I didn't get this film. I liked it, sure, you don't have to understand something to like it, but nevertheless. Alright. The story picks up from Hellraiser 1, with our heroine Whatshername in a mental institute for babbling on about what happened when Pinhead and his cenobite mates crashed her parents' party.

In an early scene we have Whatshername wake up to discover some bloody skinless man scrawling words on her cell wall. She's understandably just a wee bit surprised, and expresses her surprise quite vocally. In rush the doctors. Hmm, how strange, the bloody man has gone. Whatshername (I think she was called Kirsty) says she thinks it was her father, who was killed in the last film by another bloody skinless man.

What I want to know is how Kirsten knew the thing was Pops. She didn't really see much, did she. A person, no skin, writing message. One flayed person looks pretty much like another, as the make-up artists for this film noted. The only clue we have that it was her da was the message - "I am in Hell. Help me." This doesn't really narrow it down, though, because (as we will soon learn) Hell has no shortage of bloody skinless people. And Hell's a big place, how's she going to know where to look? The least he could have done was left a postal address or contact number.

"Hello, this is Bob. I can't come to the phone right now as the minions of Leviathan are sticking sharp hooks on chains in my flesh. Leave a message after the ungodly scream of distress."

Anyway, the head doctor (Channard) of this little hospital o' fun outwardly doesn't believe Kylie's story, but then we find out he's secretly studying the puzzle box that opens a gateway to Hell, in his thirst for knowledge. There's this mattress belonging to Kylie's stepmother that she died on after the cenobites (Pinhead and co) came for her and her husband and her lover and everyone else, and guess what Doc Channard's furnished his office with? That's right, that self-same mattress. Possibly some kind of black magic equivalent of Feng Shui.

Then he plonks some loony on the mattress, hands him a razor blade and just leaves him to it. This is obviously what they call 'progressive treatment'. He bleeds nicely onto said mattress, then suddenly out bursts - surprise, surprise - a bloody skinless person. But it's a woman this time. She absorbs the loony. Why look, it's Krystal's stepmum. Doc Channard obviously has this thing for ladies in red as they instantly fall in love. I know, I didn't write this silly film.

Then there's a very boring very Hellraiser 1 sequence where the Doc brings her loads of eventual corpses she can absorb. She does and soon all her flesh has returned. Then the heroine chick whose name begins with K finds all the corpses and the stepmum and gets laid out on the floor. Then, bizarrely enough, Doc and Mum forget about her and toddle off back to the institute and plonk a certain dodgy puzzle box into the hands of some mute kid who's good at puzzles. She solves it.

Hello, children.

Bang, bright lights, gateways to Hell open, and out pop the real characters of the series. You know this is the bit I've been waiting a whole film for. Pinhead, the chick whose open-throat surgery never got finished, the fat guy with the cool shades and the bloke with all the teeth. They all arrive and surround the puzzle solver.

It's funny, but what happens when you solve the puzzle box seems to vary from user to user. With some people these hooks on chains burst out of the box and embed themselves in whatever fleshy flaps the human body can cope with. With others there's just a few neat lighting effects and a wall splits apart to reveal a gateway to Down Under, and I don't mean Australia.

Interestingly enough it seems that the former applies only to men and the latter to foxy young women. Perhaps the cenobites are all a load of lecherous pervs who like torturing girls so much that they feel they should welcome them personally, rather than leave it in the oft-clumsy paws of whatever keeps hurling those darn hooks on chains.

Into Hell goes Channard and his new chick. Mute girl follows them. Oddly enough, Kevin (or whatever her stupid name is) appears, sees the puzzle box and the doorway, and just trots in without a second's thought or regret. Is this girl stupid, or something? She knows where the door leads, she had a sneaky peeky last film. And she knows it's not the most ideal of holiday destinations. This is a horror film, isn't she supposed to walk in really slowly, eyes wide and sweat pouring from every gland in her face, while the camera does that thing where the background gets smaller? But no, she just trots in. I can hardly blame the cenobites for then assuming she'd like nothing better than a few solid millenia of constant agony. I would.

Meanwhile stepmum introduces Channard to her boss. Leviathan, master of Hell. No tentacles, no drippy orifices, apparently Leviathan is a big diamond thing with black searchlights coming out of it. Stepmum pushes the doc into a box thing and the doc starts on his way down the long road to cenobitehood. He's not too keen on being injected with blue stuff, or being wrapped in piano wire. Neither does he look too thrilled when he receives a Frenchie from some tentacle thing. Stepmum, you utter bitch.

Channard contemplating his new hairdo.

Kenneth, lost in the middle of Hell, finds herself in her father's personal Hell. Oh wait. It's her uncle's personal Hell. The one who filled stepmum's role in Hellraiser 1. I knew that silly chick didn't really know who sent that message, it was uncle, not daddy, you silly deluded child. He's been tormented for years by these skinless cock-teasers in white sheets. Don't get me wrong but that sounds a hell of a lot better than getting hooks through every bit of flesh you could conceivably put a hook through. Perhaps torment in Hell runs on a rota system, and this is what you get on weekends.

"Monday - flaying, Tuesday - barbed wire, then it's the old hooks on chains from Wednesday to Friday, then you can spend the weekend in a Hell that doesn't actually hurt but will make you cry like a girl, how's that sound?"


Then there's a load of old testicles involving bitch stepmum having her skin pulled off and the Doc coming back as a vicious Cenobite who slaughters all his patients and laughs, then Pinhead and his pasty mates turn back into humans and get killed by Channard, muyadda yadda yadda.

Then we get to the bit that I really didn't get. That mute girl (who picked up the power of speech somewhere along the way) is dangling by her fingertips over certain death when along comes bitch stepmum, last seen falling down a corridor minus her skin, who asks ex-mute to trust her and offers a hand. Ex-mute clings to hand but the skin starts coming off. This woman has found it extremely difficult to hang onto her skin for this whole movie. I suppose it's like teeth - difficult to remove, but that seems like plain sailing when it comes to try and put them back in.

Anyway, bitch stepmum pulls ex-mute (sounds like an adjective from a Marvel comic, doesn't it) back onto ledge and mute is expecting bitch to do something nasty to her, when bitch stepmum suddenly pulls her face off and - joy of joys - it's Kirsty underneath.

WTF?!! Did I miss something?! At what point did bitch stepmum become K-girl underneath? Last we saw Kylie she was sort of hanging around in the background while weird stuff happened to stepmum and mute. Mute falls and clings to ledge. Apparently at this point Kenneth kills bitch and puts her skin on. Why, is the question we have to ask. Did she fancy a bit of a change? Was her old skin getting a bit tatty? Was she trying to pull a fast one to stop Leviathan from bunging her in the cenobite-o-matic?

And here's a little fashion tip - wearing a person's skin doesn't make you look like them. At best you look like some kind of bloated parody of that person, and at worst you will cease receiving invites to respectable parties. If this was some sort of metaphor I could sort of understand it, but who's wacky idea was it to sellotape some meaning onto the end of what has been a generally understandable horror flick? Did they get bored writing the screenplay at the last minute and pass it on to some drama students to finish?

Anyway, here's the ratings.

Fingers in ears rating - 2/10
Surprisingly, Hellraiser 2 didn't have any truly 'jump and scream like a girl' moments. The two points come from the bits where people get hooks on chains through them and the screaming gets unsettling.

Similarity to last film rating - 5/10
The first half was basically Hellraiser 1 with a few genders switched around, but after that it all goes weird and cobwebby and metaphory. You disappoint me, Mr. Barker.

Blood and guts rating - 8/10
This scale goes from 10 being Braindead (Dead-Alive if you're a wuss) and 1 being, say, Mrs. Doubtfire. Hellraiser 2 does not disappoint in the gore area, what with hooks on chains and nails in heads and all that malarky. But it's still not up to Braindead standard. Only Braindead comes to Braindead standard.

Overall horror movie sequel rating - 6/10
Would have been higher, but Hellraiser 2 does not go along with ordinary horror movie sequels, in that it's actually on a similar level of quality to the original. But less meaning, more killing, please.

Quality Rating: 61%

One-Word Summary: "Viscera"

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