This is part of my Horrorathon for Mothers/Men Against Senseless Killings (aka MASK). Is It Worth It? is where I talk about sequels a lot of people skip, and determine if they are worth a visit or better left in the bargain bin. Fair warning, there will be spoilers in my recap, so if you just want the verdict skip to the bottom.
From IMDb: A journalist uncovers an underground group who can bring back the dead and slowly becomes drawn into their world.
Although I have read rumors that the scripts for Hellraiser: Inferno and Hellraiser: Hellseeker were originally written as non-Hellraiser movies, I believe those are just rumors. This is the first sequel where it is pretty obvious it was originally going to be a non-Hellraiser film since the film could have easily stood on the cult investigation plot alone.
In this case, Neil Marshall Stevens submitted a spec script for a movie called Deader during the production of Thir13en Ghosts in 2000. The studio brought in a writer from the previous movie to insert Hellraiser elements into this film, and Rick Bota came back to direct. It was filmed simultaneously (!) with Hellraiser: Hellworld which is considered the next film in the series and came out the same year as this one (!). Both were filmed by Rick Bota in Romania.
We begin the film in a drug den. A young woman wakes up and begins taking pictures of the people there before leaving. We soon realize she is an investigative reporter who reports on the seedy underbelly of society. But which society? The movie is making it hard to figure out where it takes place…
Amy can get away with showing up late and mouthing off because she is a skilled journalist. Her boss Charles invites her up to this office, and wants to show her a tape he received.
Charles asks if she has ever heard about a group called the “Deaders,” and begins the tape. Props to the movie, this tape is no Ring tape but it does look uncomfortably like a snuff film from a cult. An Irish girl keeps chanting “I’m not real, I’m not real” as she cries and a man shoots her in front of a group of people. Amy is understandably horrified, but after a few moments it seems like the girl is somehow brought back to life by the man who shot her.
There are also dramatic zooms in both the shots of Amy and her boss watching the tape as well as within the tape itself. Including one that looks like the director accidentally zoomed in too far but needed the shot so just kept it and tried to zoom out right away:
Amy is intrigued enough to be dispatched to Romania where the tape seems to have originated from. She goes to a decrepit building where the tape was mailed from, and bribes a man with a $20 bill to look around for five minutes.
Inside, Amy quickly finds a pretty unnerving dead body holding the Lament Configuration next to a package with another clue.
She takes the puzzle box and package just as the body inevitably moves and lets out a post-death rattle. The package has a key with a red paint smudge and yet another tape. The tape includes a moody monologue to the camera about some good old D&D (Demons & Danger in this case).
The woman in the tape instructs whoever is watching to not open the puzzle box. But of course Amy does because just like Rachel in The Ring she has to know what’s up. Pinhead does not waste anytime sicking some CGI hooks and chains on her.
Pinhead informs her to “not think for a moment that she isn’t in danger!” which doesn’t seem like a tall order with hooks and chains in your face! But she realizes it was all a dream! Or was it? It was in this case.
The tape mentions a lead named Joey who can be found in the last car of a subway train that is seemingly dedicated to partying and boobs.
Joey is…well if there were bad remakes of iconic figures the same way there are bad remakes of iconic films, Joey would be a remake of non-sober Elton John.
While Amy extracts yet another piece of the Deader puzzle from Joey, the most gratuitous girl on girl sex scene I have ever witnessed in a film keeps being intercut with their conversation.
Amy follows a lead Joey gives her to a building in an isolated area. She used the red paint smudged key to open a red smudged padlock. She follows a set of stairs down, and has to go through a long, increasingly narrow tunnel so tight it is claustrophobic to watch.
Afterwards a shirtless man leads her to the Deader cult and she meets their enigmatic leader Winter.
Winter, aka Made Strictly for TV Kyle MacLachlan, tells Amy that through death one can find endless pleasure, and insists the puzzle box belongs to him. The Deaders are basically playing Flatliners minus the medical training, atmospheric plot, or budget. Winter ends up stabbing Amy in the stomach in order to initiate her to the cult. But it was all a dream! Or was it? It kind of was and kind of wasn’t this time, because Amy wakes up in her hotel room with a knife in her back.
I love everything about this next clip, from watching her awkwardly flail around about the knife (which would be an understandable reaction!) to using the CABINET to help her take it out to Pinhead being the unlikely voice of reason to DUCT TAPING HER OPEN WOUND.
After this, she tries to go back to Joey, but she realizes everyone on the hedonistic subway train is actually dead!
We also see a glimpse of a SewoBite sewing some random woman’s flesh.
Amy wakes up in a psychiatric ward, with Charles there insisting she should quit the story and come back to London. But when a young girl inexplicably draws a picture of Amy that makes her look like Two Face…
…she realizes things aren’t back to normal. She sees the ghost of Marla (the dead girl from the beginning). Marla explains Winter needed her for the cult, because only people “with the right amount of depravity and loneliness can open the box”, and apparently nobody in this ridiculous cult qualified but she does. Amy walks away from Marla, and sees a door that reminds her of her childhood home. Amy has periodically been having flashbacks revealing her father abused her as a child. In this final flashback, she stabs her father in the flashback, and for some reason her father falling to the ground is intercut with her falling to the ground?
She wakes up from this to find herself still in the cult’s lair surrounded by Winter and his followers. They ask her to stab herself in order to complete the process of joining the cult, and she is apparently SO depraved and lonely all she has to do is throw the box across the room to get it to open.
Pinhead reveals that Winter is part of the Lemarchand/Merchant lineage that created the puzzle box, and he is big mad that Winter is even a descendant of the man who created the box that turned him into Pinhead.
Pinhead, never one to not finish an obvious idiom, delivers these final words to Winter regarding his desire to play around in the hell realm.
Pinhead then turns to Winter’s followers and kills them all with giant CGI chains before turning his sights on Amy. He tells her that her dad is waiting for her in hell which…just damn Pinhead. You keep talking like that and Hell’s HR department is probably going to be giving you a call.
But Amy decides she is not going to let this happen, and stabs herself to death in order to not get imprisoned by Pinhead.
Her self-sacrifice sends the Cenobites back into the puzzle box. Back in London, Charles and his assistant see news footage about a building collapse and fire in Romania, and speculate if Amy is okay or not. But before Charles can show an ounce of remorse for his friend and colleague, a new girl comes in to apply to be an intern.
He starts their “interview” by telling her about mysterious tape he received that he is hoping she can assist investigating. The film ends with a closeup of Amy’s face in a picture he keeps of the two of them.
- So if I’m understanding this movie correctly, the Deaders have found a loophole to hell which allows them to experience the pleasure without the eternal torment thanks to Winter being able to game the system with his smooches. Pinhead is upset by this, and wants to 1) ensure Winter doesn’t destroy the puzzle box and 2) kill the Deaders for messing with him. I still don’t understand why it implies the Deaders want to open the puzzle box, or how Winter is able to revive people. I’m also not sure I care.
- At this point in the series, it feels like “more cowbell” is now “more Pinhead” and the studio just comes in and says more at various points.
- This director really loves repeatedly intercutting scenes that 1) don’t need to be intercut and 2) don’t need to be repeated as intercuts multiple times
While I would not recommend this film, I found it to be far more tolerable than Hellraiser: Hellseeker. It is pretty sloppy yet retains some basic plot coherence throughout the duration. And it tries to be adherent to the tone of Hellraiser films, despite obviously trying to shoehorn Hellraiser mythos into an original script.