August 16, 2022

A while ago, Decker Shado did his review of Beastmaster. When he stated it was his first film he ever saw, it got me thinking about what my first film I saw as a child was. I eventually found out that my first film I saw was Tim Burton’s Batman…

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Although, I was only a baby at the time so I didn’t consider that to be an option. With that out of the way, I then decided to pick one that I remembered off the top of my head…So what film was it?

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…That actually explains a lot…

So yes, I watched Hellraiser when I was young. While I often watched many films not suited for one of a young age (I was under 10 years old. I dont remember the exact year), it was pretty obvious I was bound to stumble upon it sooner or later. So, I’m going to take a look today at the Clive Barker classic from my Childhood.

A Man named Frank Cotton buys a mysterious Puzzle Box which holds some dark powers within it and to those who try to unlock them. When he tries to unlock these powers, he seals his fate for the worst. A short time later, his Brother Larry moves into his home with his Wife Julia who was Frank’s former lover before they were married. Shortly after they move in, Frank is soon resurrected from the dead and is left as an almost corpse like body who was subjected to Severe Torture by the Cenobites for Pleasure. Still in love with Frank, Julia decides to help him restore him to a full perfect form by killing others and draining the blood and life out of the bodies of their victims. Although, Larry and his daughter Kristy soon start to start to get curious with Kristy having Demonic dreams and Larry seeing less and less of his wife and they both start to wonder about what secrets Julia is hiding from them.

The basis for the film’s plot is based upon on Clive’s own novella, The Hellbound Heart.
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Based on what I remember from it, the film and the story do follow each other for the most part quite well, but like most adaptations some things were changed like how they completey cut out the majority of Frank’s encounter with the Cenobites, Kirsty was a lover of Frank’s Brother instead of being related to them, and how very little the Engineer’s part was in the film. Overall, I think it still held up to the book.

The one thing I always remembered when I first saw this and one of the most prominent parts of the film are the one thing everyone else knows about the film, the Cenobites.
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The Four consists of Pinhead, and Three other nameless cenobites who come from another dimension that serve to perform “experiments” of pain or pleasure, depending on the person, and can only be summoned when one solves Lemarchand’s Box. They are rather intimidating and definitely give off a terrifying presence, although they didn’t do very much but that adds to their amoral nature that’s shown in the book the film’s based on and does make them to be the more interesting of the modern horror movie icons.

Aside from the Cenobites, Frank is probably the most interesting character in the film.
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After the events of his encounter with the Lemarchand’s Box and his rebirth, he often steals the bodies and insides from victims with the help of Julia as she brings victims to his home and kills them. Plus he’s knowledgable about the Cenobites, Lemarchand’s Box (or the Lament Configuration), and how he gives very little information about them does add a sense of mystery and horror to them. So, he can either be seen as sinister or just a way to help pass exposition, but I like him anyway.

I think this film partially helped the new trend of Mainstream Horror films with the overuse of Gore in the ’80s. In the ’70s we were given mainly films of Haunted Houses, Killer Animals, and the start of slasher films with films like Halloween and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. After this though, we definitely saw the violence becoming the major scare factor. It definitely contained many elements that would soon follow with directors like Eli Roth would use often in their films along with many modern horror films.

With that being said, the film’s make-up are the one of better aspects of the film. The best examples of both are easily the Cenobites and how absolutely freaky they look based on Clive’s designs with mixtures of S&M and Punk elements. The best part of the special effects is simple: Frank’s Rebirth Scene in the Attic.
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It’s absolutely fitting for the tone and typical of something you’d see from Clive Barker and it looks great…if not horrifying.

Final Thoughts: I like it. It’s definitely one of the more unique mainstream horror films of its time and depending on the viewer, can leave an impact on them. It has its issues like how people could think it’s just one big gore show, but if you can look past them, it holds up as a good horror film in my opinion and it always is a film I fondly remember from my childhood.

…my childhood was weird…

 

Title Card by Kane Fletcher: jarvisrama99.deviantart.com

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