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Hellraiser (1987)

DVD Cover (Image Entertainment)
Movie Connections:
Hellraiser
> Hellraiser (1987)
> Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
> Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth (1992)
> Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)
> Hellraiser: Inferno (2000)
> Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002)
> Hellraiser: Deader (2005)
> Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005)
> Hellraiser: Revelations (2011)
> Hellraiser: Judgment (2018)
Genres:
Horror, Sex Horror, Supernatural Horror
Director:
Clive Barker Clive Barker
Starring:
Andrew Robinson Andrew Robinson
Clare Higgins Clare Higgins
Ashley Laurence Ashley Laurence
Sean Chapman Sean Chapman
Oliver Smith Oliver Smith

7.4 / 10 - 40 votes

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An unfaithful wife encounters the zombie of her dead lover; the demonic cenobites are pursuing him after he escaped their sadomasochistic underworld. --IMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: September 11, 2004
In our opening scene, Frank (Sean Chapman) purchases the infamous puzzle-box from a shady merchant, and takes it to his house to play with it. Upon solving the puzzle, some chains come out of the walls, piercing his flesh. The cenobites come for him, and tear his body to pieces. We then fast-forward over to Larry (Andrew Robinson) and Julia Cotton (Claire Higgins), who have just moved into a new home, and it just so happens that this house was the one that was previously owned by Larry's brother Frank. As they're moving their things into the house, Julia decides to go upstairs and look around while Larry helps the moving-people bring their bed into the house. While trying to maneuver said bed up the stairs, Larry cuts the back of his hand on a nail that was protruding from the stair railing, causing massive amounts of blood to flow. Since he's a bit of a weenie when it comes to blood, he runs upstairs to find Julia and have her take care of it for him. The blood drops all over the floor, and is sucked down into it by some unknown force. Meanwhile, Larry's daughter Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) shows up to spend some time with her father, and we find out that her and Julia really don't get along very well. When do kids ever get along with their step-parents, hrmm? While those two are having some semblance of a conversation, Julia's mind keeps wandering back to her previous relationship with Frank; either she was with him before she got with Larry, or she was cheating on Larry with Frank. It's assumed that she was cheating on him, but it's never really mentioned one way or the other. After conversing with Kirsty for a while, Julia heads back up to the room where she was at when Larry came in bleeding, and discovers that Frank (Oliver Smith as the monster version) is back in the house now, but in a skinned zombie version. He tells her a portion of the cenobites story, and then goes on to tell her that Larry's blood brought him partially back to life (hence the no-skin deal), but he needs more in order to completely return to the land of the living. Due to her love for him, Julia decides to help out.

The storyline given here was quite nice, however, I can't say whether or not it stayed faithful to the original novel by Clive Barker. Since he directed the movie adaptation as well, I'd imagine it did; but I've not read the book, so no promises. The only real problem with the movie version was that it took a bit of time to get started; it focuses too much on Larry's relationship with Julia and Julia's obsessing over Frank. While those parts of the story certainly do deserve some air-time in order to get the point across, I think that those scenes could have been cut in half at least; the point was made, hammered home, and delivered a few more times just to be safe. Thankfully though, the storyline picked up and kept a nice pace after that slowness was finished up.

One thing that really surprised me upon my rewatching of this, was that the effects used here are a great deal better than those found in the sequels that came out more than a decade after the release of this one. You'd think that the technology to do gore effects would get better over time, not worse. The real winner in that category was the skinned version of Frank that was found throughout most of the running-time. While I've never seen a skinned man in person, it looks very similar to what I'd imagine one would look like, and the Cenobites that are found here are also great. I'm sure that we're all familiar with Pinhead (Doug Bradley), and he looks the same as in the other entries into the series. There's also a "Chattering" Cenobite (Nicholas Vince), and in my opinion, he comes off as looking even nicer than Pinhead himself. Some very good work done on his character, indeed. Then, there's the "Butterball" Cenobite (Simon Bamford), who looked decent enough, though I personally wasn't too fond of his look. Not that it was bad, just didn't do it for myself. Finally, there's the Female Cenobite (Grace Kirby), who (with the exception of a hole in her throat) doesn't look very different than a normal human. That was a bit of a disappointment in the looks department, but she did make the character much better with her actions and speaking lines.

I can't speak on the sequel that directly followed this as I haven't seen it in ages, but this one easily tops the other numerous sequels that followed it. Only a small stretch of slowness to bring things down a bit, but otherwise, this was quite the nice horror film and I believe that it deserves it's "classic" status. 8/10.
Recommended Movies
Hellbound: Hellraiser II Hellraiser: Hellseeker Hellraiser: Deader Nightbreed Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth
Hellraiser: Inferno Hellraiser: Hellworld Hellraiser: Revelations Rawhead Rex Book Of Blood
Children Of The Corn Muck Bordello Of Blood Candyman House II: The Second Story
Bluesummers #1: Bluesummers - added 03/07/2005, 03:47 AM
Here's something. Clive Barker's probably one of the best authors ever. The Hellbound Heart was an excellent little novella, and is perfect for a movie. Though the written word does make the terror more...palpable as the human imagination fills in the Cenobites' appearance, they aren't the characters (something the second sequel lost). This is a story about humanity, or lack thereof. What people will do for their own kicks. Scarier than any Hell imaginable, in my opinion. LeMarchand's Box (forgive any spelling errors) is something wonderful and terrifying. It's in every human's nature to look for things...yet the lesson is, we can very well mess ourselves up by it.

Great movie. The first sequel is pretty good, and the series should have ended there. However, I say see this, and then maybe read the book. The man can write, and direct. So enjoy!

Author's Note: The Cenobites are some of the creepiest things ever. S&M freaks from the Moon, I call them. Or something. FREEEEEAKEEEEE!
Big D #2: Big D - added 08/20/2005, 11:41 PM
Ah, yes. The birth of the pin-faced guy. (That's what I call the enemy from the Hellraiser series...don't ask.) Classic.
Tristan #3: Tristan - added 05/03/2006, 09:14 PM
I think they usually just call him Pinhead.
I think this is the first horror movie I ever saw when I was little. Loved it.
Dametria #4: Dametria - added 04/24/2007, 11:26 AM
The original never did anything for me. This os one case where the sequels were way better. Number 4 was actually the best
Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #5: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added 10/24/2008, 09:20 AM
To me, this could have easily been one of the greatest horror movies ever if only the story wasn't so underdeveloped... and if there was some better acting. As it is, it still has much going for it thanks to the awesomely gruesome effects.

7.5/10
Optimus Prime #6: Optimus Prime - added 10/09/2009, 04:14 PM
Just started watching all of these. Should of watched them sooner. Love it, 9/10.
Crispy #7: Crispy - added 01/04/2011, 10:35 AM
Thought it was pretty meh the first time I saw it, but I realized that I had expected Pinhead and Co. to be in more of a direct slasher role. Watching it again, and appreciating it for what it is, I absolutely love it.
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