Hellraiser (1987)

Director: Clive Barker

Writer: Clive Barker

Stars: Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence

RATING: 3.5 Stars

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When Kirsty’s father, Larry, and stepmother, Julia, move into Larry’s childhood home, Kirsty and her boyfriend take a room nearby. Unfortunately for all involved, Larry’s house is already occupied: before the family’s arrival, Larry’s disreputable brother, Frank, used a supernatural puzzle box to summon a gang of other-dimensional demon sadists. Now, Frank requires a series of blood sacrifices to escape the clutches of Pinhead and the cenobites – From IMDB

Dark, violent and bloody are probably the three words best to describe this classic 80s horror movie. This was a first time watch for me, and while I knew the barest of bones, I went in totally blind. This was a crazy, twisted and gloriously eighties film, that pretty much exceeded what little expectations I had for it.

There is a lot to be said for the use of practical effects and make-up in these films. In 1987 we certainly didn’t have the CGI that we have today, so a lot of the effects and the fantastic make-up, partucularly on the Cenobites, had to be practical, real life stuff. And while some of the effects do show the films age, some of them are actually pretty amazing. The skinless Frank looked incredible for the eighties, as did all the humanoid cenobites. Some of the more monstrous creatures did look like something out of a Jim Henson movie, but it’s all part of that eighties charm.

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The story itself is pretty simple, but executed very very well, and with a shit ton of atmosphere, thus proving to some modern day film makers that you don;t need an intricate, complicated story to make a good film. The acting can be a bit sketchy in places, but actually the one I was most concerned about, that had to do a lot of the running and screaming, Ashley Laurence (Kirsty), did a bang up job and was one of the best in the film. Of course the stand out is Doug Bradley’s ‘Pinhead’ who, although he graces the screen very little, has left a lasting impression on horror fans for decades and has uttered some really iconic lines in this role.

Sure the logic behind the puzzle box is a little rocky, and never really fully explained, not in this film anyway. And the sex scenes were not at all necessary to get the point across that Julia had an affair with Frank. But these aspects, and some dodgy blood splatter effects aside, I had a great time watching this, a great addition to my Arrow Video Blu Ray Collection.

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