Apr 07


Year: 1987
Country: USA

Director: Clive Barker
Starring: Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Sean Chapman, Oliver Smith


It will tear your soul apart


Frank Cotton is an adventurous deviant who is never satisfied and always on the chase after some new undiscovered thrills. His seeking has led him to Morocco where he is able to get his hands on a mysterious puzzle box that is supposed to hold the secret of all things please and pain, and that’s exactly what he got.

Back in the states, Frank’s brother Larry and his wife Julia is moving into his childhood home. It doesn’t take long before Julia is getting a sense of Frank’s present and due to her lust for him and lack of love for Larry, she is able to bring Frank back and he is not coming alone.

In the last half of the 80’s, horror became more and more reliant on special effects and catered more towards the teenage crowd. While Hellraiser has some brilliant special effects, the film deals with mature issues and was more darker than the average horror film that was being made at the time. The addition of S&M elements was also quite new and fresh to the horror scene, although pleasure and pain has played a part in several earlier films in the genre of course, Hellraiser was able to bring it more into the spotlight by becoming a huge success. Even Stephen King had to give it props and named Clive Barker the new face of horror.

Even if the content might be more geared towards adults, the iconic cenobites characters lead by Pinhead would make any teenage horror fan want to see this film. The strange and morbid creatures doesn’t show up before the third part of the film, but their presence is striking and these are characters that are still loved today, even if there hasn’t been a new Hellraiser film that has made the fans happy for years.

Take away the cenobites and the story is basically a family drama, although a very bloody one. The first hour of the film deals with the unfaithful relationship between Julia and Frank, with Larry being a trusty husband being betrayed on the side and his daughter Kirsty not trusting or accepting his relationship with her new stepmum from the get-go.

Clive Barker both wrote and directed this film, something he has rarely done. He has only directed three full features films, this one, Nightbreed and Lords of Illusions. All solid efforts, which makes me wonder why he didn’t continue to work behind the camera. He gets some good performances out of his actors and the production seems very focused and executed nicely. There is also an incredible soundtrack done by Christopher Young for this film.

Hellraiser is an 80’s horror classic that doesn’t feel like most other horror films of the decade. It is unique, grim and takes a different approach of displaying horror. If you love horror films and haven’t seen this yet, then I don’t know what you are waiting for.




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