The Hellraiser franchise is a hit or miss with some folks, the sequels especially. Clive Barker brought us one of the most unique villains in Pin-Head, so copies where inevitable right? Well kinda, I’m not sure anyone wanted to try and knock off such a game changer. That was until I watched HELLINGER.
Made in 1997 on a budget of 8000 bucks, and cobbled together with a cast of 18 people, HELLINGER isn’t a good movie. It’s downright awful, but if you love schlock and extreme low budget flicks, you might dig it. Its also co produced by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz, so I suppose its technically a Troma film? It’s a rip-off mostly for its pale bald villain, who is undeniably a Pin-Head copy, a bad copy. Budget aside, let’s look at what the film has in the ways of story.
HELLINGER tells the story of a fallen priest who made a pact with satan and was cast into hellfire, only to be released years later, through blood magic? Hellinger is barely in most the film, which probably is a good thing. The main baddie is basically Pin-Head without the pins and bondage gear, what’s a guy gotta do to get a nipple ring? He’s honestly more of a cross between Pin-head and peewee Herman, delivering lines in a way that makes it look like he is constantly messing his pants. There are a lot of good ideas here, just none of them are executed very well.
We have several characters to work with as the narrative moves, including a guy who looks strikingly similar to Jim van Bebber (DEAD BEAT BY DAWN). But again those elements get dropped constantly, and by the time HELLINGER is moving you’ll wonder why they bothered. In fact by the time you get to the unnecessarily gory rape scene you’ll probably turn it off. If you can power through the bore and unnecessary scenes, you’ll find a few gems. I laughed the hardest at a sex scene about 26 minutes in, it was the chefs kiss of terrible nude scenes. I still can’t condone the overly long rape murder that offers nothing to story, other than cause me to worry about the filmmakers.
It’s bad, but HELLINGER is an indie film that tries, for that it gets a gold star. Direction is good, acting could be worse, and cinematography is pretty good considering it may have been shot on a mini DV camera from the late 90’s. Plus it’s got enough of a cheese factor to give you a few good chuckles. Gore wise, it’s not gonna satisfy the gore hound nor will it shock the squeamish, it’s splatter scenes are boring and out of place.
So I may not have enjoyed this one, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a go. I always say, one persons hated film is another persons favorite. Check this one out for yourself, it’s free on Tubi, so you dont have to even spend any money! It’s a strange little curiosity piece, clearly influenced by one of the best horror icons of the late 80’s. Who knows you might have a new flick to replace TROLL 2 at your next party!