A definite improvement over III and IV. In Inferno, Pinhead's no longer trying to take over the world, or put us to sleep with speeches, or wants to kill everyone he meets. Hell, he's only in the movie for a few minutes. Impressive. Maybe IV's failure taught the execs to keep their hands off? Instead, the film focuses on Detective Thorne (played by Nightbreed vet Craig Sheffer), who's investigating a case involving a mysterious gold box, some chains, and the messy remains of a person. One things leads to another and he ends up solving the box shortly after screwing a hooker. From that point onward, though we're not told explicitly until the end, he's in a Hell that closely resembles his life.
Suspiciously like Jacob's Ladder, he begins to see demons and other weird things out of the corner of his eye. Soon, his life seems to get worse and worse, culminating in the deaths of his wife and daughter. Then the cycle restarts, and he's right back to the hotel room where he'd solved the box to do it all over again. Once he knows that he's no longer living in reality, it's hard to see how repeating the cycle would count as torture. Who cares if pretend versions of his family are killed? Why even go through the motions of real life if it isn't real? I guess he does shoot himself during cycle #2, only to wake up again like he's trapped in Groundhog Day, so that method of defiance doesn't work. Still, it seems like this torture idea would be worn out quickly.
My big problem with the movie is that Hell is again depicted in the traditional sense. While there are no flames or pitchforks, Pinhead seems to be punishing Thorne because he was a crappy person. Or, he's punishing himself due to his guilty conscious. Either way, I'm not seeing how this is in any way "exploring the further limits." I suppose it's slightly clever that the filmmakers are having Thorne torn apart emotionally instead of physically, as we've seen in other Hellraisers, but the judgmental part of it simply doesn't belong in the series. Perhaps some of the blame lies with Peter Atkins, writer of II, who invented Frank's personal Hell of a mental torture. This small idea has seemingly de-Barkered Hell for everything that followed.
I do dig the Cenobites in this one. The Wire Twins are the first sexual female Cenobites we've seen and their under-skin massage of Thorne's chest is probably the only Barker-style Hellraiser scene in the whole film. Torso is a disturbing version of Chatterer without a lower half who makes for an effective vision of horror when seen in brief glimpses.
Unforgivably, the movie ends with Thorns looking upwards and yelling, Darth Vader-style, "Noooooooooooooo!" at the top of his lungs. I wanted to do the same thing. The film starts strong, but really falls apart as we learn where it's taking us. (6/10)
The Walking Dead: "Tell It to the Frogs" (2010) directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton
This episode is pretty talky and lacking in zombie action, but this didn't bother me too much. I liked the character interactions well enough and I'm hoping this is simply a lull before another zombie storm (something the comics do all the time). This episode spends most of its time at the camp, where Rick is reunited with his family at last. Here, we get a glimpse of the dynamics of the camp and meet more of the people living there. Traditional divisions of labor have emerged -- men fixing cars and hunting, with women washing clothes -- and the women aren't happy. Lori gives former lover Shane the very cold shoulder. Ed is shown to be a wife-beater. Squirrels make good food.
Despite his joy at finding his family, Rick, true to his counterpart in the comics, decides he can't morally let Merle die on the roof. Along with Merle's brother, T-Dawg, and Glenn, Rick ventures back to the department store roof, only to find Merle's amputated hand and nothing else. I'm guessing budgetary reasons prevented us from seeing the zombie hordes in Atlanta again, so we're disappointingly left to imagine how it was that the group made it back to the department store. Still, they have to find their way out again in the next episode, so there's that.