By Chaz Lipp
I jumped at the chance to review the newly released Blu-ray debut of Hellraiser: Deader, the seventh film in the series, even though I’ve never seen any of the others. Not even the 1987 original, written and director by the franchise’s creator Clive Barker. The reasons for my enthusiasm are not complicated. I thought Doug Bradley was the best thing about the most recent Wrong Turn movie (Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines, see our review here). I knew Bradley was known best for his frequent portrayal of Pinhead (in all but the ninth film, Revelations). Also I happen to like Kari Wuhrer, the female lead in Deader. So I took a chance.
I don’t want to waste anyone’s time here. Hellraiser: Deader is a technically competent also-ran that won’t be of interest to anyone not already addicted to the series. Originally beginning life as an unrelated horror spec script by Neal Marshall Stevens, Tim Day was brought in to make this a Hellraiser feature. Wuhrer plays journalist Amy Klein, assigned to uncovering the truth behind what appears to be a snuff video. The weird thing about the video is that the “victim” springs back to life, all part of a mysterious cult known as the Deaders. Amy’s search for clues in Bucharest leads her to discover the puzzle box that unlocks Pinhead.
Deader reminded me a little of the recent Silent Hill: Revelation, which was a piece of junk too (albeit with a bigger budget). As Amy stumbles through a subway loaded with naked hedonists and other assorted strangeness, the line between reality and dream/hallucinations is constantly straddled. As Amy delves deeper into the realm of the Cenobites, director Rick Bota aims for scares but almost never achieves any suspense or surprise. I can only imagine Bradley is given more to do in earlier installments, as he seems to have phoned in his relatively brief performance. This one is for Hellraiser junkies only.
If you count yourself among that audience, know that Echo Bridge has done right by this film with a solid Blu-ray transfer. Given its grade-Z, direct-to-video status, it would’ve been easy to understand if the print was in less-than-stellar shape. That’s not the case. The image is clean and sharp throughout. The 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack is welcome too, with lots of creepiness emanating from the rear channels. Most of the previous DVD features turn up as well, though hardcore fans will undoubtedly be disappointed that the commentary tracks are nowhere to be found. Several featurettes, 25 minutes of deleted scenes, a short gag reel, and several storyboard comparisons make Hellraiser: Deader a good value for collectors of the series.