Hellraiser managed to take a character who hardly had any screen time and turn him into a household name. It’s safe to say it left an impression. After leaving a tantalising scar on the public’s imagination, the world of Hellraiser was begging for an extension. In 1988, that sequel was realised, giving a further look at the survivors of the ‘87 classic and a look into its origins in Hellbound: Hellraiser 2.
Confined to a psychiatric hospital after the events of the first film young Kirsty is slowly adjusting to her new life in the facility, trying to put the nightmares she faced behind her. But when a lead psychologist at the institute, Dr Channard, becomes obsessed with Lament Configuration (the puzzle box from the previous film), using the blood-stained mattress from Kirsty’s home and the talents of Tiffany (another younger patient with a knack for puzzles) to bring back the imprisoned Julia from her captives. But the doctor’s plan has unforeseen consequences and deadly consequences. Now it is up to Kirsty to face her fears once again and go deep in the heart of the Lament Configuration.
As it returns to a broader audience, Hellbound feels bigger in scope to Hellraiser. The film tries to bring in a lot more camp humour to its proceedings, as certain members of the Cotton family make a grisly but stylish return, it is clear to see that death has liberated Julia, who is a lot more relaxed and menacing without skin. Though, this could be due to the change of scenery. The new location of the hospital is a nice area, chock full of steam tunnels and decrepit cells to heighten the terror. These are countered with swanky apartments and stylish offices decked out in occultists memorabilia are just some of the many places the action takes us.
The iconic Cenobite, Pinhead, has some light shone on his shadowy origins, while I’m a sucker for a good backstory, the film commits to a deeper dive into the enigmatic antagonists. As Hellbound shows us how the other half lives, in an unending labyrinth, it is a well-designed nightmare-scape, with equally inventive inhabitants. A further testament to the amount of world-building, where you still leave with a lot of question making the Cenobite and their ways even more mysterious.
Diving into the lore is a good direction for this sequel to take, its appeal is broader and provides a persuading target for thrill-seekers and connoisseurs of gore. Faces both new and old manage to inspire a spark, bringing a fresh coat of fear to the familiar. If you like the first one, I can recommend another dose of the gospel according to the Cenobite.
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