A man looking for ultimate pleasure opens a mysterious puzzle box and literally unleashes Hell on Earth. His partially re-animated corpse convinces his lover — his brother’s wife — to bring him victims to feed on in order to regrow his flesh.
Judging a Book by its Cover
-Tear my soul apart? That sounds delightful! Let us go see this wonderful film!
-I can’t tell if he’s happy or upset that he solves his funky rubik’s cube. He does have nails in his head so I’m leaning towards not happy.
-Dude is seriously scary looking though.
-Is he hiding in my shed?
They’ll tear your soul apart!
Directed by Clive Barker
Starring Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Sean Chapman and Doug Bradley
The film opens in a smokey den where a man named Frank (Chapman) eagerly purchases a curious puzzle box from a Chinese man who feels that Frank was always meant to have the box and sells it to him. Frank returns home, sets the mood with a bunch of candles, and opens the box which unleashes hooked chains which embed in his skin and ultimately tear him apart. Strangely dressed creatures show up to play around with his guts which are strewn about the room before taking him to Hell. Or so they think.
Frank’s brother, Larry (Robinson) and his wife Julia (Higgins) show up to clean the family home and make it their own, thinking Frank had run off somewhere. Julia is hesitant, though she married Larry she seems cold and distant to him. She had fallen in love with Frank, who had shown up prior to the wedding and pulled out his masochistic muscle and showed her pleasures she’d never known. Stuck in a loveless marriage now, she reluctantly agrees. While moving in, Larry cuts his hand on a nail and drips loads of blood on the floorboards in the room that Frank died in. The blood seeps underneath and somehow revives Frank’s body — partially at first.
Julia comes upon a skinless body that talks to her and convinces her that it’s Frank and he needs more blood. She goes out during the day to bring back horny men promised with a good time but when she gets them into Frank’s room she takes out the poor saps with a hammer leaving their withering bodies to Frank to … digest? This goes on until Frank is almost complete and wants to use Larry as his last victim. Or Larry’s daughter Kirsty who comes across the puzzle box and discovers it’s ugly secrets in an attempt to fight off her creepy uncle.
By 1987, everyone and their mother was cranking out a slasher film and along comes Clive Barker with this incredibly unique yet disturbing hybrid of a love story mixed with a supernaturally charged and graphically violent horror film. The film opens with a bloody bang when Frank is literally torn to pieces yet when we see him make his comeback later, we witness such an incredible transformation when Frank slowly regenerates his vital organs, muscles, nerves, etc. These scenes generally follow the aforementioned hammer attacks which are gruesome enough by themselves as Julia will do anything for Frank. And then there’s the Cenobites!
These hellish creatures are the debatably living embodiments of sadomasochism — essentially pleasure through pain — and though they’re featured primarily at the beginning and towards the end, they certainly leave an impression on the viewer. The puzzle box, a gateway to Hell, calls them out and they show up to take the victim. Each one is terrifying to look at and the speeches given by the future Pinhead can leave you covered in goosebumps.
Story: 9 – An unfaithful wife kills horny men so her undead lover can come back from the dead to love her again but incites kinky denizens from Hell who want him for themselves. And some guy named Pinhead shows up.
Blood: 9 – Chains ripping people apart, blunt force trauma with a hammer, walls painted with gore and that first Frank transformation scene is amazing and frightening to watch.
Nudity: 6 – Several sex scenes feature Clare Higgins and Sean Chapman in the nude. Good for you, guys!
Overall: 9 – Hellraiser tells an interesting and unique story highlighted by some fantastically gross effects. A great watch!
-The Chatterer and Butterball cenobites had dialogue but the make up effects made it impossible for coherent speech so the lines were given to the female cenobite (originally named “Deep Throat”) and Pinhead.
-Doug Bradley had to sit in the make up chair for six hours to become Pinhead.
-Lance Henriksen was offered the role of Frank but turned it down fearing he would be doing sequels. He eventually starred in Hellraiser: Hellworld, the 8th film in the series.