Hellraiser is a film that I have known about forever. I remember a girl in my class winning a cardboard cutout of Pinhead in elementary school for correctly answering a question right during a fundraising event. I could imagine the look on my mom’s face if I had won that. Anyway, I wanted to see what all of the fuss was about.
Put simply, half of Hellraiser is a good movie with intrigue and the other half is a waste of time. I’ll start with the bad and go to the good, as that’s how the film progresses.
The inferior half of Hellraiser follows Clare Higgins as Julia. Unlike Lucifer in Paradise Lost or Tom from Tom & Jerry, Julia in Hellraiser is not a bad guy you can root for. She’s a adulteress, but not just any adulteress. She cheated on her future husband with his brother on the night before their wedding. In the first part of the film Julia moves back in to her husband’s old family home, the place where she committed adultery. Upon her re-entry to the room of the devilish deed, she has strong visions of the experience. She spends what feels like ages standing in the center of the room as the camera pans around during the flashbacks. This takes up a good 10-15 minutes of the film to my dismay.
After much delay, the plot thickens as her husband butchers his hand on a loose nail attempting to move a mattress up the stairs. The filmmakers make it out like it is much harder to move a mattress than it truly is too. Instead of running to a first aid kid, or having anyone go to his aid, the husband, Larry, finds his wife Julia who is still standing in the middle of the adultery room. He spills blood everywhere, and thus, brings his brother Frank back to life. Frank isn’t whole, and must gather bits and pieces from others to regain a full life. So, Julia goes on a killing spree.
It’s a boring killing spree to say the least. Grody old Julia goes to airports and hotels to seduce guys who must be desperate enough for a hooker, but not have enough cash. She brings them back to the house and hammers them to death. Nothing else really to say about her killings. They’re fit for a poor episode of a Law & Order knockoff to be honest.
Julia’s death isn’t much to turn heads either. Re-embodied Frank takes her out not long after he’s back probably because his eyes started working again. Or maybe he had enough of her frigid and twatish demeanor. I really didn’t like Julia.
On to the good stuff.
One thing Hellraiser did exceedingly well was create an interesting lore. I felt myself wanting to know more and more about the Cenobites. Explorers of the carnal existence? Angels to some demons on others? No difference between pain and pleasure? Extradimensional? The filmmakers are hitting on something here. No wonder they made so many films, as the first one barely wets your whistle with their engrossing horror creations.
Not only are the followers of the puzzle box compelling, but they are iconic in their look too.You would be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t know about Pinhead. There’s just something inherently frightening about them. Perhaps it is that they look like one of your distant relatives that has flown off the deep end and has really seen some shit, except exponentially worse. Or it’s because they look like the final sequence in an evolutionary line of older Hot Topic crust punks. Maybe it’s their lack of empathy and feeling that makes them so inhuman despite being physiologically similar to humans.
Everything told, I liked Hellraiser. I would watch it again too if there was a version that edited out Julia. I would like to see more of Andrew Robinson though. (I couldn’t get enough of him as Garek in Deep Space Nine) And I will probably check out the sequels if there is promise that they follow the Cenobites and not… shiver… Julia. I give it 3.5 severed LEGO arms out of 5.