Saturday, 29 June 2013
Clive Barker. A name not only synonymous with horror, but also with the fantastical. Never a man to stick to one art form, Hellraiser was Clive's directorial feature film debut. The film certainly came along at the right time, breathing life into a genre that had been swamped with slasher after slasher. Hellraiser managed to inject life back into a genre that seemed to be obsessed with the campy and comedic. The film is an original and gothic piece of cinema that has aged incredibly well, and still manages to disturb and nauseate to this day.
Frank has found a puzzle box that is said to unlock unlimited pleasures to man. He solves the box, which opens the door to The Cenobites, who proceed to show Frank exactly what was promised, although in a much more extreme way than the human mind could ever have imagined. He dies in a room of a house that is soon inhabited by his brother, his wife and his daughter. Larry (the brother) manages to cut his hand while carrying a mattress upstairs, and proceeds to go to Julia (his wife) who is reminiscing about a past affair she had with Frank. With Larry's blood spilling on the floor in the room that Frank died, Frank manages to escape from the Cenobites, and he uses Julia's devotion to him to bring him victims so that he can regain his full form. But the Cenobites don't like the fact that Frank has escaped them, and they will pursue him and take him back to where he belongs.
Hellraiser is a dark, passionate horror movie, and is so much more than a man with pins in his head. Each character is filled with so much emotion and darkness, it is hard not to care about them or despise them, depending on their actions. The Cenobites are nothing more than a plot device. Pinhead (or Lead Cenobite as he was known here) is not onscreen for long at all, and neither are his cohorts, but their appearances are still shocking and break up the family drama. Clive Barker really does have a way in showing beauty in horror, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the design of the Cenobites, their twisted and sadomasochistic look make them stand out like no other character in the film.
The movie refuses to explain much. We never get an idea where the Cenobites are from, but we get snippets of their agenda and what they represent which certainly makes them frightening. The real monsters in this movie though are Julia and Frank. When Julia evolves from housewife to psychopath, it is a rather wonderful metamorphosis. The character of Frank is despicable from the start. His re-birth is an incredible sight, and his skeletal form showcases some amazing effects work from Bob Keen. The movie certainy shows how far someone will go for love, or their next orgasm.
At it's most basic, Hellraiser is a story of a woman who will do anything to keep her dearly departed from leaving her. Whether it is because of love or lust, is never fully explored, but I suspect it is for the latter. The exploration of perversion, adultery and love is fascinating, and the movie has many layers to keep the viewer coming back to it again and again. Nowadays,Hellraiser may come across as slow to those more used to the quick editing and fast moving stories of the horror movies of today, Clive Barker easily manages to maintain an air of dread and tension throughout the movie, and it never manages to feel boring, always keeping the audience involved with the macabre and the bloody.