Having made his reputation as one of the most prolific and gifted horror writers of his generation (prompting Stephen King to call him "the future of horror"), Clive Barker made a natural transition to movies with this aud... more »acious directorial debut from 1987. Not only did Barker serve up a chilling tale of devilish originality, he also introduced new icons of horror that since have become as popular among genre connoisseurs as Frankenstein's monster and the Wolfman. Foremost among these frightful visions is the sadomasochistic demon affectionately named Pinhead (so named because his pale, bald head is a geometric pincushion and a symbol of eternal pain). Pinhead is the leader of the Cenobites, agents of evil who appear only when someone successfully "solves" the exotic puzzle box called the Lamont Configuration--a mysterious device that opens the door to Hell. The puzzle's latest victim is Frank (Sean Chapman), who now lives in a gelatinous skeletal state in an upstairs room of the British home just purchased by his newlywed half-brother (Andrew Robinson, best known as the villain from Dirty Harry), who has married one of Frank's former lovers (Claire Higgins). The latter is recruited to supply the cannibalistic Frank with fresh victims, enabling him to reconstitute his own flesh--but will Frank succeed in restoring himself completely? Will Pinhead continue to demonstrate the flesh-ripping pleasures of absolute agony? Your reaction to this description should tell you if you've got the stomach for Barker's film, which has since spawned a number of interesting but inferior sequels. It's definitely not for everyone, but there's no denying that it's become a semiclassic of modern horror. --Jeff Shannon« less
Chad B. (abrnt1) from CABERY, IL Reviewed on 10/6/2010...
essential viewing for any fan of the horror genre.
1 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
James B. (wandersoul73) from LINDALE, TX Reviewed on 6/11/2009...
Purly awesome! This one will crawl into your brain.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
More gore with your compelling storyline? Yes, please
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 08/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hellraiser is an extreme horror lover's dream come true. Clive Barker's unique vision marked a virtual rebirth of the genre at a time when slasher sequels were the fun, yet predictable, norm. Although the premiere setting for viewing this movie is a crowded theater of screamers (and sick puppies like myself who find humor in gore), one can still achieve a quite satisfactory effect watching this movie alone in the dark. Some horror creators rely on blood and gore for its own sake, others rely on the story itself to produce the desired effect. Clive Barker is one of the few horror geniuses who can make copious amounts of gore an integral and necessary part of the story. Hellraiser can be deliciously gross, so those with weak stomachs should beware. It features rats; decayed, maggot-infested meat; and copious amounts of blood--and that's just the teaser. Later there are acts of cold-blooded murder, human dismemberment by arrays of chains, a partially formed, pus-dripping, oozing carcass, and then the incredible Cenobites themselves.The movie at its simplest level is a retelling of a story that goes back to Goethe's Doctor Faustus and beyond--when you sell your soul to evil forces, you will regret it. Frank Cotton is a despicable, uncaring man who has grown bored with life's most extreme pleasures. When he hears about and eventually acquires a puzzle box which can open the door to a new world of perverse pleasures, he finds out that one man's pleasure is another man's pain under the tutelage of the Cenobites. Somehow, he manages to escape the other world, and when his brother's blood is spilled in his chamber of horrors, his body begins to reform itself. More blood is required to complete the job, and his brother's wife Julia supplies it by picking up men at bars and bringing them home for Frank's nourishment. The prim and proper Julia was ravaged by Frank soon before her wedding to Frank's brother Larry, and she enjoyed the experience so much that she will do anything to get Frank restored to vaguely human-looking life. Larry's daughter Kirsty, played by Ashley Laurence in her motion picture debut, discovers what is going on and manages to get her hands on the puzzle box. When she is introduced to the Cenobites, the fun truly begins. The Hellraiser series degraded into a sad mimicry of itself in later movies, but the original vision personally sculpted by the masterly hands of writer and director Clive Barker is a horror masterpiece. The Cenobites are one of the most unusual, fascinating "bad guys" ever dreamed up in the imagination of man. They really don't appear too often in this film, and Pinhead (played by the great Doug Bradley) is never referred to by this name even in the credits. When they do appear, with Pinhead enunciating such great statements as "No tears, please. It is just a waste of good suffering" and "We will tear your soul apart," they are truly horrifying, mysterious, and larger than life. Less is definitely more when it comes to the prominence of Pinhead and his demonic associates in the movie. Those who dislike horror probably have sense enough to stay clear of Hellraiser. Those of us who revel in extreme horror delight in watching it. If you are an intermediate-level horror fan initiated by the Scream and Freddy/Michael/Jason movies, here is your chance to really test your horror mettle."
"What's your pleasure Mr. Cotton?"
N. Durham | Philadelphia, PA | 10/23/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Be forewarned that this review is primarily for the DVD release of Hellraiser, not the film itself. It's no secret that Anchor Bay has done an excellent job bringing classic and cult horror films to DVD, even if it's over and over again. The 20th Anniversary Edition of Clive Barker's Hellraiser adds a few new extras, while bringing over the same extras that were available from the older DVD release of the film. What's new here are the interviews with the film's stars Doug "Pinhead" Bradley, Andrew Robinson, and Ashley Laurence. Other than that, it's the same stuff that we had before, including the interesting commentary by Barker and Laurence. If you already own the previous release of Hellraiser, the new interviews alone aren't any reason to go out and pick this up whatsoever. Anchor Bay has quite a habit of double and triple dipping their DVD's (there is yet again another edition of the original Evil Dead on the way as well), and the 20th Anniversary Edition of Hellraiser is no different. As for the film itself, it's an excellent and original exercise in violent horror that still holds up 20 years later, and remains Clive Barker's crowning film achievement. If you don't already own Hellraiser on DVD, then by all means pick this edition up, but as said before, if you already own it, there's no reason to pick this edition up too."
Beautiful -- In A Completely Disgusting, Ugly Way...
Andrew Estes | Maine | 04/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Clive Barker's 1987 masterpiece, "Hellraiser," is a little more challenging than your average Freddy Or Jason movie. It bears little resemblance to what was popular in horror at the time, and yet it's still a hit, and still strikes a chord with a massive audience. If you've ever seen it, you can't forget it. As many times as I've seen it, I still get uncomfortable (in a good way) and find new things to appreciate.
"Hellraiser" is an extremely well made, mature movie that isn't for everyone, not even for every horror fan. There is no campy humor to it, no relief from the drama. It digs deep, and really brings to light just how ugly the world can be, and how cruel and senseless people can be, often under the spell of love. This is all performed, of course, by Julia and Frank (Claire Higgins and Sean Chapman), two very intense lovers who find themselves in a bind. See, it's not bad enough that Julia is actually married to all-around nice guy Larry (Andrew Robinson), who is in turn, Frank's brother, but apparently uncle Frank has a taste for the spicier things in life and finds himself in Hell after playing around with a puzzle (Pandora's Box, anyone?). In order to resurrect Frank, who is all but a mass of bloody tissue and bones, hiding out in an empty room in Larry's house, Julia lures innocent, albeit, horny men inside with the promise of a good romp. What they get, however, is usually a hit to the head with hammer, often repeatedly, and a visit with Frank, who sucks their blood from their body, which in turn makes him stronger and glues him back together, so to speak. However, there's a race against time here, as the Cenobites -- grotesque creatures of Hell who inflict unimaginable torture on anyone who solves the puzzle -- are looking for Frank after he escapes their clutches. Add to that, Larry's snoopy, attractive and intelligent daughter Kirsty (played by Ashley Laurence) is onto their scheme. Things get very dirty, very gross, and very bloody in the 93 minutes this movie runs. However, the gore (which is well acheived for it's time) is not what makes the movie crawl under your skin. It's the horrible things that Julia does for Frank, for her forbidden love. Just the fact that humans can be this ugly in real life is enough to make you uneasy. Aside from the far-fetched situation, this movie isn't that far removed from the real world. This vision, unfortunately, took a backseat in later sequels (starting with Part 3) to the character of Pinhead (whose name actually isn't mentioned in this installment) and the attempts to turn this into another "A Nightmare On Elm Street" type franchise failed miserably. I usually don't look down at horror sequels, I love 'em, but the only other installment that holds up as well as the original is part 2. But I digress.
"Hellraiser" is a fantastic film, one that any genre fan should see at least once. It's different, it's bold, and it's risky, but it works. It's very gloomy, so I recommend you put yourself in the right mood before watching it. Clive Barker crafted the perfect horror film here, and considering the current horror movie climate, this history lesson is worth repeating. It won't exactly "Tear your soul apart," but it will make you very uncomfortable."
A classic of the genre.
Edward Gordon Brown | 05/27/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1986, Clive Barker wrote a novella called "The Hellbound Heart" which was and by all means still is a brilliant example that in a space of roundabout 160 pages a skilled horrormaster like Barker can convey horror and suspense enough to shock and scare the reader. Barker is the same one who says that there are no new stories, only new ways to tell. It is a refreshingly original story rich in gruesome details. Then, in 1987, Barker himself got the opportunity to adapt his novel to the screen. This film immortalized the legendary villain called Pinhead, played by Doug Bradley. The film is just as gruesome as the book if not more. I'd say that I had no doubt the film would be faithful to the novel because after all it was the novel's writer who was directing the movie in the first place! I just rewatched Hellraiser last night and I reread the book today. It's short enough to be read in one sitting...and compelling enough, too! To me this film is a contemporary masterpiece of the genre. It's not only an excuse to show flayed, skinned glistening on screen, no. Unlike what others say, there is a story here too, and to me at least, it's a very original one. Andrew Robinson, Claire Higgins and Ashley Laurence give very good performances to back up this film...but the real heros behind it are director/writer Clive Barker and the special effects creator, Bob Keene. The scene with Frank's reanimation has got to be one of the grossest and most stunning effects I've ever seen. And also, considering this film only cost one million dollars to do, I think that that price was a bargain. Congratulations to all!"
Another great job by Anchor Bay!
D. J. Glen | Saint Louis, MO | 04/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I watched this Blu-ray last night and the picture quality is amazing and definitely on par with Anchor Bay's previous releases (Halloween '79, Dawn of the Dead '78, Day of the Dead '85 and Masters of Horror Season 1). I haven't checked out the special features yet, but this release is worth the price for picture quality alone. Anchor Bay have really set the bar. Now I wish they'd announce release dates for Hellraiser 2, Creepshow 2, The Hills Have Eyes ('77), the Phantasm films, Sleepaway Camp and Masters of Horror Season 2, not to mention Near Dark (which I think might now be licensed to Lionsgate). Thanks for a great job AB!!!"