LEVIATHAN: The Story of Hellraiser & Hellbound Part 1 - "Surprisingly Dry"

The documentary "Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II" is a super in-depth coverage of everything you could ever want to know about the making of the first two "Hellraiser" movies. Clocking in at a massive 476 minutes, it gives "Never Sleep Again" a run for its money.

Unfortunately, the version I watched was the severely truncated 90-minute "Leviathan: Part 1" that is currently available on Shudder. Obviously, it can't cover nearly as much ground as the original version but I'll try to review it as best I can. The film contains interviews from various cast and crew members detailing the creation and development of the original "Hellraiser" from a novella, to a simple horror film to the iconic cultural phenomenon that it has now become. All well and good except for one crucial omission: there is no interview with Clive Barker himself. I know that Barker is extremely reclusive and doesn't do many interviews, but his absence from this documentary is very noticeable.

Also, this documentary is only concerned with the technical aspects of how the film got made. Personally, I'm far more interested in the film's cultural impact, particularly how its look influenced the fetish community. There's no mention of the film's impact in bringing the BDSM lifestyle into the mainstream... or at least as mainstream as the BDSM community can get. For such an interesting horror series, this is a surprisingly dry documentary featuring nothing but talking heads giving anecdotes about the behind-the-scenes happenings.

That being said, some of these anecdotes are pretty entertaining (especially the stuff involving the film's elaborate make-up and special effects) so if you're interested in that sort of thing, there is some value to this documentary. Hopefully, in the coming weeks, Shudder will release more parts to this massive undertaking because what they have now just isn't enough. They still have so many sights to show us!


★ ★ ½

"A documentary uncovering the history and the making of Clive Barker's Hellraiser (1987) and Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) films. "