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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gory masterpiece of horror
Hellraiser is an extreme horror lover's dream come true. Clive Barker's unique vision marked a virtual rebirth of the genre at a time when slasher sequels were the fun, yet predictable, norm. Although the premiere setting for viewing this movie is a crowded theater of screamers (and sick puppies like myself who find humor in gore), one can still achieve a quite...
Published on 28 Nov 2002 by Daniel Jolley

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars No-one Escapes.
The power of one little box is amazing! This genuinely scary film follows the couple, Larry and Julie's move into a house that was occupied by the purveyor of the mystical box Frank, (Larry's brother).

The interesting plot starts with Julie going through Frank's sordid photos, (and thinks back to their affair).

Larry the husband cuts his hand moving...
Published 9 months ago by Richie77777


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gory masterpiece of horror, 28 Nov 2002
By 
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hellraiser [VHS] [1987] (VHS Tape)
Hellraiser is an extreme horror lover's dream come true. Clive Barker's unique vision marked a virtual rebirth of the genre at a time when slasher sequels were the fun, yet predictable, norm. Although the premiere setting for viewing this movie is a crowded theater of screamers (and sick puppies like myself who find humor in gore), one can still achieve a quite satisfactory effect watching this movie alone in the dark. Some horror creators rely on blood and gore for its own sake, others rely on the story itself to produce the desired effect. Clive Barker is one of the few horror geniuses who can make copious amounts of gore an integral and necessary part of the story. Hellraiser can be deliciously gross, so those with weak stomachs should beware. It features rats; decayed, maggot-infested meat; and copious amounts of blood--and that's just the teaser. Later there are acts of cold-blooded murder, human dismemberment by arrays of chains, a partially formed, pus-dripping, oozing carcass, and then the incredible Cenobites themselves.
The movie at its simplest level is a retelling of a story that goes back to Goethe's Doctor Faustus and beyond--when you sell your soul to evil forces, you will regret it. Frank Cotton is a despicable, uncaring man who has grown bored with life's most extreme pleasures. When he hears about and eventually acquires a puzzle box which can open the door to a new world of perverse pleasures, he finds out that one man's pleasure is another man's pain under the tutelage of the Cenobites. Somehow, he manages to escape the other world, and when his brother's blood is spilled in his chamber of horrors, his body begins to reform itself. More blood is required to complete the job, and his brother's wife Julia supplies it by picking up men at bars and bringing them home for Frank's nourishment. The prim and proper Julia was ravaged by Frank soon before her wedding to Frank's brother Larry, and she enjoyed the experience so much that she will do anything to get Frank restored to vaguely human-looking life. Larry's daughter Kirsty, played by Ashley Laurence in her motion picture debut, discovers what is going on and manages to get her hands on the puzzle box. When she is introduced to the Cenobites, the fun truly begins.
The Hellraiser series degraded into a sad mimicry of itself in later movies, but the original vision personally sculpted by the masterly hands of writer and director Clive Barker is a horror masterpiece. The Cenobites are one of the most unusual, fascinating "bad guys" ever dreamed up in the imagination of man. They really don't appear too often in this film, and Pinhead (played by the great Doug Bradley) is never referred to by this name even in the credits. When they do appear, with Pinhead enunciating such great statements as "No tears, please. It is just a waste of good suffering" and "We will tear your soul apart," they are truly horrifying, mysterious, and larger than life. Less is definitely more when it comes to the prominence of Pinhead and his demonic associates in the movie.
Those who dislike horror probably have sense enough to stay clear of Hellraiser. Those of us who revel in extreme horror delight in watching it. If you are an intermediate-level horror fan initiated by the Scream and Freddy/Michael/Jason movies, here is your chance to really test your horror mettle.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Pain and Pleasure: Indivisible!", 7 Jan 2004
By 
Kevin O'Keefe (Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hellraiser [DVD] [1987] (DVD)
Being a fan of horror films is a frustrating thing. There are hundreds of horror films out there and I guarantee you that the vast majority are utter, indefensible tosh. ‘Hellraiser’ though, is very much the exception. It is one of the very few horror films I’ve seen that genuinely conveys a sense of the horrific and, if watched in the right circumstances, can genuinely disturb. It is interesting that writer/director Clive Barker managed to improve on the novella from which the film was based (‘The Hellbound Heart’), as, as any fan of Barker will tell you, his books are simply fantastic – astonishingly inventive and twisted flights of fancy shot through with often darkly beautiful prose. As it is this tale lends itself nicely to the film format and against the odds improves upon the book.
The Cenobites are now well established within the pantheon of ‘classic’ horror icons – deservedly so. Sadly due to the success of the first film there have been a succession of sequels with increasingly diminishing returns and, crucially, a complete lack of the ‘grubby’ feel of the original (‘Hellraiser 2’ is still better than most horror licks that have been churned out in the last ten years though).
Unlike a lot of films that came from the same era and increasingly after (‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ for example), the film is refreshingly free of ‘irony’, which to my mind has been used over the years as a lazy directorial and script device to disguise the fact that ‘straight’ horror is hard to pull off without it seeming in some way comical (it’s so much easier for the lazy and unimaginative director to throw in a few self-referential and knowing gags and plot devices lifted from countless other films). For me ‘irony’ and ‘cool’ has caused the death of horror films (‘Buffy’ and ‘Angel’ typify this continuing trend).
That said ‘Hellraiser’ is still not without its lighter, albeit rather grim, moments – there are laughs to be had, but not at the expense of the films greater ambitions: to take you to a genuinely unpleasant place…
In short, one of the finest atmospheric fantasy-horror films ever.
NB: If you can find the time read Clive Barker’s ‘Weaveworld’ (all his books are awesome –in the literal sense- but this one is truly exceptional. Trust me). Now if only they could make a film of THAT!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Raise some hell on Blu Ray, 28 Oct 2011
By 
Inspector Gadget "Go Go Gadget Reviews" (On the trail of Doctor Claw) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Of the many horror franchises that endured through the 80s and 90s Hellraiser, surely, has the most sequels (I think we're up to part 10 now). The mythology, and point, may have been lost on the long line of successive filmmakers who took up the reigns after Clive Barker's departure, but the original film remains a true, hardcore, nose-to-the-grindstone horror that is completely unafraid to do whatever it wants.

The story has Larry Cotton and his wife Julia move into the old family home (in what seems to be England, but no one is speaking with an English accent) where his wayward brother Frank appeared to have been staying before mysteriously taking off. Little do they know that Frank's soul is imprinted on the walls of the attic and brought back to life, in a skeletal, barely human capacity, when Larry spills his blood on the floor. Frank and Julia rekindle a fling they once had as he begs her to help him restore his human body, by luring naive wannabe lovers, for him to feed on before the Cenobites discover he's escaped their dimension of eternal pain/pleasure.

What impresses me most with Hellraiser is that everything is done before the camera. All the blood and make-up effects are cheap but utterly convincing. If it were made today it would be nothing more than a CGI-crapfest that would horrify no one, but the raw, ugly visuals and unfiltered cinematography elevate Hellraiser far, far above the trash that passes itself for horror these days.

Chris Young also provides a glorious score, which may well be the best horror film score of all time. It's absolutely amazing stuff and I highly recommend that you check out the Hellraiser score CD. It gives the film an extra edge and a touch of timeless class. Despite being made in the 80s, Hellraiser has barely dated and looks much better than modern horror films with 50 times the budget.

The Blu Ray looks and sounds great with a 1.85:1 1080p picture and Dolby TrueHD 5.1. A decent amount of extras are included.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pain is Hell, 28 Jun 2009
Frank(Sean Chapman)has purchased a small puzzle box-the Lament Configuration Box- and summons the "Cenobites",physically & mentally deformed inhabitants from another dimension.Led by Doug Bradley`s Pinhead,their guiding principle of "pain as pleasure" sees them endlessly rip & flay Frank`s body to shreds with their infernal torture devices. When his brother Larry cuts his hand & blood seeps through the floorboards nourishing & re-invigorating Frank`s torn remains, a means of escape opens up for him. But he needs lots more blood to live again & for his shredded carcass to be whole. He persuades his brother`s wife & former lover Julia(Claire Higgins), to lure men back to the house & butcher them. Unfortunately, Pinhead & his minions won`t give him up that easily & follow him into this world to re-claim his body. Directed by the author, Clive Barker, Hellraiser is full of disturbing & graphic images of violence, terror & sadistic pain. The special effects still retain the power to shock & turn the stomach in their visceral intensity. Pinhead is a malignant, elegantly sinister & evil character who dominates every scene he`s in. Unnatural & terrifying, Doug Bradley`s Lord of Pain dominates all around him. Having seen the U.S. disc, I think the Blu-ray picture & extras are excellent for a movie of this vintage & see no reason why the U.K. disc will be any different. The acting, special effects, script & direction elevate this movie above it`s rivals. If you`ve got the stomach to watch the gore, Hellraiser is an outstanding horror movie that raises the infliction & depiction of extreme pain to an art form. Highly recommended.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In the immortal words of Pinehad, "It's time...to play...", 5 Nov 2004
By 
Lawrance M. Bernabo (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Hellraiser [DVD] (DVD)
It is surprising when you go back and watch "Hellraiser" again, after having steeled yourself for the experience because this time you know exactly what is coming, that Pinhead, the leader of the Cenobites, has so little screen time. Of course, this shortcoming has been rectified by the various sequels to the original, but even if there had only been one "Hellraiser" the image of Pinhead would remain one of the most disturbing images of contemporary horror films.
However, even without Pinhead, "Hellraiser" has plenty of intensely disturbing images. We begin with the compelling little Lamont Configuration, an exotic puzzle box that opens a door to Hell, which is what poor Frank (Sean Chapman) discovers just both the Cenobites rip his body to pieces. But when Frank's brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) and his second wife Julia (Clare Higgins) move into a new house and Larry rips his hand open on a nail, the blood brings Frank (well, part of him, anyway) back from the Hell dimension. It seems that Frank and Julia had been lovers, and she had promised to do "anything" Frank wanted. Julia was looking for something in the area of sexual deviancy we assume, but Frank now has something else in mind as he holds Julia to her word, namely, seducing men to come back to her house and up to the attic where their life's blood can help further regenerate Frank's body. By the time poor Larry and his daughter Kristy (Ashley Laurence) have a clue what is happening upstairs, it is pretty much too late.
Writer-Director Clive Barker does not pull any punches in his first film when it comes to putting as much raw horror on the screen as he can cram into this 94 minute film. "Hellraiser" rewrites the rules in terms of how far you can go and what you can try to do to the poor viewers of your horror film. The key thing is that as gross as things get on the screen, there is an intelligence and a creativity behind the horror that can neither be ignored nor easily dismissed. You can imagine Barker saying, "What? You WANTED to see a movie that would give you nightmares, didn't you?" This is not a particularly polished film, but I really think that adds to its effectiveness. "Hellraiser" is a primal horror film, operating on a raw level that is as innovative as it is disquieting. If they had rated this film "X," I probably would have agreed with the judgment. Not for the squeamish (or their neighbors).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb, Unnerving Horror Film, 18 Sep 2014
By 
Bill Mason (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hellraiser [DVD] (DVD)
I've been a horror fan for the best part of 40 years, since I was about 8 years old and started watching old black and white vampire and werewolf movies. I think that Hellraiser should rate as one of the top 50 horror movies of all time. A magical, hand-held puzzle box opens up a variety of doors, that lead either into heaven or hell (but mostly hell). The lead character, Kirsty, ventures into the gruesome depths of the puzzle box, where she discovers the horrors of hell, including a band of fiendish looking creations called Cenobites, including "Pinhead", who is the chap on the cover of the DVD. Kirsty's stepmother, Julia, and her natural father Larry, are preparing to move into Larry's recently deceased brother Frank's old house. Thanks to a nasty gash on Larry's hand, which spills blood on the floor of the attic of the house, the seemingly dead Frank is awoken from beneath the floor, as a blood curdling, skinless, amorphous monster, which cannot take form as a complete human without the blood of the living. Julia was having an affair with Frank before his death, and with the chance to help her "reincarnated" lover take living form again, she lures lonely men back to the house, to be killed and used by Frank for their blood (I recently watched the wonderful sci-fi horror Under The Skin, starring Scarlett Johansson, which had a similar theme of horny, lonely men, being lured back to a house, where they'd be killed and their bodies then used for nefarious purposes). However, as Julia helps Frank to come fully back to life, he is being pursued by the Cenobites (Frank had previously escaped from the clutches of the Cenobites when he was back in hell). Kirsty discovers her stepmother's evil actions and intentions, and determines to help stop her dad Larry from falling victim to Frank. What's never fully explained, is the connection between Frank and the puzzle box, you're kind of left to assume that he was playing about with the box, ended up in the depths of hell, and then escaped the attentions of the Cenobites but never quite made it all the way back to living form. This is not a horror masterpiece like, say, The Exorcist or Zombies Dawn of The Dead, but it is sharply written, well shot and edited, very well acted, entertaining, suitably icky and gruesome when needed, and, overall, a first rate movie of the horror genre. In short, this is a mysterious story of a captivating puzzle box, which can invoke the forces of hell, and take human beings into the arms of the terrifying Cenobites. This film may have had a modest budget, but they definitely made every penny count. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Time to play," says Pinhead...everybody out of Hell..., 22 Nov 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Hellraiser [VHS] [1987] (VHS Tape)
It is surprising when you go back and watch "Hellraiser" again, after having steeled yourself for the experience because this time you know exactly what is coming, that Pinhead, the leader of the Cenobites, has so little screentime. Of course, this shortcoming has been rectified by the various sequels to the original, but even if there had only been one "Hellraiser" the image of Pinhead would remain one of the most disturbing images of contemporary horror films.
However, even without Pinhead, "Hellraiser" has plenty of intensely disturbing images. We begin with the compelling little Lamont Configuration, an exotic puzzle box that opens a door to Hell, which is what poor Frank (Sean Chapman) discovers just both the Cenobites rip his body to pieces. But when Frank's brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) and his second wife Julia (Clare Higgins) move into a new house and Larry rips his hand open on a nail, the blood brings Frank--well, part of him--back from the Hell dimension. It seems that Frank and Julia had been lovers, and she had promised to do "anything" Frank wanted. Julia was looking for something in the area of sexual deviancy we assume, but Frank now has something else in mind as he holds Julia to her word, namely, seducing men to come back to her house and up to the attic where their life's blood can help further regenerate Frank's body. By the time poor Larry and his daughter Kristy (Ashley Laurence) have a clue what is happening upstairs, it is pretty much too late.
Writer-Director Clive Barker does not pull any punches in his first film when it comes to putting as much raw horror on the screen as he can cram into this 94 minute film. "Hellraiser" rewrites the rules in terms of how far you can go and what you can try to do to the poor viewers of your horror film. The key thing is that as gross as things get on the screen, there is an intelligence and a creativity behind the horror that can neither be ignored nor easily dismissed. You can imagine Barker saying, "What? You WANTED to see a movie that would give you nightmares, didn't you?" This is not a particularly polished film, but I really think that adds to its effectiveness. "Hellraiser" is a primal horror film, operating on a raw level that is as innovative as it is disquieting. If they had rated this film "X," I probably would have agreed with the judgment. Not for the squeamish (or their neighbors).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sickening....thats a good thing though!, 17 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Hellraiser [DVD] [1987] (DVD)
This is a true classic horror film - very gory, scary and very dark. It is the first in the Hellraiser series, and introduces us to the Cenobites - a race of creatures who thrive on pain. A man called Frank solves a Chinese puzzle box - the reward of which is it opens the gate to the Cenobite dimension, and the person is taken back with them - they offer the ultimate experience of pleasure, combined with the ultimate experience of pain... He is brought back to life by his brothers blood, and then all hell breaks loose...
This film is certainly not for the weak of heart, and although the effects in some areas are a little dodgy, they are still pretty gut-wrenching. If you enjoyed films like Nightmare on Elm Street, Braindead or The Exorcist, then you'll probably like this. However, the disc has few features and the films ending is a little too similar to Nightmare on Elm Street's ending, which stopped me giving 5 stars, but for only £10 is a must have for anyone who can stomach it!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars citizen kane of horror films, 7 Jan 2008
This review is from: Hellraiser [DVD] (DVD)
There are a lot of contenders for the best horror film ever made, but this film stands out from them all due to the sheer imaginative power and intelligence behind it. The concept of the Cenobites and the vast mythology that is only just hinted at in this film makes the imagination salivate for a long time after you have watched it. This is a brutal film, but by the standards of the mindless torture porn provided today (for an equally mindless audience that wants its horror as basic and simple as possible) it is no longer as brutal as it seemed back in 1987. Visually striking, imaginative and atmospheric, it is the Citizen Kane of the horror genre. Like Kane no other film in its genre (other than The Shining) is as inventive in its visuals or as thick with ideas. Added to the fact that it is Barker's first film (again, like Welles) it is a masterpiece of the genre. Watch only if you want a horror film that is so much more than just a piece of genre blood-letting.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pain and pleasure...indivisible, 30 Mar 2004
This review is from: Hellraiser [DVD] [1987] (DVD)
Hellraiser is a visual array of menacing sado-masochistic imagery and gore galore. There's nothing nice in this film - cockroaches, filth, hooks, pins, skin-ripping, fleshless bodies and gallons of blood are just some of the things on the menu.
The film is no stranger to most people. Based on Clive Barker's brilliant novella The Hellbound Heart, it is a simple story of selling your soul to the Devil - or in this case the Cenobites who are masters in body reconfiguration and refined pain and pleasure. But it goes deeper than those things but I'll let you watch it yourself. Visually, I'm convinced it's one of the greatest films ever made - the image of the lead Cenobite, whose head is a geometric network of squares intersected at each apex by a nicely driven pin, is just brilliant stuff. He represents pain and pleasure. No other film possesses such a unique vision. You'll really see nothing else like it, and for that reason alone you need to get it.
Unfortunately, Hellraiser fails in storyline and acting. Clive Barker is a brilliant writer - anyone who's read his books knows that - but as a scriptwriter he's lame. The dialogue is horrible in this and even more horribly delivered by actors who are unbelievably wooden (with the exception of the excellent Kirsty and Pinhead). There are some unforgettable one-liners from Pinhead but the script otherwise is annoyingly bad. It just doesn't seem to flow.
What's more, the last fifteen minutes of the film are just plain terrible. Like the house, the story just completely falls apart into mindless oblivion. When Kirsy's friend (or is it boyfriend?) comes into the house and suddenly becomes part of the fight without blinking an eyelid. I hate stuff like that. It's like they've worked hard on the first hour of the film but got incredibly lazy which is why we're ill-rewarded with a really crap ending.
That's why it only gets four stars in my books, but I can put those things aside because it's visually amazing, especially on a large screen and on DVD. Just a shame about the ending, script and acting. I nearly gave three stars cos of that but I didn't have the heart to. If you haven't seen it,then do cos you'll be missing out.
For those who want more of the Cenobites (who don't feature a great deal in this), then check out Hellbound: Hellraiser 2. But please don't watch the third one because it's a joke.
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