Hellbound and determined, Grant Davies of Hot Dog Cinema takes a look at the first half of the Hellraiser series. Does he find pleasure or pain?
An erotic tour-de-force in horror cinema, which is all the more astounding given that this was Clive Barker’s directorial debut. The film is about man’s search for the dizzy heights of the ultimate physical experience; it’s about an unyielding passion and the exotic refinement of pain & pleasure. This is truly what is meant by adult and intelligent horror. “Hellraiser” also does something which many horror movies of the era failed to do – it bloody frightens you.
The Cenobite designs are fantastic and the script contains some choice-cuts of cerebral dialogue. Thankfully, ‘Pinhead’ is not the centre of the piece by any means. Indeed, Doug Bradley is merely credited as the “Lead Cenobite”. More importantly, Barker’s direction does not concentrate on our anti-hero Cenobites but rather on the motivations of our painfully dysfunctional cast. Here is where the film really excels and the performances of Claire Wiggins as the ‘evil stepmother’ character and Andrew Robinson as the ill-fated father are the best of the crop. The soundtrack too is a masterpiece, managing to stay hauntingly with you for hours afterward. Indeed, I have always thought that Christopher Young’s score epitomizes any discos that Hell has.
All in all, a visceral and articulate horror film which shows us where our darkest desires can lead.