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Dimension Films presents
Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005)

"Adam was right."
- Pinhead (Doug Bradley)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: October 04, 2005

Stars: Lance Henriksen, Katheryn Winnick
Other Stars: Christopher Jacot, Doug Bradley, Khary Payton, Anna Tolputt, Henry Cavill
Director: Rick Bota

MPAA Rating: R for (strong violence/gore, sexual content, language)
Run Time: 01h:34m:53s
Release Date: September 06, 2005
UPC: 786936286014
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B-C+B- C

DVD Review

Of all of Dimension Films' direct-to-DVD horror franchises (among them, The Prophecy and The Crow), the one that manages stay slightly intriguing is Hellraiser. Part of this appeal could lie in the genius of the first two, theatrically released entries in the series: Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II. Since then, we've had mediocre, yet not terrible entries, one of which made it to theaters (Hellraiser: Bloodline), and four more (Inferno, Hellseeker, Deader, and Hellworld) that went right to disc.

The eighth movie in the series is Hellraiser: Hellworld, and, aside from the occasional appearance of the Lament Configuration, a couple of Cenobites, and Pinhead, this could easily be mistaken for a somewhat smart, fresh low-budget horror flick. We begin at a funeral for Adam, a young man who recently burned himself to death after becoming too caught-up in the online game Hellworld. Modeled after the Hellraiser mythology, this game is the latest internet craze. Adam's friends include Chelsea (Katheryn Winnick), Mike (Henry Cavill), Allison (Anna Tolputt), Derrick (Khary Payton), and Jake (Christopher Jacot), all of whom receive invitations to the ultimate Hellworld party.

Located at a woodsy mansion, this party features nothing but gothic imagery, sex, drugs, and plenty of alcohol to go around. Chelsea and the rest of the Hellworld addicts are greeted by the party's mysterious host (Lance Henriksen), who shows them around the house. He also shows them a series of rooms where their worst fears could come true, including encountering Pinhead and hell's other denizens. Soon, their numbers are dwindling, and Chelsea and her remaining friends must fight their fears in an attempt to determine the difference between their beloved, twisted Hellworld game and reality.

Hellraiser: Hellworld is the third of the franchise to be directed by Rick Bota, who divides his time between these films and handling the cinematography on other genre pictures like Valentine and Demon Knight. His pedigree for lensing those films probably led to the Hellraiser jobs, and he's finally come into his own with Hellworld. For a low-budget film, this looks very good, with sharp camera movements that take us down the path to hell right along with the Hellworld fanatics. If they're going to continue to make the die-hard Hellraiser fans deal with these non-theatrical, Pinhead-lite films, at least they have someone at the helm that appears to be comfortable with the material and knows how to shoot horror.

The dialogue and the Z-grade actors (Lance Henriksen excluded) are easily the worst things that Hellraiser: Hellworld have going for it. At one point, there's even a riff on Verizon's incredibly annoying "Can you hear me now?" slogan. While this signifies the bottom of the barrel as far as the script goes, there are plenty of other forgettable lines that will make you cringe more than the gore. Still, anyone who's seen other direct to DVD movies, let alone the last four films in this series, expects such poor lines, so if you can get past this you just might enjoy this surprisingly entertaining effort.

Pinhead (Doug Bradley) gets quite a bit more screen time than he has in the previous direct to DVD releases, but it still isn't enough compared to the original film and its first two sequels. The last three films have basically had Pinhead show up at one point during the middle part of the film then make an appearance during the finale. In Hellworld, he shows up a number of times and is still around for the particularly bloody ending. This probably still won't be enough for the Pinhead fanatics out there, nor is it enough for a character whose face is plastered on the DVD's keep case, but it was great to see our favorite denizen of hell a bit more than we'd been forced to grow accustomed to.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen video presentation isn't as sharp as you would expect for such a new film. Images are often soft, and colors are drab. However, this very dark film does benefit from well-handled black, shadow, and contrast levels. There is an overabundance of grain during the darker sequences, and dirt pops up occasionally. Things aren't horrible, but we've come to expect more for such a recent movie.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1, but rather drab and lifeless. Enough spooky atmosphere is created with the surround speaker usage, but a wider dynamic range might have aided the scares a bit too. The music is loud enough and features some nice bass, but there are times where it's difficult to hear what the actors are saying. A bit better overall mix would have definitely helped matters.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Mindhunters, Scary Movie 3.5, The Prophecy, Dracula III: Legacy, The Crow: Wicked Prayer
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Rick Bota, writer Joel Soisson, special makeup effects designer Gary J. Tunnicliffe, executive producer Nick Phillips
Packaging: Keep Case
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: There is a pair of extras, apart from the standard Dimension Home Video Sneak Peeks, including an audio commentary track with director Rick Bota, writer Joel Soisson, special makeup effects designer Gary J. Tunnicliffe, and executive producer Nick Phillips. This group talks about the production of Hellraiser: Hellworld in great detail, discussing the development of the script (which underwent many changes during the film's shoot) and what it was like to work with Lance Henriksen.

The other extra is a featurette titled Ticket to Hellworld: A Behind-The-Scenes Look. This runs for 13 minutes and is a basic EPK piece, mixing cast and crew interviews with footage from the film.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

Fans have been waiting a while for the next inventive, solid Hellraiser sequel, and it looks like it's finally here in the form of Hellraiser: Hellworld. This fresh take on the series' mythology even has genre veteran Lance Henriksen along for the ride. The audio and video aren't going to knock your socks off, but they are sufficient, despite a few problems. There are even a couple of extras (including a commentary track) that chronicle the making of the film.


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