(dir. Clive Barker )
Hellraiser is a truly impressive and horrifying directorial debut from Clive Barker. Based on Barker’s novella, The Hellbound Heart, the film centers on Frank Cotton, a sadomasochist whose search for the absolute in pleasure and pain lead him to a mysterious puzzle box. The box sends Frank, and later his family, into a terrifying and painful confrontation with the Cenobites, “demons to some, angels to others.” Hellrasier’s wildly imaginative exploration of the sublime sets it apart from its horror contemporaries.
Even decades later the effects hold up incredibly well, well enough to still cause near unrelenting queasiness. Hellraiser rivals David Cronenberg’s The Fly and John Carpenter’s The Thing with some of the best practical horror effects I’ve seen, though I think Barker’s film lacks the same level of re-watchability. While the film is incredibly gory, the unique set and character designs separate it from being just another splatter flick. Beyond its graphic nature, there is a clear artistry to the film. While the characters lack depth, there is quite a lot of plot which ensures that the film never feels dull or like it’s relying too heavily on one thing.
Scare Factor: 5/5 With this film, Barker operates on a level beyond basic jumps scares and light tricks, and instead creates a weightier horror that isn’t what I’d call fun, but memorably effective. Hellraiser is one of the best the genre has to offer, there’s really nothing like it.
**Available to watch on Netflix Instant