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Go out with you? Why not... Do I like to dance? Of course! Take a walk along the beach tonight? I'd love to. But don't try to touch me. Don't try to touch me. Because that will never happen again. "Past, Present and Future"-The Shangri-Las

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

And To Think I Hesitated; or, I Don't Post For Weeks And When I do It's About Hellraiser 2

I finally watched Hellbound: Hellraiser II. I've been a fan of the original flick for years, but I was afraid the sequel(s) would do what sequels do: dissipate the vitality of the original by overexplaining enigmas and normalizing the abnormalities that give the first film its edge. And I was right, kind of, but there are mitigating factors.

Hellraiser has a Strindbergian quality; it's very much a character-centered drama. The story could be retold as a realistic noir with only minor changes (which is not to say that the fantastical elements are gratuitous; only that they shape the symbol system of the film more than the plot itself). There are tantalizing enigmas that are allowed to remain unexplained, and I liked it that way. I didn't need to know who the Dick-Tracy-villain S&M Mobsters who function as the malevolent Deus Ex Machina of the film really were.

The sequel, of course, explains who they were, but it doesn't seem like a response to Hellraiser. It seems like like an Adults-Only sequel to Labyrinth or The Neverending Story, in which the heroine goes into a hallucinatory fantasy world on a Quest, where she meets weird creatures, etc. It resonates more with my memories of Eighties kid fantasy flicks than with my interest in Original Hellraiser.

So how is it as an Adult Neverending Story? Not bad, although it's a disservice to the movie to watch it sober. It goes for the overwrought goth lushness of a Ken Russell or Dario Argento film, and occasionally hits the right strident note. The special effects are the kind of Eighties FX trash that I love so, so much more now that I've sat through half a lifetime of CGI. Having a Monsterous Doctor for a villain is fine, but having him say things like "I recommend amputation" as he attacks people is pretty Marvel Comics.

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For the majority of my readers who don't give a rip about Hellraiser: I recently won an award for my performance in last year's production of Turn of the Screw. The award is from a local theatrical alliance that throws a big cargo-cultish awards show, complete with paparazzi-free red carpet. We got to perform a scene from the show for the award ceremony, and I hammed it up shamelessly, which probably netted me more attention (for good or ill) than the award itself.

I just had an audition for a Shakespeare touring company. The director told me (bluntly but kindly) that the company mostly casts young actors, and that the schoolchildren respond strongly to young actors, as opposed to folks who seem more like teachers, generation-wise. But she liked my work, so hope springs. It just doesn't spring unrealistically high.


FLT3 said...

Hey! Did you see my annual Aaron White sidewalk quote?

Andy said...

My favorite is the skinless woman, glistening with blood, who manages to navigate a white room without leaving a stain anywhere.