Hellraiser 2 did not have Clive Barker "manning the chains" as it were, but that doesn't mean he didn't have a hand in it as Executive Producer. His fingerprints are all over this film, which turns out to be a darn good sequel for a very unlikely franchise. How do you top a haunted house story about hell? Well, you head to hell itself my friend, and you do it with style and lots of blood too...but not so much common sense.
We catch up, almost as if it were the next day, with Kirsty, who is reposing at the local mental hospital. After a lengthy recounting of the events in the first film, we jump into the events of part two. Dr. Channard, who is in charge of Kirsty, just so happens to be aware of the power of the puzzle box and has the bed that Julia died on delivered to his house. But wait! The bed that Julia died on? I left this out of my review for the first one, so as not to spoil it for those who haven't seen the film, but Julia doesn't die on a bed, even though later we see her lying on it. A weird bit of wobble-logic (my term for plot holes) there, but there's more of those to come. Anyway, Channard gets one of his mental patients to slice himself to pieces on the blood-soaked bed, reviving Julia the same way that Frank was revived in the first one. Channard feeds her whores and soon Julia is back to normal and looking better than ever.
Kirsty finds out about Channard's obsession through the help of the expendable Doctor Kyle, who is the worst actor in the film by far and is thankfully dispatched early on. Kirsty is having dreams of a skinned man asking for help and she believes her father is alive and needing her help in the bowels of hell. Her plan is to break into hell and save her dad using Channard's puzzle boxes, and it just so happens that Channard is also planning to break into hell, but merely out of curiosity. Eventually everyone ends up in hell, including a mute girl, Tiffany, who is the only one who can solve the puzzle and get her and Kristy out of hell. Channard learns more than he ever wanted when Julia double-crosses him and turns the doc into the ultimate Cenobite. One that is tough enough to do battle with Pinhead and Co. Wobble-logic abounds as this fairly-entertaining movie dissolves into a series of WTF moments until the credits roll.
Directed by Tony Randel (Children of the Night), who exhibits a real sense of cinema and uniqueness in the images, and written by Peter Atkins (Wishmaster 1-4), who does his best to enliven the world of Clive Barker despite some flimsy, cheese-covered dialog, the sequel is much better than expected. My one complaint is the numerous plot contrivances and ridiculous saves that keep the film going. Lots of stuff happens that doesn't get explained or just briefly glossed over, making it almost a brain-melting experience for anyone trying to follow along. At one point Kirsty asks Tiffany what the puzzle box does? Why would she ask that? She knows what it does!! And why would they run away from the Leviathan when it starts transforming into a puzzle box? How the hell do they know that that will close the gates of hell?! There are way too many other instances of wobble-logic and magic coincidences that somehow fix the problem, and I won't go into it now, but I will say that there is a lot to be desired in the plot-patch department.
I like this movie, though. It is a fun sequel, and it manages to expand the world into greater depth, which is what every sequel should do. It should have been called "Hellraiser: Backstory", because we get to see a nice little backstory sequence to how Pinhead is born and how Tiffany lost her voice. It could also have been called "Hellraiser: Run Through Corridors", because almost every other moment has Kirsty and Tiffany running through the corridors of hell for minutes on end. This is not as solid as the first movie, and leaves more questions than answers, but then again we have 7 (yes, seven!) more movies to dig into and find those answers. As for this sequel, I highly recommend this blood-soaked, gut-slicing, slimy-tentacled flick. Because unlike the future entries, this one does not disappoint.