M.L. Miller here! Because you and I love the horror so much, I’ve decided to post a “Worth Noting” pick along with each of my “Best of the Best in Horror 2018” choices each day through October. The same rules apply. The film must have been released before September 30th, 2018 to the masses (no festival picks). This means that is available to view in theaters, On Demand, DVD/BluRay, or digital download. I’ve tried to indicate in the reviews how you can watch and enjoy these films.
How did I compile this list? Some of these films have similar themes to their counterparts in the main countdown. Some just missed the countdown by an inch or two. Others were just squozed in because there’s nothing like them out there. Horror is such a broad and varied genre that sometimes, while these choices may not represent the best—something about the film is worth taking notice to and that’s what this series of posts represent. I hope you’ll join me daily and don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web.
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, and most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Worth Noting – HELLRAISER: JUDGMENT!
Now, I’m not saying HELLRAISER: JUDGMENT deserves to be on the Best of the Best List, but I do think it is worth noting that a Hellraiser film was released this year AND that it is the most promising enstallment this series has offered more than a decade. With some interesting ideas and macabre visuals on a tight budget, filmmaker Gary J. Tunnicliffe was able to show a unique and twisted corner of the universe created by Clive Barker. The film still has a lot of the problems previous installments have endured, but it is a step in the right direction. You can find HELLRAISER: JUDGMENT on iTunes and Amazon here! Here’s my review;
HELLRAISER: JUDGMENT (2018)
aka HELLRAISER 10
Directed by Gary J. Tunnicliffe
Written by Gary J. Tunnicliffe
Starring Damon Carney, Randy Wayne, Alexandra Harris, Heather Langenkamp, Gary J. Tunnicliffe, Jeff Fenter, Tony Payne, Rheagan Wallace, Helena Grace Donald, Grace Montie, John Walpole, John Gulager, Joel Decker, Jillyan Blundell, Mike J. Regan, Lindi Simpson, Kenneth Blagg, David Lee Anderson, Stephen Waldrop, Carrie Meyes & Paul T. Taylor as Pinhead!
We’ve come a long way since Doug Bradley threatened to tear all of our souls apart. The HELLRAISER franchise showed promise last year when there were rumors that a big budget reboot was to be made with Clive Barker’s backing. But that fell through and another quick, straight to video outing was churned out. But a funny thing happened on the way to this new HELLRAISER installment…it was actually pretty entertaining.
The franchise once again schmelds together the detective genre with the Lament Configuration. This isn’t new territory. It was done in HELLRAISER: INFERNO with somewhat satisfying results. This time around, a pair of detectives who also happen to be brothers (because that always happens) named Sean (Damon Carney) and David (Randy Wayne) are joined by Detective Christine Egerton (Alexandra Harris) to solve a case involving some gnarly murders and a strange house that may be a new portal to hell itself. Meanwhile, inside the house, we are made privy to a new process the damned go through involving an Auditor (played by filmmaker Gary J. Tunnicliffe), an Assessor (FEAST director/writer John Gulager), a Butcher (Joel Decker), and a Surgeon (Jillyan Blundell). While they aren’t as ominous as the original fab four Cenobites, this admin wing of the Infernal Regions is pretty damn terrifying, as the detectives will soon find out as they get closer to solving the case.
Much of the same problems occur in HELLRAISER: JUDGMENT that occur in the rest of the sequels we’ve all endured. It takes quite a bit of time for the main characters to get to the hellish bits, which proves to be an arduous task since that’s the main reason anyone tunes into these films any more. No one goes to Hellraiser for intense familial drama or a twisty detective puzzle. If it somehow ties into the Hellraiser world seamlessly, then that’s cool. But all we really want to see is some Cenobites, some puzzle boxing, some Hell Bounding, and some gore splooshing. Thankfully, HELLRAISER JUDGMENT dives right into the horror in the opening sequence as a damned soul is taken through the process of being interviewed by the Assessor before going into the police procedural. So not only do we get a grisly first kill, but right away we are walked through Hell’s very own DMV station and the intricate way souls are judged, juried, and executed. This process is the highlight of the film as it opens up a new corver of Hell we haven’t seen before and really, it’s the main reason to check this film out. The least said about it the better it will be for you, but it’s a very imaginative and harrowing scene.
This is all due to Gary J. Tunnicliffe who not only writes and directs these scenes, but also acts as the unnerving Auditor. Proving to at least be an equal to Pinhead in the pecking order of the damned, the Auditor is quite wordy as he acts as a sort of Confessional for the sinners on the edge of hell. Tunnicliffe’s performance is reminiscent of a twisted sort of C3-PO with a robotic and almost innocent delivery of heinous sins. He is not there to judge. He simply notes the facts and passes them on. It’s this subtle performance that really sets this film apart as it offers something new to a very idea dry series. While it is evident that the film was done on a very modest budget, the gore, the makeup, and the set pieces look really, really good.
Acting? Wellllll, you can’t have it all. Aside from Tunnicliffe, the rest of the group really isn’t very memorable. Not horrendous, just passible. The mystery leading to the house is less than original with there being one good cop and one bad cop split between the two brothers (who is who is pretty obvious from the get-go). And have you noticed I haven’t mentioned Pinhead yet? Well, again he’s hardly in this one aside from a late in the game appearance and an even later in the game development regarding his role in hell. This is something that has occurred with more frequency in the HELLRAISER series and that’s a good thing as Paul T. Taylor couldn’t hold the charnal house belt of Doug Bradley if he worked out for a decade. Still, while that might be an annoyance in other films of this series, thankfully HELLRAISER: JUDGMENT and Tunnicliffe have other sights to show us and they proved to be welcome and refreshing sights for this Hellraiser fan.
WORTH NOTING SO FAR…
David Moscow’s DESOLATION
ARE WE NOT CATS
GONJIAM: HAUNTED ASYLUM
NIGHT OF THE VIRGIN
AMERICAN GUINEA PIG: SONG OF SOLOMON
THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES
M. L. Miller is an original AICN @$$Hole formerly known as Ambush Bug/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow Mark on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
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Don’t forget to share and like and finally, Happy Horror Holiday Month to Everyone!