Director – Clive Barker
Cast – Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgings, Ashley Laurence, Sean Chapman, Oliver Smith, Robert Hines, Doug Bradley
Release Year – 1987
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Clive Barker is a name known by all horror fans, and with great reason. This unique graphic novelist/artist has put forth some of the storylines behind horror’s greatest films, including his breakthrough effort…Hellraiser. Hellraiser is one of horror’s greatest flicks because it simply does everything right and leaves you with a much more interesting view of Hell than fire and brimstone.
This film follows a man named Frank Cotton, who completes a puzzle known as the Lament Configuration, which opens a doorway to hell with very unsatisfactory results. Fast forward and his former lover and her current husband(who happens to be Frank’s brother) move into a home that bears the soul of Frank under the floorboards of it’s highest room. One day Frank’s brother suffers a nasty gash, and blood from his hand falls onto the floorboards of the room and seeps to Frank’s soul which lies beneath. The blood engages a reincarnation for Frank, but he needs more and more blood to complete his earthly body. He enlists the help of his former lover, who must kill for Frank in order for him to achieve the amount of blood he needs to regain human form. Unfortunately for Frank, the Cenobites, underworld sado-masochists, are aware that he has escaped from hell and are not happy. When the Lament Configuration is engaged by the daughter of Frank’s brother, she is attacked by the Cenobites. She then barters a deal for her soul when she agrees to lead them to Frank, which could still cost her her soul.
I had not seen this flick in quite a few years and honestly can’t believe how awesome it really is. Right from the beginning we are thrown into the underworld kingdom of the Cenobites and the horrendous powers of the Lament Configuration. Clive Barker’s storyline for this film is an awesome one and bleeds his genius mind all over it. The idea for a man to escape from hell, where he was tortured by a group of sado-masochistic creatures, and then be chased down by them is amazing to me and downright scary. I believe to this day we still have not seen another horror film touch on this subject(aside from this film’s sequels of course) and that goes to show the genius of Clive Barker’s writing.
Now if there is anything even more awesome than Barker’s writing, it’s the fact that he did such an awesome job in direction given this is his very first feature film. The pacing is great, we get lots of gore, and the creature effects for this film are amazing. Many horror fans and non-horror fans know the image of “Pinhead”(Doug Bradley), the leader of the Cenobites. He is one of horror’s coolest characters and I really wish Mr. Barker had more attempts at directing horror flicks because I can only imagine the genius creatures and ideas he would come up with. This film is true horror, from a true horror maestro.
I have absolutely no complaints for this film, although I really would have liked to see more action involving the Cenobites. That is not really a complaint because the reason why I want more from them is because they are downright awesome, not because we are left unsatisfied.
Overall, this is one of horror’s most amazing flicks from a true horror genius. I recommend this to all fans of the genre who want to see a gory and creative ride that will give them an experience few horror films can compete with.