Hellraiser: Deader (2005)
The Hellraiser saga has been straight-to-video for years. Deader, the seventh entry, illustrates why. The film is stunningly awful. From its absurd premise, shudder-worthy dialogue, and amateurish acting to its disheartening abandonment of the original Hellraiser lore, Deader makes me wonder if future entries even deserve a medium as popular as DVD. Maybe there's hope for a Lifetime movie of the week?
Video scream queen and soap star Kari Wuhrer (The Prophecy: Uprising) is Amy Klein, a hard-boiled American writing for an underground British newspaper. How do we know she's hard-boiled? She smokes in every scene, curses at her boss, and rattles off lame, Stallone-caliber one-liners. She's not a character, she's a visual stereotype, and a poorly acted visual stereotype at that. Wuhrer may be a beauty, but she's an awful actress. Klein is assigned to investigate a Romanian cult that apparently kills its members before resurrecting them with a supernatural kiss.
The plot is not your typical Hellraiser fare. The script was originally penned outside of the Hellraiser franchise and then adapted to the series by Dimension. It shows. An idea that could have drawn fresh blood from one of the most mismanaged horror franchises in history instead embarasses its predecessors and insults Hellraiser fans. The Pinhead/puzzlebox portions of Deader are tacked-on and, as a result, confusing and flat. Missing is the main draw of the Hellraiser series: an analysis of the fine line between pleasure and pain, heaven and hell. Instead we are treated to a whiny Pinhead who executes very little evil throughout.
The film also suffers from extremely noticable editing and continuity problems. For instance, Klein travels to Romania (from London -- where no-one has a British accent) to investigate the cult. While in Romania, she bribes a landlord with American currency. It's not a subtle mistake. Also, throughout the film cut shots fail to match up with their lead-in, wounds appear and disappear at will, and so on. None of this has anything to do with the supernatural plot, I might add; it's all the result of bad, sloppy filmmaking.
Unfortunately, Doug Bradley's Pinhead also suffers numerous indignities in Deader. Bradley, whose fierce performances in every Hellraiser film are often the only positive link between entries in the series, is here reduced to a few moments of lackluster threats and minimal interaction with the film's bland premise. Pinhead's voice is even off.
I'd hate to end my comments without writing anything positive, so I will say this: despite its infinite flaws, gorehounds will find Deader a much more satisfying ride than either Hellseeker or Inferno. The makeup is definitely above-average. Also, the gore factor of Deader out-slashes its two straight-to-video predecessors. It shuns their more dramatic, thriller-based elements in favor of more straight horror.
The above is very faint praise, however, as Deader further removes the once mightly Hellraiser series from its brilliant origins. What was once a group of films about pleasure, pain, and the horror that lies between this world and the next is now a barely-there embarassment to the horror genre. This film is an incoherent mess of failed ideas and illogical direction. What a total waste of time and money.