It’s rare to face something that defies logic. It’s even rarer to face it in a movie. Such is the case with Clive Barker’s 1987 directorial debut Hellraiser.
The plot revolves around a family, the Cottons. Harry the husband, Julia the wife, and Kirsty, the daughter. To gum up the works is Harry’s mysterious brother Frank, a criminal and a dabbler in the occult. In his pursuit he encounters a mysterious box, which unleashes a dark and dangerous new force into his world, which promptly destroys him.
However, his essence lurks dormant in his decrepit house. As luck would have it, the Cottons make the decision to move into this house soon after Frank’s “accident.” After Harry cuts his hand on a nail, his blood brings a none-too-pretty Frank back to life. The first to find him is Julia, who promises to help him regenerate (we discover the two were in a wild and passionate affair). To make things even worse, Kirsty finds Frank’s Box.
After opening it, she releases the Cenobites, Butterball, Chatter, Mona, and the terrifying and simply too-damn-cool leader, Pinhead. They intend to take Kirsty to their realm, but she tells them about Frank, and they decide to track down the escapee.
There are three things to note when discussing Hellraiser.
1) Pinhead: This character (played by Doug Bradley) remains one of the horror genre’s single most fascinating characters. Ghostly white skin, and as the name suggests, a scalp covered in nails. His voice is pure Hell. However, his most interesting aspect is that he simply doesn’t care. His cycle of torture has gone on for eons and will continue long past the insignificant events of Frank Cotton. Life and Death are just playthings to Pinhead. He lives in his realm and follows his rules. Pain is Law, Love, and Luxury. Murder is as romantic as a Valentine’s Day card. Pinhead will live on, in the mind, in the memory, and in his slew of schlocky sequels.
2) Ashley Laurence: I am not one to goo over silver screen lovelies. However, I have to say that I am head over heels in love with Ashley Laurence. She plays the character of Kirsty. She is not “hot” or “sexy” at all. She is cute, but cute in a way that the notion she is fictional makes one weep. However the beauty is not only skin deep. Her character is deeply realized and fits the bill of any guy’s ideal. She’s clever, sweet, and can handle herself in the face of say…the horrors of a sadomasochistic realm where a man with pins in his brain is God. She is in short, the most appealing girl anyone could never get a chance to meet.
3) Gay pride: Yes I said it. The most shocking aspect of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, is the fact that Clive is an openly gay man. Anyone with backwards ignorant notions of gays being flamboyant Nancies with feather boas should flog themselves after seeing just how much badassity and awesomeness can be achieved by Clive Barker’s film. This movie opened my eyes about gay culture in a way I never expected. It was transforming and enlightening to know that such perversion and sickness is not limited to straight-folk.
Hellraiser is awesome. Pinhead is awesome. Ashley Laurence is flawless. And Clive Barker is kickass. I would say it’s a must-see, but if you’ve read this far you already know that.