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Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) solves a mysterious puzzle box on the promise it will lead him to hedonistic and sensual pleasures beyond the mortal world. He meets the spectral sadomasochistic cenobites who tear him apart and drag him into an eternal hellish existence. Later, Frank's brother, Larry (Andrew Robinson), moves into Frank's old house. He lives with his second wife, Julia (Clare Higgins), who previously had an affair with Frank. Blood from a wound Larry incurs whilst moving into the house brings part of Frank back to life and frees him from the cenobites. However, in order to be whole again he needs to feed on the blood of the living. He enlists the help of Julia who agrees to kill for him. Meanwhile Kirsty (Ashley Laurence), Larry's daughter, is about to step into the midst of this hellish situation...
Perhaps it is the simple fact that the 21st century has yet to yield a bonafide horror classic that has made me look back on Clive Barker's "Hellraiser". Although the film is not on my list of all time horror films, it certainly stands the test of time. In a time where CGI overloads us from the lowest z-grade movie to the most bloated of corporate blockbusters, it is a good reminder of a time where our disbelief was easily suspended by good prosthetics and lighting. Made in 1987, only the lightning bolts, reminiscent of Disney's Hocus Pocus, look dated. Long before the torture porn overkill of today, "Hellraiser" sensualized cruel violence and repulsive gore in a manner that got the right horrified reactions from its audience.
The world's most successful horror author, Stephen King famously rated the film with the prediction, "I have seen the future of horror and its name is Clive Barker". Despite the film's dubious torture porn legacy in the 21st century and sequel franchise that ensued, I don't think King's prediction came to pass. This remains Barker's most famous work. However, it is a triumph for the auteur method. Barker directs the film, which is based on his short story, The Hellbound Heart, and he extends on his prose in a way that works very well for cinema. This is mainly down to the fact that he wrote the story as a move towards directing his first film, so there was a clear vision in place before studios had been approached.
"Hellraiser" borrows a lot from classic horror in an era of slasher films and science fiction, but provides an interesting layer of twisted titillation. Much of the film recalls the British gothic films of the '60s whereby a monster or mad person was kept in the attic or a cellar. Films like "The Ghoul", "The Beast in the Cellar" and "The Shuttered Window" come to mind. Those who haven't seen the original film, but are aware of the lengthy franchise that followed might be surprised at the lack of onscreen time is given to the creature known as Pinhead. Incidentally the lead Cenobite is not referred by this title and Clive Barker hated the name. Much of the film's narrative is taken up by the relationship between Frank and Julia, and Frank's quest to become fully human again.
Unlike the original story, there is little explained about Frank's initial relationship with the Cenobites. It is covered very briefly in Frank's discussion with Julia. Nevertheless, it is quite clear what has happened in the events leading up to the film's main focus.
Just as the atheistic and progressive "Frankenstein" author Mary Shelley provided us with a story that could easily be viewed as a Christian moral story regarding the evils of playing God, Hellraiser could be seen as an argument against sex. The film presents us with varying levels of carnal personality. Despite its use of sadomasochistic imagery, it is easy to identify a conservative moral message found in most slasher horror movies. There is not only a chaste "last girl" character, but also a Jezebel counterpart who acts as a servant of evil and even the evil itself can be seen as representatives of damned souls. This is not to say that Hellraiser fits into the slasher mould - it doesn't in anyway - but it arouses the surface more than it disturbs anything beneath. In this respect its use of lurid horror might be viewed as a 1980s update of 1300s to 1600s melodramas, comparable to the hellish medieval visions of Dante's "The Comedy of Errors" and the gore and cruelty of Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus". Its synopsis, of course, comes from the legend of Faust with its main tragic character having the most hedonistic of ambitions, so loathed by Abrahamic religions: carnal desire.
The film's main sympathetic character is Kirsty who comes over as a virginal young woman - she has a boyfriend, but we see little more than friendship between them - efficiently dealing with the curse that has been inflicted on her family via her wicked stepmother's adultery. Kirsty is sharp-witted, fast-thinking, courageous, physically and loyal to her family. She is unhindered by and not tempted by the need to fulfil carnal desires on any level. She sees the evil for what it is and understands how to fight its advances. Her focus might be seen to be on self-preservation, but not at the expense of innocents and ultimately she is an agent for restoring order.
Larry, her father (a character known as Rory in The Hellbound Heart who is simply Kirsty's friend), is in an orthodox sexual relationship with his wife and is presented as the everyday middle class American father. Despite not breaking any sort of mainstream moral code, perhaps the very fact he engages in pleasurable sex with his wife, as we see him do, is enough to dull his senses to the horror that goes on around him. It is his innocuous accident that prompts Frank's return after all. Larry is destined to be a victim and under constant threat from the villainous Frank.
Julia, the stepmother, provides a certain degree of moral ambiguity. She is on the side of the sinners, but it is clear she has some feelings for Larry. She can also be seen as a naïve acolyte to the dark and brooding Frank who is an exciting contrast to her husband. Frank shows us the ultimate extension of the path Julia is embarking. His pursuit of carnal pleasure has left him unfulfilled in the mortal world, but his initial fate can be seen as a consequence of his carnal addictions.
The Cenobites represent the destructive final level where pleasure diminishes and sexual identity disappears. The creatures are represented as a meshing of religious and modern extreme fetishism. At Barker's request, Dough Bradley played the Lead Cenobite with intelligent reserve. Barker saw Christopher's Lee's depiction of the Dracula character as a strong source of inspiration. The Lead Cenobite is an immediate contrast to the leering and wisecracking Freddy Kruegar, who is the only other notable speaking horror icon of that era. As is the nature of film business, studios jumped on the iconography of the Lead Cenobite and later films had him feature more prominently. The name "Pinehead" was not used by Barker, but came from the costume department. The author does not recognize its usage.
"Hellraiser" has a strong story, good characterization, a convincing cast and impressive visuals. These elements are proven by the way they are so easily applied in its first sequel, Hellbound: Hellraiser II, as if a perfect wardrobe of structures and ideas were firmly in place for another filmmaking team to slip into and carry on the story without much difficulty. Hellraiser initially met with mixed reviews, but I disagree strongly that it lacked originality. There are some time-honoured plot elements in there, but they are played creatively and delivered with some very imaginative coverings. The tragedy of Frank, which is at the film's heart, provides us with an interesting take on the vampire legend. The cenobites, which would be exploited to their full in subsequent sequels, are wisely applied with reserve in the story. However, when they do appear they are impressive and fascinating explorations into punk Gothic art. Nothing looks clichéd in Hellraiser and I would argue that the effects have stood the test of time better than the majority of its contemporaries. In conclusion, Hellraiser may not be one of the best horrors of all time but it is one of the best 1980s horrors and certainly as good as the best horrors that have been produced since 2000.
"Hellraiser" is a 1987 horror film which was directed by Clive Barker, who has also directed such films as "Lord of Illusions" (1995), "Nightbreed" (1990), and "Salome" (1973).
Warning: Spoilers will likely be given during this review.
The film is 94 minutes in length and stars Andrew Robinson ("Dirty Harry", "Cobra", "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine") as Larry, Clare Higgins ("The Golden Compass", "Cassandra's Dream", "Bigger Than the Sky") as Julia, and Doug Bradley ("Deer Crossing", "The Reverend", "Proteus") as Pinhead.
The plot for the film reads as follows: An unfaithful wife encounters the zombie of her dead lover, who's being chased by demons after he escaped from their sado-masochistic Hell.
"Hellraiser" was the first in a series of films in a franchise, and one of the most popular horror films to be released in the 1980s. Based on the novella, "The Hellbound Heart", it was Clive Barker's directorial debut, but he would go on to produce a further three in the series. Is it any good? Let's find out!
The film begins with Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) buying a strange puzzle box in Morocco. The attendant says "It's yours. It always was." Next he's shown in a dimly lit room in a circle of candles as he attempts to perform a ritual opening of the box. The box then produces hooks on chains and rips him apart, piece by piece. It is here where we first see Pinhead, who picks up pieces of Frank's face and assembles them on the floor. He picks up the box and completes the puzzle the way it was.
There are a few things about the film which I didn't like but fortunately they are few and far between. As Larry and Julia first enter the house they go upstairs looking round. The telephone rings and Larry says "What the hell is that?" The first thing about that is that it was pretty obvious what it was but I guess they had to get a scene in where Frank's daughter, Kirsty, calls. Of the parts I did like, the absorption of Larry's blood by the remains of Frank's body from an injured hand and the subsequent transformation into flesh and bone is a great scene for special effects and still stands out even today.
Clive Barker is a director that gets the best out of his films, and his vivid imagination runs wild in Kirsty's dream sequence. She sees what appears to be her dad wrapped in a cloth and lying on a bed. There are feathers falling from the ceiling and blood begins to seep from his body, while a baby's cries are heard with an eerie soundtrack behind it. This is one of the standout scenes in a film that has many, including the brilliant Cenobites.
As the film moves on, Kirsty mistakenly opens the box and enters the realms of the Cenobites, where she hears the baby's screams once more. It is here where we begin to meet more of the excellent demons - Chatterer, a Cenobite with clicking teeth that looks a little like Nemesis from "Resident Evil: Apocalypse", Butterball, a worm-like creature, and a female Cenobite who has had her throat removed. Pinhead utters one of the best lines of any horror films during this scene when he says "No tears please. It's a waste of good suffering."
I do not want to give the plot away too much, but I feel I must mention a scene where Frank assumes the role of Larry. When Kirsty figures it out, I have to wonder why he didn't revert to his own voice and accent. The two are very different, and it is not like it can be shown as a continuation of the character, because she already knows it's not her father. That said, the wonderful horror of the film overshadows the tiny problems it may have, and there are many exquisite moments of terror throughout.
The film doesn't have much via way of a soundtrack and there are no songs, but the score is an eerie rendition that helps the flow. It is done in such a way that it is perfect as to where it fits in, and you get the chilling score where it needs to be, and thrilling notes in the right places too. I'm not too sure a film needs music anyway, so I am happy with the outcome of "Hellraiser".
Of course the film was always going to be left on a cliffhanger in order to set up a sequel, but that's up to you to find out.
Doug Bradley is brilliant as Pinhead. He doesn't have a huge part but his legacy is there for all to see, and his career moved on with spoken word narration on a few of British extreme metal band Cradle of Filth's albums. Pinhead is seen as the lead Cenobite, a demon with a face that has a grid-like appearance, with pins sticking out at regular intervals. "We'll tear your soul apart" is a line that is synonymous with the franchise and one I enjoy listening out for whenever I watch.
Of the other characters, it's difficult to pin down everyone because the parts people have are so small yet so integral. Many people will recognise Andrew Robinson from "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and his role of a Cardassian named Elim Garak. Here he takes on a role as Larry Cotton, the husband of a promiscuous wife as they move in to their new house - his house from childhood. Clare Higgins plays the part of Julia, Larry's wife and Frank's lover brilliantly. Julia is sultry and knows how to manipulate everyone around her in order to get what she wants from them. Larry's daughter, Kirsty, is the one character that you just know from the onset that she's going to be the hero of the film. Before I get complaints of spoiling the plot, this is pretty evident when the opening credits introduce her. It is a little strange that Clive Barker would change her character from the book he wrote because in that she was a friend of Larry's.
Horror films in the 1980s had to be good if they were to be successful, due to the groundbreaking brilliance that the films of the 1970s had. Films such as "The Exorcist", "The Omen" and "Halloween" spawned a generation of horror goodness and were obviously very hard to beat, and when the 1980s came along, we had "The Shining", "Poltergeist" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street" to add to the mix. "Hellraiser" was a latecomer to the genre but over 25 year on, it is definitely at the forefront of what a horror film should be.
There are some great special effects and some not so great, but all in all we have a film that is still great to watch in the 21st century. How can you not like Pinhead and the other Cenobites, even though you're supposed to fear them? It obviously has its flaws, though. For instance, it is supposedly set in England yet most of the actors have American accents, but I can overlook that. I'm sure you can, too.
What the Critics Say
Chicago Reader: "Minor grisly fun, but don't expect the movie to linger when it's over."
Time Out: "Barker's dazzling debut as a director creates such an atmosphere of dread that the astonishing visual set pieces simply detonate in a chain reaction of cumulative intensity."
Washington Post: "It's a dark, frequently disturbing and occasionally terrifying film that suggests Barker's vision hasn't quite made the conversion from paper to celluloid."
Chicago Sun-Times: "This is a movie without wit, style or reason, and the true horror is that actors were made to portray, and technicians to realize, its bankruptcy of imagination."
Variety: "Hellraiser is a well-paced sci-fi cum horror fantasy."
My rating: 8/10
Hellraiser is one of those iconic eighties slasher horror movies which is pretty gory and in Pinhead you have a particularly nasty horror creation whose head looks like he over did it with the acupuncture treatment.
The plot in this film is pretty nonsensical, Clare Higgins plays Julia who along with her husband Larry moves in to a new home, however Larry brother Frank and her lover has given up his body to a group of demons and the only chance he has to return to his normal state is to feed on the blood of men that Julia lures to him and he makes a start on his own brother. Larry only hope may rest with his daughter Kirsty who does not trust her step mother.
The plot is a bit far fetched and the acting is not much better in this film, Larry is played by Andrew Robinson and he is rather wooden in his role as is Higgins who sort of plays the vamp one minute and then seems to be playing the role for sympathy, it is not exactly a convincing performance. Kirsty is played by Ashley Lawrence and she is fine in the role however it is not exactly a challenging film to appear in as the dialogue is rather clunky and it is the tension and gore that the film relies upon. Frank is played by Sean Chapman whose costume is pretty scary and he has little in the way of acting to do he just has to look evil.
There is a high gore quotient in this film however the plot is so paper thin that for me while the lead character may be a horror icon the film itself is a rather flat affair and is not that impressive.
Not a horror film I would recommend personally as it lacks a credible plot and the acting is wooden.
Julia and her husband, Larry, move to an old house that used to belong to Larry's family. While wandering around upstairs, Julia comes across her lover, Larry's brother Frank, who has become a zombie-like creature after giving up his body to a pack of demons called the Cenobites. Frank enlists Julia to help him recover his body by feeding on the blood and tissue of men that Julia manages to ensnare. However, Larry's daughter, Kirsty, who dislikes her step-mother, is suspicious of her behaviour and starts to investigate. Before long, she has become involved with the Cenobites and the magical box that seems to control them. Can she save her father and escape with her own life?
British actress Clare Higgins plays Julia and I think she played the role just right. It is no Oscar-winning performance, she is even a little wooden at times; nevertheless, this is exactly what the role needed. Julia is deliberately not a particularly nice woman, although she isn't a complete baddie - it is obvious that Frank seduced her with his charms and she is unable to pull away from him, even when she thinks he is long gone. Higgins manages to switch between fear, anger and desperation very nicely, with a portion of cheese thrown in for good measure. Her husband, played by Andrew Robinson is less impressive, but that is partly because his role is kept relatively brief and he did what he needed to, if nothing more.
Ashley Laurence plays Kirsty. She did a perfectly competent job as a daughter afraid for her father and, apart from the cheesy aspects, which again, fitted in perfectly with the film, there is little to criticise. Nevertheless, I couldn't help but feel that any young actress could have played the role and done just as good a job. There was very little personality involved. In a way, the fact that an older woman, Clare Higgins, took on the role of who I see as the main character, is what makes this film a cut above the usual horror - watching a pack of teenagers putting themselves in ridiculous positions becomes deeply tiring after a while. Sean Chapman plays Frank, but as he is covered in a really nasty body suit of human tissue most of the time, it is hard to say how good he is in the role. Certainly when he plays the 'before the box' Frank, he is horribly wooden.
Based on a story by Clive Barker, he is also responsible for the direction and screenplay and, although the story is now over twenty years old, he has done a rather remarkable job. Much as I love horror, I prefer it when it has a realistic touch, which this does not. My expectations, therefore, were low. Nevertheless, the supernatural element adds a touch of originality and it is never clear exactly where the film is going, which leads the viewer on an exciting ride. There are parts of it that are very off-the-wall, yet Clive Barker has managed to pull the film off perfectly, finding the perfect line between complete madness and a realistic family who have been torn apart by infidelity.
Eighties horror films are known for their dodgy special effects. To a certain extent, that is the case here - the Cenobites with their strange, twisted heads and patchwork faces held together with pins look like they could have come straight out of a comic. There are some really good parts though - I thought Frank's transformation into a half-human being, with all the stickiness and gore that it involved, was well-done and very creepy. There is also a scene where someone's face is pulled apart by a series of chains, which I found rather shockingly realistic. This is definitely not a film for the children.
At the same time, the film isn't as horrific as I thought it might be. It is classified as an 18 in the UK, which is probably quite right - nevertheless, some of the gory bits could have been a lot worse, and instead we are left to guess what is going on. This does, instead, add an eeriness to the film that might not otherwise have existed and a little touch of class that so many films of this genre are lacking. It may seem odd to associate 'class' with a film like this, but in comparison to other films, it really is towards the top end of its type.
There are a number of extras with the DVD, although nothing of great interest. The first, a behind the scenes featurette with the director, a couple of the production crew and some of the actors and actresses is worth a watch, but it is only about five minutes and I think should have been at least twenty to have been of any value. There are a couple of other features though that make up for this - actually they make it totally pointless, unless you just want a very quick explanation of what goes on. The second feature focuses heavily on Doug Bradley, who plays 'Pinhead', one of the Cenobites, and is probably the most recognisable character in the film, although he barely features. On top of the features there are trailers, pictures of the storyboards, a stills gallery and a draft screen play, which can be accessed via a computer.
I am a big fan of eighties horror; nevertheless, I've overdosed recently and didn't have particularly high hopes for this one. I was pleasantly surprised. The pacing is great and, for once, it is original. It isn't going to appeal to anyone who doesn't like horror, but if you are a fan, and haven't seen it yet, then it most definitely is worth a watch. Just keep it away from the children. Recommended.
The DVD is available from play.com for £1.99.
Running time: 94 minutes
WE WILL TEAR YOUR SOUL APART!!!!
Generally speaking, the Eighties were not good to the horror film. Films made in this decade were either comedy horror's like evil dead, or films that were designed to make you jump, like nightmare on Elm Street. Most times, films like this were not truly scary. More often than not, it was the orchestral soundtrack that made you jump, rather than a particularly scary plot or effect.
There were, however, occasional exceptions to the rule. If you choose carefully, it is possible to pull the proverbial needle from the Eighties haystack. One such needle, is Clive Barker's directorial debut, Hellraiser. Barker was not well known. Previously he had written three short horror storybooks called the 'Books of blood'. Although highly enjoyable in their own right, they are more notable for the quote that was published on the front cover.
" I have seen the future of horror, and his name is Clive Barker ".
When Something like this is said by the genre's biggest names (Stephen King.), people will inevitably stand up and take notice. That said, it also potentially set this film up for one of the biggest falls in horror history. indeed, it did initially flounder for a while before rising like a pheonix from the flames of the train wreck that was Eighties horror. All the critics of the day slated the film, and it was not really until the start of the Nineties that the film started to recieve the acclaim that it undoubtedly
Unlike most films of this type, ther actually was a plot. The whole concept centres around a little golden box. Its like a puzzle, and it's name is the Lament configuration. This contraption is found by Frank, and he becomes obssessed by it. Almost reminding you of a Rubik's cube (also from the Eighties.), Frank eventually twists the little box correctly and it opens a portal to another realm. I don't know if it is hell, or the place inbetween, but either way it is not a nice place. It is also home to the cenobites.
The cenobites are gruesome, former humans, who are terrifying in both appearance and action. The are pained by pleasure, and take pleasure in pain. They torture and kill frank, and they love it. What they do not love, however, is his return back to the world of the living.
You see, Frank was a bad boy. When he was alive he had a rather sordid little affair with his brothers wife, Julia. And when he passed away his brother and Julia come to stay in Frank's house. And when Frank's brother cut his hand in the room where Frank died, the blood on the floor revives Frank, and he gets the initially reluctant Julia to bring him more victems here so he can continue to regenerate.
What will become of Frank, and Julia? What will the cenobites do about it? What will become of Frank's niece, Kirsty?
I suppose the thing that sold the film to me, was initially the visulaization of the lead cenobite. Played by Doug Bradley, 'pinhead' is one of the scariest characters in horror. Both his appearance, and his presence. He also says one of the film, and the genres most popular lines. It was the headline for my review. We will tear your soul apart.
Pinhead, and the other cenobites encapsulate what the film is all about. They look so terrifying, and they take over your mind so that all you can think about is them. They consume your flesh, and steal your soul. Considering the decade they were created in, they are surprisingly realistic, and the effects are quite good. Doug Bradley makes the role of pinhead his own, and he puts in a very authentic performance. Fans of the show know him as the main star, but may be surprised to know that he has only about four minutes on screen.
The film is not all about the scares, although there are plenty. Rather the film is about the build up, and the viewers expectancy. An on screen effest will never be as scary as what the viewers mind makes up. Barker plays on this, and the film is one great big build up, allowing your mind to do the work, that his film crew never could.
You see, the film was incredably low budget. Small studios, and no money are not a good combination, and for Barker to have created such a good film is a huge credit to him.
Also key to the film, is the role of young Kirsty, played by Ashley Laurance. Her performance seems to hold the whole film together. A remarkable feat for one so young. Her portrayal of the terrified, yet gutsy young heroine is brilliant. In fact, the whole cast list put in decent performances, and they all add to the atmosphere of the film.
The film is not for everyone. It is looking a bit dated now, but if you can look past that you will get a rewarding movie. It still has the power to make you feel fear, and that power is a wonderful thing. There are not many films nowadays that can do what this film does, and this one does it without all that modern 'magic' that new films are supposed to contain. I think that this film proves that money cannot buy you everything, especially not in horror. True horror must come from deep within someones twisted mind. And that must mean that Clive Barker has a very twisted mind indeed.
The dvd contains commentaries by both Clive Barker, and Ashley Laurance. There are also interviews with the cast and crew, as well as an interesting featurette ' ressurection'. I think that these would be great for a true fan, but I for one never really hold any value in the extras to be found on a dvd. Even if this was to come with just the film on it, I would still be happy. Especially considering you can get a copy for as little a £3!
Based on Clive Barker's novella 'The Hellbound Heart', Hellraiser is an incredibly dark and visceral horror film starring British thespian actor Doug Bradley as 'Pinhead', an otherworldy being known as a 'cenobite' who comes to earth to claim anyone who plays with the Lament Configuration, a mysterious antique puzzlebox that when manipulated opens the gates to Hell.
The story concerns Frank, a man who purchased the box in Morocco and found himself in the realm of unimaginable torment of the cenobites as a result, but who somehow manages to find a way back to the normal world, where he convinces Juila, his brother Andrew's wife with whom he once had an affair, to nourish his ethereal presence with the lifeblood of fresh souls in order to make him whole once again. Julia lures young men to her house for this reason before sacraficing them to Frank, becoming more flesh and blood with each soul consumed.
Juila's stepdaughter Kirsty becomes caught up in Frank and Julia's nefarious scheme and accidentally summons the cenobites with the puzzle box, but begs for her life on the grounds that she can lead them to the fugitive Frank.
It will be clear to anyone who has read any of Barker's work that he both wrote the screenplay and directed the film, which has a strong sado-masochistic, blasphemous and deeply unsettling feel to it, with its reliance on creepy ambience (clattering, echoing chains, tinkling music box tunes, and eerie ambient moans) and a fascination with the boundaries between pleasure and pain. Doug Bradley is perfectly cast as the anti-hero Pinhead; a character with real depth and presence who delivers his over-the top lines with great drama and pathos and who is made especially intersting by the fact that he is utterly devoid of morals yet is not impervious to reasoning.
A hugely atmospheric, dark and intelligent horror, Hellraiser is an excellent film that, like barker in general, has had an immense influence on the horror genre, paving the way for future gems such as the similarly themed Event Horizon, another sadistically-oriented british horror released in 1997 and starring Lawrence Fishburne. A real modern horror gem.
Cliver Barker rose to prominence and the attention of many with Hellraiser, a film he not only wrote and directed as a film, but previously published as the critically acclaimed novella The Hellbound Heart. It's a very unique, very 80s horror film that deals with more offbeat, counter-cultural themes than its contemporaries such as Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween. It has also spawned seven sequels, although the vast majority of these are very hokey in quality, and not really worth watching unless you're a huge Hellraiser nut.
Hellraiser opens with a violent man named Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) buying an antique puzzle box from a dealer. Back at his house, he solves the box and hooked chains immediately fly out of it, tearing into his flesh. Demons from another realm called Cenobites, pale, robotic looking humans, appear to inspect Frank's remains. Their leader, series mainstay "Pinhead" (Doug Bradley), picks up the box and twists it back into its original state, and the room also returns to normal. We cut to present day, and the box is rediscovered by some new victims, who must contend with the grotesqueries of the box. It's a very pulpy story with some unique considerations towards S&M activities, and it also works as a simple "haunted house" type story. This is unque storytelling that established Clive Barker as a household name, even if the sequels are mostly rubbish.
Clive Barker's visually thrilling horror film boasts grotesque creature effects and a thoroughly engrossing premise. Although considered to be a minor horror entry of the 80s, Hellraiser boasts enough inventive gore and intrigue to satisfy.
My first experience with Hellraiser was during my tender adolescence, when I accidentally came across it whilst channel hopping. That did me no end of damage I can tell you. It wasn't until nearly a decade later that I finally grew enough backbone to face my childhood horror again, in its all its visceral soul-tearing glory. I'm glad I did.
The movie Hellraiser is based upon Clive Barkers best selling novel the Hellbound Heart, and depicts the gruesome, although thoroughly well deserved fate, of Frank Cotton, a violent sexual predator who has come across a an unusual box: the Lament Configuration, which will grant untold pleasure to anyone who opens it. Instead it proves to be a gateway for a group of extra-dimensional S & M enthusiasts called the Cenobites, who duly show up and teach Frank the real meaning of pleasure. The results are, well, unpleasantly organic. Now doomed to an eternity of torture at the hands of his inhuman jailers, Frank's only hope lies in his brother's wife, Julia, who can resurrect him with a sacrifice of blood.
Hellraiser is a brilliant example of classic horror at its best. Although the effects may be dated, and most of the movie takes place in an attic, Hellraiser still manages to tap into the dark and nightmarish sections of your imagination. Of course the icing on the cake is Doug Bradley, whose booming voice and deadpan wit have helped make Pinhead one of the most memorable villains in movie history. Unfortunately, the film does have one flaw. The female heroine, Kristy, suffers from what I call 'screaming victim syndrome,' spending most of her screen time squealing pathetically and generally making an idiot of herself. Then again, if I was confronted by a guy with pins embedded in his skull, I might squeal a bit too.
Although the film has spawned many sequels, some of which are quite watchable, the original will always stand alone as a masterpiece of cinema, throwing the grotesque creations of Barker's twisted imagination into terrible relief. No matter what happens, Hellraiser will stay with you, and with you, and with you, and it will take the mental equivalent of a crowbar to get it out again.
Watch at your own risk.
In Hellraiser (1987) Clive Barker positions the grotesque next to the beautiful and pleasure indivisible from pain. This image of the grotesque, where the body is open, abject or deformed, stands in opposition to the 'perfect' body: the aesthetically beautiful body.
Barker foregrounds the carnivalesque; he focuses on the body as flesh and on the changing, mutating body. He believes that we, as humans, should not be disgusted by or afraid of our own bodies or of change. Transformation is natural and a part of daily life, it should be embraced not hidden and avoided.
Hellraiser graphically shows the body of Frank being re-built from blood and flesh, transforming from dust to an almost complete human form. This is Barker celebrating the flesh and presenting the grotesque.
The cenobites in Hellraiser have a very strong image, they are a picture of sado-masochism, beautiful yet deformed, dressed in leather and latex, snow white skin with flesh pierced, scarred and burnt. They have pushed their bodies past the pain threshold in search of ultimate pleasure and when summoned will take another human life: 'we have such sights to show you' says 'Pinhead' the visually striking (with a matrix of nails protruding from his skull) lead cenobite.
Although the cenobites are disturbing in appearance they are also beautiful in a way. They represent a desire for the unknown, a yearning for change and for new sensations. The horror lies within this perverse yet enticing lifestyle of the marginalised and the taboo. It is usually curiosity which causes humans to enter their world.
This obsession with the body, change and mutation is present throughout Barker's work. The making and unmaking of the body is an important part of Hellraiser, where Frank's body is rebuilt we have a juxtaposition of birth and death, a dead body being born from the blood of others.
Barker has also voiced his dislike for horror films where you do not see the monster until late in the film. In Hellraiser the monsters: the cenobites, are introduced early on in the film. They are not hinted at or hidden, they are clear for all to see and frequently reappear throughout the film.
Because they are presented completely and early on in the narrative the viewer can identify with the cenobites as the film (and indeed the franchise) progresses.
Viewers relate to the cenobites being ugly/grotesque because everybody has fears that they will be rejected by society for being/looking different.
Even though the cenobites are grotesque in appearance they have human qualities that the viewer can relate to (and in a sequel we see 'Pinhead' before he becomes a cenobite as a 'normal' human being).
Some viewers are disgusted by 'Pinhead' while others sympathise with him or even fantasise about him! (My girlfriend, for one!)
There is not just one monster in Hellraiser, the cenobites act as a group; there is a sense of community. They act together and have their own codes that they abide by, they also expect a certain amount of loyalty and believe in justice. This creates the question: who are the real monsters in the film, the cenobites or Frank and Julia?
Frank was a violent, criminal deviant who gave his soul to the cenobites in search of ultimate pleasure through pain. He acted outside the laws of his society and so was subject to the laws of theirs.
Julia is an adulteress and a murderer, who lures innocent men to her house in order to resurrect Frank, her dead lover.
These two characters are considered completely immoral within their society, whereas the cenobites behave in accordance with the morals of their world. The cenobites' role is to inflict pain (which gives pleasure) to anyone who invites it by completing the puzzle box. So, we can see that Frank and Julia could be considered as the evil characters in the film and the cenobites are just doing their job.
Barker sets out to analyze the monstrous, to foreground the grotesque and carnivalesque, to display it for the viewers' consumption. Nothing is left to the imagination; it is all there on the screen to be appreciated.
When thinking of Clive Barker, the word raconteur springs to mind. Never limited to one medium to express his wild imagination, Barker has dabbled in pretty much everything from short stories to novels to films to comic books to visual art to painting and so on. After a slew of books, plays and the like early in his career, Barker made his directorial debut whilst still at the relatively tender age of thirty four. The result was 'Hellraiser', an adaptation of his novella; 'The Hellbound Heart' and the antithesis to previous, underwhelming Barker film adaptations managed by other people.
When thrill-seeker Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) purchases a strange puzzle box from an equally strange man promising all the pleasures of the world if one were to solve it, his desire comes true and then some; leading to a brutal, painful death. The puzzle box opens the door to a strange nightmare world where the boundaries of pain and pleasure are blurred into one sadomasochist mess supervised by the Cenobites, strange demons who exist to explore and provide the absolute extremes of the senses.
Time has moved on and Frank's abandoned house becomes the new home for his brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) and his wife Julia (Clare Higgins), who had had a secret affair with Frank in the past; whose disappearance has been wrongly interpreted as another in a long line of his notorious adventures.
On inspecting her new (yet secretly familiar) surroundings, Julia stumbles upon the zombie of Frank in the attic, brought back from the dead by some of his brother Larry's spilt blood due to an accident earlier in the day. Frank has managed to escape from the Cenobites, who will come looking once they realise he's gone and needs more blood, muscle, skin and organs to become complete and normal again. Julia agrees to help her former love by picking up men in bars and luring them up to the attic for Frank to feast on so that they can be together again.
Expectations were fairly high for this, knowing how large a fan base there is for this movie, a movie good enough to warrant no fewer than six sequels plus not including shorts and other odds and ends. So there is somewhat or a legacy here within the horror community and for those wanting to know what the fuss is all about by starting with the original won't be disappointed.
There are great shifts in dynamic here that keep things fresh and interesting, the confusing nightmarish visuals of Frank's death to his now abandoned house being moved into. The tensions between Julia and her stepdaughter Kirsty (Ashley Lawrence) all help to tell a story where even we the audience, the grand overseers are not entirely sure what is going on. Things are revealed slowly but surely, guaranteeing good pacing and tension throughout. Things take a while to get going, adding to the unease. Unlike most formulaic horror that throw in shocks at regular intervals to keep people from falling asleep, 'Hellraiser' feels like a breath of fresh air; unconventional and twisted.
Being a huge fan of practical effects and gore a la the old Sam Raimi days, 'Hellraiser' again doesn't disappoint, introducing a wild mix of violence and weird creatures that will leave many a gore hound salivating. The Cenobites look amazing, especially the leader Pinhead (that would be the guy on the box for those who are unsure) who is a prime example of good prosthetic work. He actually does look like he has nails sticking out of his face and all without pesky computers. The scene where Frank's skeletal body begins to materialise (most likely done with time lapse photography) is another visual highlight.
The violence is done rather tastefully and with tact, unlike today's gore-a-thon horror/slasher flicks. Horrific enough to startle and gross you out (the hooks in flesh sequences will make your skin crawl) yet brief and well conceived to the point where you can leave the worse parts to your imagination. This is a sign of good directing and good storytelling. Any idiot with a camera can show someone being torn apart but Clive Barker lets you imagine it for yourself and the results are equally distasteful.
This film seems to walk the fine line of extreme violence flirting with extreme beauty. Shots are composed with great attention to detail, one shot with blood filtering up into an intravenous drip bag makes one sit up a take notice in particular. Then again it's not unlike something of Barker's to blur the lines of two polar opposite sensations; the blurring of pleasure and pain for instance; a dominant theme here.
The only downside to 'Hellraiser' is the rather suspect acting quality throughout. This isn't a major distraction, but the acting here does feel forced and staged. As competent as Barker is with the technicalities of filmmaking, he does seem to suffer slightly in the handling of his talent. But then again, the cold shoulder treatment kind of works with the mood and tone of the story. Although I thought the acting could've done with appearing a little more natural but it comes down to personal taste. On the upside, the film has aged quite well. A bugbear with a lot of films from the eighties is that they're very much products of their time. 'Hellraiser', albeit not perfectly, transcends past the decade it was made, reducing the cringe factor considerably.
'Hellraiser' is a quintessential example of eighties mainstream horror that deviates, shocks and grosses out with the best of them. It's a great Friday night in kind of offering that stands up to repeated viewings. Not suitable for younger/squeamish viewers due to its violent/sickly content, but unlike modern horrors, it's not the only card in its hand, offering cerebral, nightmarish scares and some subtle ones too. None of that boyfriend sneaking up behind the hot girl protagonist and startling her cliché, this is vintage horror with good, interesting ideas and a fairly fresh interpretation of (now) one of the most predicable genres in cinema. Recommended.
Director: Clive Barker
Time Approx: 93 minutes
Just in time for Halloween a few years back, I thought I would treat myself to the new Anchor Bay Lament Configuration Hellraiser box set, consisting of the first three movies and a bonus disc, despite my love of horror movies, my only past experience with the Hellraiser series had been a late night viewing of Bloodline, the 4th movie, and catching some of the first film when it was on TV a while back, but given my fondness of a good horror flick, and the great reputation of the series, I figured I was going to buy it at some point, and it would be best to do so when it's in a cool box.
The movie opens with Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman - Underworld) in a far flung country, in what appears to be Asia, purchasing a mysterious puzzle box from a seedy merchant.
He takes it home to England, where he cracks the puzzle, and is 'rewarded' by being taken to a limbo-like dimension by the Cenobites, a mysterious group of creatures who enjoy torturing anyone who opens the puzzle box. Frank was someone who searched for the ultimate thrill, and the cenobites took him to the edge of where pleasure and pain meet.
A while later, Frank's brother Larry (Andrew Robinson - Dirty Harry) moves into the house with his wife Julia (Clare Higgins - Small Faces). His daughter beatiful daughter Kirsty (Ashley Laurence - Savate) also comes with them, but stays in a rented room, because she doesn't get on with her step-mother Julia.
One day, Larry's blood is spilled in the room Frank summoned the cenobites, and this somehow frees Frank from their domain. It turns out that he and Julia were more than just in-laws when he was alive, and he is determined to continue their relationship despite the fact he is little more than a skeleton. He convinces her to start killing people in the room, because if a drop of blood freed him, it shouldn't take much to regenerate him fully. She complies, and kills several people, with him being one kill away from full restoration when Kirsty visits to try and make peace with Julia, and is confronted by him. She escapes with her life, and the puzzle box, before accidentally opening it. Confronted with the cenobites, in her attempts to dissuade them from taking her to their place, she tells them that Frank has escaped, and they agree to spare her if she takes them to him. Kirsty now has to somehow send uncle Frank back to where he belongs, but must also beware, can she really trust the cenobites?
The plot is, believe it or not for an 80s horror picture, one of the places that the movie really does shine in. The plot is solid, intrigueing, and generally exceptional. While I have heard that there was stuff cut out from the book it was based on, The Hellbound Heart, by director Clive Barker, such as an elaboration on the relationship between Frank and Kirsty (which I've read conflicting stories about, some say he raped her, some say he saw her as pure, some say he's just crazy, if anyone knows, feel free to tell me), but on the whole the plot is good enough as it is, and anything that is missing would simply add to it.
The Cenobites are written completely unlike any other horror villains, in that they aren't mindless killing machines ala Jason Voorhees, but all, at least the lead two, as portrayed by Doug Bradley and Grace Kirby, are thinking monsters, and have clearly undergone the pleasure/pain experiments themselves. And while given the majority of talk about the movie is centered on them, and Pinhead's noggin is the cover, they don't even have all that much screen time, building a sense of mystery about them that just makes their limited appearances all the more powerful.
The acting is of a very high standard throughout the flick. Higgins is great as the scheming step-mother from hell, and the man behind Frank's monster make up, Oliver Smith, outperforms the actors who plays normal Frank, granted he gets more screen-time. One thing that should be noted about this, is that neither actor's voice appears in the movie. If you own the DVD I do, this will first be brought to your attention by the trailers, in which the UK one beforehand states that it uses the original voices, the only one that is notable is Frank's, and in the commentary from Barker and star Laurence it is the only change mentioned, a change made because they thought it wouldn't bode well in the US if it had too many British voices (even though it's set in England). It makes me wonder why they didn't release it over here with his accent intact, but it isn't really anything to worry about.
But the show stealers are Doug Bradley and Ashley Laurence. Bradley is cool, calm and menacing as 'Lead Cenobite', aka Pinhead, his performance contributed a lot to the character becoming a horror icon, in fact his look only played a minimal role in the creation of the legend, the majority of it comes from Bradley's well-spoken to the point it's terrifying, portrayal of the character. Bradley, like they often are, is actually a pretty nice guy in real life, and I can say that having had the pleasure of briefly meeting him once.
Laurence is a bit of a double hitter, not only is her performance here superb, giving one of the most convincing portrayals of someone caught up in horriffic circumstances I have ever seen, but she is also incredibly gorgeous. It really is a sin that the only movie outside of the Hellraiser series in her CV I have even heard of is an Olivier Gruner straight to video martial arts western. She is interviewed on the DVD, and even today is still incredibly beatiful.
Musically speaking, the film has a great theme from Christopher Young, which really sets up the epic scale of the horrors the characters are faced with. It drives home the fact that they aren't dealing with just a serial killer, but truly unholy forces, unlike in some movies where they find a good score, it isn't overused either.
Special effects in the film are for the most part superb, considering the relatively low budget, although some of them haven't aged all that gracefully, but for a less-than-stellar budgeted movie made in the 80s, effects wise its great. The Cenobites themselves still look awesome, apart from Butterball, who looks a little rubbery, but on the whole the effects are of a high standard, and look a lot better than most 80s effects.
One thing that should be stated about the movie before I go any further, is that it's an incredibly gory affair, with hooks tearing skin and corpses regenerating all over the shop, definitely not one for the faint hearted or weak stomached.
On the whole, I can't give Hellraiser any less than full marks, it's incredibly enjoyable, enthralling and quite unlike any other horror movie out there. When people discuss 80s horror movies, it's often assumed they are slasher flicks, because horror movies that don't fit into that sub-genre weren't exactly prolifically produced in that decade, but Hellraiser is certainly more, much more than that.
If you are a fan of horror movies of all sorts, and of a strong stomach, chances are you will love Hellraiser. While it isn't the most action packed horror movie out there, it's great story, disturbing visuals, most notably the cenobites, and above average acting more than compensate for it.
My only complaint isn't with the movie itself, but with the actual DVD of it that came in my box-set. I tried it in my parents DVD player, where it didn't work, and was incredibly loud in trying to load, tried it in my XBox, where it loaded, but was loud, and in my DVD player, where it ran smoothly, but was louder than usual,(but not as loud as on the other two), none of the other discs in my box had this problem, so just warning any potential buyers that if you have an overly tempramental DVD player Hellraiser may give you some issues. But when I did get it working, I was treated to interviews with most of the cast, trailers, a commentary with Barker and Laurence amongst other goodies, so it ended up being worth it.
The horror/fantasy genre has been a notoriously difficult one in which to be genuinely original in for some time so its an event when something comes along that stands out as unusual. Most work is derivative for the most part, often exploitational to find an audience without the backing of a decent story. Hellraiser is a seminal movie from 1987 that finally gave the horror genre something fresh and new and became a franchise, catapulting the author Clive Barker into the long overdue limelight.
Frank Cotton is a man who lives life on the edge. With blurred boundaries of decency and a warped version of right and wrong, he purchases an ancient puzzle box that can supposedly take him to the very boundaries of ecstasy. However, on discovering its secret, he is taken instead to the depths of the Hell of pain and terror where horrific creatures impose the ultimate in sadomasochism in an alternate dimension of death and decay. Franks brother Larry moves into the empty house in which Franks soul is now trapped under the floorboards. Following an accident to his hand in which blood seeps through the floor, Franks soul absorbs the red corpuscles and starts to re-generate. Needing more blood to recover, he talks his ex-lover and wife of Larry - Julia - into helping him by luring lonely men to the bedroom and killing them in order for him to extract their blood. Meanwhile, his original captors and jailors - the cruel cenobites - are oblivious to his escape. Kirsty, Larrys daughter and Julias step daughter, stumbles upon the plot and flees to seek advice along with the puzzle box, recovered during a melee with the half-formed Frank. Unfortunately, she works out how to open it and is confronted by the Cenobites. Bargaining for her very soul, she tells them that she can lead them to Frank.
Written and directed by Clive Barker, Hellraiser was inspired by Barkers novella The Hellbound Heart. Exploring the boundaries of masochism and cruelty, the movie translated Barkers lurid imagination into a cinematic work of great craft and creativity. Not only is it a great story but the movie illustrates graphic horror in a form of exploitation that re-enforces the story rather than simply replacing it entirely as in so many low-budget horror flicks. For Barker himself, it went to show how multi-skilled he actually is through his books, movies, artwork and screenplays that have taken him from Liverpool to his home in Los Angeles.
For a low budget production, the cast is exemplary. Andrew Robinson is suitably naïve as Larry Cotton, Clare Higgins is despicably convincing as Frank Cottons partner in crime and both Sean Chapman (Frank Cotton) and Ashley Laurence (Kirsty Cotton) take their respective roles as the evil Frank and the impressionable teenager, Kirsty, to a level that makes the script work. The stars of the show are undoubtedly the Cenobites and, within that horrific entourage, Douglas Brady as Pinhead became one of the best known movie monsters of all time, ironically after nearly turning the role down in favour of one of the mattress movers instead so that the audience could see his actual face! Apart from the impressive acting for a horror movie, I adore some of the lines used in the movie including the seminal quote from Pinhead when confronting Kirsty in the hospital ward. As Pinhead and the others surround a frightened Kirsty, having assured her that We have such sights to show you, Pinhead utters in a gravelly voice "We will tear your soul apart".
The main set pieces are breathtaking. From Franks initial encounter in which he becomes lanced through various parts of his body skin by numerous meat hooks, whilst a rotating totem is covered in dead flesh and blood, to the explosive finale which must depict one of the most painful exits in cinema history, Barkers imagination is allowed to run riot, taking the audience to the very depths of Hades and a closer inspection of its demons. So typical of the author, the movie is full of symbols and hidden meanings, hence the presence throughout of the locust eating tramp and his closing challenge Whats your pleasure, sir?
The only drawback with the movie is that the restricted budget meant that some of the scenes arent quite as convincing as others and the special effects fall short of what might have been possible with more money. In particular, Kirstys struggle with one of the rather ugly minions from Hell looks like a battle with a muppet-esque creation of Frank Oz as opposed to anything more sinister, despite the frantic background music intended to pump up the viewers adrenaline. Notwithstanding, on the whole the special effects and, in particular, costume and make up do a staggeringly good job of convincing us that there really are dark creatures from Hell and the metamorphosis of Frank from abandoned skeleton to half-formed creature is as impressive as it is creative.
Hellraiser went on to spawn a whole sequence of progressively worse sequels although the second movie was equally as good as its original. With a great, sweeping musical score from Christopher Young, the movie transported an original concept and a unique author into the public eye and proved a watershed in its genre. Many movies have tried to imitate it since but none can match that special magic that came with this outstanding British creation from the late 80s. At only 94 minutes long with an 18 certificate, this is a movie for adults only. Ive seen the movie several times now including a recent TV re-run and simply love it. In 2006 Clive Barker announced that he was to write a re-make of the original movie, presumably to release a bigger budget production for a whole, new audience. We await with baited breath and for fans of horror/fantasy, the original remains a must-see. For everyone else, this is one for horror fanatics only due to the gore and violence. Be careful, this movie could tear your soul apart.
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More info at:www.hellraiserthemovie.com/
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Its now the best part of twenty years since Clive Barker released the first installement of the Hellraiser chronicles on an unsuspecting public, and boy it tells.
Adapted from the book, the Hellbound Heart, Barker had created an intriguing web of characters, as loathsome as they were redeemable, all the characters had edges that raised them from typical horror film cannon fodder to the level of almost sympathetic. At many points in the film you are left wondering who are the good guys and who the bad! In the brilliantly perverse uncle Frank, here you have a character that truly is more repulsive than Pinhead himself (a theme that all subsequent directors in the Hellraiser series have tried to adhere to).
But the downside is that, due to the original budget restraints, this film now appears somewhat dated. The moments that made you scream out loud as a kid have been far suppassed by CGI effects. Don't get me wrong, this is not a slight against this movie (which still remains the most imaginative horror movie in a long, long time) but against the movie industry that has now raised our expectations of the appearance of a film.
Hellraiser is an excellent horror film which deserves to be in a genre all on its own. The creation of the sick and twisted Clive Barker, this film is based on his short novel the Hellbound Heart. Released in 1987 the film was made on a shoe string budget and became a springboard for Barker to enter the world of cinema. It lasts a standard ninety minutes, an hour and a half of tense, horrific and dreamlike story telling. The plot surrounds Frank Cotton a bit of a dodgy geezer who solves a puzzle box and opens the gateway to hell. Hideous guardians of the torture chambers of hell, called Cenobites, are responsible for all the souls. Consequently when Frank escapes hell with the help of his brother Larry's wife (who does a good impression of Lady Macbeth) the Cenobites want him back. Enter dimwitted daughter of Larry who obligingly re-opens the box and then sells out her evil uncle to get Pinhead and his Cenobites to allow her to live. The plot sounds weird and complicated but it is done convincingly and provides the right mix of revelation and mystery. What really made this film popular was the invention of Pinhead and the Cenobites, terrifyingly hideous characters well versed in the arts of torture and suffering, like a powerful gang of S&M extremists but much more scary. Their characters are expanded further in later films Hellbound: Hellraiser II and Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (or perhaps hell on video). Although this film is cheap Barker writes and directs and he really knows what he is doing. The locations chosen are all good and suitably creepy, the effects are cheap but convincing, the use of imagery and sound to unsettle the viewer is excellent (especially the scene where the daughter, Kirsty, is in the hospital). The film builds the tension slowly, an accident when Larry and his wife are moving into his mother's old house allows Frank to begin his return to life. There is an excellent display of acting from
Clare Higgins as Julia, and her descent into evil is well documented as she helps Frank with his evil schemes. The rest of the acting is fairly poor but this is never allowed to spoil the film, although I do find Ashley Laurence, who plays Kirsty, very irritating. The mystery and creepiness surrounding Pinhead and the Cenobites is increased by the short amount of screen time they have and yet they are still the most memorable feature of the film. All of the cenobites look genuinely frightening and the scenes showing Frank as he returns to 'normal' are fantasticly well done. This film is an original horror masterpiece and it is a great shame that a bunch of halfwits had to step in and ruin the franchise. This film is written and directed by Barker but the sequels get progressively worse, Hellraiser II is based on a story by Barker and includes him as one of two Executive Producers, it still feels like the creation of Barker and there are some nice touches but it is not up to the standard of the first film. Hellraiser III is based on characters created by Barker and again lists him as an Executive Producer but it has lost the intensity and rawness of the earlier films and does not really follow on from part two. Any horror fan who is yet to discover Pinhead must go and watch this film now. One of the few imaginitive and enjoyable alternatives to the classic slasher flick this is a horror film with some style and gravity about it. Barker's conception of horror is a great deal more horrible than most people can imagine and yet he cleverly weaves in the usual human problems of adultery, jealousy and devotion to create a well balanced and unsettling film.
This is a low-budget master piece. Horrifying, violent and sad. The story line could have been a little more revealing with regards to the cenobites, perhaps avoiding its sequel "Hellbound". Those monsters with their torn twisted flesh and decorative piercings. *Possible Spoilers ahead* The story begins with Frank cotton, an explorer of forbidden pleasures, purchasing an old puzzle box from a run down market-place. He takes it home, solves it after hours of trial and error and is shown what pian and pleasure really are. His remains lay under the floorboards of his house's upstairs and rot away while his spirt is suffuring un-imaginable pain elswhere. His "soft" brother "Larry" and his adulterous wife, "julia" move into the house, un-aware of the events that occured not long before. When moving furnituer "Larry" inadvertidly ressurects the body of his dead brother, but he has no idea of this. Frank uses "Julia" to get victims so that he can feed in a vampire-ish way in order to rebuild his body, but meanwhile Larry's daughter "Kirsty" release the Cenobites and makes a deal with them....to deliver Frank. Well, I've said too much already, lets just say it is the scariest move I have ever seen. Not like the "Exorsist" which was a little bit over-rated in its fear factor, but uses the phsycollogical end of things to scare you in a profound and ir-reversable way. Other information about this movie is that it origionated from the novella "The Hellbound Heart" which was written by Clive Barker (who also directed Hellraiser"). The story is almost identical, though the book concentrates more on the relationship between Frank, Julia and Larry and how the marrige deteriorates. The movie is about Franks struggle to become human agian. Overall, this movie is one of the greats. A horror classic. The
sequells have stolen the feeling that Barker tried to install in the movie by takeing the cenobites and making them the stars. And a franchise is born...
The spine chilling tale of a man brought partially back to life by the blood of his brother. He befriends his sister-in-law who agrees to supply him with the blood he requires to live, but he is still haunted by the evil forces which held him captive in death.