Hellraiser (1987) Review
Written by: azathoth
"Hellraiser" is based on the novella "The Hellbound Heart" authored by Clive Barker. Barker also wrote and directed this film. Our protagonist is Kirsty, played by Ashley Laurence ("Hellbound", "Hellseeker", "Lurking Fear"). Ashley's dad Larry (Andrew Robinson, "Cobra", "Trancers III") marries Julia (Clare Higgins, "Hellbound"). Julia previously had an affair with Larry's brother Frank (Sean Chapman, "Hellbound", "The Fourth Protocol"). Monster Frank is played by Oliver Smith. Our unnatural folks include the iconic lead Cenobite Pinhead played by Doug Bradley (almost all "Hellraiser" films, "Nightbreed"). There are some other Cenobites including the creepy female, the 'Chatterer', and 'Butterball'.
We start off with Frank buying a rather strange looking puzzle box from a shifty dealer of curios in Morocco. When Frank get back home he sits in his attic and solves the puzzle box. Out of the box a bunch of chains with hooks dig into his body. Once he is quite thoroughly dead and his bloody bits are strewn about, the Cenobites give the remains a once over, take the box, and all is back to normal.
Larry moves into Frank's house with his second wife Julia. Kirsty really dislikes Julia, so she has her own place. Frank accidentally drips some blood on the floor where his brother was killed. The blood is sucked up by the floor. It seems like Frank can be reconstituted with blood. Monster Frank says 'Hi' to Julia, and instead of screaming and running away like a normal person, she decides to help Frank get more blood by luring men into the attic. By doing this he will be able to escape Hell and the Cenobites. He is sure that this will not please the Cenobites. Welcome to the world of understatements.
One day Kirsty sees Julia taking a man home and secretly follows them inside. She gets a great surprise when the man, bloodied, runs out of the attic chased by Monster Frank. Kirsty steals the puzzle box and escapes, only to pass out. She wakes up confused in the hospital. She decides to play with the box and solves it. Out pop the Cenobites wanting her soul. She bargains with them by offering up Frank as fodder. Pinhead gets one of his great lines here: "we'll tear your soul apart".
Next begins some cat and mouse chases, deceptions, death, some cheesy 1980's computer FX, and one wacky ending.
Brief nudity. Violent and somewhat gory for its time, "Hellraiser" pales in comparison to some of its later incarnations. The acting was great; you'll will loathe both Julia and Frank after about five minutes. Although the Cenobites don't have much dialogue or action to work with, they still are some of the creepiest and frightening bunch of characters on screen. The music is good, the audio FX OK. As I mentioned earlier, the computer FX are not very good, but the practical FX were very good. The movie does have its lulls, mostly in the first half.
This is a must see for horror fans. It is also worth buying (there is a neat 'puzzle box' box set). It will play well at a serious horror movie party.