From an artistic standpoint, the Horror sequel is a risky thing. One of the main reasons Horror works as a catharsis is that we have to deal with unfamiliar situations - we must face and overcome out fears. A sequel, by its very nature, brings a familiarity to the proceedings that makes the Horror that much more difficult to achieve. On the other hand, Horror films almost always end in a unsettled manner which makes the viewer almost demand more to the story. One of the common ways filmmakers solve these problems is to make the sequels ‘bigger’ - larger body counts, more outrageous set pieces, etc. Most of the time, this is a transparent and lazy way to do it and audiences see through it. Sometimes, however, a sequel will do all of this and still make an interesting expansion of its own mythology. One of these rare films was 1988’s HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER 2.
Picking up some time after the events of HELLRAISER, we begin with Kristy Cotton (played by Ashley Laurence) in an institution who finds a message, written in blood, from her father in her cell. She brings this to the attention of the doctors and events are set into motion that eventually lead her into the “Cenobite realm” - otherwise known as Hell. Pinhead (our main villain from HELLRAISER) returns as well as the rest of the Cenobite gang, bringing a few new demons with them.
The main draw of HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER 2 is its vision of Hell. Far from the fiery, volcanic realm of old, the Hell of this film is a vast, cold, labyrinthine place and its Cenobites are disfigured, S&M inspired perversions of nature. These are beings that take great pleasure in the pain of others and their design reflects this in a way that is both disgusting and intriguing. The design and look of HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER 2 is second to none.
One of the most striking and enduring elements of this film is the score. A gothic, bombastic, epic score that shifts effortlessly into demonic haunt and beauty. Although Danny Elman’s work with Tim Burton is often cited as the start of the contemporary ‘gothic’ orchestral sound, Christopher Young’s work here set the template a full year before the release of BATMAN. Indeed, many film scoring aficionados hear an awful lot of Young’s HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER 2 in Elman’s BATMAN score. Intentional or not, there is no doubt at all that Christopher Young’s score came first, and it’s a doozy.
Hear for yourself!
As flawed a film as it is, HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER 2 is a notable achievement. There are precious few Horror sequels that build and improve on its source material, and this one does it with great aplomb. The HELLRAISER movies that came after are unfortunate, to say the least, but this franchise’s immediate follow-up was more than worthy of its originator - and that is something few other Horror franchises can boast.
HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER 2 fun facts - The horn sound emanating from Leviathan at the center of Hell is playing morse code for “God”.
Clive Barker decided to only produce this film after having directed HELLRAISER. Tony Randel was chosen to direct since he ahd worked on the previous film.
Pinhead - “Time to play...”
Pinhead- “Your suffering will be legendary even in Hell.”
Channard Cenobite - “…and to think… I hesitated.”