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Dimension Films presents
"You want me to show you what I learned? Right here, right now?"
DVD ReviewIt's really sad when a promising film franchise winds up in the wrong hands and completely falls apart. This has definitely been the case with the Hellraiser films, which get worse and worse with each new entry. Come to think of it, there hasn't been a good movie in this series since Hellbound: Hellraiser II, which was released over 10 years ago.
The "wrong hands" in question is Dimension Films, the former Disney (more specifically, Miramax) subdivision that recently left the Mouse House. When fans first heard that Dimension was taking over the series, they were filled with optimism given the studio's penchant for horror. The first of Dimension's offerings, Hellraiser: Bloodline was also the last one in the entire series to see a theatrical release, with everything since coming straight to DVD. To say that each and every one of those are junk is a huge understatement. Not that Hellraiser III (the last to be released by someone other than Dimension) was a gem, but at least the look and overall tone gave the impression that the filmmakers were trying to make a movie that stayed true to the original Clive Barker story.
Hellraiser: Deader is the fourth of the Dimension distributed films, and the seventh Hellraiser, overall. It's also the worst. The story makes very little sense, but it seems to be about Amy Kline (Kari Wuhrer), an undercover reporter who is shown a disturbing video of a group called Deaders who kill themselves and are brought back to life by their leader, a Manson-esque nut job. When Amy comes across the series' lasting symbol, a puzzle box, she unlocks evil and is visited by Pinhead and the Cenobites.
From this point on, the story is a jumbled mess, with Amy visiting what can only be called an S&M subway, and being haunted by a Deader who tries to convince her to join their elite cult. Of course, Pinhead isn't a fan of the Deaders as they are definitely treading on his territory of soul-owning. So, Amy is caught in the middle of a war between Pinhead and his poser enemies, with her soul on the line.
For a direct-to-DVD release, at least the production values are high—the film's only strongpoint. The actors are a Z-list bunch (including Remote Control's Wuhrer), with some of the performances being just plain laughable. This isn't director Rick Bota's first go at one of these sequels, but unless he redeems himself with the eighth film, here's hoping it's his last. There's nothing distinguishable about his directorial technique, and a bit of flair might have made this awful pill a bit easier to swallow.
The most heinous crime with this, and almost all of the direct-to-DVD Hellraiser projects is the near-cameo status that Pinhead has. He makes a short appearance about the halfway point, and plays an integral part during the climax, but his (and the Cenobites) total screen time doesn't amount to even 10 minutes. Part of the reason for this is the lazy decision on the part of the producers to simply take an existing script called Deader and writing the Hellraiser characters into it. I just don't understand how Dimension can pawn these junky stories off on such a rabid fan base and then almost leave their beloved villain completely out of the films. At least the dying Halloween franchise is still centered around Michael Myers.
Those of you who are still fans of Pinhead and company should know that this seventh film, along with the eighth, Hellraiser: Hellworld, were shot very close to one another, but feature different casts (except mainstay Doug Bradley) and storylines. This sequel is slated for DVD later this summer.
Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D
Image Transfer Review: While this 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation isn't among DVD's best, it's still rather impressive, given the film's low budget and direct-to-DVD status. Colors are intentionally muted, but blacks and shadow levels are true and images are sharp and detailed. There is quite a bit of grain and some dirt, but these flaws are only evident near the beginning of the picture.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: A Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is all we have as far as audio goes, and it's quite good, yet unspectacular. The surrounds are used quite a bit during the more intense scenes, but directionality isn't a major factor. There isn't much in the way of bass presence, and dialogue is nice and crisp and easy to understand.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 17 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Cursed, Dracula III: Legacy
11 Deleted Scenes
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by 1. Director Rick Bota, make-up effects creator Gary Tunnicliffe.2. Director Rick Bota, Doug Bradley
Packaging: Keep Case
There are 11 deleted scenes that last about 24 minutes and feature optional commentary. Most of these are just extended versions of sequences in the finished film, but there are a few deleted bits that are interesting.
The Making of Deader is a mini-documentary full of on-set footage and interviews with cast and crew. This is a good segment that sheds some light on the intricacies involved in shooting a film.
There's also a one-minute Gag Reel that is mostly a waste of time, some trailers for other Dimension Home Video releases, and a Photogallery with stills of various aspects of the production.
Behind the Visual Effects of Hellraiser: Deader is a seven-minute journey with visual effects supervisor Jamison Goei, showing us the part he played in bringing these effects to life. Goei is a rather bland speaker who is clearly reading off of a pre-written script, but it is neat to see some of these effects in the early stages of their creation.
Three Storyboard-to-Film Comparisons are interesting, and a section on Location Scouting shows us the initial setup for shooting in a few of the various places that were used.
Practical Effects with Gary Tunnicliffe is only a minute and a half long, and consists of a brief interview with Tunnicliffe (the third season of Project Greenlight), during which he talks about and shows us how Pinhead's chains were blasted through walls.
Extras Grade: B+
Final CommentsJust when you thought it couldn't get any closer to rock bottom, it has with Hellraiser: Deader. A nearly incomprehensible, aimless story continues to drive a stake through the franchise's heart. This disc is far more impressive than the film deserves, with solid audio and video backed by a large number of extras.
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