Goon Review: Tales from the Hood (1995)

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)

When I was going through high school in the ‘90s, I remember the whole surge of gang violence that was taking our country by storm. Kids wearing loosely buttoned, colored flannels, the bandanas, both of which were colored to signify what gang you were representing. Hey, they managed to be color coordinated, so that’s something. I also remember the media taking complete advantage of this and making lots and lots of TV and movies about gangs. There’s a good message to send to the youth: Violence is cool! Well, I’m not here to be the moral police, but I wanted to touch on the gang violence of the ‘90s and rise of the urban movies (I really hate calling them that), like Boyz N the Hood, Juice or Menace II Society. All the ones I mentioned are great films and captured the economical troubles and gang wars that plagued black culture while we ignored it and they deserve their place in the spotlight, but one that is often overlooked is 1995’s Tales From the Hood.

At a glance, Tales From the Hood would appear as a Tales From the Crypt knock off to the casual movie goer, mostly because of the anthology format and, of course, the title. Okay, so the title seems like it may be ripping off the popular TV show, but Tales From the Hood is an homage to the old Amicus films that made all those moody ‘70s horror anthologies, including Tales From the Crypt. So, there. Whereas most anthologies fall apart during one of the segments or a paper thin wrap around, Tales From the Hood is solid from start to finish. I’m going to say that it’s one of the better anthologies out there since Creepshow. It has a very dark moral theme that stays persistent throughout the movie even when the segment changes tone, which it does. While one of the segments may be more sinister or dealing with a domestic issue, the next one might be a comedy, but there’s no denying that the film is trying to say something with the underlying oppressive, racial tone.

Being an anthology, the wrap around segment or the overall main arching story revolves around three gang bangers, Stack (Joe Torry), Ball (De’Aundre Bonds) and Bulldog (Samuel Monroe Jr.) looking to buy “the shit” from some old guy who runs a funeral home and claims he found the drugs in an alley. Nope, nothing bad happening here. Immediately, their senses are telling them to flee, but their pride won’t allow them and they are greeted by Mr. Simms, played by The Mod Squad TV show’s Clarence Williams III (who totally steals the show with his performance as the enigmatic and rebarbative funeral home director). He’s quite the character to say the least, with a devilish grin and hair sticking up like he’s some Looney Tunes character that stuck his finger in the light socket. Needless to say, he’s not the kind of guy you’d want to visit at night, much less buy drugs from in the middle of the night. Once inside, he asks the youngsters to help him with the drugs, so now they tour the inside of the place and this gives Mr. Simms the opportunity to talk about some of his “customers,” which act as segways into their stories.

Rogue Cop Revelation is about a rookie cop named Clarence who, on his first day on the job, witnesses a couple of white cops (the most racist of which is played by Wings Hauser) beating a black man who just so happens to be an important public figure, much in the vein of Martin Luther King Jr., Martin Moorehouse. Clarence interjects and the other cops break up the beating and tell him that they will take him to a hospital, but instead murder him. A year passes and Clarence has quit the force and spends his days drinking, haunted by the fact he did nothing to prevent the murder. He begins hearing Martin’s voice commanding Clarence to bring them to him. Martin eventually convinces those cops to visit Martin’s grave where at first you are sure of what’s going to happen, but as they begin pissing on his grave, you aren’t sure. It plays with your expectations a bit until the inevitable happens and then it turns into a supernatural zombie flick. Martin rises from the grave to get his revenge and has super powers that vary depending on what the script calls for in that situation. It’s a bit silly, but it definitely feels like a ‘60s b-movie and has some great gory effects, including one of the cops getting his head ripped off.

The following segment, Boys Do Get Bruised, is probably the most serious and deals with abuse and a monster of sorts as a teacher begins to notice bruises on one of his students, Walter, a quiet and shy kid. He tells his teacher that he’s being attacked by a monster. Oh, and Walter also crumples up a drawing of one of his bullies and the bully immediately succumbs to an accident. (That’s important for later.) His teacher visits Walter’s home to talk to his parents where we meet his stepfather, played by David Alan Grier. You remember him for his comedic roles in movies and TV, right? Well, this is a total departure from that and he really displays what a serious actor he can be, playing both menacing and frightening. This isn’t the David Alan Grier you remember from In Living Color otherwise Walter would probably be in stitches, get it? Anyway, this story has a pretty good effect of a body mangling and contorting in all kinds of directions and Paula Jai Parker (who plays Walter’s mom) is absolutely beautiful.

The third segment, KKK Comeuppance, is probably my favorite segment, because it’s also the most ridiculous, but I think it’s because it sort of rings more true now with what’s going on politically. A racist, ignorant piece of shit politician named Duke Metger, who also happened to be a clansman at one point, decides to set up his office in an old slave plantation. Classy and tasteful. A protester shouts tales of haunted dolls possessed by tortured slaves don’t want him there, and I’m sure you can figure out what happens from here. It’s actually pretty tense and Corbin Bernsen is solo for the last half of the segment, leaving it to just his intensity and rising fear. He does a damn fine job of switching attitudes like a pair of drawers, from cocky to puzzled to angry to frightened. The stop motion with the puppets is pretty damn good as well and the situation escalates as the story nears its end. You really feel like you might be going crazy with Duke, so this particular segment is truly a wild ride.

Finally, Hard-core Convert is more, well, I hesitate to say psychedelic. Maybe psychological. Three gangbangers gun down a rival, Crazy K, who’s saved by the 5-0. How’s that for, um, irony? Is that the word I’m looking for? Crazy K is put into a special government program in an attempt to rehabilitate him. They do this by strapping him to vertical table, shaving his head and forcing him to watch horrible footage like he’s Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange, but the intention of this is to show him he’s just as violent towards his own community as white supremacists. There is a heavy underlying message in this story, but it gets bogged down in glorifying gory images and maybe is cut a little too quick for those to understand. I think what could have been a really strong story gets lost in reveling in violence instead of speaking against it, which is was it was originally trying to do. Not saying it’s bad, because it’s actually good… but it could have been really good.

Well, that was the last story in this movie, so the only thing left to do is wrap up the main story. Our three gangbangers have a connection to that Crazy K fellow in the last segment there, and it has to do with why they are the funeral home. Mr. Simms is acting whackier than ever and seems to be going crazy. The boys wanna bail, but they still need the shit! What’re they to do? I have to admit, it’s an ending that I’m not sure is fitting for the moral, but fitting for the theme of the movie. It’s one that I didn’t see coming the first time I saw it, but after another viewing it becomes pretty obvious.

I have a very strong fondness for this movie. I first discovered it at the video store when I was fourteen or fifteen with my stepbrother. We rented it and thoroughly enjoyed it and I still do to this day. I couldn’t be happier that it finally got a Blu-ray release, especially from a company like Scream Factory. The transfer looks pretty crisp and clean, but doesn’t take away from the ‘90s vibe of lower produced films that Tales From the Hood has. There’s also a new “Making of” featurette called Welcome to Hell: The Making of Tales From the Hood, which includes interviews with Director/Writer Rusty Cundieff, Producer/Writer Darin Scott, actors Corbin Bernsen, Wings Hauser, Anthony Griffith, Special Effects Supervisor Kenneth Hall, and Doll Effects Supervisors Charles Chiodo and Edward Chiodo. There’s also audio commentary from the director and a vintage featurette with your usual still gallery, trailer and TV spots to round it out.

Tales From the Hood is a solid anthology, mostly overlooked because of its theme that has been lampooned to death, especially around that era. It does have some comedy, but for the most part, it’s very dark and very serious, and unlike most of those other films, it has something to say. It’s incredibly well made with lighting that would remind you of the old Amicus films. The performances are incredible to say the least. I know I already mentioned David Alan Grier and Corbin Bernsen, but I really have to hand it to everyone else in the cast and Clarence William III makes for the most bizarre and likable host. Hopefully the film will get more recognition now that it will be more widely available.

Scary Shorties: The Devil and Daniel Mouse

Ready for some FAUST and furious cartoon madness? Something with a little soul? Well, we’ve got a Hell of cartoon for you splendid sinners!

1978’s The Devil and Daniel Mouse is a rather strange take on the Faust legend. It concerns a struggling mouse singer who sells her soul for rock ‘n’ roll.  Personally, I’m a sucker for a good Faustian tale, so this one had my soul from the very start. The fact that it bares more than a few similarities to 1974’s Phantom of the Paradise just sweetens the deal. If you’re a ghoul like me, you’ll no doubt dig the sheer volume of creepy on display here. Satanic bargains, contracts signed in blood, and a truly devilish Devil… These are a few of my favorite things! This special is a proud product of the Satanic Seventies, complete with leisure suits, ‘fros, and KISS make-up. John Sebastian of The Lovin’ Spoonful wrote the songs and lended his voice, and making this spooky ’70s time capsule all the more boss.

Go ahead… watch the cartoon All you need to do is sign upon the dotted line… a drop of yours, a drop of mine… For the price of your soul, you can experience this creepy classic…

…Or you could just click on the box below:

If you’re in the mood for another deal, check out this behind-the-scenes video below:

Goon Review: Hellraiser: The Scarlet Box

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks so much for this, Ho-rror Ho-mie…You rock all the socks!! 🙂 xoxo)

The slasher films were burned out by the late ‘80s and horror fans were looking for something to fill in that void. In 1987, a relatively unknown writer and filmmaker named Clive Barker would step up and give the fans something dark, something violent and painful, something with some heart… something different. Adapting his own novella, The Hellbound Heart, it was retitled Hellraiser (to sound less like a romantic movie) and took audiences by surprise. The film contains a deep, dark mystery, villains that are demons to some, angels to others and human elements that are more threatening than the monsters themselves (an element he would use again in Night Breed). Throw in some decent effects and gore, a little S&M and you have yourself a hit. Theater goers ate it up and Hellraiser was a success.

The film would go on to spawn quite a number of sequels that, like all horror franchises, seemed to quickly drop in quality, with the exception of Hellbound: Hellraiser II (which is arguably a better film than the original). There is a reason for this. You see, the first two films were produced by New World Pictures, a studio who were looking for something different and allowed the filmmakers some creativity. By the time it came around to making the third film, Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, New World Pictures had gone bankrupt and Miramax, a studio well known for meddling in productions, thus totally fucking them up, hired a director who was better at comedies and made it more of a generic slasher that nobody was happy with.

Of course, there are more sequels, but we’re gonna stop there because Arrow Video has released the first three films in a box set called Hellraiser: The Scarlet Box. I’m sure they tried acquiring the rights to the other films, but be thankful they could get their hands on the first three, especially the first two films. I feel like this allowed them to focus more on these films themselves, allowing for great looking restorations and a lot of in depth bonus features which there are a lot of. And also being Arrow Video, this collection is released in a rather fantastic looking box and it’s not the lament configuration like you would think and honestly, I’m glad it’s not. We’ve seen that done before and it’s obvious. Artist Gilles Vranckx illustrates Pinhead with his dark gaze and upon opening the box you are treated to more of his work, that being the top of the head of a character from the film for each movie and other artwork for the bonus features and that’s not all. I recommend checking out my unboxing video, otherwise I will just be repeating myself and besides, you don’t want to talk about amazing art, you wanna show it.

The first film, obviously, is Hellraiser. The film where it all started and would unknowingly launch one of horror’s most memorable icons, Pinhead. He wasn’t credited as Pinhead and apparently Clive Barker doesn’t necessarily fancy the name as he was originally named Priest (probably to take a jab at religion), but he’s credited as “Lead Cenobite” in the credits. Although he’s a movie monster, he’s not the bad guy. In fact, the cenobites are considered angels to some, demons to others. The real villain of the film is a depraved man named Frank, who is always looking for pain and pleasure. He finds that in a mysterious box that calls upon S&M creatures that pull him apart with hooks. The imagery of rusted hooks, a dank basement, blood and other visceral gore really pops out in the film as it appears to be stylized. Sure you’ve seen this stuff before, but in Hellraiser there’s something beautiful and disgusting about it.

Dirty Harry’s The Scorpio Killer Andrew Robinson plays Frank’s brother Larry who’s kind of a push over. Sort of a loveable loser. He and his wife Julia are moving back into his old home, but it appears Frank had been there at some point and Larry comments that he’s not a good guy and probably in jail somewhere (which isn’t far from the truth). Julia seems to have rather fond memories of Frank seeing as they were having an affair and she was going to split with him leaving poor Larry in the dust. Upon moving in, Larry cuts his hand open, gushing blood, and spills it on the floor in the attic where Frank was taken by the cenobites. The floor absorbs the blood and a slimy, bloody human begins to form out of the floorboards, but what is it?

Visiting the attic once again, Julia discovers that gory lump of mess is none other than Frank who needs fresh blood in order to become whole again. After some persistence and because she’s an evil bitch, Julia agrees to help Frank and brings random dudes home from the bar with promises of sex, but the only hammering going is a hammer to the back of their heads. At one point she even cracks a guy across the face with a hammer and his jaw looks mangled, he’s missing teeth and the image looks like something out of an old EC comic and I mean that in the most sincere way possible. Frank’s evolution is one of the most memorable and coolest designs ever. He’s basically just human muscle and tissue – like if you were to turn a person inside out – and wears a suit leaving blood marks on it. It’ll stick out in your mind forever, it’s such a cool image. Good ‘ol Larry is none the wiser and has no idea what’s going on while his daughter Kirsty is coming to visit and right away you get the vibe her and Julia have never gotten along. Kirsty is a character that has become a “final girl” of sorts; she’s sassy, she’s tough, but for me, she never really stood out, but maybe that’s because between the cenobites, Frank and Julia, I feel she just kinda vanishes.

Kirsty finds Julia bringing some random guy inside one day and decides to investigate where she finds Frank along with the box. Escaping with the box, she accidentally opens it and what she summons is something not what she would have ever imagined. Leather clad, pale looking creatures step out from the shadows; one with her throat opened, one with no eyes and mouth exposed that’s always chattering, a fat one and another with pins in his head. Wanting to take her away and know her flesh, Kirsty literally saves her skin by informing them that Frank had escaped and she would bring them to him, but what Kirsty doesn’t know is the surprise that Julia and Frank have waiting for her. Even though you see it coming, it’s kind of a bummer, but the ending needed it in order to work properly.

Hellraiser is without a doubt a horror classic creating an icon that the fans would dub Pinhead. The film easily sticks out against other horror films put out by the studios at the time and that could be for one simple reason: it wasn’t a slasher. I mentioned earlier, this was made after the fall of the slasher genre and Hellraiser blurred the lines of whether or not the monsters were really the bad guys. The human characters, like in Nightbreed, are for more diabolical than they are. The humans explore forbidden sexual desires, murder, pain and pleasure and pretty much everyone aside from Kirsty and Larry are pretty despicable. This also wouldn’t be a film about pain and pleasure without some of the fetishes. Not only does it have its fair share of nudity (most from Julia), but the cenobite’s outfits represent fetish gear, but it’s supposed to. Not only is it something we as an audience hadn’t seen before, but it looks dark, twisted and yet somehow desirable, much like the cenobites themselves are supposed to represent.

Outstanding makeup effects all around on Frank and all of the cenobites, it looks about as realistic as you could be at that time and you have to give the actors accommodations as it could not have been comfortable in all of that makeup. You also have to give them a nod for being able to perform under all that makeup, showing emotion and range. That’s another good thing the film had going for it was its performances by the amazing cast. Even Clive Barker, who had no major film experience before, showed what a force he was when he had to think of how to film in such tiny spaces (the film was shot in a real house, not on a set) and still had all of the moody lighting and even some great camera angles. Hellraiser has earned its status as one of the most iconic and influential horror films and it’s unfortunate that it’s seen as a run-of-the-mill slasher mostly because of its sequels.

Hellbound: Hellraiser II, however, is a phenomenal sequel in my opinion. I think I may actually like it better than the original and I do have my reasons. It takes the story in the next logical steps, it explores who the cenobites were, we see more of Kirsty develop (I actually like her in this film), we’re introduced to someone more vile than Frank, the makeup is still great and is it just me or did anyone else find a skinned Julia sexy? Can’t be just me. Anyway, I feel like the sequel found ways to continue the story, make it more entertaining without having to outdo the original and ends on a nice note, but could also be continued… but we all know what direction they went with that.

One thing I love about Hellbound is that it picks up immediately right after the first film where we find Kirsty in a hospital for crazy people. What about that underdeveloped boyfriend she had in the first film? Well in a throw away line, it’s noted that he already went home, so stop worrying about it. They could have not said anything, but it’s a cool little mention that ties all the little things to the first film. This ain’t like Friday the 13th Part 2 where suddenly Paul is missing and there’s no explanation. It goes without saying that the police would think her story is total hogwash and she’s totally bonkers, but Dr. Channard thinks otherwise. He believes in what she’s saying and it’s no spoiler that this doctor is completely mad. Dr. Channard learns what he can from Kirsty about the box and the cenobites and one other important detail; Julia died on the bed and can be brought back through the bed just like Frank. So almost immediately, Dr. Channard goes down to the super secret sub-basement of the looney bin, grabs himself a looney and allows the poor bastard to begin cutting himself with a razor, spilling his blood all over the bed, thus freeing Julia.

Julia’s looking, well, let’s say she’s had better days… and skinless. Just like Frank, she requires fresh blood in order to regain her flesh and duping Dr. Channard is part of that since he can supply all the fresh blood via mental patients. She also makes promises of showing him all he’s ever wanted to see and he’ll experience all the pleasures and blah, blah, blah, you know this part. Well, there is one obstacle in the way; how to figure out that damn box! Even though Kirsty seemed to have no problem twice, it’s just too hard. Luckily patient plot device, a young mute girl they call “Tiffany,” happens to be obsessed with solving puzzles and is amazing at them. It all has a purpose, tying into her unlocking the puzzle of her memory or something, but that doesn’t really matter in the film. This is essentially her only purpose for the film, but the actress still manages to make Tiffany a likeable character and you do feel sorry for her. She isn’t just some helpless kid or the damsel in distress, she seems to be a survivor.

Meanwhile, Kirsty manages to escape the hospital with the help of her Nurse, a guy named Kyle, who looks like a Steve Guttenberg stunt double, who decided to help Kirsty after witnessing Julia’s return. Kirsty has her own agenda, however. She awakens one night to see a skinless man who has written, “HELP ME, I AM IN HELL” on the wall in his blood. Could this be her father? She has to know for sure. The two of them decide to go to Dr. Channard’s house and do some snooping around, but unfortunately for Kyle, things don’t go so well. This is actually kinda tragic as Kyle was proving to be a tough character, throwing himself in harm’s way and doing the right thing. This just goes to show you that nobody is safe in Hellbound. Things become even less safe after Tiffany opens the box and allows Julia and Dr. Channard to enter into the other world, a world full of unknown pains and pleasures.

Kirsty bumps into Kyle and the two of them search for Kirsty’s father as Julia brings Dr. Channard to her god, Leviathan who needs souls. Julia volunteers Dr. Channard, who had the desire to experience something else, and pushes him into a machine that then turns him into a cenobite, but not just any cenobite… this is something else. A giant wormy arms drags him around by his head as all kinds of tools can emerge from his hands and tentacles that are razor sharp whip around his body. He poses a real serious threat, so Kirsty has no choice but to ask for the help of Pinhead and crew which boils down to a Royal Rumble between Channard and the cenobites (side note, that would make an awesome band name). It’s actually not as bone crunching or memorable as you would think, seeing as Channard dispatches of them rather quick. There’s a little gore and you get a glimpse of who the cenobites used to be, but since you never learned anything about them (other than Pinhead… and even that was just a little bit), you’re just left with questions that will unfortunately never be answered. Still, there’s some movie left as Tiffany and Kirsty have to outwit Dr. Channard and Julia, as well as another surprise guest.

As I mentioned earlier, I find Hellbound to be an amazing sequel and I actually enjoy it more than the original and maybe that’s because it doesn’t take itself as serious as Hellraiser, but doesn’t mock it. It takes the rules and the characters and expands on them, but my problem is that this was never followed up on properly. However, that is not the fault of director Tony Randel, but instead at the glutinous asses of the executives at Miramax and there brand new label, Dimension. Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth is the definition of a bastardization of franchise. It not only spits at the fans, but it flat out doesn’t care about what it is. Rather than take a risk and further develop what the first two films carefully and heartfully developed, Hell on Earth takes a drunken, dehydrated, yellow staining piss and turns the film into a generic slasher movie. A really stupid one.

But, ya know, it’s one of those really fun, stupid movies. It’s now the ‘90s. The ‘80s are dead and buried, so move over, ya schmuck! Hell on Earth has the cynicism that a majority of horror films had during the ‘90s. The attitude and direction of the film seems to be very disingenuous and even insulting, especially to fans of the Hellraiser series. Tony Randel was set to direct, but Miramax, after not only deciding to slash the budget, also thought his direction was too dark, so they hired Anthony Hickox. Why does that name sound familiar? Because, he directed the horror comedies, Waxwork and Waxwork II: Lost in Time, so of course he would be the perfect choice to fill in the directing shoes of a dark toned, serious horror flick. Are you detecting my sarcasm? Good, because I’m laying it on really thick.

Misunderstanding anything about women or women’s rights, the film picks its main character right from the cliche closet to win over the audience; a journalist named Joey who doesn’t want to show any T&A, but wants to be taken seriously. She’s got the drive, she’s got the passion, now she just needs the story that comes to her in the form of a goth teenager, or I should say an older woman unconvincingly playing a teenager, Terri (played by Paula Marshall). Now Paula Marshall is super cute and all, but I don’t buy her as, like, an 18 year old for a moment. After a botched story, Joey witnesses Terri run into the ER with a young man strapped to a gurney, chains all over his body that seem to be suspended in air, but nobody seems to be interested in that. After his head explodes, Joey decides this is gonna be her break and needs to get to the bottom of this! Trying to track down Terri, this leads her to JP, who I can only describe if an STD decided to take the form of a douchebag.

JP is that vile, sleazy guy we all want to highschool with; He’s a total dick to everyone, but because he has money, people hang around him and he gets chicks. Simple as that. When JP isn’t boning a random skank at his club, he’s out buying art, because he’s all dark and shit. Sorry, I just really hate this chode… which I guess is what they were going for, so congratulations (?). The latest installation to his collection is a familiar looking pillar with a familiar looking face. Pinhead. It’s Pinhead and after it gets a taste of a little blood, starts screaming and devours JP’s latest lay. This talking Pinhead face in the pillar expositions dumps about JP’s backstory, it needs him for fresh blood and this should all sound really familiar by now. JP agrees to do so, but doesn’t do a very good job.

I should back up a bit and tell you that Joey has learned that Terri is JP’s ex-girlfriend and that’s really all about it. Well, Terri asks for room and board from Joey for exchanging information to what happened that night and all we learned is what you knew as an audience member going into the third film in the franchise; he took the Lament Configuration. Yup, all that time investigating was building up to that thing you already knew. Going back to where we were, JP kinda sucks at getting blood for Pinhead, seeing as how the only girl he convinces to come back to him is Terri, who manages to get one over on him and Pinhead kills him by ramming a large looking compass rose into his head and convinces Terri to come with him. Oh, he’s back to his old self now. I guess all it took was two bodies. The people in these movies require less and less blood with each passing entry I guess. It’s like how Wolverine’s healing factor seems to get better and better with each X-Men film.

Now, this is where the film just takes a complete turn and buttfucks the previously established franchise. Remember how I said this film became a generic slasher? Well in order to make him more like Jason, Freddy or Michael (which is stupid, because this is what made Pinhead interesting is that he was once human), he massacres an entire nightclub full of people. Just kills them for no reason. Before, the cenobites only sought out those that called them, the ones with desire. But here if you’re just mincemeat. Another thing it does to totally retcon what has been established is that Pinhead just creates random cenobites, whereas once again, had to be created of desire. Only those that were truly seeking other pains and pleasures could be turned. Not here. It’s just the more idiotic, poor excuse for creating new cenobites. These are so terrible, I can only imagine the pea brain asshole tasked with coming up with these characters.

I need to breathe for a moment before continuing on.

These cenobites are created from whatever profession they were currently holding. For example, the DJ is now a CD cenobite. The Bartender is some fat cenobite that chucks molotov cocktail, which I guess makes him any random rioter only he is wearing leather and has barbed wire wrapped around his head. Joey’s cameraman is turned into a cenobite with a camera in his eye and kinda looks like if Jesse Ventura were a Borg from Star Trek. You may be wondering why I’m just now getting around to mentioning him and well, the answer is that he’s barely in the movie, is uninteresting and adds to nothing in the overall story arch. He has maybe four scenes and only is there to positively reinforce Joey, essentially being her cheerleader by saying things like, “You can do it, Joey!” So not only were these cenobites not created out of desire, but they are uninteresting simply because we don’t care about them. These characters had no weight to the film and everything about them is ridiculous. You could argue that we didn’t know anything about the previous cenobites, but I would say it’s that we WANTED to know about them.

The final thing that is retconned is that in the two previous films, Pinhead could hold the box with no problems, but here it has to be given to him in order for him to hold it. Why? Well, because the plot needs him to. There was some dumb bullshit about Joey always dreaming about what may have happened to her dad and we do learn more about Pinhead’s previous life as Captain Elliot Spencer and how he needs Joey’s help to get Pinhead, his evil self, into his world so that he can defeat him… I dunno, it’s absolutely stupid. I’ve been using that word a lot; stupid, but what a perfect way to sum up this movie. I don’t even want to talk about it anymore. The special effects aren’t anywhere near as good as the other two movies, the story is taken in the wrong direction and Anthony Hickox, while I enjoyed the first Waxwork movie, is not the right man for directing a Hellraiser movie. There was some comedy in the film that just didn’t blend with what the tone should have been and with this script and making it a piss poor duplicate of what slasher movies had become, he proved he was not the man for this job.

I wouldn’t even say it’s a good bad movie, I would say that it’s a bad bad movie. I didn’t find anything redeemable about it and I’m shocked someone like Doug Bradley looked at the script and thought this was a good idea and took the role. I’m just venting anger on this movie, though. Miramax/Dimension really mishandled the property and couldn’t have cared. They looked at the first two films and just said, “Nah! Make it a loud, stupid, copycat of a slasher.” One good thing I will say about this release is that some of the bonus features are interviews that contain people trying to explain what went wrong and it’s nice to hear some refreshing honesty rather than the filmmakers trying to convince you that it’s a good film. Some may say it’s a good thing that this release does contain an uncut version of the movie, but I would heavily disagree. It adds absolutely nothing other than a few gore shots and destroys the pacing. It doesn’t even bother me that it’s taken from multiple sources of varying quality, it just brings nothing to the overall final product.
I would have been fine with Arrow releasing the first two films in a nice set as a double feature, but I’ll take the third in a box set. It’s not unwatchable, but rather an interesting experiment in what not to do when making a sequel to an already established franchise. Arrow took the time to give this a package to die for, loaded it with so many extras that I can’t even count, but I can tell you that not only does each disc contain making of’s, interviews, audio commentaries, trailers, original EPK’s and so on, but there’s a whole other disc dedicated to the series’ creator, Clive Barker, who definitely deserves the spotlight. Even though his properties are often mishandled, like Night Breed (a film that’s still pretty damn good) and Rawhead Rex (not a good movie, but still entertaining), I’m more than happy that he was able to bring us Hellraiser as personally as he could and that a company like Arrow to the time and effort into seeing these new restorations through and presenting them the way they are.

Kinky Komic Book Review: Spawn #6-7

(Submitted by Prince Adam…Thanks, Ho-mie O’Brien! 😉 xoxo)

“The Mob is fed up with losing their men to an unknown assailant. Finally deciding that Spawn is the killer, they send hit men to kill him. When Spawn defeats these attackers, the mob calls in Overtkill, a cyborg assassin. This foe is unlike any Spawn has ever faced, so he flees their battle to prepare. Luckily, he knows a secret armory stacked with the latest firepower.” (Image)

Following last issue’s emotionally charged socially relevant drama, where Spawn brought a child rapist to justice by killing him, Todd McFarlane, gets back to the super heroic horror the book featured in its first four issues.  Speaking of the first four issues, Spawn’s heart evisceration killing spree of the mafia has its consequences. The mafia has pooled its resources to higher the aforementioned Overtkill. The book does a great job in telling and showing us how much of a threat he is, however does a piss poor job at giving us any background on who Overtkill is, or how he came to be.  McFarlane tells us that he is a nemesis of the Youngblood’s and expects that to be sufficient.  Here’s the problem, I’ve never heard of Youngblood’s and have no inclination to read that title. I’m sorry but, it’s Rob Liefeld and the only character of his I can stomach is Deadpool. I find the rest of his work derivative, and the comic book equivalent of horse shit. Also, his art sucks. Anyway, if Todd McFarlane felt it necessary to borrow from that area of the Image universe, then it falls on him to give us details on Overtkill, for potential non Youngblood readers like me.  This is especially true for the early 90’s, when this book was written and the internet/Wikipedia wasn’t at our finger tips.  I did love that McFarlane showed Spawn being mindful of not using his power unless absolutely necessary, so as not to expend them, which would expedite his souls return to hell. It would be so easy for a writer to not acknowledge this fact from time to time, in favor of an awesome use of mystical powers.  Hoverer, the fact that this implication constantly affects and impacts Spawn, gives every scenario where he uses his abilities more weight and importance. This forced the character to rely on firearms he knew about from his days in the army.  What that does is bring both his past life and present life into conflict.  McFarlane uses this to give us more info about Spawn’s death. In the first volume, flashbacks inform us that a hit was ordered on him by a high ranking government official.  Here, through flashbacks, we learn that the mystery goes deeper and the person who carried out the kill, was someone he knew. In this flashback/nightmare sequence the face of his killer is seen as a skeleton. So we get a hint of new information, yet we don’t see who it is.  I like that we are getting teased, with the reveal being a slow burn. It puts us in Al Simmons shoes, almost like you’re watching a P.O.V, Telltale video game story play out.

As with the first five issues of this title, Todd McFarlane handles both writing and art duties.  While I thought character wise, Overtkill was disappointing, look wise he was great. He looked like a cross between Deadshot with is laser eye patch and Cyborg with all that armor.  The two fights between Spawn and Overtkill were incredibly short, but certain imagery from each really stood out. When Overtkill grabbed Spawn’s cape and chains, using them against him it showed how much of a hindrance, the superhero aesthetic can sometimes be. Most costumed character books don’t touch this issue, so it made this page stand out.  The page in issue 7 where Overtkill is turned inside out, thanks to a bazooka blast, is pure off the wall insanity that really pops off the page.  The image looks so great, it even counteracts the annoying amount of white background present on the page.  Spawns nightmare sequence was the most haunting of the book, as it featured an American flag riddled with bullet holes, with his killer being a skeleton. There’s blood red colors through the page.  The close up on Spawn’s face really accentuates the pain and anguish, each new memory causes Spawn.    While I love that Todd McFarlane highlights how kind and accepting the homeless community is to Spawn in his writing, he doesn’t glorify homelessness in the art.  The streets are dark, and full of garbage. You can see the toll homelessness causes on those who suffer through it, in the face of the homeless man Spawn interacts with.

These two issues aren’t as good as the first five. This is mainly due to an underdeveloped adversary, who feels like a throw away character we’re only going to see these two times.  However, I enjoyed every aspect that dealt with Spawn, his story movement and character development made this book a decent read and is the reason I want to continue reading the early adventures of this modern independent classic character.

4 Attachments

Comic Book Review: Lucifer Vol. 1 : Cold Hell

(Submitted by our Superheroic SciFi guru, Mr. Dr. Prince Adam…Thanks, Super Duper friend!! PS- Canada, am I right?? 😉 xoxo)

“Lucifer is back—wounded and weakened, but suave and savvy as ever. And he’s about to be handed the biggest mystery in the history of Creation: God has been found dead, and the Lightbringer is the prime suspect in His murder. To clear his name and reclaim his throne, Lucifer must solve the Deicide himself. But even with help from the disgraced archangel Gabriel, the task is daunting. To maintain the status quo in both Heaven and Hell, angels and demons alike are determined to pin the crime upon the First of the Fallen—but it will be a cold day in either realm before the Devil fails to get his due. “ (DC Entertainment)

The character of Lucifer is getting his time in the spotlight. First, a television series inspired by the Vertigo comic book and now a new ongoing title. This may lead you to believe that this comic is a tie-in, merely serving as promotion to the television show.  This is actually not the case. Although, the show and the book do share commonalities. In both iterations Lucifer has left hell, owns a nightclub named Lux, and the character of Mazikeen is present. In the show, Lucifer has left hell and moved to LA as he’s fed up with God, and needs a vacation from running the biblical underworld. Mazikeen serves as his right hand woman, helping him run Lux, while he consults with the L.A.P.D. in solving crimes and capturing the worst of the worst criminals.  Near the back half of the first season and for much of the second season to date, God send’s Lucifer’s angelic brothers to Earth, in an attempt to return Lucifer to hell, a place he has no intention of revisiting. The comic sees Lucifer leave hell because of his ongoing tension and frustration with God, but also because he’s fed up with being blamed for everything that goes wrong in both heaven and hell.  Unlike the show, in the comic when leaving hell, Lucifer had to relinquish his angelic abilities and also different from the show, Lucifer hand picks Mazikeen to preside over hell in his absence.

The book starts out with a bang, as we are introduced to a wounded and powerless Lucifer, who’s wound mysteriously is spreading to his heart. We are also introduced to the angel Gabriel,   who has been banished from heaven and stripped of his powers, after failing to kill Lucifer. We then cut to heaven, where archangel Metatron discovers that  God has been killed. He instantly blames Lucifer. When Lucifer and Gabriel discover the news, they set out on a journey to clear Lucifer’s name and find the real killer . I liked the dynamic of Gabriel and Lucifer working together even with an antagonistic relationship in place. The back and forth between the two brothers definitely called to mind Sam and Dean Winchester on Supernatural.  Although, there is far more hatred between Gabriel and Lucifer given the fact that they both tried to willingly and consensually kill each other.   Writer Holly Black fully embraces religion and mythology by taking our characters and the readers on a journey through hell and the dream world to solve the mystery. They did mention and show a flashback to Morpheus in the dream world, which is a nice nod and call back to the Lucifer characters origin in The Sandman series. In fact, this series doesn’t negate the previous Lucifer or Sandman series.  Instead, this is part of that continuity. This little tidbit got me curious to finally bite the bullet and start reading some Sandman. Having our two characters traverse the dream realm almost gave us  second story in this book. During this segment of the sojourn, we learn of Azazel, an angel who was responsible for consuming people’s sin’s. He eventually got overwhelmed by the lure of sin and craved more. However, survivors of a village Azazel has over run with sin are fed up and coerce him into having a child.  That child is groomed to hate his father, eventually killing him. In a bizarre sci-fi twist, the son eventually becomes his father. Lucifer remembers that Azazel is the one who stabbed him. In modern day, Lucifer and Gabriel track Azazel to Earth, where he is possessing humans, and forcing them to comitt terrible sin.  Lucifer forces Azazel to heal him.  I must admit, writer Holly Black had me convinced that Azazel was the killer, however, in a clever off-panel twist back in the dream world, Lucifer learns that it was Gabriel all along that had killed God.  Like the reader, Gabriel had no inclination that he had done this. He had been manipulated into doing so and then wiped of his memory. So appalled with himself, Gabriel storms down to hell, asking Mazikeen to tell her who put him up to killing God. In exchange, he will become one of her servants, a curse upon heaven. The two strike an accord and armed with his full set of powers and brand new black wings, he heads off in search of who wronged him. As for who that was and what’s next for Lucifer Morningstar, we have to wait and see.

The art was  drawn by Lee Garbett with colors handled by Antonio Fabela.  The art style is a mix of animation with some grit to it. I’m reminded a bit of Eduardo Rizzo. There’s a great image of Lucifer in his car, arriving in L.A. and overlooking the city. Having that as the first page of the story allows the reader to enter the story with the main character, making me feel as though I was part of the proceedings.  The story sequence where Lucifer and Gabriel enter the dream space had two great moments in it. One was seeing Lucifer confront the dream sequence version of himself, which looked like the more monstrous version of himself, complete with red skin, horns and hooves.  The other is the scene where we see Lucifer leaving the dream world wearing a trench coat and a fedora. It felt appropriate because at times this book had a film noir look to it. The flashbacks featuring Azazel’s origin’s made him look like evil incarnate. He looked so evil in fact, that you almost forget that Lucifer is the lord of hell.  There’s a great splash page of Lucifer and Gabriel flying high in the sky as the sun rises to start the day. The scenery and colour here was absolutely perfect. If you like that classical depiction of angels, this image is definitely one for you. Hell looked appropriately dank, desolate, and scorching hot. Mazikeen sitting on the throne of hell looked powerful, dominant and looked perfectly at home reigning in hell. If the character’s personality wasn’t enough, these images tell you exactly why Lucifer chose her as his replacement. It’s worth noting that both male and female exposed nipple is featured in this book.

This book has been getting a lot of praise from both my inner circles and mainstream comics press and rightfully so.  This graphic novel succeeds at appealing both to fans of the TV show as well as fans of the original comic book run.  If you aren’t familiar with either, you don’t have to be. It’s easy for new readers too! This book is definitely finding a place on my permanent rotation.  This book proves, that no matter morning or night, this version of Lucifer is a star!

Scary Shorties: Hell’s Bells (1929)

We’ve got a real hot one from Ub Iwerks, kids!

1929’s Hell’s Bells is undeniable proof that the Disney company wanted to inflict  irreparable psychological damage on your child. Directed by the brilliantly psychotic Ub Iwerks (Walt Disney’s first business partner and the man who animated the first Mickey Mouse shorts), this short is a typical Silly Symphonies affair with one considerable difference: it takes place in bloody Hell! What’s even more astounding about this is that this is actually a damn disturbing depiction of Hell! Iwerks’ Hell is essentially what happens when you allow Hieronymus Bosch to design family entertainment. Clocking in at just under six minutes, Mr. Iwerks treats us to images of The Devil feeding lesser demons to Cerberus, demons eating other demons to gain their attributes, and monsters dragged against their will by fiery hands. Fantastic!

Ub Iwerks was certainly a man after our black, rotten hearts. In this very same year, Mr. Iwerks unleashed The Skeleton Dance and The Haunted House, suggesting that the gentleman had a love for the odd and spooky. Though this short never got a follow-up, Iwerks’  grinning demons cavorted in The Goddess of Spring from 1934,  a short that lead to future development of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

If you want black sensations up and down your spine, check out the video below: