Monday, October 24, 2005

31 Days of Des' Horror Favourites: #8 Hellraiser

Why I like it: You probably already know why: I love Clive Barker. I fully and rightfully believe him to be the greatest writer of my generation. And this is his cinematic swansong.

In fact, after my initial little ramble I figured I'd treat Hellraiser with the exact same respect as I did Friday the 13th a few days ago and give a little rundown of each film in the series.

First of all, the monster is never the focus of the Hellraiser films. It initially began as a bit of an investigation into the relationship between pleasure and pain and the depraved who no longer find pleasure in the normal world. And of course it covers the whole Pandora's Box/Curiousity killed the cat theme. The monsters, Cenobites actually, come along as a bit of classy window dressing. They are almost like Hell's bureaucracy: "well, sir, you did open the box and release us from our stasis and now you must be carried back into Hell for all of eternity under the scrutiny of chapter 6, paragraph 7. Sorry, it's the rules."

Of course, Pinhead (the most notable of our Cenobites) says these things in a much grander fashion. Some of my favourite Pinhead quotes:

No tears, please. It's a waste of good suffering.

We have such
sights to show you!

We will tear your soul apart.

suffering will be legendary, even in hell!

We have eternity to know your

What you think of as pain is a shadow. Pain has a face. Allow me
to show it to you. Gentlemen, I... Am... Pain

Unbearable, isn't it? The
suffering of strangers, the agony of friends. There is a secret song at the
center of the world, Joey, and its sound is like razors through flesh...I'm here
to turn up the volume. To press the stinking face of humanity into the dark
blood of its own secret heart.

Cheery fellow that Pinhead. Speaking of Pinhead, I thought I'd let you know he is portrayed masterfully by Doug Bradley in each film of the series. He is the only constant in the series. He is what you'd call the franchise. But, unlike Halloween, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, he takes the back seat.

Hellraiser films are about one person's journey into depravity, redemption or insanity. It's about reaping what you sow. And the Cenobites are around to help you reap.

The films:

Hellraiser- Clive Barker himself directed this film from a screenplay that he wrote which adapted one of his own novellas (The Hellbound Heart if you're interested). Still following? Good. Larry Cotton has just remarried a woman named Julia after his wife's death. Kirsty (Larry's daughter) doesn't necessarily like Julia but she deals and in a very eighties fashion broods like all teenagers do. They move into an old house and begin to fix it up.

Unfortunately, Larry's brother Frank (who also happens to be Julia's former lover) shows up to everyone's surprise. Frank has disappeared and been believed dead. But he is running from demons that must make him pay for opening the box. Turns out he is dead and he sucks Julia into his depraved plans to bring him back to life.

Dark and fast-moving this is the best in the series.

Hellbound: Hellraiser II- I saw this in the theater when I was eight! I just looked at IMDB and it came out in 1988 and I was there opening night with my parents. Crazy.

Tony Randel directed this one. You know...Tony Randel of "Power Rangers in Space" fame? Oh well...Def-Con 4 was pretty good.

This one, while paling in comparison to the original, adds a back story to the Cenobites. They are from Hell. And Pinhead has a lot more screentime.

Kirsty from the first film (now you know she lived!) is in a mental hospital but no one believes what has happened to her family.

Julia's also back, without skin.

All in all it is a little confusing for those not familiar with the mythology but it features skinless people having sex! Come on!

Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth- Terry Farrell (Dax from Deep Space Nine) is here this time as a reporter who uncovers a plot to bring Hell to Earth for the entire population's eternal suffering, back to you Jim.

It is a little weak and lacks some of the visceral aspects of the first two films but at least it jaunts out into a new plotline with a newer version of the box (inside a very cool rotating art installation).

Even more backstory to Pinhead is revealed as is a bit of his humanity. I personally don't really enjoy him as a human being.

Worthy third film in a series.

Hellraiser: Bloodline- Whoa! It took Jason 10 films to go into the future.

What's interesting is that it attacks the mythology from several generations in one film spanning 400 years. A scientist in the 2100s is the last of his bloodline and must close the gates of hell by using a reverse puzzle box.

It, I think, is the first film to use the term "Lament Configuration" for the puzzle box and that is a wicked band name if I've ever heard one.

This one is surprisingly good and has a lot more screentime for Pinhead and many of the other Cenobites. And some new Cenobites, including Cenobite Dogs baby!

Hellraiser: Inferno- Back to present day. Craig Sheffer (from Nightbreed) plays a crooked cop who finds himself over his head in a weird world of sadism and murder. He chases a serial killer known as "The Engineer."

I'm pretty much alone in my thinking that this is a good movie. It seems a bit more of an ultra-graphic Twilight Zone episode with Pinhead playing Rod Serling. He only gets 3 minutes of screentime! But I think it works. This is the departure film.

Hellraiser 6: Hellseeker- Ashley Laurence returns to play Kirsty Cotton! Now she's married to Trevor (Dean Winters from OZ). After a car crash leaving Kirsty dead, Trevor goes on a quest to find the truth. Of course, this is a Hellraiser movie so the quest involves hooks, chains, kinky sex and an appearance by Pinhead.

Enjoyable but nothing new in the series.

Hellraiser: Deader- A bit of an old foray into the Hellraiser mythology. Kari Wuhrer (who can't seem to rise above the level of B-movie starlet no matter how hard she tries) plays a reporter who uncovers an underground cult called the Deaders who can apparently bring people back to life.

Sounds good? is. It's just too bad they had to introduce it as a Hellraiser movie. the Cenobites are barely there and rumour is it wasn't originally written as a Hellraiser movie.


Hellraiser: Hellworld- okay...this one is the departure. I just watched it for the first time and I've got to tell you it's the best one since Hellbound. Lance Henriksen seems to be having so much fun as the odd party-throwing benefactor.

Hellraiser isn't real. It's a movie, a scary story. And in this universe it's spun off into an on-line role-playing game. Only one guy took it too far and got way more involved than he should have. His friends are paying the price.

I like it because it's got some earmarks of my favourite Hellraisers: very little Pinhead, lost of rhetoric and vile, depraved imagery. Although it didn't contain many hooks and chains like the first one. Just ask my pal Frank:

Frank: Cheeesssee!!

5 Bitching, Moaning and Praise

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's an interesting bit of trivia concerning Hellraiser III: Matt Maiellaro, co-creator of Adult Swim's Aqua Teen Hunger Force, was one of the assistant directors. Much of ATHF's b-movie feel comes from Matt's background in horror productions (Basket Case 3, Children of the Corn 3, Darkman).

5:06 pm  
Blogger Des said...

Darkman is a very underrated superhero movie.

9:13 pm  
Blogger Stacie Ponder said...

I've only seen the first one- lucky me! I smell another marathon coming...


12:38 am  
Blogger Des said...

Are you saying I smell? hehe

I'd like to hear your opinion on the series.

1:02 am  
Blogger Admin said...

How I know it's almost Halloween: because your blog countdown is on number 8. Woot. How I know how to spell Halloween: thanks to a snappy song in grade 5. I sing it in my head every single time I write Halloween. :)

5:26 am  

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