Hellbound: Hellraiser II (Tony Randel, 1988, UK)

Made immediately following the original HellraiserHellbound: Hellraiser II expands on the lore of the prior film. Whereas the original Hellraiser was primarily a domestic drama, Hellbound is a full-blown fantasy film. That the filmmakers were able to pull this off successfully is a testament to the creative team behind the film and not so much to New World Pictures - who were undergoing financial difficulties that curtailed the budget of the film significantly (later entries in the franchise were produced by Bob Weinstein's Dimension label). Despite these limitations, Hellbound might be the superior of the two films.

Taking a cue from other popular franchises, Hellraiser's follow-up begins in a psychiatric hospital where our protagonist from the prior film, Kirsty (Ashley Laurence), is recovering from the events of the first film. The head of the hospital, Dr. Channard (Kenneth Cranham) is our chief antagonist, and he ends up resurrecting Kirsty's stepmother Julia (Clare Higgins) in what is the film's most brutal scene. Introduced as well is Imogen Boorman as Tiffany, a character straight out of Nightmare on Elm Street: Dream WarriorsTiffany, a mute girl who is an expert at solving problems, has been enlisted by Channard to solve the Lament Configuration and give him access to this world beyond reality.

While Hellbound's narrative is not as tight as the original film and lacks the erotic tension that propelled that first film forward, it is nevertheless a feast for the senses. This feels at times like a straight-up monster movie, and some of the visual set pieces will have you asking how they were able to imagine such things. Given that Clive Barker's career trended into the realm of fantasy during the 1990s, it is a fitting companion piece. While perhaps not as great as its predecessor, Hellbound is a solid companion piece.



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