an Easter Egg) but done so masterfully, and extremely creepy, that it sends chills running right up your back. Oh, and stick around after the credits, there is a post credit scene…

Like I said above, Annabelle: Creation is a slow burn movie, and has the feel of a much older haunted house movie, like The Changeling, and it doesn’t rely on cheap jump scares with a loud noise to scare you; in fact there are very few traditional jump scares in the film, rather relying on tone, mood, setting, really well done sound design (maybe the best I’ve ever heard) and one really scary demon to frighten the bejesus out of you. Annabelle: Creation takes its times to get to the scares, letting the plot, characters, and mystery unfold slowly while the tension builds and builds into the final climax of the film when all hell breaks loose.

And the way they tied Annabelle: Creation to Annabelle was brilliant, and may just save that film from being looked at as unfavorably as it was when first viewed. I know I now look at the first Annabelle differently after seeing Annabelle: Creation and I think others will too.

10 out of 10 Stars

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