Hellbound is in an odd position. Hellraiser is an acknowledged horror/Hell classic, but a lot of viewers ignore the rest of the Hellraiser series. That’s understandable: horror movie sequels are notorious for being cash-ins. You take everything that was great about the first movie and then you do it cheaper and worse. By the time you get to Halloween 7 or Nightmare on Elm Street 4 or Hellraiser 8, you’ve lost everything that mattered.
Hellbound isn’t a mindless cash-in. Clive Barker still designed the story, and several of the actors from the first film return. Hellraiser was special because of its unique mix of gore and psychological horror; Hellbound loses some of the psychological angle, but it has an interesting enough version of the underworld to make it worth watching.
Set-Up: Traumatized by the events of the first movie, our heroine Kirsty starts out locked up in a mental ward. She tries to warn everyone, but no one listens. The first half of the movie has too many flashbacks to the first film, but once the story gets going, we find more and more people tortured by the Cenobites and the puzzle-boxes, with plenty of gross-out gore. 7/10.
Scope: Hellraiser takes place on Earth, but the second half of Hellbouund takes our characters to a highly stylized Hell/labyrinth. In my opinion, this is the most interesting part of the movie. The effects suffer a bit, but you’ve got some spooky nightmarish stuff. 8/10.
Horror: This isn’t as scary as Hellraiser, largely because it lacks the psychological elements of the first. The gore is just gore, the scares just scares. Despite this, Pinhead and his hooks are as creepy as ever, even if they have less of an impact the second time around. 7/10.
Originality: You can’t be original by repeating yourself, and that’s exactly what Hellbound does. This is very much a direct sequel, happening immediately after the fist movie. It never really establishes its own identity. Still, the world is disturbing enough that a deeper look at it is intriguing. 6/10.
Enjoyability: All of that said, Hellbound is still a better than average horror film. Some of the gross-out moments are chilling, and seeing more of Pinhead’s Hell is never bad. 7/10.
Total: 35/50. Well worth watching if you liked the first film, and the final decent chapter of the Hellraiser saga. Any true Hell fan owes it to themselves to read The Hellbound Heart and watch Hellraiser and this movie.
Other Takes: There’s a wide range of opinions about Hellbound on WordPress; some like it better than Hellraiser, and some don’t:
Late to the Theater
The Satellite Show
Films and Lice
The Pork-Chop Express
I’m intrigued by the idea this film is better than Hellraiser. I never felt that myself, but I guess you could argue this is a more coherent horror film with more effective pacing; Hellraiser was a short, great film about the Cenobites attached to a somewhat duller film about infidelity. At the least, this is more unified.