‘Hellraiser’ movie review


Just kidding.

Hellraiser is a 1987 supernatural horror film from director Clive Barker and stars Claire Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Andrew Robinson and Sean Chapman.

My earliest memories with this film came from just the DVD case my aunt and uncle had. The image of Pinhead on it used to give me nightmares as a child and strayed as far away from this movie as possible. However, since my love for horror films has skyrocketed, I had to give this film a try, and I am glad to inform y’all that this is highly-enjoyable watch.

I had a blast with this film and that is credited to the practical effects and makeup from Bob Keen. It’s honestly mesmerizing. The first glimpse of these effects comes in the form of this corpse that arises when Larry Cotton (Robinson) cuts himself and bleeds onto the floor. This corpse absorbs the blood and takes on a human form.

We later find out that this is the reincarnation of Frank Cotton, Larry’s brother who had an affair with Larry’s wife, Julia. Julia finds him in just flesh and muscle and he tells Julia that he needs more blood to fully become human again. Since Julia is still lusting over Frank, she brings multiple men in to have them killed so Frank can get his normal form back. It’s an admirable plot for a horror film and the writing for the characters is outstanding. While you don’t really cheer for anyone, you understand Julia’s plight of entrapment to Frank. She wants to be away from him but temptation has brought her back to him, so she becomes overtaken by temptation and that is another outstanding part of the film.

Hellraiser is about temptation and the seven deadly sins. The puzzle-box that summons the Cenobites, led by Pinhead, represents temptation because while it looks pretty and interesting on the outside, it’s actually a device to summon hell. Meanwhile, Frank is the embodiment of the seven deadly sins and you see each one play out in a certain scene with him. It’s great storytelling but one of the reasons why this movie doesn’t get talked about much. It has a very niche appeal to it and while I admire its off-the-script tone, many people won’t.

This movie is a gore-fest and a lot of the violence is sexually motivated, leading to uncomfortable moments.

The weakest aspect of this film is Kirsty Cotton (Laurence), the daughter of Julia and Larry. Laurence’s performance comes off incredibly silly and hammy, especially in the closing minutes. She’s just not up-to-par in her acting chops compared to great performances we get from Higgins, Robinson and Chapman.

The special effects are dated and become unwatchable in the final five minutes but that can be attributed to a low budget of only $1 million.

While the acting can be weak at points and the dated effects stick out like a sore thumb, I appreciate the storytelling. The screenplay is outstanding and the practical effects and makeup are some of the best I’ve seen on-screen. The high-definition remastering of the movie is also outstanding. If you are a fan of gore or love doing practical effects and makeup, this film will be a dream for you.

Rating 7.5/10

12 down, 19 to go.

Streaming on: Hulu, Shudder

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