God I didn’t want to watch this fucking movie.
I’m so not good with movie based gore. “Oh but Hunter! You enjoy Mortal Kombat and you like intense-looking transformation scenes in movies!” Yeah shut up, that’s different. When a film lingers on scenes of graphic violence and they showcase it in such gruesome detail, that’s when I get squeamish. Someone getting decapitated is not the same thing as a hook pulling on someone’s skin to me. But. I watched it. Because a friend really, REALLY wanted me to and who am I to deny the request of a friend because I’m such a Nice Fucking Guy.
You better appreciate this, Faris.
All I knew about Hellraiser going in were the Cenobites, mainly Pinhead, and the vast amounts of sadomasochistic gore so let’s just say expectations were high. The movie starts with a bang because, even before the 10-minute mark, we see a shirtless guy get hooks jammed into his body and get practically torn apart because he solved a puzzle box he got from a guy at a table. Seeing this guy (his name is Frank, btw) get his torn apart face get put back together on the floor kind of helped brace me for the movie I was about to endure. After that horrific display of depravity, we meet a family moving into the house Frank was killed/kidnapped in. We learn that the husband is Franks brother Larry and that his wife is named Julia. Two names I honest to god could not have more trouble remembering if I tried. After a bit of dialogue, we learn that Julia really doesn’t love Larry that much and then we go straight into a really, REALLY uncomfortable sex scene between her and Frank.
I did not like this part of the movie.
After a bit, we get introduced to Kristy, Larry’s daughter, and the…protagonist in the general sense. We actually don’t follow her that much during the film even though she’s the hero. Our ACTUAL main character is Julia because after Larry gets his hand messed up by a nail (I shouted “AH FUCK” when I saw it), a horrible, awful, sweaty meat man pops out of the floor because of his blood and it’s revealed to be Frank! Frank says he needs blood in order to become whole again and this is when the movie actually starts and actually piques my interest. I actually thought this plot point to be really interesting and it hooked (ugh) me for a small bit. To be wholly honest with you I actually thought the plot of Hellraiser was surprisingly basic. There isn’t really that much that happens once the plot gets going and the film goes in the direction you expect it to go in….outside of an ABSOLUTE BATSHIT THING that I’ll mention in a spoiler section below. If it sounds like I’m being negative, I’m really not. I actually appreciate how simple this movie is in terms of plot and premise and it goes into some pretty dark areas ESPECIALLY with Frank and Kristie, but I can’t help feeling like I wanted something more from it. Even though the plot is a bit predictable I can assure you this movie will not bore you because good god. Good, Holy God Are The Kills In This Movie Brutal.
If I can admire Hellraiser for one thing, it’s its use of special effects. This movie is absolutely gorgeous in a sadistic, horrible sort of way. The way the filmmakers use practical effects for the on-screen kills is astonishing. Everything from the skin to the blood is gut-wrenching but also incredibly impressive for the time. This also translates to the film’s biggest and most memorable aspect, the Cenobites.
These FREAKS OF NATURE are always the first thing that pops into peoples heads when Hellraiser is brought up in conversation, and for good reason. They Look Fucking Gross And Awful and I kind of love them for it. All of the Cenobites look phenomenal like I don’t know how kind of makeup wizardry these guys had to pull off to make something like the Female Cenobite (Yeah I checked that’s her name) but I’m super impressed with the finished product. My only complaint is that they really weren’t in the movie that much but, I understand that was intentional. You can’t really show this merry brand of horny people without them losing their impact at least within the context of this particular story. Speaking of the story, by the way, I really want to backtrack to it for a sec because the finale of this movie is just…WILD.
Spoilers from here on out.
So after a few murders for the sake of sex, Kristie comes into possession of the demonic puzzle box and summons the Cenobites in an AMAZING introduction scene filled with amazing lighting and use of shadows. She’s about to be taken away when she offers to give them Frank since it was revealed Frank escape the Cenobites when he was revived. All of this culminates in a tense, albeit brief chase/stalking scene in the house and then Frank finally gets confronted by the Cenobites and then Absolute Chaos ensues. The house starts falling apart and then Kristie starts sealing away all the kink havers and escapes the house with her boyfriend, a character I intentionally neglected to mention because he’s not a character. She then brings the box to a small fire and throws it in, finally ending her tragic ordeal.
EXCEPT THAT IT DOESN’T BECAUSE THE HOMELESS GUY THAT’S BEEN FOLLOWING KRISTIE AROUND WALKS INTO THE FIRE, TURNS INTO A BONE DRAGON, AND FLIES AWAY.
So it turns out HE was the guy that gave the box to Frank and the film ends with him offering it to someone else. This shit comes COMPLETELY out of left field and to its credit it surprised me I guess. But why, though? Why was he a bone dragon? Where did he come from? Was he Satan? I DON’T FUCKING KNOW.
Hellraiser was not what I was expecting it to be but it’s also less than what I was expecting. There wasn’t nearly as much killing as I thought there was going to be and the story really left me hanging, but I can’t say I was disappointed by it. Like I said I really hope I’m not coming off as negative because I really did enjoy Hellraiser a lot and I respect the absolute hell out of it, there were just aspects of the film that left me wanting more which is REALLY funny considering my apprehensions going into it. I’m happy I finally saw Hellraiser and who knows? Maybe I’ll end up watching the other movies someday. It’s sick but in an enjoyable way.