Today's Pick: Hellraiser (1987)
It's undeniable that the imagery of Clive Barker's fiction is an important part of horror history. While his short story collection, "The Books of Blood", introduced his macabre visions to the world, it was his feature directorial debut, Hellraiser, that made his name synonymous with the horror genre. And for good reason, because Hellraiser is a savage piece of originality that must be discussed whenever the topic of landmark horror gets brought up.
It's interesting (but obvious) that Doug Bradley's Pinhead became the focal point of the marketing and the eventual legacy of the film, since the main story isn't about him. Pinhead and his other Cenobites (beings from a realm where pain and pleasure are inseparable) are just so iconic in design and concept that it was a fairly foregone conclusion that they would overshadow the actual plot.
That's kind of a bummer, since the driving force of the film is actually just as weird and intriguing. Frank is one of the Cenobites "victims", and is resurrected thanks to his brother Larry (Andrew Robinson of Dirty Harry fame) bleeding all over the floor of the room where Frank was taken. Frank now needs to go all vampire on some guys in order to completely reconstruct his body. Luckily, Larry's wife Julia had the hots for Frank back before he got his soul all torn apart, and is willing to lure hapless schlubs straight into Frank's clutches. The dark and disgusting sexuality of this film gives it a great mystique that is both repulsive and enticing, much like the allure of the Cenobites themselves.
The effects in this movie are also part of its sickly charm. Frank's resurrection is one of the best sequences in any 80's horror film, and the makeup and costumes of the Cenobites are instantly branded into your brain. The performances are also noteworthy, with Doug Bradley as the standout. He gives Pinhead (credited as Lead Cenobite in this film) an air of regal splendor, and it's no surprise that he became the breakout star of the franchise.
The film certainly isn't perfect (it switches protagonists halfway through, and the new protagonist, Kirsty, isn't as compelling as Frank and Julia are), but it's so inimitable that it's impossible to ignore. If you're in the mood for something ominous and otherworldly with a whole lot of kinkiness, this is the go-to title.
Okay, I couldn't stay serious for very long. tomorrow, we're going to learn not to judge people by how they look. Doing so can lead to you impaling yourself on a tree. See you then!
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