Hellraiser

Somewhat disappointing directorial debut of the man called the "future of horror fiction" by Stephen King, Clive Barker, based on his own novella The Hellbound Heart. Frank (Sean Chapman), a sexual adventurer in search of new carnal pleasures, purchases a mysterious Chinese puzzle box while visiting an unnamed Third World country. Back home in England,...read more

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Somewhat disappointing directorial debut of the man called the "future of horror fiction" by Stephen King, Clive Barker, based on his own novella The Hellbound Heart.

Frank (Sean Chapman), a sexual adventurer in search of new carnal pleasures, purchases a mysterious Chinese puzzle box while visiting an unnamed Third World country. Back home in England, he opens the box only to discover that he has unlocked the door to hell. Frank is pulled into another

dimension, whose inhabitants, known as Cenobites, push him over the fine line between pleasure and pain by ripping him apart with tiny fish hooks. Years later, Frank's brother, Larry (Andrew Robinson), moves his family into the house--to which, through some blood spilled on the attic floor, Frank

returns in near-skeletal form. With the help of sister-in-law Julia (Clare Higgins)--with whom he once had an affair--Frank begins sucking the life out of bodies in order to regenerate to his old form. Meanwhile, Larry's daughter from a previous marriage, Kirsty (Ashley Laurence), begins to

suspect her hated stepmother of having an affair, and to her horror becomes involved with Frank, the puzzle box and the Cenobites.

Undoubtedly head and shoulders above average horror fare thematically, HELLRAISER is, however, extremely graphic, badly paced, and, with few exceptions, poorly acted. As a director, Barker does possess a striking visual sensibility; the film literally drips with horrific ambience. However, while

the author's cinematic sense is a pleasant surprise, his narrative is shockingly haphazard, and the film lurches from one set piece to the next with little dramatic rhythm. While Barker does a respectable job of developing the characters of Julia and Frank and the lustful ties that bind them, the

writer-director is clearly less interested in victims Larry and Kirsty. The film never gets a handle on these characters and never provides enough characterization so that the viewer cares about their fate.

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  • Released: 1987
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Somewhat disappointing directorial debut of the man called the "future of horror fiction" by Stephen King, Clive Barker, based on his own novella The Hellbound Heart. Frank (Sean Chapman), a sexual adventurer in search of new carnal pleasures, purchases a… (more)

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