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Explore the depravity of the human heart
on 28 November 2002
This fast-paced, action-packed novella served as the basis for Clive Barker's extreme horror movie masterpiece Hellraiser, but it is well worth reading on its own merits. The human heart and its vulnerability to perverse pleasures of a sensuous nature is a compelling theme at the heart of Barker's writing. Those familiar with the movie will find that this original story matches up fairly closely with what they have seen, but there are some important differences. For one, a little more information about the infamous puzzle box is revealed. The characters are fleshed out a little better, yet Julia remains a cold person whose motives are not completely understandable. The Cenobites are actually featured much less here than in the movie, and the physical descriptions of them are far less developed--Pinhead himself reportedly speaks with a girlish voice in the novella. The blood and gore are certainly here, but their full magnitude is determined by the imagination of the reader. Interestingly, Kirsty's relationship with Rory (who was called Larry in the movie) is ambiguous at best. While one assumes Rory is her father, Kirsty always refers to him by name, and her relationship with him, if he is her father, is not a normal one for she seems to relate to him as some sort of potential lover.
The depth of Barker's vision is much better developed in print than on the movie screen, and that is what makes this novella a must-read for fans of extreme horror. The dark side of the human soul is a source tapped deeply by Barker's imagination, and he is unafraid of revealing the depravity of any given individual. As such, his writing betrays a complexity and ingenious subtlety which critics of horror will never identify or understand. Surprisingly, there is really not a great deal of perverse sexuality in this particular work, so readers who tend to shy away from his Books of Blood may actually find The Hellhound Heart to be the optimal doorway by which to enter the haunted, terrifyingly alive world of this modern master of horror.