Clive Barker’s feature directing debut graphically depicts the tale of a man and wife who move into an old house and discover a hideous creature — the man’s half-brother, who is also the woman’s former lover — hiding upstairs.
The iconic, uniquely terrifying, and twisted Pinhead makes his grand debut in this gruesome horror. Working from his own novel, first-time director Clive Barker’s film is a remarkable rarity: not only a highly original blend of Catholicism, punk rock, and S&M, but by now also a classic of its genre.
While thin on plot, what it offers, like Barker’s Lord of Illusions in its better moments, is the solemn majesty of ceremony, a sense of awe at the awful possibilities of the body in restoration and unjoining.
The film is for the most part a return to the cutting edge of horror cinema, and in its inventively gruesome moments – Frank being turned inside-out by creaking millworks, his face being put together on the floor like a jigsaw puzzle – a reminder of the Grand Guignol intensity that has recently tended to disintegrate into lazy splatter.
May now be surpassed in its grossness, but films rarely make a grim tone as effectively and depressingly emotionally-frailing. It isn’t just the signature ‘horror’ flick that genre’s very definition is a morbid nightmare maker, but the most unsavory thing to digest is that it’s subtlely a film about S&M— as VIA the characters' lonely emptiness and self-loathing do they find comfort in self-destruction and sadism.
Like many other cult classics, story structure is blurred in a way that the actions and the outcomes end up being too abstract to be taken seriously. But that only shows the greatness that overwhelms every plot device and the form. Extraordinary premise of tangible and striking Hell - that is contrived as a reflection of nightmares and perversions - along with music and makeup effects, leave one lasting experience.
Released the same year as "Nightmare on Elm Street 3" and "Prom Night II," Clive Barker's "Hellraiser" feels beamed in from another dimension compared to the standard slasher fare of the decade. Despite its low budget origins, "Hellraiser" registers as the product of an imagination that doesn't celebrate evil but has given a great deal of thought to the many ways it can manifest itself. What a phantasmagoria.
One of the rare films that is gory and terrifying in equal measure. I think that's because as much thought went into the script (and subtext) as the practical effects. Unfortunately, both are forgotten during the absolutely unnecessary ending. It should have ended when "Jesus wept", which was brilliant.
Essential horror. Barker's debut was the thing of nightmares melding S&M archetypes with extreme horror while providing high production value and casting that exceeded the genre. Clare Higgins is simply brilliant here with a performance both macabre and sexy. Andrew Robinson was also good here and boy could Ashley Laurence scream. Unfortunate it launched a series of middling sequels however.
If you can get beyond the blood and gore, this is a very intelligent film. Clive Barker's low-budget debut feature is a fetishistic nightmare about what really happens when our desires grab hold of us in more ways than one.
Bought this on blu-ray and watched it not having seen it for many years. I think it really stood the test of time and works as both horror, drama and thriller. The acting is really good and the effects are decent. The stand out is the score which to this day is one of my favourites. I just wish the end had been redone and that they had skipped on the "engineer" and just stayed with the cenobites.
I remember when Stephen King declared Barker "the future of horror". The ideas were ok, but the execution was awful. This is a bit like a cross between a porno movie and a gore movie. Everyone's awfully randy, and the blood flows like a fucking river. If you continue with the series, Pinhead becomes a star, even though I personally liked the chatterer.