Review – Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser (Disc 1)
First, let me start out by saying this is a 3-disc set, of which the disc I’m reviewing has a running time of 4 hours 37 minutes! I didn’t even know a DVD could be that long without swapping discs. Peter Jackson, take note!
It’s a whole new world of consumerism and geek-culture that we can buy something like this documentary. Not for the casual fan, Leviathan delves deeper into every aspect of the Hellraiser than the sum total of all previous featurettes and interviews put together. So I’m amazed that a product like this can exist, thanks to crowd-funding and social media groups, you don’t have to appeal to the masses anymore. This doesn’t go on the shelf at WalMart. If the first disc sets the tone, This DVD set is not for casual fans. It’s over 4 hours of interviews, insights and stories about the making of the movie, and people’s memories of Clive Barker.
Buyer beware, this set is from England, so although it is region-free, it is the PAL video standard. Make sure you have the equipment to play it. My Playstation 4 and TV didn’t have any problems, but I didn’t go out of my way to test any other devices.
Also, this is a DVD; and while it’s technically an older format, DVDs can play on people’s Blu-Ray players, and you get a very good, clear picture of the people talking.
So before I finish up my thoughts on the content, I just want to say that the packaging is top-notch. Kudos to Gary Smart and company for this amazingly produced box-set that’s the size of a single DVD movie. It has an outer-cardboard sleeve that’s painted to resemble Julia’s mattress (one of the things that ties the two movies together) and this inside cover is a terrific montage painting by Graham Humphreys. Inside the package, there’s an insert made to look like a stationary notebook by the Channard Institute, with the greek letter “Psy” in his logo (my wife is a therapist). The insert is written by Phil and Sarah Stokes, with information from their Clive Barker archives.
I’m not here to spoil anything, but these are my thoughts about this DVD. As I said above, there’s more Hellraiser information in here than all previous featurettes and interviews combined. This is for Hellraiser and Clive Barker super-fans, and if you’re on our site, then that’s probably you. There are so many anecdotes, and sometimes even conflicting stories (it was way back in 1987 afterall). My favorite one is the story of Doug Bradley and Claire Higgins audition, where he tells the familiar story that Claire almost hit him in the head with a real hammer, because she was so involved in her part. The way Claire tells it, she didn’t audition at all!
There are a lot of perspectives from cast and crew, even from Barbie Wilde and Ken Cranham, who were not in Hellraiser, but were a big part of Hellraiser 2. The disc goes into Clive Barker’s previous directing history with the Dog Company theater, and what he learned when he wrote his first to movies, Underworld/Transmutations and Rawhead Rex, and all other aspects of the production.
Another interesting fact I didn’t know, was the reason Tony Randel was sent in from New World Pictures. They were afraid the movie was going to be a boring “staircase movie”. I’m not sure what a good example of a staircase movie is, but that shows you the thinking of movie studios, and luckily Tony Randel only helped make the movie better, and didn’t really interfere with the creative process.
Overall, I love this movie. I would have liked to see the interviews broken up with a few more stills, scenes from the movie, narration and anything else to break away from 4 and a half ours of people sitting in chairs. The other thing I have mixed feelings about is the music. I think it’s great, and really well done. It matches the tone and style of Hellraiser perfectly. That’s also the reason it bothers me. It’s like the Matrix, it’s a sliver in my mind that something’s not right. It’s so close to Hellraiser music, but it’s not, and that was a little distracting to me. Having seen the whole of Leviathan as I finish up this review, I can say that I didn’t feel that way at all in Disc 2 (Hellbound).
I Highly recommend this if you love Hellraiser
- Great Packaging
- Very informative and interesting.
- Music is very well done
- PAL format (only because there have been complaints)
- Hours of people sitting in chairs talking, without a lot to break it up
- Music was distracting for me (too similar to Hellraiser, but not Hellraiser)