OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets


Hellraiser (1987)

"Take it... the box! It's yours! ... ...it always was..."

...and so we are introduced to the main "protagonist" of the first Hellraiser movie - the box.

This is by far the best movie in the franchise - its creativity and uncompromising ...honesty (an honesty of flesh and mind, reflected in the camerawork and the imagery used) mark the, in my opinion, absolute zenith of horror in the 80s - and, mind you, I still think it's one of the masterpieces the genre has produced. There are not a lot of movies, modern or otherwise, who are able to evoke the same feeling as Clive Barker's Hellraiser did and still does.

Speaking of the camerawork and the pictures - beautiful. This is a 1987 movie we are talking about, and the suspense and effects are far better than in most modern horror flicks I've watched (and trust me, it's a lot).

That goes for the gore as well. Hooks lodging themselves in weak, human flesh... chains dangling from the ceiling, pieces of flesh on them, eternally turning, clanging, turning... flesh dripping from those hooks and chains... fingers, tenderly searching through the pieces.

And Pinhead - carressing the puzzle box - using it, so that he and the other Cenobites can use the dead one forever, in order to teach...

Enter Julia and Larry.

Julia and Larry move into his (Larry's) old family's house... which happens to be the place where Frank, Larry's dead brother, opened a gate to hell by means of the puzzle box. What Larry doesn't know, although he suspects his brother (he doesn't know that he's ...somewhere else now) of being a bit of a perverted fucktard, is that his very own wife, Julia, had a heated affair with his own dear brother. And that she still loves the nasty boy that is... was... Frank.

The lighting in the movie is beautiful, as are the pictures and the editing (but I think I already mentioned the pictures... sorry, overwhelmed with joy).

We also get treated to softcore knife play... nice. And although I don't find the actors attractive, it is quite an erotic scene - all the little details, like the 9-inch-nail (a subtle foreshadowing of Pinhead's presence?), the knife, the using of Julia, her submissive behaviour and begging... those are the things that make it erotic. In a very special way, if you get my meaning.

Larry obviously is a wuss. He cuts himself on a nail... and AAAAWWWWWWWWW I AM BLEEDING!
...how terrible.

But the blood, in this instance, is not wasted... not at all. Instead, it is used to free someone - an accursed, damned denizen of the Cenobite's Hell... Frank.

And, as you can see above: The gore is fucking awesome. Remember, this is the 80s we're talking about, and Hellraiser is still one of the goriest movies I can name off the top of my hat. It is just beautiful beyond words. More movies need slime. And slimy things.

The sound effects also are a source of joy... whispering, hollow sounds that seem to speak and may speak but don't, heartbeats... and a soundtrack that just kills you.

And Julia sure is one good girl. A good, devout girl that follows her boyfriend's - (un)dead boyfriend's - every single command.

Like... feeding him with the blood of human victims.

"Will you do it?"

"Yes... I will."


Something that is really striking me is that the scenes depicting Julia more often than not only show her legs - her torso is left completely out of the picture. Is it a fetish thing? Is it some sort of symbolism that explains Julia's heartless nature to us? Is it supposed to show us that she's just an object - an object willingly subjected and devoted to Frank's lusts and desires? I personally favour a combination of the three, and I am sure that there are other interpretations than those that my brain spews forth.

We also get treated to highly surreal but extremely beautiful scenes.

Pretty, isn't it?

Julia on her way to seduce guys... for what reason, you may ask? After all, she is married AND has an (un?)dead lover up in the attic...

Plus, I am sorry to say it, but the whole business-woman look is sort of hot. No, I don't think that Julia, aka Clare Higgins is hot (she is old! She has a weird look! She is... old! She has 80s hair!), but the outfit... erm. Yes. I am going to stop now. Otherwise, this might not be a proper review anymore.

This, dear males, is why you should never trust women who just want to take you home:

Remember: Women can be cruel. Especially when we're in love... and even more so when we're in love with (un?)dead sadomasochistic creatures from hell.

At this point, I want to add that I probably already watched this movie about 20 times, and I still don't know whether to classify Frank as dead or as undead. Well, one consolation - he certainly isn't alive (...or is he?!), so I only have to choose between those two options.

The character I personally dub "Nyarlathotep the Younger"... for various reasons. If you're a fan of Lovecraft (as you SHOULD be), you'll probably understand why after watching the movie and... well, knowing about Nyarlathotep.

This, gentlemen, is a lady who wants to fuck a corpse (well, technically...) and is willing to do anything to reach that goal.

Behold... the puzzle box. And beware of the pleasures it holds...

...pain and pleasure combined into one - one terrifying and deadly, satisfying feeling of the mingling between life and death, pleasure and pain, love and hate... intense emotions.

Sheesh, I'm becoming all writer-y again. Working on a story and then writing a review seems to make my writing style seep over into the business of reviewing horror. Not that it's a real business, mind you, but... you know what I mean. At least I hope I managed to express myself without too many problems...

Actually, most of the movie consists of the same scenes over and over again. Julia killing/injuring people for Frank, Frank killing people to regain his flesh, Kirsty being all "something is WRONG!", Larry being an ignorant husband (as was established from the beginning)... but this doesn't take anything away from the suspense and utter beauty that is Hellraiser. In a way, this repetitiveness actually helps to establish the mood of the movie - hypnotic.

"It's me, Uncle Frank..."

"Some things have to be endured... and that's what makes the pleasure so SWEET..."

The flower... beautiful symbolism. A symbolism with so many layers that I can't even go into it without making this review into a thesis on how red flowers blooming mean lots of different things in this movie... how they describe a multi-layered reality and different meanings behind the movie and its script or even the original story by Clive Barker on which it (the movie and the script) was based on. Suffice it to say that the terms "life" and "death" only describe a minimum of the symbolism these particular scenes are infused with. I invite you to watch it and judge for yourself. Philosophy students are more than welcome to post their opinions ;)

And I also want to reiterate that the visuals of Hellraiser are some of the best and most enchanting I've ever seen.

Escaping Frank with the puzzle box, Kirsty collapses in panic. Dazed and confused, she wanders through the streets, holding on to it. When she finally breaks down, she is brought into a hospital, where she first doesn't believe that what she experienced was true - until the doctors hand her the box. And of course, as soon as she's alone with the puzzle box in the hospital, she starts playing with it. And we all know what that means: Hell is about to get raised (sorry, pun intended, although I know it's a bad one).

"The box. You opened it. We came."

Pinhead just RULEZ. If there's any entity in horror movies that is just so distanced and matter-of-fact like he is, I will have to start worshipping that one. Until such a time comes, Pinhead still is on top of my list of villains. His detached way of viewing the world of the living flesh is just... brilliant. Other horror movie villains hate, show passion and anger, or are demented. He, on the other hand, is just mildly interested. A tad curious, maybe, but that's it. And that's what makes him so awesome.

Yes. In case you didn't gather it yet, I'm a big Pinhead fan.

Ehm. On with the review at hand.

Kirsty strikes a deal with the Cenobites - she solved the box, and so she should accompany them to hell. However, she manages to convince them that if Frank - Frank, he who escaped from Hell against the Cenobites' wishes and desires - admits that he escaped, they will take him back instead of her.

Promptly, she runs back to her house, demanding to see her father... who, at that point isn't exactly her dad anymore. Frank has taken his skin. Literally. And the Cenobites want him back - they are a bit pissed off.

The beauty of this movie is that no one is innocent of guilt. Kirsty strikes a deal with demonic beings (well... demons to some, angels to others), her father is just dumb and ignorant, Frank is a veritable human monster, Julia is a soulless, murdering bitch, and Pinhead and the other Cenobites aren't exactly nice fluffy bunnies either. This is not Good vs. Evil - this is monstrosity and evil and guilt and desire and darkness on different levels.

Later on in the movie, we get to witness one truly suspenseful cat-and-mouse scene with two absolutely unique and unexpected jump scares.

Suffice it to say... the Cenobites get what they want: Dear old uncle Frank (as if there had been any doubt of that).

"Jesus wept..."

And... a truly unique ending that leaves us smiling.

Long story short: Awesome movie. Truly awesome movie. Everything just ...fits. There really isn't much more to say than that. If you haven't seen Hellraiser yet (shame on you), then go, leave the house now and get the uncut version for ultimate joy and a truly great movie.

10/10 chains with hooks lodging into flesh coming out of nowhere, controlled by Pinhead's will