Reviewed By Ross Hughes
Sadly I now come to the end of my Hellraiser reviews! Not by choice as fans of the franchise will know that I am only on part seven and there is still one more to go. But only tonight have I realised that the Ultimate collection box set which I forked out over £40 quid for, is minus the eighth chapter, so not only have I realised that I have been conned, but I now know, that its going to cost me another £10 for another film, which judging by the trailer that I have just watched, will not be money well spent!
But that is another story for another time, Deader now needed my full attention and after Hellseeker left me with a severe bad aftertaste and feelings of despair, could the seventh entry wash away the taste and bring back the flow of my horror senses, but with Rick Bota back in the directors chair after the previous entry standards, lets just say I was not too optimistic.
From the off though, the mood and style was different. It seemed that Bota wanted to make amends from the failure of Hellseeker and go in a total different direction. There was no funked up grunge style music with flashy titles. This was more of a morbid affair, it seemed that we were heading for a much serious piece of filming and dare I say it, a sense of menace and dread was in the air. Even the name of FX king Stan Winston serving as a producer made me quite surprised and all of a sudden I could see that once again the Hellraiser series has changed direction, but the question was, to good or bad.
We start in a pit of a Junkies den where we meet Amy Klein (the ever watchable Karl Wuhrer) who at first seems like a drug addict, spaced out on a sofa, but then she whips out a camera and starts to take photographs of her surroundings. Ah yes, it does not take long to figure out that this woman is a reporter of the highest standards, someone who likes to get involved in a story, despite what it is and the danger it may bring. Its a policy which is quite handy as just at that moment, a video tape ends up on the desk of her editor Charles (Simon Kanz) who is desperate for her to see.
The video shows a gang of goths, who look like they have watched Flatliners too many times, who go by the name of Deaders, not Debters in which Amy mistakenly hears at first. The video shows them gathering around a mattress and chanting some mumble jumble and a young woman Marla (Geogina Rylance) being brought to the front and then laying herself on the bed. Uttering the words “I believe!” she is given a gun and then shoots her brains out in front of the watching crowd. By now Amy is totally sickened by what she is seeing which is so obvious as the camera keeps on cutting to her expression and her mouth and eyes go wider and wider that at that one moment I got a bit worried that the wind would change and her expression would stay like that and the only future she would have is that of a porn star. Her horror though soon turns to amazement when we see a young man Winter (Paul Rhys) a name which suits his fashion sense of all white , pick up the body of the recently shot woman and start to kiss her. Well it looks like that, but he is actually breathing air into her and soon Marla despite have a gaping hole in the side of her head, is back in the land of living. Now most people would think that there is something quite wrong with all this and would not get involved, but not Amy who rushes off to the first plane to Bucharest Romania from where this video tape was mailed from.
The one thing that sets this film apart is that it really does not feel like a Hellraiser film. Now I know I said that about parts 5 and 6, but here its even more strange. The film feels totally different and it may not surprise you to know that this was originally written for the sole intention of a new horror which was totally different. Yes the main plot would have been about the Deaders, but this was originally nothing to do with the franchise of the Lament Configuration, but sensing a link between the storyline of pain and pleasure, the studio came up with a brain wave and ordered a last minute rewrite to include the puzzle box and all things cenobites as the name Hellraiser would sell the film more than a title called Deaders Its a ploy that clearly shows throughout, as somewhere between the lines there are two films desperate for its own identity and somehow they both get lost in the balance
Its not to say that Deader is a bad film. Its leaps heaps and bounds over Hellseeker and there are quite some wonderful horror moments that are of real high standard. There is a scene that must rank as one of the best of the entire franchise and I include the originals in that in which one of the gang of the Deaders have hanged themselves in a bathroom and Amy has to reach over the body to grab a parcel left by the deceased. Its a real strong set piece, that may riff off Se7en but oozes style and quality. The tension that it creates is a massive shocker and I would seriously recommend all fans to watch the film just for that moment. There is also another high point in which Amy is trying to find the hiding place of this gang and finds herself between a thin gap of two walls. She shuffles a long, hoping to find an end when all of a sudden we see a hooded figure next to her, holding a knife. The way this scene brings out a claustrophobic feeling of terror is a credit to Bota who actually shows so much promise in terms of style and technique in his direction.
Its just a shame the other scenes seem too redundant and pointless. There is a badly misjudged train sequence that shows Amy meeting up with a different cult led by our very own Mark Warren, who has seemed to somehow have hijacked an underground train and just circle the stations where they just take drugs and have group sex, its logic that went way over my head, and the fact she visits them twice is an annoyance even through there is a nasty sting in the tail to why this train exists.
As for Pinhead well he again quite rightly hides in the background, his appearance fleeting, but the biggest disappointment and the reason why Deader failed for me is because of the climax which is badly misjudged! This is a gang who are abusing the power of the box and do not care for the repercussions and when finally Pinhead who actually gets a grand appearance here, you feel that these group of idiots are all set to pay the price for their need for everlasting life. But despite the build up which to be fair is done quite wonderfully, the climax is a massive let down. He appears along with his crew of cenobites but its over before you know it! What was we were crying out for and what the film deserved is some kind of hell dished out Pinhead style, but it all done in such a lame arse way that you feel nothing but disappointment, especially when you see Pinhead doing his body jerk again. Oh no he is turning his body back and foe, that must mean the chains are coming….run!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The best thing about Deader is Wuhrer, finally the sequels have a good lead, and its a shame that its not in a better film. Wuhrer who made The Hitcher 2 the only thing good worth watching, is the highlight of a film that now relies on the same old style of the other instalments that has more or less become stale. The dream like tricks, the reality bending time zones, what is real and what is not, have all become tired now to this franchise, despite the fact that Deader is a much better looking film than all the other sequels with Bucharest a wonderful location to be based in. Its just a shame that the film that oozes promise, just seems to be missing something, a bit of bite or something dark. Maybe a touch of a Barker to set it alight!
OVERALL: Again not quite the disaster its made out to be, the film struggles with its identity, but its decent fare saved by a quite staggering bathroom sequence that has to be admired and totally deserves respect in the world of the Hellraiser franchise.