Don’t forget Darrell’s new book Dead Or Alive: British Horror Films 1980-1989 is available to buy now.
Festival edition paperback is available at £20 direct from Darrell via Paypal to Darrell@buxton.freeserve.co.uk
Or you could plump for the gorgeous hardback at £60 via Lulu – here
HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II
Thanks for all turning up today in support of my new book ‘Dead or Alive’, and thanks to all the contributors without whose reviews and insights the book simply would not be a reality. Some of those involved on my writing team are in the audience today so get them to sign your copy of the book.
While putting ‘Dead or Alive’ together I knew we’d be planning a book launch party, and am thrilled that it is all happening on home turf at my local venue, Quad. I have been pondering for a while about which of the hundred or so movies covered in the book would be best suited to screen as an accompaniment on our publication day. Would it be THE SHINING, perhaps my favourite horror film of the era? No, not considered ‘British’ enough by most fans. How about INSEMINOID or XTRO, as examples of the cheap and cheerful, completely nutty side of UK film production? Hmm, both too science-fictiony to truly represent the horror genre. Titles like THE APPOINTMENT, THE ORCHARD END MURDER, HAND OF DEATH PART 25 were on my list too but aren’t available in quality versions for big screen presentation. VENOM from 1981, with its killer snake being perhaps the sixth or seventh most dangerous member of the cast trailing behind Klaus “achtung!” Kinski, Sarah “I’m mad, me” Miles, Nicol “anyone got a light?” Williamson and Ollie “mine’s a pint” Reed, is a cracking crowd pleaser but again is perhaps only part horror movie, part David Attenborough documentary, part crazy episode of The Sweeney. So, in the end it came down to a choice of two Clive Barker-related flicks. Not HELLRAISER – it’s a film I like a lot, but this is Darrell you’re talking about, I never go for the obvious and I genuinely prefer RAWHEAD REX and HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II to the Barker-directed introduction to the Cenobites.
So I’ve plumped for HELLBOUND. Our book shows that the so-called ‘British horror film’ was nothing of the sort during the 80s. We’ve covered films shot in America, like BLACK RAINBOW and NIGHTMARE WEEKEND; Anglo-Greek movies DEATH IN THE FAMILY and BLOOD TIDE; Anglo-Kenyan killer baboon epic IN THE SHADOW OF KILIMANJARO; tenuously connected UK financed titles from THE HILLS HAVE EYES PART 2 to EDGE OF SANITY; science fiction/horror hybrids like SATURN 3 and HARDWARE; and titles directed by foreigners, THE SHINING, ALIENS, LIFEFORCE, THE KEEP, AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, etc. Of course HELLBOUND was directed by an American too, Tony Randel; and rather controversially, seems to set itself in a strange transatlantic world with highbrow British actors like Clare Higgins and Ken Cranham mixing it with Yankee coppers and teenagers. But production wise, HELLBOUND oozes Englishness, yet does so with a spectacular sense of reach and ambition. HELLRAISER astonished everyone, being the first UK movie for several years to be released theatrically while being pitched as an out-and-out horror film. The idea that someone should make a quick sequel the following year was almost unheard of. Again, wasn’t this the way those Americans did business? Yes, those rich, successful Americans…
So, mere months after our introduction to Pinhead – or Lead Cenobite, as Barker would have it – and his masochistic cronies, they were back. Though what many overlook with regard to HELLRAISER one and two is that the Cenobites aren’t really the villains. Sure, they chain and gouge and maim and torment, but only commit such foul deeds against those who dare to gamble against them, usually evil minded types grasping for whatever they can swindle out of life or something beyond. So where Frank and to some extent Julia offer the true face of ghastliness in the original, here it’s Kenneth Cranham’s suited authority figure, and cover star of our book, Dr Channard, who dominates, challenging the authority of the Cenobites in his own bid to rule the netherworld. And HELLBOUND supports this grand scheme with the most lavish depiction of hell that a typical British movie industry budget of two and six can buy. Like Hammer Films relying on Bernard Robinson hanging a bit of drapery between two cast-off Polystyrene columns and somehow passing it off as Dracula’s palatial dwelling, the production designers and effects folk here work wonders on next to nothing.
Famously, of course, the movie was slashed to ribbons on its first UK release. We’re presenting the entire shebang, however, in which the only thing that gets slashed to ribbons is the unfortunate supporting cast, most notable during one scene involving a haunted mattress at which the more lily-livered viewers may wish to avert their gaze. What am I saying, it’s you lot…
I first reviewed HELLBOUND for an issue of my fanzine back in 1988, and noting how it brought back most of the survivors from the original plus added a raft of new faces, I described it as “a coach party into the Inferno”. So it’s time to grab your seats on that charabanc, put your knotted hankies on, crack open the beers, and prepare to descend into Hades with the whole gang. Dr Channard is in. And the prognosis isn’t good. Dead or alive, we’re Hellbound…