This blog contains material I wrote and posted on between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Hellraiser: Review

Yesterday, trying to take a break from the usual drags and diversions of daily life, I spent two hours of my existence watching a DVD of what I was assured was a pathbreaking horror film, 1987’s “Hellraiser”. I was told it would send me fear all the way from hell.

Half right. It was hell.

All right, I know I’m a B Movie fan, but I do enjoy good movies too, and when something’s billed as a serious horror story, I expect it to be a serious horror story, with an accent on the “horror”. For instance, while I’m watching “Psycho” or “Alien”, which are GOOD horror movies, I expect them to be scary, and the horror to lie at least partly in the imagination. Horror is. Gore, to put it mildly, isn’t. If I want to see blood, I might as well visit a slaughterhouse and see it all for free, hey?

So, if you want to show gore and still have it make some kind of entertainment sense, you should go for the horror/comedy (ie B-movie) route, or else you’d better make sure you have a really, really good framework to hang your story on, or else it falls flat, completely and absolutely. To take a scene from this particular flick, a guy being literally pulled to pieces by hooks on chains may be disgusting/puke inducing, but it’s not, in the context of horror movies, horrifying. It becomes even sillier when the guy seems (towards the end of the procedure) to be enjoying what’s happening to him.

OK, so what’s the story? Without giving too many things away for anyone who STILL feels moved to watch this, it’s about a man who buys a sort of puzzle box from a merchant in Morocco and opens it only to have hooks slash out to grab him and rip him apart. Cut to bickering middle aged couple entering old family home. Turns out that the man of the couple, Larry, is the brother of the hooked box man (Frank) and the woman, Julie, is Frank’s adulterous lover. The couple’s moving into the house for some incomprehensible reason, with nary a word where Frank, the occupant, has gone, except that he left behind pornographic pictures and rotting food.

During the course of a domestic accident, Larry spills blood on the floor, which allows a skeletal, howling creature to materialise. This creature reveals itself to Julie as Frank, who’s been in Hell being pleasure/pained by angels/demons called Cenobites who’ll be looking for him. Julie needs to arrange more blood to be shed because Frank needs the blood to regenerate himself, and proceeds to do this by cruising bars and bringing back pickups to the house (when Larry is away, naturally) and there hammering them to death so Frank can reconstitute himself. Fine so far?

Meanwhile, Larry’s daughter by a previous relationship, Kristy, who’s been hanging around the fringes of the movie, arrives, finds Frank, steals the box from him, and accidentally summons the four (and very unfrightening) Cenobites from hell. In order to save herself from being grabbed by them, she tells them of Frank’s escape and promises to help them find him.

After that it all gets pretty predictable and geared towards making a sequel, and so it did, apparently – seven of them to date. I am not planning to watch any.

Incidentally, how the hell did this make number 19 on the cable channel Bravo's list of the 100 Scariest Movie Moments? Did they pay off the channel or something?

One star, and that’s saying a lot.

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