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Hellraiser: Judgement (Blu-ray Review)

When last we saw old Pinhead and the Hellraiser gang, it was in Revelations. It was the first non-Doug Bradley in the series and heaping pile of flaming turds. The film was made with the sole purpose of hanging onto the rights and it absolutely felt like it. Now, we are here again with Hellraiser: Judgement, a film likely made to hold onto the rights to the cenobites. However, this one appears to have been given more time to get a decent straight to video production done (The last one got whipped together after their plans to remake the original fell apart last minute). As a horror junkie and fan of the series, I can help but not give into my mortal sins of curiosity and check this out. Lowest of the low in expectations, just give me some of the essentials and we can dance. You’ll be able to see for yourself on February 13th, making for a nice bloody Valentine’s Day.

Film 

The dreaded Pinhead returns in the next terrifying chapter of the classic Hellraiser series. Three detectives trying to stop adiabolical serial killer are sucked into a maze of otherworldly horror, where hellish denizens including the Auditor, the Assessor, and the Jury await to pass judgment.

You see the score I gave the film, so I’m going to start with saying some nicer things about the film. First, I really liked this new cenobite “The Auditor”. He’s German and the performance is just something really different and interesting. I’m hoping we see more from him. As a matter of fact, the cenobites and creatures in this one all look and act pretty awesome. The effects and makeup departments should pat each other on the back. Really good work here. And the new Pinhead honestly is pretty solid. Its not until you start seeing more full body shots does he look a little more off, but up until then, I felt like they got it kinda right. Performance-wise, yes, this will do okay since Bradley will likely never return.

That’s about where it ends though. This is another one of those cop case turns to supernatural for a little bit stories that have been done in this series a few times already and in straight to video a lot. It does hit upon Pinhead and the horror/murder house elements more than I thought it was going to as sometimes they just save that stuff for the last five minutes. We basically have a tired plot and boring uninteresting characters.  This movie is trying though, it just didn’t quite have the important story or script elements in place and they never really overcame it.

I must mention that this movie starts out utterly hilarious and ridiculous. We have a scene of Pinhead and The Auditor basically having a discussion on how they are going to take their tech into the 21st century. You will never feel more awkward with a horror icon than when you hear the words coming out of his mouth during this scene. And what’s funny, is they want to get modern and hip. So they retire the famous puzzle box for…an old abandoned farmhouse out in BFE that only contains gothic tables and artifact weapons? Okay.

No, I shouldn’t have, but I was hoping for a little better with this Hellraiser sequel. I enjoy a lot of the time seeing where people attempt to take these straight to video attempts with something that used to be a bit more grand. Sometimes I’ll come away impressed and surprised (Hellraiser: Inferno), but a lot of the time its underwhelming like this one. There are some things here and I really feel like this group put in effort and tried, but it didn’t quite work out. Maybe next time? Oh, and be on the lookout for a one scene cameo from horror legend and Freddy Krueger’s nemesis herself, Heather Langenkamp.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-25

Clarity/Detail: So, now I judge the Hellraiser: Judgement, eh? Well, this video presentation is merely all right. By design, this kind of wants to have the aesthetic of a Saw movie. But, there are some instances where this looks kind of like an enhanced SD picture. Its not a bad image, but one that could have been better nonetheless.

Depth:  Solid distancing work done in the image. Movements are natural with minimal blurring distortion from rapid character or camera movements.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and rich. Details are hidden in dark sequences and in the shadows, probably by nature of the film hiding things. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: This movie doesn’t really want to show you much in the way of color. Its pretty dingy and washed away. There are some special instances where things will look rich or bold, but even blood takes on a more blackened look.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are a little washed out and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial details are very crisp and show up great in close ups, decently in medium shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Judgement comes with a serviceable 5.1 mix. Its loud and gets all the pulsating moments done right for a horror film. However, the intricacies in the mix or layered effects is a little muffled and not quite as lifelike in appeal as one would want. There is a nice balance of score, vocals and the effects.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Musical stings, crashing, saws crunching bones, impalements, doors slamming and more get a pound from the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: Most of the fun in this mix happens up front, with the back being more used for ambiance. Movements are accurate back and forth.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and plenty audible in any given scene. Sometimes they feel a little lower or muffly in the mix.

Extras 

Hellraiser: Judgement comes with a digital copy of the film.

Deleted & Extended Scenes (HD, 7:10) – “Extended Watkins Cleansing”, “Egerton Goes To Church”

Gag Reel (HD, 4:23)

Summary 

Well, disappointingly, and to no surprise, this movie is leaps and bounds better than the last one, but still not very good. I had already appreciated the straight to video Hellraisers (Inferno is honestly one of my favorites of the whole series), but these last two have made me grow fonder. It features a solid presentation in both audio and video. Extras are nothing special. Completionists will grab it, but others just might want to wait until you can see it as part of a service you subscribe to.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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