>> Some Thoughts on False Advertising

Hellseeker“Better than the original…More horror, thrills, and suspense!”

This is the pull-quote from the back of the DVD box for Hellraiser: Hellseeker, the sixth installment in the franchise, and, at the time, the second to be released straight-to-video.

Of course, that quote is attributed to no one. It’s the product of Dimension’s marketing department; not an actual film critic–a blurb that they hope will be the hook people need to bring the film home from the video store. If someone has the film in their hand, and flip it over to read the back, one would assume that they already have some interest in the Hellraiser series. To promise them something “better than the original” is such a bold faced lie that even the least demanding horror fan will now view the film with some level of skepticism. No marketing department should set themselves up to fail like that.

Hellraiser: Hellseeker is basically its predecessor, Hellraiser: Inferno, all over again. It tosses out the Hellraiser mythos, by and large, and basically rips off the central conceit of Carnival of Souls and Jacob’s Ladder. A protagonist narrowly escapes death, starts seeing things that don’t make any sense, then (SURPRISE!) discover that they are already dead. In the last one it was Craig Sheffer as a dirty cop. In this one it’s smirky Dean Winters, a businessman who was married to Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Lawrence, the original protagonist of the first two Hellraiser films) before a car accident killed her (OR DID IT???).

Dean smirks around the film, running into a lot of women that want to have freaky sex with him, getting hounded by the police over the death of Kirsty, and forgetting where he is all the time. I think he wakes up in a hospital bed at least six times over the course of the film. He hallucinates killing people that may or may not have been murdered already. He can’t remember. Also, he sees Pinhead sometimes out of the corner of his eye.

This, of course, leads to the exact same ending as Inferno, in which Pinhead shows up and says to our lead, “Ha ha, sucker, you’re already DEAD AND IN HELL, oh ho ho!” and proceeds to rip him apart with chains that spring up from the ground while saying some platitude about suffering or pain or pleasure or souls or something.

This is not the plot as described on the back of the DVD case.

“Pinhead is back in Hellraiser: Hellseeker–the next chilling chapter in the electrifying Hellraiser legacy originated by frightmaster Clive Barker! When the puzzle box is once again solved, the devastating demon Pinhead and his legion return to unleash Hell on Earth and demolish all who dare oppose them! But standing in the way is Kirsty Cotton–the only person who has defeated Pinhead in the past–and it’s up to her to save the world from the ultimate evil! Also featuring Dean Winters–you don’t want to miss any of the horror as Pinhead will stop at nothing to impose his will on eternity!”

There was no demolishing, unleashing, or imposing in the movie I saw. There was a lot of half-baked “wHaT iS rEaLiTy?” nonsense and about three minutes total screen time for Kirsty, the puzzle box, or Pinhead himself.

Here’s my recommendation for the back of the DVD case:

“Pinhead is back for a few minutes in Hellriaser: Hellseeker–the next straight to video cash grab that follows the plot of the last film almost exactly. When a businessman married to a character from the first couple of films starts imagining that he kills people he has sex with, he wakes up in a hospital repeatedly! Will he ever remember anything at all or will he soon discover that he died in the opening minutes of the film and his own personal hell includes humping people that turn up murdered? Also featuring Pinhead–you don’t want to miss any chance to count all the nails in his head! There’s a lot!”


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