Release Date(s)1988 (September 24, 2019)
Studio(s)New World Pictures (Arrow Video)
- Film/Program Grade: A-
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: A-
After the release of Hellraiser by New World Pictures in 1987, which put its creator Clive Barker on the map as one of horror cinema’s and horror literature’s major icons, a sequel quickly went into production. Taking over as director was Tony Randel, the previous film’s editor. Despite a new creator at the helm, Hellbound: Hellraiser II actually succeeded in bridging aesthetic and story continuity, remaining today as the finest of the Hellraiser sequels.
Taking over official writing duties was Peter Atkins, who would go on to write Hellraiser III, as well as the original Wishmaster. Most of the main cast also returned, including Doug Bradley as Pinhead, as well as Ashley Laurence, Claire Higgins, and Sean Chapman, with newcomers Kenneth Cranham, William Hope, and Imogen Boorman added to the roster. The resulting film was perhaps more popular at the time than the original, with many fans feeling that it actually surpassed it. It’s also much more graphic than its predecessor, with the scene involving a mental patient and the use of a straight razor being particularly brutal. Nevertheless, the Hellraiser series’ popularity soared, as did the character of Pinhead who was now seen as an equal to other 80s horror film monsters like Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers.
Arrow Video previously released Hellbound: Hellraiser II, along with the first and third film, twice before on both sides of the Atlantic in two different boxed sets. This release is identical and is essentially a re-release, featuring the same terrific 2K restoration of the film, which was overseen by cinematographer Robin Vidgeon. Grain levels aren’t quite as heavy but crop up during the reinstitution of footage from the first film, while depth and clarity are potent overall. Colors are strong and pop quite well, especially skin tones. Blacks are mostly deep with excellent shadow detail, while brightness and contrast levels are virtually perfect. Minor film artifacts are all that remain, including minor speckling and occasional wobble.
The audio is included in English 5.1 DTS-HD and English 2.0 LPCM with optional subtitles in English SDH. The stereo mix is the more engrossing of the two experiences. The surround track has a bit more bass to it, but doesn’t offer an enormous upgrade in terms of dynamics or spatial activity. On both tracks, dialogue is clean and clear with strong sound effects and, in particular, excellent score integration. They’re not the finest of aural experiences, but work well in tandem with the video presentation at hand.
The extras include the same material found on Arrow’s previous Blu-ray releases of the film, including two audio commentaries: one with director Tony Randel and writer Peter Atkins, and the other with Randel, Ashley Laurence, and Atkins; a 121-minute segment of the full-length documentary Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser (of which the other two parts can be found on Arrow’s releases of the first and third films); Being Frank: Sean Chapman on Hellbound, a 12-minute interview with the actor; the 17-minute vintage featurette Lost in the Labyrinth; Under the Skin: Doug Bradley on Hellbound, an 11-minute interview with the actor; two on-set interviews, one a 4-minute interview with Clive Barker and the other 5 minutes of interviews with the cast and crew; the once-thought-lost infamous deleted “surgeon” scene (which is not quite as epic as one might think); 2 minutes of behind the scenes footage; both the theatrical and red band trailers for the film; 2 TV spots; a set of still galleries featuring storyboards, alternate ending storyboards, and stills & promotional material; an Easter egg accessed by highlighting Under the Skin: Doug Bradley on Hellbound, scrolling right to highlight TV Spots, and scrolling right again, which features a vintage promo for the movie’s soundtrack; and a draft of the film’s screenplay, accessible via BD-ROM.
There isn’t much else to say for the third outing of Hellbound: Hellraiser II on Blu-ray from Arrow Video. Since it is identical to the previous releases, that means you’re getting quality product. If you somehow missed out on the now out-of-print releases of the first three films, it’s a nice alternative – and it’s good just to have the disc back in print.
– Tim Salmons