Three Times The Pinhead For One Low Price: Hellraiser: The Scarlet Box (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review + Screenshots


Arrow Video releases one of the best box sets ever.


4-Disc Limited Edition

Released by Arrow Video

Released Date: Sept. 18th, 1987 (Theatrical) (Hellraiser)
                         Dec. 23rd, 1988 (Theatrical) (Hellbound: Hellraiser                                                                            II)
                         Sept. 11th, 1992 (Theatrical) (Hellraiser III: Hell                                                                                 on Earth)
                         December 20th, 2015 (U.S)

Region Code: A

Run Time: 1h 34m (Hellraiser)
                  1h 37m (Hellbound: Hellraiser II)
                  1h 33m (Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth)

Audio: English: LPCM 2.0 (All Three Films)
            English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (Hellraiser and Hellbound Hellraiser II)
            English: Dolby Digital 2.0 (Hellrasier III: Hell on Earth: Unrated)

Video: 1080p (1.85:1 Aspect Ratio) (All Three Films)

THE FEATURES:

DISC 1: HELLRAISER: [4 out of 4]


Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser (1hr 29m, HD)

Originally released as an almost 8 hour epic that covered the making of Hellraiser and its sequel, Hellbound, Leviathan is a love letter to the best of the Hellraiser films. Upon its release, Leviathan was criticized for being too long compared to other documentaries that have covered more in the same amount of time. Leviathan covered everything there is to cover, but did so in a way that turned fans off. I have not seen the original version of Leviathan, but I could not imagine it being any better than what we have here. Arrow has wisely asked for the doc to be cut down into a more manageable runtime and I am thankful for that. Here Leviathan runs one and a half hours and does a really good job at covering all the aspects of filming, from concept all the way to the legacy the film has to this day. The only thing missing is that of Barker himself. Ashley Lawrence is missing as well, but her absence is not as bad as Barker’s. Sure, we have Barker’s commentary tracks for the first two films, but I would have loved to hear what he has to say after almost 30 years. Hopefully we get something from the man around the time of the anniversary.

Being Frank: Sean Chapman on Hellraiser (26m 24s, HD)

Sean Chapman’s contribution as “skinful” Frank is a highlight of the film as he is the man who introduces us to the box. Chapman speaks of his time on set and how he had worked on Transformations, a film that Clive Barker wrote the script to. Chapman is not the man who plays “skinless” Frank, so his time on set was limited, but Chapman seems to enjoy his fame and likes the final product. Nice interview with some good stories.

Soundtrack Hell (18m 11s, HD)

Christopher Young, who scored the film and second film, was not the first choice of Barker. Clive wanted experimental music group Coil to do the score. The music that Coil did for Hellraiser had more of a syth sound, think John Carpenter, and would have dated the film, much the way the score for Manhunter dates that film. The music that Coil did is pretty good, but I don’t think it would have fit the film that well. It is nice to hear some of the music and the stories of how Coil almost scored Hellraiser are really good.

Hellraiser: Resurrection (24m 26s, SD upscaled to HD)

This featurette first showed up on the Anchor Bay dvd release of Hellraiser and has been a mainstay ever since. Everything that is presented here is talked about elsewhere on the disc. We do get to hear from Barker and Lawrence in this doc though. It is okay, but the newer stuff blows the old stuff out of the water.

Under the Skin: Doug Bradley on Hellraiser (12m 31s, SD)

Also appeared on the Anchor Bay dvd release, this is a decent interview with Bradley who tells the same stories as told in Leviathan.

Original EPK (5m 58s, SD)

Interview footage used in Leviathan and shot during the film of Hellraiser.

Trailers:
               -Theatrical Trailer (1m 37s, HD)
               
               -Redband Trailer (1m 36s, HD)
               
               -International Trailer (3m 27s, HD) This is the only time we get to hear Chapman’s real                         voice as he was dubbed in the final version of the film.

TV Spots:
                -#1 (34s, HD)
                
                -#2 (32s, HD)
                
                -#3 (32s, HD)
                
                -#4 (32s, HD)

Image Gallery (52 images)

Commentary Tracks:
                
                Track #1: Clive Barker

                Track #2: Clive Barker and Ashley Lawrence

Overall: I love Hellraiser. I think that it is a film that gets better with age. I remember reading Roger Ebert’s reviews for Hellraiser and Hellbound. He talked about how much he hated both films and thought that they were a waste of good talent. I thought that if Ebert hated a horror film then it must be good. I was right. Hellraiser taps into things that most of us don’t like to think or talk about. We all want to go that extra step and Barker has shown us that sometimes that extra step can lead you down a path you never intended on taking. Everything from the acting to the make-up is pitch perfect.
The blu-ray, from Arrow is just about perfect. The first part of the newly reedited Leviathan is the standout of the features. We could have been given that and the legacy features from the Anchor Bay release and been happy, but Arrow has given us just about everything that a Hellraiser fan could want. The absence of Barker (and Lawrence) is felt, but outside of that we get it all. The film has never looked or sounded better.   


DISC 2: HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II: [4 out of 4]


Leviathan: The Story of Hellbound: Hellraiser II (2h, HD)

Just like the version of Leviathan on disc one that pertains to Hellraiser, this version that pertains to Hellraiser’s sequel, Hellbound, is reedited into a nicer package. Gone are the long segments about one little thing, this is the proper doc on Hellbound. The doc starts out with Clive stepping away from the project to work on Nightbreed and Tony Randel, a production manager at New World, stepping in to direct. We also get some talk about the cenobites including a rather large chunk of that time focused on Chanard. We also get some talk about the “surgeon scene” that I talk about later in this review. This is a very nice doc that includes everything that we need, minus Barker and Lawrence.

Being Frank: Sean Chapman on Hellbound (11m 35s, HD)

Sean Chapman talks about his one scene in the film and his distaste for the script. He goes into detail about what he didn’t like about the script and his thoughts on the final film.

Lost in the Labyrinth (17m 3s, SD)

Vintage featurette that appeared on the Anchor Bay dvd. We do get some more interview footage of Barker and Lawrence.

Under the Skin: Doug Bradley on Hellbound (10m 53s, SD)

Another vintage interview. Repeats of stories in Leviathan.

On Set Interviews:

                -Clive Barker (3m 18s, SD)

                -Cast and Crew (4m 45s, SD)

Audio Commentaries:

             Track #1: Tony Randel and Peter Atkins

             Track #2: Tony Randel, Peter Atkins, and Ashley Lawrence

Surgeon Scene (4m 49s, 4x3 HD from a tape dub)            

This is the famous “lost scene” from Hellbound. Theories started to spread when a still from this scene appeared on the back of the VHS box. For the twenty-plus years fans would badger Barker and Co. about the scene. Bradley famously said that the scene, while set-up with make-up and the cast, was never shot. He said that the filmmakers were going to shoot the scene, but realized that the effects were not going to work. He said that the actors were made-up and everything, but nothing was shot except for a still that was taken by the on-set photographer.


One day, while looking at various bits of footage to be added to the blu-ray, Arrow was able to locate the scene in question. It appears here, in its entirety, and it is… a letdown. While the scene is nicely shot and lit, the scene goes nowhere. While it is nice to see this scene after so many years, you can tell why the scene was cut.

Behind the Scenes Footage (1m 51s, SD)

Just a random gathering of BTS footage put together with no rhyme or reason.

Trailers

                -Theatrical Trailer (1m 52s, HD upconvert)
                
                -Redband Trailer (1m 33s, HD upconvert)

Galleries:

                -Storyboards (127 images)
                
                -Alternate Ending Storybiards (10 images)
    
    -Stills and Promo Material (152 images)

Overall: While Hellbound is a worth sequel to Hellraiser, I am in the minority that thinks that it is not a great sequel. The interviewees on this disc compare Hellbound to The Godfather Part II in terms of quality of sequel. I can agree in a way, but I think that Hellbound is not nearly as scary as Hellraiser. I do find that film to be more stomach turning in its gore, but there are things that sequel doesn’t live up to. The filmmakers decided to make the Cenebites former humans and, while I think it is a great idea, it is not covered very much. They mention it and that is really it. I also found Leviathan to be a bit of a letdown. Don’t get me wrong, it looks good, but doesn’t live up to the imagination.

This blu-ray, however, does live up to its predecessor. The continuation of the Leviathan doc is great. This is the second time watching it and it is still as good as the last time. The audio commentaries and the interviews are all top notch. The inclusion of the “surgeon scene” is brilliant. The scene may not live up to what us horror fans have been dreaming about for twenty-plus years, it still is nice to finally be able to see the scene. The rest of the special features are good. This is another worthy addition to the Hellraiser library.    



DISC 3: HELLRAISER III: HELL ON EARTH: [3.5 out of 4]


Two versions of the film:

                -Theatrical Version 
                
                -Unrated Version

The Unrated version was put together from two different sources: the recently remastered theatrical version and the Unrated U.S. laserdisc. This was done because Arrow could not find usable film sources for the unrated scenes. Throughout the film, any time an scene used from the laserdisc plays, the video quality will drop significantly and the aspect ratio will change from 1.85:1 to 1.33:1.
I like when companies like Arrow and Scream Factory give us multiple versions of a film. It allows us to see the differences and make our own decisions on which version we like best. While the Unrated version gives some decent extensions, I will stick to the theatrical version whenever I watch the film.

The Story of Hellraiser III (32m 1s, HD)

We get interviews from some of the cast and crew of Hellraiser III. We also get the history of the project, how it bounced around for a while, and why it took so long for the film to be made. We also learn that Barker was paid by Dimension Films to have nothing to do with the film, but when they were worried that audiences would not see the film if Barker’s name wasn’t on it in some fashion, paid him again to add his name to the film. This is a pretty good doc that shows how hard it was to get the film made and also the mindset behind why the film is different from the previous films.

Paula Marshall Interview (14m 55s, HD)

Marshall comes off as a really nice person. This was her first role so she wanted to knock it out the park and do whatever the filmmakers asked of her. This meant that she had to smoke and she is against smoking, but did it anyway, learning how to smoke in a very short period of time. She was also surprised that she would have to endure the make-up, as when she read the script she didn’t pay that much attention to the part that said she would be a cenobite. This is a nice interview and a look at the film from a newbie point of view.

Anthony Hickox (13m 59s, SD)

We learn that Hickox wanted the writer, Peter Atkins, on set incase anything needed to be changed. Most directors hate when the writer is on set as the writer will fight for every line in the script. We learn that the film was shot in the furniture capital of the world. Hickox began editing the film on a new VHS based editing system that was supposed to be the newest and best way to edit. After many problems with the system arose, Hickox went back to editing on film. He also says that Bob Weinstein, head of Dimension Films, was a big fan of the film.

Under the Skin: Doug Bradley on Hellraiser III (13m 46s, SD)

Again, most of the info included here is talked about elsewhere on the disc except for one of the original concepts for the film. Bradley says that one of the first scripts had the film set in Egypt and it would be revealed that the Great Pyramid was actually the first box. I found this to be interesting but am glad that they didn’t go in this direction.

Original EPK (5m 12s, SD)

This is the only time we get to see Barker talk about the film. Outside of that, this is just the normal fluff piece to promote the film.

FX Dailies (23m 49s, HD sourced from tape master)

A silent look at dailies. Any filmmaker who wants to see what dailies look like then step no further. There is no sound, but we get to see the long process of filming.

Theatrical Trailer (1m 52s, HD)

Galleries:

-Hellraiser III Comic Book (52 images) This is the entire comic book that was released to promote the film.

-Stills and Promo Montage (26 images)

Commentaries:

             -Track #1: Peter Atkins (Theatrical Version)

             -Track #2: Anthony Hickox and Doug Bradley (Unrated Version)

Overall:

Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth was the first Hellraiser film I saw. The film was released into when I was 12 years old and hard just started to be allowed to go to the theater to see R-rated films. I remember sitting in the dark, next to my dad, as the film played. I loved it. I wanted to see the first two films after this, but my parents were not too keen on me seeing those. I can see why. This film is an action film compared to the other two. It does have the gore, but the film has an extra polish on it that the previous films did not. The previous two films are raw, unforgiving films. Hellraiser III is a slasher film mixed with an action film. While I still enjoy the film, it pales in comparison to the previous two films. This is a “safe” Hellraiser film that you can take the kids to see. I like it but I can see why people don’t

I will say this up front: I do know that the film is misframed. I did not notice this until someone pointed it out to me. There is one shot in particular that is terrible: The scene where Pinhead is still in the pillar and throw the chains to hook the girl up. The chains lift her up and there is a two shot from the side. If you look to the left of the from you can see the wood that is holding the pillar. This is not a deal breaker for me. I can look at the stills all day long and not care because that one shot is where it is noticeable. Most people are not going to care. It is the elitists, videophiles that will swear off the film because of an oversight like this. If it were never brought to your attention, then you might not have seen it.

U.S. Paramount DVD
                                       
Arrow Video Blu-ray
That being said, Arrow has put together a really nice package. I never thought that I would  see the day Hellraiser III would get a blu-ray release, let alone a special edition. The making-of is really good, as are the interviews. Again, Barker is missing, but it doesn’t feel that bad this time. Barker was not really involved with the film, outside of giving his blessing, so it is ok that he is not here for this one.  We get two versions of the film which is nice and the commentary tracks are really good. This is a nice package.

DISC 4: THE CLIVE BARKER LEGACY: [3.5 out of 4]

This bonus disc is only available in The Scarlet Box. There is a regular trilogy release of this set but it contains just the first three disc and none of the “swag” this set comes with.

Clive Barker Short Films:

                -Salomé(w/intro 27m 44s, HD) (w/o intro 18m)
             

                -Forbidden, The (w/ intro 50m 3s, HD) (w/o intro 43m)

I tried to watch these films. I really tried. I just could not do it. I am just not a fan of experimental film. I am not trying to knock it in any way. There are a lot of people out there that love films like these and I can appreciate that they like them. They are just not for me. But, for the sake of the review, I did try. I could make it through either one of them. I couldn’t tell what was going on because I am not sure there was anything going on. That is just me though.

Books of Blood and Beyond (19m 25s, HD)

This is my favorite feature on this disc and one of my favorites of the whole set. Author David Gatwad sits down to give us a book by book history of Clive Barker the Author. Gatwad gives us a short history of his work and then dives into Barker’s work. He goes through each and every book and talks about it for a few minutes. This is a great resource for people who want to get a glimpse into Barker’s work to see if it is something they might want to read. We need more featurettes like this.

Hellraiser: Evolutions (48m 17s, HD)

We get interviews from some of the people who worked on Hellraiser 4-9. They talk mostly about the themes and the characters and not much about the films they worked on. I was hoping that, because this is not a complete Hellraiser series box set, we could get some insight into the sequels. We do a little, but mostly this is a featurette that covers all the things we know about Hellraiser. Not much is learned here, which is a huge disappointment. Give it a watch, but don’t go in with high expectations.

The Hellraiser Chronicles: A Question of Faith (31m 40s, HD)

This is a short film from director R.N. Milward. This was used to promote a potential Hellraiser tv series. This was shot on HD video and tells the story of a man who buys a house in England and has flashbacks to a night when he met some cenobites.

This is a really poorly shot film that looks more like a movie shot by teenagers than something that was used to promote a Hellraiser series. The story is told in a really confusing way. I never really understood what the hell was happening. The direction is almost non-existing with harsh cuts on audio and standard set up with no thought toward composition. The editing is really bad. There is no life to the movie and there is even less flow. The movie is just there. One positive is that the make-up effects are not bad, but there are lit with common house lamps with no filters on them so whatever the light hits is overblown and blurry. This is not a good movie and definitely not something that should be in a Hellrasier set. This movie is actually worse than Revelations. Yeah I said it.

Commentary with R.N. Milward

The only thing worse than the movie itself is the commentary with the director. He sounds like he is being bothered by recording this commentary. He has a very monotone voice so it sounds like Droopy is giving the commentary. And, oh my God, is this guy boring. I listened to five minutes of this track before shutting it off. He sits there and says things like “Oh. Alright. Well. This scene…was…shot…on…a…street…and…the…actress…was….pregnant….and” This is one of the worst commentary tracks I have ever listened to. Since the advent of commentary tracks in 1984 to this day, this is one of the top ten worst commentary tracks ever.

Overall:

This is a decent bonus disc that looks like it will have more than it does. I only found the featurette about the books that Barker has written to be of any interest. The rest is not for me. You may like them, but I didn’t

THE PACKAGING: [4 out of 4]

There are four discs to this set and each disc gets its own holder with a nicely drawn picture on the front. We also get some postcards with some of the characters on them, a booklet with some of Barker’s drawings, and a poster with Pinhead on it, one side is the cover to this set and the other side is used for the trilogy set.


The biggest thing in this set is a 200 page, hardcover book covering the trilogy. This book includes the press kits that were given out at the press screenings of each film. The book also contains original writing by Bill and Sarah Stokes. I had a fun time reading this book and would recommend it.

All of this is packaged inside of a box that I can not describe. In fact, I am having a hard time describing this set. Even the pictures that Arrow sent out of the set do not do the it justice.
This is a beautifully put together set. I have had the set since it came out and it is still a prize piece in the collection. I have seen the set going for huge bucks on ebay and such, but will not sell the set, it is that nice.

OVERALL (The Whole Set) [4 out of 4]

I LOVE THIS SET! This is one of my favorite blu-ray box sets of all time, rivaling only the Halloween 15 Disc set from Scream Factory. I remember when I got this in the mail. I was at work and could not wait to clock out and rush home to open the set. When I finally did, it was everything I expected and more. I spent the next two weeks devouring the contents of the set, listening to every commentary and watching every doc and featurette. I also spent a half hour every night before I went to be reading the book that came with the set. I had so much fun and was sad when I completed the entire set.

Arrow has gone above and beyond the call of duty for a set like this. They really made something special here. The films have never looked as good as they do here. (even with the slight misframing of part 3). There is a nice grain structure to each film and the picture just jumps off the screen. While viewing each film, you feel like you are a part of the goings on of the film.

The special features are plentiful and, for the most part, amazing. The inclusion of the reedited Leviathan doc is a welcome inclusion and seems like a no-brainer to include. I would have liked to have seen the full uncut version of the doc, but just for completion sake and nothing more. The featurettes that accompany each film are insightful and fun to watch. I also really liked the commentary tracks for each film. All of the participants bring their own viewpoint to the film and they are never boring. The bonus disc, while not really made for me, does contain a special feature about Barker’s literary work that should be included, about a different author though, on any blu-ray that is adapted from a novel. There should be a Stephen King, Dean Kootnz, etc version of this featurette on their respective blu-rays.

The packaging, while hard for me to describe, is so beautiful that it is on display at all times in my collection. The love and the care that went into the packaging is a true testament that some companies value their fan base more than others.  The fact that Arrow has released this set along with Society and Bride of Re-Animator in the same year with a caring eye towards the packaging is amazing.

 This is a beautifully put together package that any Hellraiser fan should be required to own. Each of the films are good in their own way and the special features are worth spending the weeks going through. Like I said before, I love this set. I could on for days about why I love it, but you should find a copy and experience it for yourself. It is worth it.

CHECK OUT PAGES 2 AND 3 FOR MORE SCREENSHOTS!! SPOILERS AHEAD!!
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