Hellraiser: The Scarlet Box

Hellraiser | Hellbound: Hellraiser II | Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth

Director: Clive Barker | Tony Randel | Anthony Hickox

Screenplay: Clive Barker | Peter Atkins | Peter Atkins

Minutes: 94 | 97 | 93

Year: 1987 | 1988 | 1992

Score: 7.20 | 7.07 | 5.87

Release: Arrow Scarlet Box

I mentioned this set originally in my best of 2016 post wherein I listed this release at number 11. You can scroll down a bit and see the vast collection of special features included along with the first three films, Hellraiser, Hellbound: Hellraiser 2, and Hellraiser 3: Hell On Earth.  There is a lot to unpack here but the short version is that if you like Hellraiser you need to purchase this set. If you are unfamiliar with Hellraiser but interested, probably buy this set. If you are offended by gore, sex, S&M, or provocative language, this is a hard pass.

Do I need to talk about the movies? This is one of the top ten horror franchises of the 1980s and 90s. I probably should.

Hellraiser

Hellraiser tells the story of a puzzle box which, when solved, opens a gateway to hell. At its heart the first Hellraiser is a family drama with a love triangle between a husband, Larry, and wife, Julia, and the husband’s brother, Frank. After Julia and Frank share a passionate night Frank drops out of her life and seeks out ultimate pleasure. On his journeys he happens across a puzzle box. Upon solving the box he gives up his soul to the Order of the Gash, or cenobites. The cenobites are former humans who have given in to the pleasures of the flesh and seek out the souls of the living. Frank is not fully assimilated by the cenobites with just enough of him hiding under his floorboards.

While Larry and Julia are moving into Frank’s house Larry slices his finger on an exposed nail (it was a deep cut, probably too much blood). Some of the blood drips on the attic floor and reignites Frank’s life. It is a little bizarre. The skinless existence of a reconstituted Frank convinces Julia to go around to bars and lure horny business to the house where she can kill them and give their blood to Frank. Larry’s daughter, Ashley, is concerned because she sees Julia wooing a bunch of strangers.

Ashley follows Julia and a john to the house and witnesses one of the murders. Ashley soon solves the cenobite’s puzzle box herself and offers to give them Frank in an effort to save Larry. It is blood and sexy and when you see the alternate reality of the cenobites you are introduced to some of the highpoints of the film, specifically “lead cenobite” or has he has been named, Pinhead, which may be one of the more easily recognizable horror characters.

Sequals

In Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 the team rehashed much of the plot of the original (as is typical of horror films) but this film spends more time in the alternate cenobite realm battling with cenobites, screaming, and being gross. Hellraiser 3: Hell On Earth is not too good, in comparison but it tells the origin of Pinhead and is just a violent mess with new cenobites that make you wish the 90’s hadn’t happened.

Quality

The three films are the product of new 2k restorations and I cannot remember ever seeing them look so good. The black levels are pure and the grain is classic. It is very clear that the archivist knew what they were doing and loved the source material. This really is a special set.  The drips, and chains echoed perfectly in the DTS-HD 5.1 sound which I know that I have never experienced.

Special Features

Chances are if this set interests you at all you already know those movies and I would probably not be writing this much if the picture quality is sub-par. And you can get them cheaper if you are so inclined. But you should not. If you are a fan of these films you should absolutely get this set (as of writing this Arrow posted that they are low on inventory). I know more about the production of these films than I need to after listening to 6 commentaries and about 10 hours of documentaries and interviews (I am not doing the math, it’s a lot).

The two-part Leviathan documentary contains much of the content of the commentaries, although not as scene specific, however it is good to see the main cast and their experiences on the films. A few stand out features, if I am asked would probably be the Soundtrack Hell documentary about the original score, the deleted Surgeon Scene and the BD-ROM features.

4-DISC LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS

  • Brand new 2K restorations of Hellraiser, Hellbound: Hellraiser II, and Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth
  • Uncompressed PCM Stereo 2.0 and Lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 sound for Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II
  • Lossless DTS-HD MA 2.0 sound for Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for all three films
  • Limited Edition bonus disc
  • Exclusive 200-page hardback book with new writing from Clive Barker archivists Phil and Sarah Stokes
  • 20-page booklet featuring never-before-seen original Hellraiser concept art
  • Limited Edition packaging with new artwork from Gilles Vranckx
  • Set of 5 exclusive art cards
  • Fold-out reversible poster

DISC 1 – HELLRAISER

  • Brand new 2K restoration approved by director of photography Robin Vidgeon
  • Audio commentary with writer/director Clive Barker
  • Audio commentary with Barker and actress Ashley Laurence
  • Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser – brand new version of the definitive documentary on the making of Hellraiser, featuring interviews with key cast and crew members
  • Being Frank: Sean Chapman on Hellraiser – actor Sean Chapman talks candidly about playing the character of Frank Cotton in Barker’s original
  • Soundtrack Hell: The Story of the Abandoned Coil Score – Coil member Stephen Thrower on the Hellraiser score that almost was
  • Hellraiser: Resurrection – vintage featurette including interviews with Clive Barker, actors Doug Bradley and Ashley Laurence, special make-up effects artist Bob Keen and others
  • Under the Skin: Doug Bradley on Hellraiser
  • Original EPK featuring on-set interviews with cast and crew
  • Draft Screenplays [BD-ROM content]
  • Trailers and TV Spots
  • Image Gallery

DISC 2 – HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II

  • Brand new 2K restoration approved by director of photography Robin Vidgeon
  • Audio Commentary with director Tony Randel and writer Peter Atkins
  • 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 home video world premiere of this legendary, never before-seen excised sequence from Hellbound, sourced from a VHS workprint
  • Lost in the Labyrinth – vintage featurette including interviews with Barker, Randel, Keen, Atkins and others
  • Under the Skin: Doug Bradley on Hellbound: Hellraiser II
  • On-set interview with Clive Barker
  • On-set interviews with cast and crew
  • Behind-the-Scenes Footage
  • Rare and unseen storyboards
  • Draft Screenplay [BD-ROM content]
  • Trailers and TV Spots
  • Image Gallery

DISC 3 – HELLRAISER III: HELL ON EARTH

  • Brand new 2K restoration of the Original Theatrical Version [93 mins]
  • Alternate Unrated Version [97 mins]
  • Brand new audio commentary with writer Peter Atkins
  • Audio commentary with director Anthony Hickox and Doug Bradley
  • Hell on Earth: The Story of Hellraiser III – making-of documentary featuring interviews with Atkins, Keen and actor Ken Carpenter
  • Terri’s Tales – brand new interview with actress Paula Marshall
  • Under the Skin: Doug Bradley on Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth
  • Raising Hell on Earth – archival interview with Hickox
  • On-set interviews with Barker and Bradley
  • Never-before-seen Hellraiser III SFX dailies
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Image Gallery
  • Hellraiser III comic book adaptation [Disc gallery]

Now, let’s take a look at this fourth disc, this one is special for the Clive Barker hardcore fans. Longtime readers know that I love obscure art films. Clive Barker’s Salomé is a very dark and interesting take on this old story including many of the Hellraiser cast and crew. The Forbidden was very difficult to get though, mostly because of its run time and abstract nature, it is difficult to recommend.  David Gatwards biography of Barker was very enlightening to Barker’s long career as a novelist.

Special mention must be made for short film. It is bad, no way around that. But there is something very special about it because it is an interesting addition to the mythos of Hellraiser and I am surprised that it is included here.

DISC 4 – THE CLIVE BARKER LEGACY – LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE 

  • Clive Barker short films Salomé and The Forbidden
  • Books of Blood & Beyond: The Literary Works of Clive Barker – horror author David Gatward provides a tour through Barker’s written work, from the first Books of Blood to the recent The Scarlet Gospels
  • Hellraiser: Evolutions – a brand new documentary looking at the evolution of the hit horror franchise and its enduring legacy, featuring interviews with Scott Derrickson (director, Hellraiser: Inferno), Rick Bota (director, Hellraiser: Hellseeker, Deader and Hellworld), Stuart Gordon (director, Re-Animator, From Beyond) and others
  • The Hellraiser Chronicles: A Question of Faith – short film

This is just thick and delicious icing on an already impressive cake. Arrow likes producing quality paper supplements for their boxed sets but this one may be the nicest yet. When these limited sets are gone I would imagine the book is gone too.

200-PAGE BOOK – ‘DAMNATION GAMES’ – LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE

Exclusive 200-page hardback book with new writing on Hellraiser and the Barker universe from Barker archivists Phil and Sarah Stokes – including chapters looking at Barker’s early work, the genesis and production of the first 3 films in the Hellraiser series and much more, all illustrated with stills and rare material from the Barker archive

Detailed Scores

HELLRAISER

Director: 10 – Cinematography: 8 – Edit: 5 – Parity: 3 – Main performance: 4 – Else performance: 6 – Score: 7 – Sound: 8 – Story: 7 – Script: 6 – Effects: 8 – Design: 10 – Costumes: 6 – Keeps interest: 10 – Lasting: 10

HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER 2

Director: 7 – Cinematography: 7 – Edit: 5 – Parity: 7 – Main performance: 6 – Else performance: 7 – Score: 9 – Sound: 5 – Story: 8 – Script: 5 – Effects: 8 – Design: 6 – Costumes: 6 – Keeps interest: 10 – Lasting: 10

HELLRAISER 3: HELL ON EARTH

Director: 4 – Cinematography: 5 – Edit: 5 – Parity: 3 – Main performance: 6 – Else performance: 7 – Score: 7 – Sound: 5 – Story: 7 – Script: 8 – Effects: 8 – Design: 4 – Costumes: 7 – Keeps interest: 6 – Lasting: 10

 

Jesus Wept.

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