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Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002) – DVD Review

Hellraiser: Hellseeker DVD cover art


Written by: Carl Dupre and Tim Day
Directed by: Rick Bota
Starring: Doug Bradley, Dean Winters, Ashley Laurence, William S. Taylor


  • Running audio commentary with director Bota
  • Alternate scenes with commentary by Bota
  • Visual effects walkthrough with FX supervisor Jamison Goel

Released by: Buena Vista Home Video
Region: 1
Rating: R
Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: Rent the original.

Surviving a major accident can be a bewildering experience. Especially when you live, but a loved one doesn’t. Trevor (Winters) for example, survived his car crashing and sinking into the river, but his dear wife Kirsty (Laurence) wasn’t found. He is naturally confused and emotional. His confusion is deepened when Detective Lange (Taylor) keeps asking questions about the accident since Kirsty had a big inheritance. Smacking your head against the steering wheel doesn’t help either. This could explain his memory loss (while seemingly in love with his wife, he keeps having hot, nasty, kinky sex with his boss, his neighbor, and his acupuncturist). But can it explain choking up a gigantic eel, having visions of graphic, bloody murder, and seeing a certain person in black leather with pins in his head with a highly decorated box? Is it all in Trevor’s head, are Pinhead (Bradley) and his loyal Cenobites after his soul, or is there another agenda in the works?

When the original Hellraiser was released, it threw out the traditional Judeo-Christian vision of Hell and its demons and gave us something new, influenced by sadomasochism, body modification, and pure madness. But with all fresh new concepts, Hollywood has run it to the ground and we get Hellraiser: Hellseeker, number six in the “franchise”. I have to give first time director Bota some credit for staying away from making this film into an all-out gore fest. He managed to bring in the original actress who plays Kirsty in the first two films and there are plenty of references for fans to pick up on. But this far removed from the depraved grandeur of Clive Barker in the direction or writing, the movie falls flat. Instead of using the Lament Configuration (that’s what the Box is called, for the uninitiated) to open a way to Hell for the ultimate experience, Trevor uses it to get rid of his wife. How banal. The acting is workman-like with Winters walking around clueless and looking like he needs aspirin. The rest don’t really make an impression except for Doug Bradley who plays Pinhead. Playing the character for so long, he can convey the superior delight a cat might have playing with its prey until it gets devoured effortlessly.

The extras for this disc feature some exposition scenes that the director felt were too slow and so he cut them up and sprinkled them around the film. There is also a walkthrough that details how the special effects of several significant scenes were accomplished. It’s all standard material that you can find on any DVD. The commentary is interesting because Bota talks about the various techniques he used to make this film within his limited budget. It appears he put some thought into the look and pace of the film and having to balance satisfying the fans without alienating those not familiar with the mythology. He was smart enough to acquiesce to Bradley when it came to Pinhead’s dialogue that he rewrote. But I have to wonder when he tells that he showed an early cut to Clive Barker himself and Barker actually liked it. And that’s simply because Hellraiser: Hellseeker is a pale, lifeless continuation of a franchise that has run out of power.

Hellraiser: Hellseeker screen capture 1

Hellraiser: Hellseeker screen capture 2

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