HELLRAISER: THE SCARLET BOX – Movie Review

 

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HELLRAISER: THE SCARLET BOX

  • RELEASE DATE: Available December 20th on Blu-ray (Click Here to Purchase)
  • WRITTEN BY: Clive Barker and more!
  • DIRECTED BY:C. Bark n’ friends
  • STARRING: Doug Bradley, Ashley Laurence

-Reviewed by Daniel XIII

Ahh the HELLRAISER series; so iconic and flat out awesome (well at first anyway) it is that it needs no introduction, as I’m sure each and everyone of you creeps has parked your pasty asses in front of it at one time or another. But, just in case there is someone reading this that has no idea what I’m talking about; here’s the elevator pitch; there’s a puzzle box…kinda like a Rubik’s Cube…that when solved unleashes emissaries from hell (that are waaay into S&M) that arrive to collect the soul of anyone stupid enough to pay their game. So there’s that. Anyway; HELLRAISER; I love it, you love it, Arrow has gone mega-ape shit and unleashed an insane-o collection of the first three films in the series…and yeah; review time!

Let’s take ‘em one by one and kick it off with the original recipe HELLRAISER!

Poor Kirsty Cotton; all she wants to do is visit her Dad in his new digs, but her dead uncle Frank has to go and get all resurrected and start boinking her step-mom. Oh, and he has also pissed off the Cenobites, demons from hell (or angels…who the fuck knows really; I mean their leader has nails pounded into his melon…not exactly a comforting image) who come back around to collect their soul toll thanks to that puzzle box I mentioned above. Chains, leather, and a skeleton dragon ensue.

Now, HELLRAISER is about as fine a fright flick as you will ever come by; it’s unique, visually arresting, and equal parts nauseating and beautiful (kinda like my ol’ ghoul friend, har har). I love this film to itty bitty fucking pieces, and have since the late ‘80’s. But, you probably love it (and own it) too, so why would the version contained here be worth your while (Spoiler: this review is going to start to sound like a broken record real soon)? Those mother fucking extras!

Seriously, check this shit out; this disc contains a new 2K restoration of the film, a feature length documentary detailing the creation of the film, interviews with actors Doug Bradley and Sean Chapman, an archival making of featurette, a featurette on the abandoned score for the film from Coil, the original press kit from the film’s release, trailers, TV spots, an image gallery, and commentaries from writer/director Clive Barker and actress Ashley Laurence (B-dog shows up on that one too). Yeah, ridiculous right?

Moving on…Disc 2 brings us HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II, that rare animal; a sequel every bit as good as the original.

HELLBOUND picks up where ol’ HELLRAISER left off; Kirst’s family is decimated and she ends up in a sanitarium. Well, the head of the loony bin, Dr. Channard, is a pretty gone guy himself, and before you know it he resurrects Kirsty’s step mother and unleashes the Cenobites once more. All you really need to know is, Kirsty journeys straight into hell to battle our arcane antagonists.

Bigger in scope than part one, HELLBOUND expands the universe of the first film while staying true to what fans loved about HELLRAISER. It’s a difficult balancing act to go big yet remain grounded to what came before; but HELLBOUND pulls it off like a fuckin’ champ!

Now, guess what? Yeah; you need this edition, because you get a new 2K restoration of this film as well, a feature length documentary detailing the creation of HELLBOUND, more interviews with Bradley and Chapman, a vintage making of featurette, on-set interviews, behind the scenes footage, trailers, TV spots, image galleries, commentaries from Director Tony Randel and writer Peter Atkins, and one from actress Ashley Laurence (and you guessed it, Randel and Atkins show up again here as well). All well and good, but the best feature in my opinion is the inclusion of the legendary deleted surgeon scene…images of which were used on the VHS release roughly 45 million years ago which caused us to go wild because no such image appeared in the finished film.

One more…HELLRAISER III: HELL ON EARTH…and…it’s certainly a movie.

HELLRAISER III: HELL ON EARTH picks up where nothing left off, and features the tale of a sleazy club owner resurrecting the Cenobites (whose ranks include a dude that can shoot CDs at people and a guy with a camera in his head…for fuck’s sake…) while a spunky female journalist stands in their way. The 1990’s ensue.

Yeah, HELLRAISER III: HELL ON EARTH is really cheesy, and while it doesn’t possess a popcorn fart of the coolness of the first two films in the series, it does have an irresistible charm…and it’s never boring.

Okay, while you may not need to own this one, it’s in here and there are extras including: a now predictable, yet stunning, 2K transfer of the film, an alternate unrated cut of the film, a making of doc, interviews with actors Paula Marshall and Bradley as well as director Anthony Hickox, special effects dailies, the film’s original press kit, a trailer, image galleries, and commentaries from writer Peter Atkins on the theatrical version and Anthony Hickox and Doug Bradley chattin’ up the unrated.

Phew, well that’s that…holy shit, there’s a fourth disc…

No HELLRAISER flick on this one fiends, but you do get an ass-load of awesome, including a short HELLRAISER film, a documentary on Clive Barkers literary works, a documentary on the entire HELLRAISER franchise, and two of Clive’s student films; SALOME and THE FORBIDDEN, which I shall review for you now, because I’m a super cool mother fucker (and not because I have reviewed them before and am going to copy and paste that review into this one…)

CLIVE BARKER’S ORIGINS: SALOME/THE FORBIDDEN

  • WRITTEN BY: Clive Barker
  • DIRECTED BY: Clive Barker
  • STARRING:  Doug Bradley, Clive Barker, Peter Atkins, Anne Taylor, Graham Bickley

 Here are a couple of flicks that I have a real history with! Way back in the distant past a gaggle of my ghoulish gang would huddle around the ol’ cathode ray tube and blast our eyeballs with all manner of vicious visuals that were contained in these magical black rectangles called VHS tapes. Now; a lot of what some of you fiends take for granted these days (Italian gore, splatter flicks etc.) could be damn hard to get unless you dipped yer toes in some pretty grey waters. To put it simply; we’d buy bootleg tapes at conventions and watch the shit out of them. One such tape contained two early films by the legendary legend Clive “C-dog” Barker. And what do ya know, these are the same flicks right here on a legit release!

Long story short, SALOME (an off kilter adaptation of a piece by Oscar Wilde) and THE FORBIDDEN (the springboard for a sh*t ton of what HELLRAISER was to become a few years later) are a demented duo of black and white horror flicks produced by Clive as a kind of home movie style trial run for what was to come; deft use of shadows and light, dreamlike nightmare imagery and of course folks carrying on without their damn skin. There’s also a lot of peen…some of it Clive’s…so I guess the peen is truly mightier than the sword. That made little to no sense, but it made me feel great writing it.

If you absolutely love what Clive got up to as a die-rector (especially with HELLRAISER) you absolutely need to own these. It’s pretty damn rare that someone has their visual sh*t together so soon out of the gate (David Lynch is one of the only others that spring to mind), and it’s a ton o’ fun to pick out what went on to inspire HELLRAISER.

I really don’t know how to wrap this up…I will tell you that you need this release like the desert needs the god damned rain…that much I know…it has absolutely everything a HELLRAISER fan could want (plus it ends before shit gets really shitty in the franchise so kudos there). Buy it!

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