Dir: Clive Barker
Star: Ashley Lawrence, Doug Bradley, Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins.
Cert / Year: 18 - R / 1987
Format: VIDEO

Hellraiser begins with Frank Cotton, an enthusiast in the dark arts acquiring a fabled puzzle box known as The Lament Configuration or Lemarchandís box (after the French toymaker who designed and made it). After spending hours in a dark, candlelit room unsuccessfully trying to solve the puzzle, he succeeds in opening it and gets a lot more than he bargained for. The box supposedly contained wonders, power and the ultimate of experiences, pain and pleasure indefeasible as one, well it does...sort of, it summons the Cenobites the priests of the Sadean order and theologians of the order of Gash, and they do educate him in experience.

Franks brother, Larry (Andrew Robinson) moves into the house soon afterwards with his new wife Julia (Claire Higgins) as a means for them to have a fresh start away from the USA. Whilst moving their furniture Larry has an accident and cuts his hand and finding Julia standing silently in the attic room where he insists that she takes a look at the large wound (The wussy can't stand the sight of blood) seeping blood onto the bare wooden floor.

The blood on the floorboards awakens something which soaks up all of the blood and after an amazing "rebirth" most of Frank is back from the dead. Later discovered by Julia, Frank explains to her what happened to him and that he needs more blood in oredr for him to be whole again. Julia agrees to help him and it turns out that she slept with Frank the day before she got married to Larry. To complicate matters for Julia further, Larry's daughter Kirsty (Ashley Lawrence) is keeping an eye on her for her father. After a while Kirsty finds out what is going on and after being threatened by a none too healthy looking Uncle Frank, she steals the puzzle box from him and runs away. A short time later Kirsty manages to solve the box and promptly meets the Cenobites with whom she makes a deal to let them have Frank if they let her go. The rest you will have to see for yourself.....

In the words of Pinhead " We Have Such Sights To Show You!" and he wasnít kidding!. 1987 saw the release of a film that broke just about all of the moulds at the time. In a decade where American Slasher flicks were ruling the box office. British author Clive Barker, who was disappointed by the big screen adaptation of his story "Rawhead Rex" which he saw as an "unmitigated disaster". He decided that his best option was to make a film himself from one of his books, that way he was certain that the story would remain intact not to mention scare the audience. This in mind he set about adapting his novella "The Hellbound Heart" for a big screen outing. Barker eventually found funding for the project from producers Christopher Figg and Christopher Webster and production began on Hellraiser.

I have to admit that I feel that Hellraiser is a modern masterpiece of horror cinema. From the dramatic and chilling opening music by Christopher Young, all of the rollercoaster way till the end. The story although it has been suggested has Faustian elements (a deal with the devil, an attempt to escape final judgement which ends in bloodshed) is original and Clive Barker has provided a magnificent vessel of horror. Barkerís direction is that of a true artist he took as much if not more pride in the film as he obviously did in the book, and although the film is low budget (only occasionally noticeable) it stands as a shining example to other films of the genre. For a change here is a film driven by it's story and not by it's budget, effects or stars.

This film provided us all with a new "horror icon" Pinhead was originally only referred to as "lead Cenobite" but after his brief performance he somehow managed to capture the attention of fans around the world. Pinhead is superbly played by Doug Bradley, an actor who managed to bring so much to a brief role, that it made him a horror icon for the modern age. As with most of his predecessors including Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and even Boris Karloff, Bradley has a unique presence that is quite inescapable. A vocal tone that as well as being quite subdued and sincere is also menacing and what is more he is British (splendid). The Cenobites make up, courtesy of Bob Keen is quite stunning, remarkable and truly disturbing and well worth mentioning.

Basically, if you havenít already seen Hellraiser it is most likely to scare the Ka Ka out of you, but it will also leave you with the memory of a truly remarkable film. One or two special effects are the only thing that has let this film down.

Thank You Clive Barker......Please Do More!


We'll Tear Your Soul Apart

Rating: 4 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Link Back Top Home