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DVD Review HTF DVD REVIEW: Hellbound: Hellraiser II - 20th Anniversary Edition (1 Viewer)

sigmund100

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Eric Douglas
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HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II – 20TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION




Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Year: Movie: 1988, This Release 2008
Rated: R
Film Length: 99 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1),
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English




The Movie – 3 out of 5

“Your suffering will be legendary, even in hell!”

After the re-release of last years Hellraiser: 20th Anniversary Edition, Anchor Bay saw fit to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Hellbound: Hellraiser II with a new DVD “now loaded with all-new extras to tear your soul apart again”. I have always been a fan of the first two “Hellraiser” movies, however, like you; I AM NOT a fan of double, triple or quadruple dips on DVD releases (for those of you that are counting, I believe this is the 5th time Anchor Bay has released Hellbound: Hellraiser II, (not counting VHS releases) as it has been preceded by a standard non-anamorphic DVD release, a 16x9 anamorphic THX certified release with special features, a double-feature release (with Hellraiser) in a "collectible, limited edition tin" and a Best Buy exclusive double feature release (again, with Hellraiser) without the tin. Anchor Bay has become famous for re-releasing titles and expecting fans to dig into their wallets over and over (I lost count of how many times they have released DVDs Halloween and the Evil Dead movies) and by the look of their recent movie-only Blu-Ray releases of Halloween and Evil Dead 2, the trend will likely continue in hi-def. With this review, I will cover many points…

1)“I already own another version of DVD, should I buy this yet again?”
2)“What’s different about this version compared to the other releases?”
3)Should I wait for a hi-def Blu-Ray release?”


Hellbound: Hellraiser II centers on Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence) who has survived the first film, who is now on a quest to release her father, who she believes sent her a message from Hell. Hellraiser II incorporates a number of new characters, including Dr. Channard (Kenneth Cranham), who has been studying about the “Lament Configuration” for years. In layman’s terms the "Lament Configuration" is the mysterious puzzle box that opens the door to hell and releases the “Cenobites”, lead by the legendary, cool quote spewing “Pinhead”. Dr. Channard’s interest leads him to help Julia (Claire Higgins, who also returns from the first film) rise up and out of Hell (a situation similar to Frank Cotton’s in the original film), with Dr. Channard having to bring her innocent victims for her to feed on so she may regain her human form. Once Julia has sucked enough carcasses clean, she brings Dr. Channard to Hell, where Kirsty and a young girl named Tiffany (Immogen Boorman), who has a talent for solving puzzles, follow and are forced to face off with the cenobites.

Hellbound: Hellraiser II is a good movie, just not as good as the first one. It’s been a while since I have seen the film, but looking at it in 2009, it seems tame in comparison to some of today’s horror films. The movie still does a great job creating what feels like a “wet and sticky” atmosphere, however the effects look somewhat dated and what was once shocking and scary, now just seems quaint. I still like the movie. It’s just that going back to this movie after 20 years, it doesn’t seem quite as scary as I once thought it was. It was, is, and will always be, and “80’s horror movie” and any true horror fan should have the first two Hellraiser films as part of their DVD collection.

The Video – 2 out of 5

Ok, the first thing I did was pop in the Anchor Bay 2001 Hellraiser II “THX Digitally Mastered”, “Choice Digital Stereo” DVD release and compared it with this new “Anchor Bay Collection – 20th Anniversary Edition”. Unfortunately, this is the EXACT SAME TRANSFER as far as I could tell. In 2001, what could once be easily hidden by watching this movie on an old CRT television or monitor is all too apparent in 2009, when this movie, kicked up to 1080P and viewed on my Sharp Aquos 52" LCD - LC52D640 HDTV. Some dirt and debris are apparent; I found there to be an excessive amount of noise, grain and edge enhancement than I am normally used to as well. With much of this film taking place in the dark, dimly lit corners of hell, the blacks look greyish and lack shadow detail. The colors seem muted and feel washed out at times. Don’t get me wrong here; it’s without question a definite improvement over the original non-anamorphic transfer. If this was 2001, I’d probably be giving this a better review. However, it’s 2009 and by today’s standards, this repurposed transfer is no way to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of this classic horror film.

The Audio / Sound – 2 out of 5

Again, since this seems to be the repurposed 2001 transfer, the DD 5.1 mix just lacks in its presentation. Although the dialogue was free and clear of distortion, considering all of the action happening on screen, there is little use of panning and directional efforts, LFE’s, and just didn’t seem to have a solid use of surround. Although the score perked up the action a bit, it just wasn’t enough. Just for comparison, I popped in the DVD of MGM’s 2001 release of The Terminator (a movie that’s four years older than Hellraiser II) and the difference in quality is like night and day. Clearly MGM knew The Terminator’s soundtrack needed to be refurbished and did an amazing job, updating it for today’s home theater systems. Anchor Bay unfortunately missed another opportunity here, in 2001 and again in 2008.

The Extras – 5 out of 5

Ok, this is where this DVD gets a good grade. As with most of Anchor Bay “Special Editions” or “Anchor Bay Collection” releases, there are some great documentaries, behind the scenes looks, commentaries interviews and more...

Audio commentary with director Tony Randel, screenwriter Peter Atkins and actor Ashley Laurence (ported over from the previous release)

On-set interview with Clive Barker (4x3 Full frame, 3:15) Looks like EPK stuff, new to DVD

On-set interviews with Cast and Crew (4x3 Full frame, 4:37) Again, looks like EPK stuff, new to DVD

“Lost in the Labyrinth” (widescreen… appears to be 1:85.1, non-anamorphic, 17:02) (2001 featurette repurposed from previous release)

“The Soul Patrol” (1:78.1 anamorphic widescreen, 22:05) – Interviews with actors that play the Cenobites. Brand new, created for this DVD release.

“Outside the Box” – (1:78.1 anamorphic widescreen, 15:05) – Interview with Director Tony Randel. Brand new, created for this DVD release.

“The Doctor is In” (1:78.1 anamorphic widescreen, 13:30) – Interview with actor Kenneth Cranham, the actor who plays Dr. Channard in the film. Brand new, created for this DVD release.

“Under the Skin” (1:78.1 anamorphic widescreen, 10:54) Interview with Doug Bradley (Pinhead). (Ported over from the overseas release. This is the first time this has been on DVD here in the U.S.)

Theatrical Trailers (4) & TV Spots (2) - (All 4x3 full frame, 6:40) (What happened to the anamorphic theatrical trailer from the 2001 release? It’s not here on this disc)

Poster and stills gallery (ported over from the 2001 DVD release)

Also included is the theatrical trailer for Surfer, Dude (non-anamorphic) on the front end of the disc, and a Hellbound: Hellraiser II fold out “limited theatrical mini poster” replica.

Final Thoughts

I don’t know about you… but I HATE double dipping on DVDs unless there is a compelling reason to upgrade. For me, the main reasons to upgrade are either a new version (director’s cut, extended edition, etc…) or a new transfer. Unfortunately Anchor Bay’s 20th Anniversary Edition of Hellbound Hellraiser II has neither. That being said, let’s go back to the questions I posed earlier:

1)“I already own another version of DVD, should I buy this yet again?”
A: Maybe… If you a Hellraiser superfan and think the 2+ hours of bonus material is worth $19.98 SRP, then go right ahead, as long as you are aware the movie itself on the disc is the same transfer that you already own.

2)“What’s different about this version compared to the other releases?”
A: Anchor Bay giveth and Anchor Bay taketh away. We get a ton of great new bonus features, however they took away what appeared to be the digitally remastered 16x9 theatrical trailer and the 4x3 full frame version of the film (which were both included on the previous release).

3)Should I wait for a hi-def Blu-Ray release?”
A: Maybe. This film is in terrible need of an upgrade. A high definition transfer at a reasonable price that included all of these great features is worth the wait in my opinion. However, If you don’t own this movie yet, this is the best release of Hellbound: Hellraiser II Anchor Bay has created to date and if you don’t own a Blu-Ray player, this would be the version you would want to pick up.

I don’t know about you, but as much as I like these special features, I like my home theater more. I’m waiting for the high definition Blu-Ray releases of both Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II. I like my blood and gore in glorious HD. Only then will it be “Time of Play”.

Overall Score – 2 ½ out of 5

Release Date: December 30, 2008

Eric Douglas

My DVD Collection: DVD Profiler, by Invelos Software, Inc.
 

Michael Osadciw

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Michael Osadciw
Thanks Eric

Anchor Bay will really need to start fresh with this release if any HD eidtion is planned. If an HD master was created back in 2001 (or whenever the first Hellbound anamorphic DVD was released), simply delivering that as a BD will not be good enough. Today's technology has far surpassed the transfers of old...or else all problems inherent on the DVD will be here on the BD, just with greater precision.
 

sigmund100

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Eric Douglas
Yeah... I was kind of surprised that it just didn't look "better". Both of these films would definitely benefit from a restoration before Blu-Ray. Hopefully, they will recognize that and do the right thing when the time comes.
 

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