Friday, October 16, 2015

Movie Review: "Hellraiser" (1987)

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Director: Clive Barker
Year: 1987
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes

A rather despicable man named Frank (Sean Chapman) comes into the possession of a puzzle box that is said to open a world of unimaginable sensory stimulation. Frank gets more than he bargained for when he solves it, allowing a group of demons known as Cenobites to drag him into their world of torture. When Frank's brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) moves into their family home with his wife Julia (Claire Higgins), who had a secret affair with Frank, he cuts his hand on a lose nail. His blood dripping on the floor allows Frank to escape from the Cenobites. Now, Frank needs more blood to fully restore his body and he convinces his former lover Julia to bring him victims so they can be together long as the Cenobites don't discover he's missing.

Clive Barker is a pretty well known name to horror fans despite the fact he has only directed three feature length films in his entire career up to this point. Most of his notoriety came with the film "Hellraiser," which was his feature length debut. This movie is a true mastery of character design, gore, and makeup work, and the effort put into these elements is what has made this film so memorable. Even though the story's primary focus is on the character of Frank, played by Sean Chapman, and him manipulating Julia, played by Claire Higgins, into murdering people so he can drink their blood and return from the dead, it is his tormentors, the Cenobites, with their twisted S&M leather-clad look, especially their leader, the now iconic Pinhead, played by Doug Bradley, that really made a lasting impression on the audience and an impact in the world of horror movies. The look of these demons is just so creepy and menacing. They really are horrific, but they aren't the only ones. Frank himself in his incomplete, Zombiesque form is truly disgusting to look at as a viewer. His initial appearance is only slightly more than a skeleton with a little bit of meat on his bones, and as Frank regenerates more the more blood he drinks, he turns into his almost final look as fully sized man, just sans his skin. All of the characters in this film are quite creepy and stick out in our minds as some of the best looking horror antagonists to date, ranking high up there with the Freddy Kruger's of the world. There is a lot of oozing and bubbling of bodily fluids and blood as well as other grotesque imagery, all of which is sure to give you the willies. Julia's step-daughter Kirsty, played by Ashley Laurence, is the closest this film has to a hero character. She is the one who uncovers Frank and Julia's wicked plan, but it isn't until the second half of the film where she becomes a major character as she inadvertently summons the Cenobites. When push comes to shove, you aren't going to find a whole lot of complex plot here. There aren't many twists and turns but the visual horror is so great, you won't even care that the story is basic. This is definitely a good choice for viewing during Halloween week.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 63%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
Two years ago, we were watching: "Pieces"

One year ago, we were watching: "Rosemary's Baby"

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