Yeah, I saw this one during it’s theatrical release, back in 1987, and above all, I recall leaving the theater in desperate need of some mental hygene given the movie’s uncomfortable explorations of incest, S&M and the consequences of selling your soul.
While the franchise’s demons, the Cenobytes, appear within the film’s first 5 minutes, we only get a glimpse — they are by no means central to the story. Rather, Pinhead and the Cenobytes are simply the vehicles of hubris:The cenobytes both identify and punish those who are willing to overreach. Though the SciFi Channel insists that all genre movies
Indeed, writer-director Clive Barker waits over an hour to give the audience a good look at the franchise’s signature demons, the Cenobytes, specifically Pinhead. The key antagonists in the first film are really Julia and the posthumous Uncle Frank. Julia wears little makeup, and Frank little skin.
What makes ‘Hellraiser’ an effective and entertaining movie is its emphasis on character and story, rather than makeup.
Uncle Frank rises from the dead at approximately the 20-minute mark, whereupon he marches around for the next 45 minutes fully flayed and in search of skin that can only be acquired vampirically, via the victims that Julia supplies him.
Looking back, ‘Hellraiser’ really was one of the precursors to the big genre franchises that the studios are wont to get ahold of these days — you know, the one-picture spec that turns into the 3 picture
after box-office receipts cross the $120M mark. Even Mr. Barker is probably surprised that his
The remake — due in either
But the real value of ‘Hellraiser’ lays not so much in its latex prosthetics and stage-blood, but the slow burn of it’s domestic taboo themes: incest, infidelity and lust. It’s not selling her soul to the Devil that’s Julia’s error, it’s her transgressive relationship to brother-in-law Frank that drives her to participate in a
*Actually, the Cenobytes do make an appearance at the 3 minute mark, but it’s dark and ambiguous — the only real concluusions viewers can draw is that they wear leather and are comfortable around medical waste.