|Artwork by Tim Bradstreet|
"Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we're opened, we're red." Clive Barker
Every once in a while I like to delve into a particular series/franchise of horror films and completely immerse myself in the universes they create. The various movie marathons I've foolhardily thrown myself into include Halloween, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. There has also been consideration of adaptations of work by such writers as HP Lovecraft and MR James.
I have decided that March is as good a time as any to embark on another marathon of a specific horror series. Therefore throughout this month I’ll be watching all nine Hellraiser films. Yes, there are nine. Who knew? As I have said before, usually prior to embarking on such sordid excursions, these things just have to be done. Sometimes.
With its blushless exploration of such adult themes as the malleability of human flesh, sado-masochism, violent eroticism, and the acquiescence of man’s nature to self-indulgent pleasures - not to mention its searing imagery of unspeakable body-modification/mutilation - Hellraiser introduced writer/director Clive Barker as an extraordinarily singular voice in horror. Based upon his novella The Hellbound Heart, Hellraiser, and its sequels, tells of a group of sinister, self-mutilating monastic figures from another dimension. Summoned by the solving of a cryptic puzzle box, they claim the bodies and souls of those attempting to obtain their secrets of pain and pleasure; and the horrifying realms where they lock in a bloody embrace.
A disturbing, nightmarish tale of dark desire and wanton flesh, Hellraiser had an overwhelming impact on the landscape of horror cinema with its depictions of surreal and abominable concepts, and fantastical violence. It arguably paved the way for films later labeled 'torture-porn' with its forensic, fetishistic approach to violence and pain. It spawned no less than eight sequels and a remake has been threatened for some time. It also gave us, in the form of central antagonist Pinhead, one of the genre’s most recognisable and terrifying icons. Barker, who distanced himself from the series after its fourth instalment (century-spanning origin story, set in space (!), last to be released into cinemas) created characters of such enduring appeal and fascination, they have reappeared throughout not only the aforementioned sequels, but in other mediums such as comic books and graphic novels. With Hellraiser he introduced us to some of his most memorable creations, and an astoundingly rich universe populated by a pantheon of unimaginably grotesque characters and all manner of retina-piercing, violent imagery.
So top up your glass, and prepare for some of the bloodiest, grisliest fantasy horror that has ever soiled the silver screen. You know, before all the straight to video sequels… And no more tears please, they’re a waste of good suffering.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II
Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth