12. Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
Director: Tony Randel
Stars: Doug Bradley, Ashley Laurence, Imogen Boorman, Kenneth Cranham, William Hope, Clare Higgins
Clive Barker, the English master of sexually perverse horror, dropped a horror landmark with 1987’s Hellraiser, a domestic nightmare about a dead husband who requires his wife to lure men back to their attic so he can slaughter them and obtain their flesh and souls. Directed by Barker, and based on his own novella The Hellbound Heart, the successful gore-a-thon was, contrary to popular belief, more psychologically effective than viscerally impactful, earning its power through methodical pacing.
The 1988 sequel, Hellbound: Hellraiser II, loses nearly all of that patience, opting for accelerated gore and a higher body-count. Even the layered mythology is more show than tell, depicting the Cenobites’ horrific torture maneuvers for sinners and fetishistic slaves. And, for that, it’s endearing, if not inferior to Barker’s original. But second-best isn’t always a bad thing. Once it’s accepted as its own monstrosity, Hellbound works immensely as a ghastly series of try-not-to-look-away images.