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Hellraiser - DVD - Horror

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Give em' hell, kid. Give em' hell.

  • Nov 13, 2010
 *** out of ****

What I found to be imaginative and entertaining in “Hellraiser” may instead be revolting and cheesy to others. Whatever good I see in this film probably isn’t mutual with professional film critics or many other people (for the matter) alike. And I can see why. This is the very definition of “cult classic”. For once, all too many critics just plain disliked it. It’s not like “The Big Lebowski”, which garnered acclaim from critics such as Roger Ebert. “Hellraiser” can’t even manage to do that. It’s so cheesy and frequently twisted for its time that nearly everyone will probably miss the point. To me, this movie is pretty great. It’s a cult classic for sure, and nothing much more for the matter, but it’s still a whole lot of fun. It can be so easily manipulated into something either better or much worse. It’s like most cult films; you either like it or you don’t. In this case, I like it. It’s essential for all horror fans to at least give it a chance. I mean, it’s directed by Clive Barker himself! Perhaps that is why people didn’t enjoy it, because for some reason evaluation is out of the question when an adaptation is being adapted by its source writer. This is a rare occasion for sure, and “Hellraiser” honestly couldn’t be better than it is. There is no way, and I mean “no way”, to make a better “Hellraiser” film than this. Sure, someone is bound to come up with something that’s at least mediocre one of these days, although as it stands, all filmmakers have struggled with the sequels. It’s because it’s more of a one-time-thing; a film that worked once and quite possibly, only once. As it stands, it’s the second best Clive Barker film adaptation out there (second to “The Midnight Meat Train”, of course). Some may disagree, but honestly, should I give a damn? It’s my opinion, for Christ sake. I am entitled to it as you are to yours. While “Hellraiser” is good, in my opinion, I will encourage you to skip it unless you REALLY love horror films. There are so many better films out there yet so many horrendously bad ones as well. And as far as films about blood sacrifice go, this is on the top of the list. Inspirational for sure, although far from perfection. That’s how most of us like our horror anyways, right? It’s far better than having it unrestrained and unimaginative. That’s the whole truth.

“Hellraiser” could have been AWESOME (in big, capital letters too!) if it weren’t for a somewhat sloppy story and frequent cheesiness. Sure, the film is not, in terms of quality, a total mess. But that doesn’t make it any less lacking in both plot and characters. Still, it’s more creative than the average horror flick. This is as much of a horror film as it is a show-case of creative visual art, and I guess that’s where it should count the most. This story is a trip through “hell on earth”. It’s a pretty typical horror setup if you ask me: A woman and her husband move into an abandoned house which belonged to the husband’s brother. His sibling is nowhere to be found, so the couple decides to settle in for a bit. Occasionally, their daughter will visit although she rejects their invitation to sleep in the creaky house. But there’s much more to this home than one would think. While the husband is out working, the wife is discovering much more than she needs to be. She goes into a room in the upstairs portion of the house and discovers a past lover of hers who had passed away. He is flesh and bones, literally, and begs her to save his life. But from whom? From whom is this fleshy soul trying to escape? Well apparently, it’s a family of demons who until now have been concealed within a little puzzle box. When the puzzle is solved, they are summoned. One of these devilish bastards is the iconic Pinhead, who was first introduced in this film. So from there, the story pretty much goes like this: The wife attempts to feed her lover enough blood for him to become whole again, and the daughter become suspicious of her mother’s activity. Then Pinhead and his crew come along to wreak havoc many times throughout the movie, and random demon bugs seemingly come out of nowhere. The substance is rather weak, I admit, but entertaining. It’s not the cheesiness that’s fun, but rather the nature of the film. But the end is nearly a killer dent. Yeah, the ending…it sucks. It really, really sucks. It doesn’t ruin the film, but it sucks. What the hell is it supposed to mean? It consists of nothing much more than a skeleton dragon, a grasshopper-eating homeless man, and lots of fiery flames. Alas, it just doesn’t mean anything. It’s not really supposed to shout anything more than “Sequel”. Now to watch however many sequels this film garnered (I think it’s like 8…maybe). Or I could just read Barker’s story. Whichever occupies less of my precious time.

“Hellraiser” lacks interesting characters. Each actor is rather bland in their portrayals, although none of the dialogue is particularly laughable. The humans are played by nobody who deserves irregular attention, and the Cenobites are somewhat interesting characters, but only because of all the kick-ass make-up that they’re wearing. The only actor who seems to show himself the slightest bit is Doug Bradley, who is kind of convincing as Pinhead. His dialogue is nearly pretentious but never feels forced enough to be so. Poorly cast “screamer” characters attempt to make matters worse, although do nothing more than put a minor dent in the film, for it’s been hurt enough as it is. But at least it’s not so-bad-it’s good. In this case, it’s actually good. Funny, I suppose.

The filmmakers succeed in making a film that is so visually creative yet so revolting that it’s completely impossible to look away. Some of the stuff is pretty damn twisted, and then other stuff is just “meh”. Nevertheless, this is what I’d call a “visually creative film”. Because it really IS a “visually creative film”. Pinhead looks kind of cool, and the make-up for every Cenobite is certainly admirable. There was one Cenobite in particular who was just plain ugly, giving him certain menacing qualities. It’s a shame that none of these characters are very well fleshed out. I would have loved to hear more about ol’ Pinhead, but no luck. Otherwise, there are a couple cool looking bugs and skeletal dragons involved, although I’d love nothing more than to actually SEE more. More creativity, goddamn it! A cool score from Christopher Young makes things sort of better even if it can’t measure up to his work in “Drag Me to Hell”. All and all, it’s a pretty artistic film. It surely is lacking a whole lot of wit and the like, although it’s pretty forgivable. After all, it’s a fun film made for fans of both Barker and horror films. It’s a must-see for fans of the genre and stands tall as one of the more interesting cult classics of our time.

While it could have been pretty funny (yeah, really) and more fun than it already is, “Hellraiser” is a pretty satisfying movie. It entertained me and kept my general interest. Despite what most critics have to say when it comes to their two cents on the film, I liked it. I could care less about the opinions of others. After all, mine counts too. If you are planning on watching “Hellraiser” with anyone else aside from yourself, then make sure that they are already “Hellraiser” fans. It’s fun to watch this film with other “Hellraiser” lovers. Besides, the unassociated will probably scowl in disgust. This is a horror movie without scares or genuine thrills for the matter, but instead it brings creative visuals and inventive ideas to the table. Some may say that it’s a mess of these particular “creative ideas”, although I say that it executes every one of them pretty decently. All and all, I don’t love this movie. I like it, and that’s about it. It is a gory, bloody, and pretty awesome movie. But that’s all there is to it as well, so beware if you’re looking for something that’s actually complex. This is not classic horror, but rather “inventive” terror. Or at least “attempted” inventive terror, since it’s not actually scary. But horror movies don’t need to be scary to be watchable and well made. If you don’t believe me, then you need proof. Either watch this, “Cabin Fever”, or “The Evil Dead” and you’ll get your proof. It’s definitely goofy at parts, much like most of the films I listed. But like every one of those films, it’s also pretty fun to watch. And that’s good enough for me.

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November 13, 2010
Yes! This movie scared me a lot when I was a kid....nice review!
November 13, 2010
Thanks, man.
More Hellraiser reviews
review by . May 05, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Rumor abounds that Clive Barker's masterpiece will be re-made & that's a truly hideous notion indeed. I will try to remain calm here & less objective until I see the finished product but I also must encourage everyone to see the original work of art as only Clive Barker could have given it to us.       Yes, this is truly one of the most original horror films ever made & it's no wonder that Hellraiser stands the test of time. Forget all the useless …
review by . May 11, 2009
A nasty lil' auld box that'll bring you pain or pleasure
Hellraiser is a dark masterpiece from the twisted world of Clive Barker. Based upon his novel "The Hellbound Heart", Mr. Barker takes us on a trip where people desperate for kicks search out for the ultimate thrill. A sleaze ball named Frank manages to get his oily mitts upon a gaudy looking Rubik's cube that he bought at a bizarre bazaar from a greasy moth eating merchant. Frank (never the sharpest tool in the drawer) gets more than he bargain for when he some how manages to open it up.   …
review by . November 04, 2008
I've read The Hellbound Heart, but the fresh approach Clive Barker made in directing the film added "uumph" to an already excellent story. What a visual conception! Goobers coming up from the floor, the unforgettable scene of spinal cord meeting the goopy brain, the gelid, slippery goo, the half-formed rib cage - hello vicar!     Larry and Julia Cotton are moving into the house left to Larry (Andrew Robinson) and his wayward brother Frank (Sean Chapman). The house is a mess, …
review by . October 23, 2007
Pros: EW GROSS (yes, that's a pro, somehow, haha). Cenobites. Woot.     Cons: Messy, messy, messy (so if you don't like messy, then pass)     The Bottom Line: Don't play with toys you don't fully understand (NO I don't want to play a game!!)     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot. I remember the days of when I was younger and perusing the video store for something that didn’t suck and that I hadn’t …
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Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #3
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


Starring Andrew Robinson, Claire Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Doug Bradley
Directed by Clive Barker
Written by Clive Barker
Based on the novel "The Hellbound Heart" by Clive Barker

Product Description
In a place between pleasure and pain there is sensual experience beyond limits. And in a world between paradise and purgatory there is a horror that feeds the souls of evil. Studio: Starz/sphe Release Date: 06/25/2002 Starring: Andrew Robinson Ashley Laurence Run time: 93 minutes Rating: R Director: Clive Barker
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Director: Clive Barker
Genre: Horror
Release Date: September 18, 1987
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Clive Barker
Runtime: 94 Minutes
Studio: Cinemarque Entertainment BV, New World Production
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