The original Hellraiser was one of the defining horror movies of my teen years. I was already a fan of Clive Barkers writing and Hellraiser made me a fan of his directing as well. It also created arguably the last of the horror villain icons (so far) and spawned a franchise that has seen no less than 8 sequels, comic books, toys and more. Many of the films have seen their way to Blu-ray but for some reason the third film, Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, had not. Until now. Arrow Video has released Hellraiser: The Scarlet Box, an in depth collection of the first three Hellraiser films, all uncut and with tons of extras.
Hellraiser is the story of Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence), a young woman who is visiting her father Larry (Andrew Robinson) and his wife Julia (Clare Higgins) as they move into an old house. But when Julia discovers the reanimated body of her former lover, Frank (Sean Chapman), who was also Larry’s brother, she decides she will do anything to keep him. Even if that includes killing men to help keep him alive or hiding him from the creatures from hell that are out to reclaim him. And Kirsty finds herself caught in the middle and perhaps the only one that can stop hell itself from knocking on their door.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II continues the story of Kirsty Cotton (Laurence) as she finds herself in an institution after the events of the first film. The head of the hospital, Dr. Channard (Kenneth Cranham) is a twisted man in search of the doorway to hell and thinks Kirsty just may know a way to help him find it.
Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth follows investigative reporter Joey Summerskill (Terry Farrell) as she digs to uncover details of a story concerning a mysterious puzzle box that may open the doorway to hell itself. Now she must uncover the secrets of the head cenobite, Pinhead, in order to try and stop him once and for all.
Hellraiser: The Scarlet Box is a fantastic collection featuring great new 2K transfers of all three films in all their uncut glory (or gory as it were). While the first two films have been released before, their transfers here are a significant improvement. Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth isn’t quite up to the same standards, especially because the cut scenes are spliced back in from a full frame source, but it is still an improvement over previous DVD editions and a welcome addition to Blu-ray.
The supplements in Hellraiser: The Scarlet Box are plentiful and are sure to make Hellraiser fans giddy. The first two films have many of the previous special features but the real treat here is the 90-minute new documentary Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser. This is a very in depth and fascinating look at the making of the first film. Hellbound: Hellraiser II has a similar bunch of features and has a continuation of the Leviathan doc with 2 HOURS of material on the making of the second film. Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth has a nice selection of old and new features, a less in depth but still interesting documentary.
In addition to all of this you also get a fourth disc entitled The Clive Barker Legacy which features two of Barker’s short films, Salome and The Forbidden, and tons of other documentaries on Barker and the making of the films. The packaging is a bonus as well and in addition to being beautiful features a 200-page book. Hellraiser: The Scarlet Box is a dream come true for Hellraiser fans. Very highly recommended.