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.
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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 penultimate ‘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.
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.
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.
the cinematography was beautiful, but the pace wasn't that great and i didn't like the story itself much. funny how steve reacted to demons from hell like he saw a few rats in an old house. the dragon ending was over the top but definitely had some nice trash value in it.
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.
An admirably ambitious horror film that ultimately fails. It may have outstanding gore but it just doesn't have an interesting enough narrative. Really incoherent characterizations that lack depth; by the ending you just won't give a shit about anyone because you really don't know who they actually are. Disappointing, I thought this was a classic.
It has good makeup effects & a delightfully sick sense of humor, & I give it credit for a protagonist who isn't as stupid as most female horror leads. The other woman, though, needs to spend a little more time asking questions & a little less time jumping from 'deranged half-melted corpse asking me for blood' to murder without at least asking how or why. --PolarisDiB