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SADO-MASOCHISM & GORE
Member Name: MrQuomps
Date: 26/11/08, updated on 30/08/09 (446 review reads)
Advantages: Visually striking
Disadvantages: It may scare you. If you are a girl ;-)
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.
Summary: It will tear your soul apart