Release Date: September 18, 1987
Plot: After Kristy’s parents move into her uncle’s old house and blood is spilled, Uncle Frank returns from Hell, bringing murder and unwanted guests with him.
Review: You may remember that I reviewed one of the many, many, many sequels to this film and how awful it was. After rewatching this film, my hatred of the crap that was Hellraiser: Revelations is even worse. In part because this was a shit remake that takes elements whole sale from the first one, without understanding how these elements worked in the first place. Enough salt, let’s get to some good,gorey, psychological horror.
Unlike the sequel of shit, this film presents good characters: even the asshole has a reason for his assholery. Frank, our main villain ( yeah, the cenobites rarely appear in this one, or it certainly feels like it) is a hedonistic criminal who wants to go to extremes. In an attempt to do so, he travels to Morocco to purchase the puzzle box. If you remember my previous review, you know that never goes well.
Along for the ride is his loser of a brother Larry, Julia ( a woman who needs major counseling if I’ve ever seen one), and Kirsty Cotton. Kirsty is our main protagonist, and doesn’t really get to shine until halfway into the movie. One thing I would reccomend is watching this one and Hellraiser: Hellbound back to back, as Kirsty’s story is completed within.
Frank, was trapped in a personalized hell with his tormentors the Cenobites. Neither angel or devil, these beings simply perform the task at hand: taking those who open the box and subjecting them to both pleasure and pain beyond imagining. And although they don’t really hold up to this ideal in this film, Pinhead is at least willing to bargain.
Onto the effects, the practical, gorey, disgusting effects. This film was made in 1987, so CGI wasn’t around to carry the load and make the film look like crap. Everything here, except the lightning effects, was achieved through makeup, stop motion, and props. The scene of Frank’s resurrection is an example of really good stop motion . I could watch that on loop in just staring at the little details.
The lightning effects, however, don’t really stand the test of time, and the hand done look of them is a little iffy to say the least. The effects, combined with the music and acting, can create some incredibly creepy scenes. Frank (Sean Chapman, Oliver Smith, and Andrew Robinson) is ridiculously creepy, it doesn’t help that he wants to rape/murder Kirsty ( who, may I remind you, is his niece. *shudder*).
The music in this film is great, although it tends to go quiet for long periods of time, which just isn’t my thing. You have a great orchestral track that is creepy and sinister, but you don’t use it. Seriously, go listen to it here. Its great.
Highlights: The effects are lovingly sculpted and put together and it shows. One scene has Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) get covered in maggots. Those weren’t fake. I do, however expect the impaled rats were. Every character is also fleshed out, which many of the sequels Frank clones simply aren’t. Doug Bradley is glorious, and besides being weirdly attractive to many women, Pinhead is subtle and commanding in his performance.
Recommendations: For this who don’t mind a bit of gore with their symbolism, Hellraiser is worth a buy or rent. Just stay away from most of the sequels.
Even though next week is Spring Break, I’ll still be reviewing something. Something a little tropical.