Hellraiser: Judgment review – diminishing, misogynist returns for classic franchise

Pinhead is still lurking, but the iconic series’ once-interesting eroticism has degenerated into nasty titillation in this sorry sequel

There have been so many additions to the Hellraiser franchise since the first one debuted in 1987 that we’ve now got to the stage when it’s best not to remind viewers how many there have been, lest the young uns think it’s some kind of musty Gen X thing that just won’t die. Which it kind of is, to be honest. This latest contribution, written and directed by makeup effects specialist Gary J Tunnicliffe, feels like a pretty degraded mutation from the original concept. Where the first few Hellraisers had an interesting if somewhat icky erotic tang to them – alluding to S&M/fetish culture as much as horror, and featuring female protagonists – Judgment is less about desire than just straight-up misogyny and gory, gross-out money shots.

The franchise’s iconic demon Pinhead is back once again (of course), played here by Paul T Taylor. But he’s more of a background presence as an assortment of other demons, including one played by Tunnicliffe himself, take over the business of bedevilling humanity via what sounds like insurance industry-based methods of torture, given they call themselves The Auditor, The Assessor and whatnot. Among the living, the main characters are a trio of cops – two of them brothers Sean (Damon Carney) and David Carter (Randy Wayne), as well as rookie Christine (Alexandra Harris) – who are investigating what seems to be a serial killer case. One of the first victims is a young woman (Grace Montie) who dares to be sexually active, and ends up with her lapdog and mobile phone sewn up inside her body.

Elsewhere, there’s a trio of supernatural vamps who sit in judgment over souls and have fake blood hosed on to their large naked breasts, which I guess is one way to get your jollies. The dialogue is execrable, which partly excuses the inert performances; the sets – including one that looks like a shop’s filament bulb display – are more interesting to look at than the actors.

• Released on 22 February on digital platforms.

Contributor

Leslie Felperin

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
How we made Hellraiser
Clive Barker: ‘Pinhead was inspired by a hardcore S&M club in New York, where I watched people getting pierced for fun’

Interviews by Phil Hoad

30, Oct, 2017 @4:47 PM

Article image
Hellraiser review – Clive Barker's pinhead horror makes its point again
In this blackly comic gorefest, rereleased after 30 years, a couple encounter a horde of hellish demons when they move into a creepy old house

Peter Bradshaw

11, Oct, 2017 @2:30 PM

Article image
French horror ingenue to direct Hellraiser reboot

Pascal Laugier, whose film Martyrs was this year handed France's equivalent of the restrictive NC-17 certificate, has been chosen to revamp the Clive Barker horror series

Ben Child

29, Oct, 2008 @10:52 AM

Article image
How we made Candyman: 'I got a $1,000 bonus for every bee sting'
The director and star of the horror classic remember acting with swarming insects – and using hypnosis to get a deeper performance from Virginia Madsen

Interviews by Phil Hoad

25, Jun, 2019 @5:00 AM

Article image
Tale of Tales review – bawdy and fantastical
Inspired by 17th-century Italian fairytales, Matteo Garrone’s thrilling circus of sex and violence is definitely not one for the children

Mark Kermode, Observer film critic

19, Jun, 2016 @8:00 AM

Article image
Halloween trailer: Jamie Lee Curtis returns to the classic slasher franchise
The latest remake of the horror classic sees Curtis back as Laurie Strode in a film set four decades after the 1978 original

Guardian film

08, Jun, 2018 @2:13 PM

Article image
The Evil Dead review – Sam Raimi's classic is gutsy, gory … and misogynist
The horror virtuoso’s trailblazing no-budget debut still makes for uneasy viewing – just not always in the way he intended

Steve Rose

26, Oct, 2018 @5:00 AM

Article image
Bring on the blood-spattered bodies – the Tories are in power
David Barnett: Perhaps it's only natural that horror's rise in popularity – in film as well as books – tends to mirror that of the Conservative party

David Barnett

01, Jun, 2012 @1:18 PM

Article image
Carmilla review – clever but bloodless spin on classic female-vampire yarn
Writer-director Emily Harris’s version of Le Fanu’s lesbian vampire tale adds a feminist focus on repression but the sparks don’t fly

Cath Clarke

15, Oct, 2020 @12:00 PM

Article image
It Chapter Two review – Stephen King's homicidal harlequin of hell returns
The gang returns as grownups to fight King’s devilish clown, but the truly scary thing about this painfully long horror show is the possibility of a third movie

Peter Bradshaw

03, Sep, 2019 @4:00 PM