The Scarlet Box Limited Edition Trilogy review by Bobby Blakey
There are a handful of iconic horror villains that almost everyone knows whether they have seen their films or not. One of them is that of Pinhead played brilliantly by Doug Bradley throughout all but one of the films in the Hellraiser franchise. Like most the series has had its ups and downs, but the first few films in the series delivered. Now Arrow Video is bringing these first three films to Blu-ray in an all-new Hellraiser: The Scarlet Box Limited Edition Trilogy box set.
Hellraiser follows Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence) as she comes head-to-head with the Cenobites - demonic beings from another realm who are intent on reclaiming the soul of her deviant Uncle Frank. This first entry is written and directed by creator Clive Barker himself based on his novella The Hellbound Heart. This is a great film that while does feel dated on some aspects which is expected since it was released in 1987. If you have never seen it there is some misconception that Pinhead is the main villain, but that is not the case. This is a slow build story that features torture and betrayal in the name of blood and lust that serves as the catalyst to bring the demons from hell. There is no denying that this is a creepy film that offers up some of the best looking demon characters in history with the cenobites. Pinhead himself despite not being in the film all that long delivers the best dialogue and showcases why he easily became the showcase to this entire series.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II follows immediately after the events of the original and finds Kirsty detained at a psychiatric institute and under the care of Phillip Channard, a doctor who abuses his position to realise his own dark aims. This follow up set out to expand on the universe it built as well as hoped to give a bit more insight to Pinhead, but due to budgeting never got to fully bring what they had hoped to life. This is one of the reasons the film feels a bit disjointed at times, but thanks to some archival footage and the returning cast its till works. There are a lot of elements that are essentially rehashing the story from the first film while expanding into a bigger world. The effects aren’t all that great, but the film still has the desired effect for those that are fans of the franchise. I enjoy that this film played out kind of like another episode complete with a recap and follow up to the characters in the first film making it really feel more like a continuation instead of just a sequel. In the end the film isn’t quite as good as the original, but does a good job doing what it set out to do.
Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth follows a reporter investigating a mysterious death at a nightclub who finds herself in the way of Pinhead and the Cenobites, who plan to bring their horrifying world into our own. This third chapter in the series keeps aspects of the first two in play as a connection, but finally takes the story in a new direction. Here there is a lot more Pinhead throughout for the first time including his name actually being mentioned for the first time. I loved getting to see Doug Bradley both in and out of the Pinhead garb playing a pivotal role to the overall story. Bringing the cenobites to Earth as the actual threat gave them the chance to do some fun things here including creating brand new cenobites for the first time, that are always a lot of fun to see. The real issue with this film series is really the ease in which they are all always defeated, but with the puzzle box in play it is inevitable, but the end caps that always promise that hell cannot really be defeated makes it work.
In the end these are far from perfect horror films, but came at a time when the genre was getting watered down and gave it the injection of evil it needed. While they are dated they still manage to deliver everything a true horror fan loves and in turn makes for a great franchise that I for one still enjoy to this day. This awesome set features brand new 2k restorations of the three films along with hours of archival content and newly produced extras including audio commentaries and interviews with Clive Barker, Doug Bradley and Sean Chapman in his first interview on the Hellraiser films in decades as well as the newly edited version of Leviathan, the definitive documentary on Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser 2. A new documentary, Hellraiser: Evolutions, is also included and will look at the evolution of the hit horror franchise and its enduring legacy. These features will sit amongst a host of rarities and never-before-seen footage from the movies including the legendary 'Surgeon' scene from Hellbound: Hellraiser 2, the subject of fierce debate amongst fans for many years, now finally unearthed for its home video debut.
This limited edition Blu-ray comes with an exclusive illustrated 200-page hardback book featuring new writing from Clive Barker archivists Phil and Sarah Stokes and a 20-page booklet featuring never-before-seen original Hellraiser concept art. The limited edition packaging is adorned with incredible new artwork from Gilles Vranckx alongside a set of 5 exclusive art cards and a fold-out reversible poster making it a must have for fans of the series. Prepare to have your soul torn apart and grab your copy of the Hellraiser: The Scarlet Box Limited Edition Trilogy available now.