Hellraiser - Deader 
DVD Horror-Thriller
Written by Abbie Bernstein   
Tuesday, 07 June 2005

Hellraiser: Deader
Dimension Home Video
MPAA rating: R
starring: Kari Wuhrer, Paul Rhys, Simon Kunz, Doug Bradley, Marc Warren, Georgina Rylance
film release year: N/A
DVD release year: 2005
film rating: Three Stars
sound/picture rating: Three Stars
reviewed by: Abbie Bernstein

“Hellraiser: Deader,” aka “Hellraiser 7,” is a reasonably decent “Hellraiser” film, which is to say it is grim, bloody and drifts a bit. The problem with most of the “Hellraiser” movies (this one included) is that they omit a key factor from the Clive Barker novella “Hellbound” that inspired it: you can’t figure out why the characters think getting themselves into these predicaments is a good idea in the first place.

In this latest installment in the “Hellraiser” series, expatriate American journalist Amy Klein (Kari Wuhrer), working for a London tabloid, is summoned by her editor Carl (Simon Kunz) to investigate a disturbing videotape. The action appears to show a young woman urged into gory suicide – and then coming back from the dead. Amy heads to Bucharest, the alleged source of the tape, and finds a cult of “deaders.” Amy’s own troubled background makes her ripe for recruitment, but her problems don’t stop there – she encounters a very strange little box …

“Hellraiser” fans will recognize the box as the Lament Configuration, which summons Pinhead (Doug Bradley, essaying the character for the seventh time) and his gang of Cenobites, who really get the gore going. The film is bigger on creepy atmosphere and bloody spectacle – both of which it handles remarkably well on a tight budget – than on actual scares, though it boasts a few good shocks. The screenplay by Neal Marshall Stevens and Tim Day is a hybrid that started (in Stevens’ original draft) as a non-“Hellraiser” film – the other version may have shown more of the appeal of the resurrection cult. At least the cult’s leader, Winter (Paul Rhys), is given a reason (which we know to be wrongheaded, even if he doesn’t) to want the box – there just doesn’t seem to be any upside to being one of his followers. The film does make a point of showing a variety of self-destructive paraphernalia throughout, as though trying to draw parallels between the Deaders and heroin addicts, but addicts at least get a rush, whereas the Deaders seem to just get their worst nihilistic moods reinforced.

Director Rick Bota gets steady, good performances from his cast and creates a strong, grim look, especially in a more horrific than usual (even for one of these) sequences with a semi-fresh corpse in Chapter 4. The 5.1 mix uses surround to put some creepy sounds behind as well as in front of us, though there are no discrete effects as such.

The disc comes with two commentary tracks, one with director Bota and actor Bradley, who have a nice rapport and chat insightfully about judicious use of Pinhead, and another with director Bota and special effects supervisor Gary J. Tunnecliffe, which is agreeable and informative. A making-of featurette consists mainly of interviews with Bota and actress Wuhrer. Perhaps the most notable item on the disc is the featurette on visual effects, headed up by CGI supervisor Jamison Goei – it’s one of the most informative and detailed of its kind (if you don’t mind heavy-duty splatter as part of the visuals).

“Hellraiser: Deader” is oddly faithful to its ethos – it’s a bleak, bloody supernatural tone poem that makes just enough narrative sense to be very dark. It doesn’t add anything new to the horror discussion, but it does know how to strike a pose.

more details
sound format:
English 5.1 Dolby Surround
aspect ratio(s):
special features: Audio Commentary Track with Director Rick Bota and Special Effects Artist Gary J. Tunnicliffe; Audio Commentary Track with Bota and Actor Doug Bradley; Deleted and Extended Scenes with Optional Director Commentary; Making-Of Featurette; Visual Effects Featurette; Practical Effects Featurette; Outtake Reel; Storyboard-to-Film Comparisons; Location Scout Videos; Photo Gallery; French and Spanish Subtitles; English Closed-Captioning
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reference system
DVD player: Kenwood DV-403
receiver: Kenwood VR-407
main speakers: Paradigm Atom
center speaker: Paradigm CC-170
rear speakers: Paradigm ADP-70
subwoofer: Paradigm PDR-10
monitor: 27-inch Toshiba

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