Hellbound: Hellraiser II – Blu-ray Review

Hellbound: Hellraiser II is a 1988 British-American horror film that was directed by Tony Randel and starring Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Kenneth Cranham, and Doug Bradley.  The film is the second entry in the Hellraiser saga and draws heavily upon (and was made by much of the same cast and crew as) its precursor, Hellraiser.  Clive Barker, who wrote and directed the previous film, wrote the story and was the sequel’s executive producer.

Starting out shortly after her father is killed by Frank Cotton, Kirsty Cotton is admitted into a psychiatric hospital.  Interviewed by Doctor Channard, and his assistant Kyle MacRae, she tells her account of the events, and pleads with them to destroy the bloody mattress that her murderous stepmother, Julia Cotton, had died on.

An alternate script with Kirsty’s father, Larry, exists, written before Andrew Robinson had declined to reprise the role.  Many reasons were given for this including a disagreement over fees and a clash of schedules, although nothing has ever been confirmed.  Dr. Channard was originally called Dr. Malahide, but this was changed by the director.  It was revealed in the Documentary Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 from Andrew Robinson that he was not a fan of the script and decided to not return as his character was finished anyway.  Writer Peter Atkins had said that despite liking Andrew Robinson as an actor, he was relieved that he had declined as it made the narrative work a lot better in the finished project.

Hellbound: Hellraiser II was originally shown at the Toronto Festival of Festivals on September 9, 1988.  It was later shown in Los Angeles and New York on December 23, 1988.

The Film Itself (3.5/5):

Hellbound: Hellraiser II comes packaged in the typical clear Blu-ray case that we’ve seen from Arrow over the years.  The Blu-ray disc features a piece of artwork that’s related to the film, and different from that of the case art.  While there are no digital copy redemption pamphlets or slipcovers with this release, the artwork for the case is reversible, allowing you to feature either the original artwork, or the new artwork for this release as you have it on your shelf.

Picture Quality (5/5):

As you would expect from Arrow films, the visual presentation of their release of Hellbound: Hellraiser II is hands down, without a doubt, the most definitive you can get with this release. Giving audiences an insanely clearer picture while retaining the original grain, and that unique feeling that came with horror films of the time. Making sure that the visual effects are as clean as you could imagine, blending into their more natural elements, you could certainly tell that there was a lot of love and attention to detail when the folks at Arrow went to work on this release.

Audio Quality (5/5):

Packaged with an all new DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, this release of Hellbound: Hellraiser II takes the original experience that was intended with this movie and pushes it to the next level. While it’s not as immersive as a 7.1 mix could be, there was a significant amount of attention to detail put into the re-mastering of this audio track, making sure that audiences experience the film in a way that falls right in line with when this movie had originally came out. The transitions between the channels were effortless and really added to the overall experience, while the dialogue was spoken cleanly and the cast and characters were able to be heard and understood without any issues whatsoever.

The Packaging (4/5):

Taking things a little darker, adding a good bit more creativity, Hellbound: Hellraiser II brings a lot more to the franchise than you could really expect with a sequel. This movie takes everything that was created in the initial movie and twists it even further, and offers one hell of a good time that my wife and I seemingly enjoyed more after diving into this saga.

Special Features (5/5):

There are a good number of special features included with this release of Hellbound: Hellraiser II. The content not only shares the experiences that were had with the cast and crew had while they were making this movie, but a look back at the work and effort that went into making this movie. I couldn’t have really asked for a better set of special features with this release. Included with this release is:

  • Optional Feature Audio Commentary with Director Tony Randel and Writer Peter Atkins
  • Optional Feature Audio Commentary with Randel, Atkins and actress Ashley Laurence
  • Leviathan: The Story of Hellbound: Hellraiser II – brand new version of the definitive documentary on the making of Hellbound, featuring interviews with key cast and crew members
  • Being Frank: Sean Chapman on Hellbound – actor Sean Chapman talks about reprising the role of Frank Cotton in the first Hellraiser sequel
  • Surgeon Scene – the legendary excised sequence
  • Lost in the Labyrinth – vintage featurette including interviews with Barker, Randel, Keen, Atkins, and many others
  • Under the Skin: Doug Bradley on Hellbound: Hellraiser II
  • On set interview with Clive Barker
  • On set interviews with cast and crew members
  • Behind the Scenes footage
  • Rare and Unseen Storyboards
  • Draft Screenplays
  • Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots
  • Image Gallery

Technical Specs:

Video

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Original Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Audio

English: LPCM 2.0

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles

English, English SDH

Runtime

Original Film: 99 Minutes

Final Thoughts:

I’ll be first to admit that I’m not as well versed into the Horror genre as some folks. But with the opportunity to sit down to Hellbound: Hellraiser II on Blu-ray, hell yeah! The story as a whole, while it’s not as fun as some of the other horror icons, it’s still a noteworthy saga that took the experience as a whole to a new level. The audio and video presentation of this release were absolutely stellar. The special features that were included were absolutely amazing. If you’re considering this release for your collection, I would without a doubt recommend picking it up. Hellbound: Hellraiser II is available on Blu-ray from Arrow Films today.

Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.