Hellbound: Hellraiser II is a perfect compliment to the first installment of the franchise. In fact, the two films blend together so perfectly I almost view them as one single, really long movie. While the original Hellraiser introduced audiences to the Cenobites, Hell and the Lament Configuration, Hellbound goes in-depth into the mythos of Hellraiser, establishing their version of Hell as well as the origin of the Cenobites. They’re the two best installments in the franchise, that much is agreed upon by most fans, and I really couldn’t recommend you watch one without seeing the other.
Picking up where Hellraiser left off, Kirsty is in a psychiatric clinic due to her insane ramblings about Hell and demons killing her father. While in the clinic, Kirsty gets a message from her father, telling her he’s suffering in Hell and needs help. Kirsty becomes determined to rescue her Dad, but can’t quite figure out how. Enter Dr. Channard, a surgeon and psychiatrist at the clinic who has been obsessing over the Cenobites and the Lament Configuration all his life. He obtains the mattress Julia (Kirsty’s evil step mother) died on and uses it to resurrect the hag. Along with the help of a mute girl with a gift for solving puzzles, they open the gate to Hell and Kirsty follows. Within the Labyrinth of Hell we learn the origin of the Cenobites and who really sent for Kirsty’s aid.
Although directed by Tony Randel, the atmosphere and tone of the film is virtually identical to that of the last. The two movies mesh together quite well, and while Clive Barker didn’t direct this time around, he did write the script and keep an eye on production, ensuring everything was kept up to his standards. Unfortunately, future studio-mandated sequels won’t allow Barker so much control over production, resulting in some rather bad installments in the series. Never-the-less, Hellbound is still very good.
The film is a bit more surreal than the previous entry. This should be expected, though, as Hell isn’t exactly a very linear place. The underlying concept about the human mind being a puzzle all its own adds to the craziness, with lots of freaky flashbacks and dream sequences. The budget is noticeably increased from the last film, with quite a bit of attention being paid to the sets and the new and old Cenobites. The Labyrinth of Hell is a magnificent sight and a fresh alternative to the stereotypical cavernous desert wasteland most works of fiction interpret it as. The new Cenobite who appears at the end (I won’t ruin his identity for you in case you haven’t seen the movie) is quite the eye candy, with stop-motion snakes coming out of his hands and a massive tentacle attached to his head, hoisting him above ground at all times.
Ashley Laurence delivers another excellent performance as our heroine, Kirsty, while Clare Higgins makes Julia even more sinister than before. Doug Bradley also adds some depth to the character of Pinhead, particularly once you learn his origin.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II is just as good as the original and an installment in the series that can’t be missed. I’d almost go so far as to say it’s required viewing for anybody who has seen the first film.