It seems like Hellraiser: Deader  just came out a few months ago — wait a minute: it did, in June! — and here we are at number 8 in the series already with Hellworld. Deader was surprisingly good, but it was obvious that the script was not originally written to be a Pinhead movie (the tone was quite its own, and the nail-headed annihilator only made a few brief appearances). Hellworld makes up for that in spades — it’s all about Mr. P.
The movie starts off at the funeral of a young man who got so into the Hellraiser online game, Hellworld, that soon after he achieved the opening of the box (via strategic mouse clicks) he wound up in one himself. As his grieving friends gather around the coffin, they vow not to play the game anymore. But not long after, one by one they all log on…
Their online machinations win them each an invitation to a special, exclusive diehards-only Hellworld fiesta in a mysterious mansion that’s owned by a man known only as The Host (Lance Henriksen), and populated by masked and anonymous hotties undulating to rock tunes while downing as much alcohol as the human body can handle.
The setting, characters, and killings are all standard horror stuff on the surface, but director Rick Bota (channeling a meth-addled William Castle) and screenwriter Carl V. Dupré (doing his best Mario “Bay of Blood” Bava) brought their A game with inventive little twists and shocks all throughout the gory proceedings.
While the story is indeed immersed in the Hellraiser lore, Doug Bradley and his cenobite chums actually only make perfunctory hook-and-chain appearances — the screen is owned by Henriksen as The Host (and his character is leaps and bounds better than another host he played in a 2003 disappointment called The Invitation ) Best Host line: “If you need anything... scream.” Our heroine, Chelsea (Katheryn Winnick) is also a lot of fun to watch as she’s put through the wringer, making many narrow escapes. All of the actors are well-cast, and each dies splendidly.
Hellworld is definitely worth playing.
The DVD is nicely rounded out with a featurette called Ticket to Hellworld, plus director and makeup effects commentary (would have loved some actor commentary from Henriksen, but no such luck).
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson