Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Hellraiser VII: Deader

Hellraiser VII: Deader began life as a spec script called Deader, from screenwriter Neal Marshall Stevens, purchased by Miramax when every production company in Hollywood was still looking for the next Seven. Like with the two previous films in the Hellraiser series, the script was reworked into a Hellraiser movie, by adding the iconic puzzle box and Pinhead (Doug Bradley, as always) to scenes here and there. It’s rarely a good sign when it is obvious to viewers that a movie is a rework. Miramax, the company that owns Hellraiser, has been a poor steward for the property, shunting it off to direct-to-video releases utilizing reworked red-headed stepchild screenplays and miniscule budgets. All atmosphere and nuance from the first film have been totally excised, leaving the series anonymous and dull. What a shame. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Hellraiser VII: Deader”

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Hellraiser VI: Hellseeker

Hellraiser V: Inferno, the neo-noir psychological horror script turned into an ersatz direct-to-video Hellraiser flick, must have been a success for Miramax and Dimension Films, because they chose to squeeze blood from a stone once more.

Written as a standalone film by Carl V. Dupré and Tim Day, some light rewrites were done to shove in Hellraiser staple bad guy Pinhead (Doug Bradley) and original series heroine Kirsty (Ashley Laurence). Then the package was handed off to Rick Bota to direct. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Hellraiser VI: Hellseeker”

October Horrorshow: Hellraiser V: Inferno

After a four-year layoff, Bob and Harvey Weinstein wanted another Hellraiser flick. They also didn’t want to pay a lot of money for it, so they optioned a direct-to-video film. That meant no big stars, no big budget, and a script that was clearly written as a different film and reworked to insert iconic Hellraiser bad guy Pinhead (Doug Bradley) into some scenes.

From 2000, Hellraiser V: Inferno was directed by Scott Derrickson, from a screenplay by Derrickson and Paul Harris Boardman. Craig Sheffer stars as police detective Joseph Thorne. He’s the protagonist of this film, but he’s not that good of a guy, which he admits in the film’s narration. He has a wife and kid at home, but rather than spend his off hours with them, he can be found trolling the streets of Denver, shaking down dealers for cocaine and paying for hookers with money stolen from the wallets of murder victims. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Hellraiser V: Inferno”

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline

It’s Hellraiser…in SPAAAAACE!. Sort of. Unlike the other franchises that have sent their killer antagonists into the future, Hellraiser IV: Bloodline, the 1996 entry in the Hellraiser series, only takes place partially out in the black. Most of the film takes place either in 18th century France, or contemporary New York City. It would be disappointing, as I was looking forward to watching Hellraiser turn into an Alien ripoff, but this is one ambitious shitty movie, so not all was lost.

Bloodline had a checkered path to the silver screen. There were many creative disputes, crew dismissals, and general miserableness. To add to the troubles, after the film was delivered to Miramax, reshoots were demanded, and the film’s director, Kevin Yagher, quit. When the film was finally released, Yagher didn’t want his name on it, so the film’s credited director is Alan Smithee, that wonderful DGA pseudonym for directors who went out for a pack of cigarettes and never came home. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline”

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Critters 4

Critters might be the first horror franchise to take its action off planet. Hellraiser took to space in 1996, Leprechaun followed a year later, and Friday the 13th sent Jason Vorhees into the black in 2001. Incredible as it seems, Critters 4 might be a groundbreaking film.

From 1992, Critters 4 was shot at the same time as Critters 3, but this isn’t a case of breaking a single film into two parts when things began to sprawl. Critters 4 was always a separate film from the third, with a different director in Rupert Harvey. Much of the production crew, including the Chiodo Brothers, remained the same. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Critters 4″

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Critters 3

I’m willing to believe claims that screenwriter Dominic Muir wrote Critters before Gremlins was released in 1984, but as the franchise reached this third installment, all pretense is washed away. Critters 3 is a Gremlins ripoff — and also the launching point for one of Hollywood’s most successful actors.

No more theatrical releases for this franchise. By 1991, it was direct-to-video only. Written by David J. Schow and directed by Kristine Peterson, Critters 3 leaves the cozy confines of Grover’s Bend, Kansas, for the big city of Topeka. A family returning from a vacation — father Clifford (John Calvin), daughter Annie (Aimee Brooks), and young son Johnny (played by twins Christian and Joseph Cousins) — unknowingly pick up a critter infestation when they have to stop to change a tire. A couple of eggs are left in a wheel well, and they hatch just as the family returns to their rundown apartment building. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Critters 3″

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Critters 2

What month of horror franchise reviews would be complete without visiting the redheaded stepchild of 1980s horror franchises? The first Critters film was released to widespread yawns and accusations of thievery from Gremlins, but I maintain that this series of films is an indelible part of the experience of 1980s horror. All of these films are cheap, bloody, nicely tongue-in-cheek, shitty, and more entertaining than they should be.

Coming to audiences in 1988, Critters 2 picks up two years after the events of Critters, and assumes, quite fancifully, that one has seen the first film. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Critters 2″

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Leprechaun 4: In Space

This is the shameless, absurd piece of shit movie that I have been waiting for this series to produce. With Leprechaun 4: In Space, the filmmakers finally said, “fuck it,” and jettisoned everything that hindered this substandard horror franchise. By that, I mean Earth. The first three flicks were somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but they never lived up, or down, to their potential. This film is the turning point.

Like its predecessor, Leprechaun 4 went straight to video. That was a wise decision. The opening shot — in SPACE! — has some of the worst CGI a viewer is likely to see anywhere, and it sets the tone for the rest of the film. Realism was not within the grasp of the budget, and the result would not have been acceptable for a theatrical release. That also means director Brian Trenchard-Smith was freed from the shackles of even middling expectations. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Leprechaun 4: In Space”

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Leprechaun 3

Most horror franchises have a seminal first film, one that grabs the attention of horror fans, and then the franchise limps its way to irrelevancy. Sequels descend in quality to the point the filmmakers are clearly in it for the cash and nothing else. The Leprechaun franchise is different from, say, the Halloween franchise or the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, because it has been shit from day one. The first flick was bad, the second flick was worse, and Leprechaun 3 feels like a last gasp before everyone went home and pretended none of this ever happened. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Leprechaun 3″

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Leprechaun 2

I am baffled, flabbergasted, dumbfounded, astonished, nonplussed. I am deep into the thesaurus when it comes to how I regard Leprechaun 2, the 1994 sequel to filmmaker Mark Jones’ magnum opus. The first flick stank. It only made a little over eight and a half million bucks at the box office, yet it spawned a film franchise that has now spanned a quarter century. I admire the fact that everyone involved keeps making these shitty flicks despite an unending wave of negative criticism. It’s just that in a country known for such ruthless capitalism, I’m surprised these turds keep finding financial backing. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Leprechaun 2″