Thursday, August 7, 2014


It starts with a scum bag named Frank Cotton seeking a puzzle box that is supposed to unlock the secrets of the flesh, instead it opens a door that lets in four perverted explorers in the extremes of pleasure and pain from an alternate dimension that may or may not be the Biblical Hell. These explorers, known as the Cenobites, quickly decimate Frank's body, literally ripping it to shreds. Welcome to Clive Barker's Hellraiser.
My first exposure to Hellraiser came from watching Siskel and Ebert savage Hellbound; Hellraiser II. Even at twelve I knew those guys were blowhards and didn't care for scary movies. The Cenobites, Pinhead, Female, Butterball, and Chatterer were like nothing I'd seen before. Dressed in kinky black leather with mutilated flesh, these guys went beyond the pale and made Freddy's striped sweater look quaint. Based on the footage shown, Hellbound looked amazing, but I'd be sixteen before I finally got see the first two Hellraiser films. By then part 3, Hell On Earth was coming out, so I got to watch all three in quick succession while reading the original novel, Hellbound Heart.
My first films based on Barker's work were Rawhead Rex and Nightbreed and I'd read those stories and the Thief of Always. So by the time I sat down to watch Hellraiser, I was already a fan of Barker. The Hellraiser and Nightbreed comics from Epic were also highly sought after items for me.
My expectations were quite high for Hellraiser and I went into the first one with almost no info. To say
the least, I was not let down. I'd call the first two works of art that hold up well today. The gore is still sick, most of the special effects are still effective. Part 3 was a massive let down, with no redeeming qualities.
Hellbound was a film I re-rented often. I loved it's epic nature and how it stood out from other horror films. I didn't return to the first Hellraiser as often, because at the time it just disturbed me too much. I think it still has the power to disturb the uninitiated, but I'm jaded enough now, that I can enjoy it on a technical level. The rebirth of Frank is one of my favorite sequences in horror.
After Hellraiser, much of my art was colored by Barker's influence, even as my disillusion with horror films started to build through the 90's. The image of the four original Cenobites, Pinhead, Female, Butterball, and Chatterer is so iconic and unparalleled. Barker raised the bar for horror artists. With Hellraiser, Nightbreed, and Rawhead Rex crossing over in the comics and creating a big shared universe, Barker had created a mythos as exciting as Lovecraft's Cthulu mythos.
When I had the chance to see Part 4, Bloodlines, I was less than excited after 3. I sat in my car at the drive in for the double feature with Tales From The Crypt; Bordello Of Blood. Which sucked.
Bloodlines did not. I know some people balked at Pinhead in space (not nearly as much as Jason in space, I know), but I really enjoyed how the film traced the history of the Lament Configuration (puzzle box) from 1700s France to a space station in 2127. New Cenobites are introduced and the scope of the film restored the epic feel of Part 2.
Even though there have been five more Hellraiser films and part 4 didn't let me down, I haven't had any interest in seeing them until now. I went back to the original two and 4. There is no reason to retry 3. So this weekend I'm watching Part 5 Inferno and will continue through Revelations where we'll pick up  MHHABM Part 43; Hellraiser 5-Revelations.
In the mean time, keep watching the sky, nerds. And leave those puzzle boxes alone!

Here's the only good thing from Part 3, Motorhead "Hellraiser"

No comments:

Post a Comment