Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday Flashbacks: Hellraiser

Hellraiser 1987
Director: Clive barker
Writer: Clive Barker
Starring Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Sean Chapman, Oliver Smith, Robert Hines, Doug Bradley and Grae Kirby
When you think masters of modern horror two names immediately spring to mind, Stephen King and Clive Barker. Hellraiser is Barker’s most famous and still the best of all his cinematic creations. It is still a sick and depraved film to this day and that is why it has stood the test of time and spawned so many sequels. This is a film that uses the philosophy sex equals death to the nth degree. Everything that happens in this film has horrendous actions and nothing good ever comes out of any of it. This is a pulpy and blood drenched film that is a delight to watch on all levels. From the direction, the visuals, the acting and the fantastic gore effects. What is really astonishing is with so very few scenes Pinhead just owns this film. Sometimes the adage “less is more” is the way to go. It is a film that really plays with the S/M motif and it works quite well. This is a film that does not shy away from the naughty bits; in fact it makes you leer at them like you are looking at a passing car wreck.
The plot basics are this, a man (Robinson) and his wife (Higgins) move into a old house. The wife finds a hideous creature upstairs who it is reveled to be her husband’s brother who she had a illicit affair with. It seems he lost his body to a trio of demons but has found a way back and he needs her to bring peole so he can kill them and rebuild his body. The daughter, Kirsty (Laurence) of the husband does not trust her and soon discovers what she has been doing and discovers this puzzle box that started the whole nightmare. She opens the box and makes a deal with the demons that appear that she will help them get Frank back if she leaves her and her father alone. Kirsty will need all of her wits if she is going to survive both her demonic uncle and the demons on her heel.
This is a groundbreaking horror film. The direction by Barker is visually arresting. The scene where Frank first appears and reassembles himself is disgusting but you are forced to watch it. He really creates a dark tone for the film and really plays with the dysfunctional family dynamic. The script is dark and smart. Kirsty is a smart heroine that you cannot help but root for and Pinhead is one of the most original horror creations created in the last 20 years. The cast is superb. Robinson is a great lead and is especially great when he makes the turn to the dark side. Higgins is great too; she is somehow menacing, sexy and repulsive at the same time, a hard act to pull off. Laurence is a great heroine and the one character you sympathize throughout in the film. Bradley as Pinhead though really steals the show with the brief scenes he is in. When you think back on the film you think he is involved far more than he actually is. The SFX and make up effects are phenomenal. I especially like it when Frank is torn apart at the film’ climax. That is a scene I can replay again and again. The score by Christopher Young is both haunting and sexy, 2 things this film accomplishes very well. This is not a film for everyone, but those who love the dark side of horror will have a real treat on their hands when they seek it out.
This one gets 5 out of 5

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