It’s Halloween time (close enough, jerk bags!) so I’m turning the Coroner’s Report into a horror column! Wait what? Exactly. This is always a horror column, because that kind of thing is my bag, baby. But now it’s also part of the 31 Days of Horror and in honor of that, I’m jumping into the way back machine and traveling to 1987 to bring you an in-depth look at Clive Barker’s Hellraiser.
This dark, gothic horror film follows Larry, his daughter Kirsty, and his second wife Julia as they move into a house previously occupied by the bad boy brother Frank. Written for the page and the screen by Clive Barker, who also directed, Hellraiser gave birth to one of the iconic characters of the genre: Pinhead. He’s what’s known as a Cenobite, an interdimensional traveler who bills himself as an angel to some, a demon to others. If your religion is all about hooks tearing your body apart, he’s an angel. If that’s your idea of hell, well…
At my count, six people are killed, though when you’re dealing with resurrections and demons, some people are bound to be killed twice.
We get to see a good bit of gore and blood, there is a gross, sticky skeleton rebirth that is awesome, full of goo. A hammer takes out a few guys via a blow to the head, there’s some bloody bodies, a gross walking corpse, dead rats, and a stabbing. The best ills are the Cenobites themselves, which at the time were inventive, awesome, and unique BDSM demons. There’s also a cool ass creepy monster flesh-scorpion. And a dragon. No joke.
We see a boob in a photo and then there is some sex that includes a nipple, some butt, and an old man’s ass in tight white briefs. To be honest, I’d almost prefer no nudity, because the woman we see naked is outside of my jerk-zone. Because she’s old, you see.
I guess don’t mess with a cursed puzzle box, but I still haven’t solved my Rubik’s Cube so I’m not really worried about this one.
Hellraiser is kind of mandatory viewing for horror fans. Not really because of its quality level, but because it’s just iconic. Clive Barker is a master of the written word (and the painted picture), though that hasn’t already translated into something amazing on screen. Hellraiser is good,but not great. The story is a bit disjointed at points and, by today’s standards, the actual murders are very tame.
Where the film shines though, and merits your attention, is in the moments when the Cenobites are around or when Frank first returns to life. Barker’s twisted imagination has birthed some beautifully disgusting creatures that are brought to life on the screen in a way that needs to be seen. Sure, by now you’re familiar with a few of them, but they’re still awe inspiring when they appear on screen. My favorite monster in the film is what I call the “flesh scorpion,” a big mass of heads, parts, and gross that chases Kirsty around. Awesome.
With groundbreaking visuals, excellent creature design, and a great gothic vibe, Hellraiser is a film you need to see before you can collect your horror badge. Gather up some squeamish friends and pop it in this Halloween. While I personally don’t love the film as a whole, the last 25 or so minutes are a great, twisted ride.