Hellraiser, Clive Barker, 1987, USA.


Hellraiser, Clive Barker, 1987, USA.

I had seen Hellraiser shortly after it came out, so maybe still in the 80’s. Then it gained some sort of cult following, even with action figures!, which eventually led to a current nine film series. I have seen most of them, but not necessarily in order, and certainly not with a thought to review them. Giving the original a rewatch, I am somewhat surprised that it ever became something of a cult movie. The concept is mildly interesting, but not particularly compelling, and comparing it to other horror of the late 80’s it might even be a bit boring. Perhaps I won’t quite go that far, but it certainly has a made for TV feel to it. The cinematography is straightforward for the genre, sets are pretty well thought out, and the gore effects are good to excellent. The directing and editing are clear and linear and while I like both of these qualities, perhaps they played it a bit too safe overall. The acting is middle of the road, with the lead actors doing decent work and the supporting cast a bit weaker. Again, it was all within a relatively safe zone. The story-line had decent potential, but it was underexploited and much of the movie was spent on a single concept. Perhaps the filmmakers noticed this after the film had been released and decided to give a sequel a go in order to bring more of the potential energy to force. Had I been in the audience when this was first released, I would have thought it was OK. I would have liked the special effects, and the overall concept. I would have recommended it to some of my friends, but not all. For the most part I think it is an average movie by balance. Not much happens overall, it felt underexploited in concept and visuals, yet has some bits of interest here and there. I rate this film 2 stars for being around average as an overall package.

Hellraiser as a story-line is based on an idea that hell is coming for you and plans to give extreme pain for pleasure. This pretty much sounds like hardcore S&M to me. Yet there is a perhaps “startling” lack of anything titillating to see here. There is the now (in)famous hook and chain ripping flesh stuff that follows through the series, but here, it is done in such a way that is not particularly sexy, even in a outlying fetishistic way. There are two specific scenes that show both a male and female (sort of intact) that are, “hell-bound” and before you can say “hey, that could be a little kinky!,” they get ripped into chunks. I think that the actual disappointment comes when you realize the main female role never even gets out of her cardigan. I will give this film a ½ on the kink scale and state that it is sadly underexploited!


3 comments on “Hellraiser, Clive Barker, 1987, USA.

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