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003797Reviews & Counting
BLU-RAY disk
04.28.2009 By: J.A. Hamilton
Hellraiser order
Clive Barker

Andrew Robinson
Clare Higgens
Ashley Laurence


star Printer-Friendly version
After foolishly solving the strange puzzle box, Frank is literally torn to pieces and shown the true meaning of pain. When spilt blood brings him back, he uses his brother’s wife to kill and become whole again in hopes of freeing himself from the cenobites trying to drag him back to hell.
Despite being a HUGE fan of the HELLRAISER series, I never did like the original. To put things bluntly, the plot was dumb, the dialogue a train wreck, and the acting...well, lets just say there weren’t any Oscars passed around. I loved the first few minutes, all the dark imagery bringing this wickedly bizarre nightmare to life. To me, the puzzle box is one of the coolest horror novelties ever created, and Pinhead the true embodiment of terror. Which is exactly what makes coming back to this one very difficult as Pinhead and the cenobites weren’t meant to be the focal point of this tale, and as a result are only in the film for five to ten minutes. Which from a fan's perspective, can be a touch frustrating.

My biggest beef was with the characters. They were poorly written, horrendously portrayed and bottom line, I just didn’t give a shit about them! And why would I? The romance between Frank and Julia was five kinds of retarded. Everything about Frank felt off to me, Larry was useless and Kirsty a complete waste of space. I also found Frank's “reassembling” to be way too drawn out. His makeup effects however, were definitely the coolest aspect of this film. You rarely see stuff like that anymore, which sucks cause I’d take makeup over CGI any day of the week. The cenobites were also something special to behold, their makeup and costumes (Pinhead’s especially) were simply unreal. I love the old-school effects, it's what makes classics like this stand out.

Clive Barker has a vivid imagination, and I can only assume this story looked good on paper, it just didn’t transcend very well into film. The script was terrible. Beginning aside, this movie drags on at the pace trees grow, with minimal excitement until the very end. There was a top notch idea here, no question, but somehow Barker managed to bury it beneath a painful montage of awkward scenes and flimsy directing. This film looked like a bad eighties video half the time, creating an over dramatic atmosphere that slowly ate away at the film’s chilling score. I didn't care for the house either, the idea anyone in their right mind would live there is completely absurd.

HELLRAISER was a bit of a mess. And I’m gonna go ahead and blame Clive Barker here, as with a new director (and help with the screenplay) HELLBOUND was infinitely superior to this film. I get what he was trying to do, just not why it seemingly failed. I understand his lack of skills as a first time director, but there’s absolutely no excuse for such a piss poor script. The guy’s a writer for Christ sake! Sure, I’m mad at the fact Pinhead and his crew were MIA for most of film, but this wouldn’t have been such an issue for me if the film had other positive aspects to draw from (aside from the wondrous HD treatment). Sadly, it didn’t. A bit of letdown if you ask me. I can only hope the re-make gives this devil his proper due.
Mr. Cotton, I Presume?: An Interview with Star Andrew Robinson: This guy gave the coolest interview ever, I loved his attitude, he even dropped the F-bomb! Like me, he wasn’t too fond of that house either.

Actress From Hell: An Interview with Star Ashley Laurence: Interestingly enough, she’s been in nearly as many HELLRAISER flicks as Pinhead. She’s not overly thrilled about being cast-typed to the genre because of it though. Look on the bright side baby, it could have been porn!

Hellcomposer: An Interview with Composer Christopher Young: He explains what brought him into the movie score biz, and how Clive allowing him to think big changed the way he sees film music. I love his reaction to the waltz piece.

HELLRAISER: Resurrection: Clive and crew explain how luck played a role in getting the gig, and the ways he went about promoting the film. Clive certainly has a ton of respect for Doug Bradley, and I find it HILARIOUS that he had no clue Pinhead would become the icon he is today.

Under the Skin: Doug Bradley on HELLRAISER: Doug explains the depth and sheer mystery surrounding his character. The ironic thing here is that he almost took one of the “mover” roles over Pinhead. What a kick in the nuts THAT would have been.

Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Clive Barker and Ashley Laurence. Moderated by Screenwriter Peter Atkins: Having both written and directed the film, Clive clearly adds a unique perspective here. What I found most interesting was that he and Doug became close friends in school when they were fourteen and sixteen. They even wrote and performed plays together, some of which Clive has on DVD. Cool beans.

Trailers and TV Spots: There’s three HELLRAISER trailers, R rated, G rated and International, all super old and kinda funny to watch. There’s also four thirty second (equally entertaining) TV spots.

Still Galleries: There’s about a half hours worth of photos set up via slide show, behind the scenes, makeup, promotional stuff and storyboard scene breakdowns. It seems the “new” Pinhead pics that surfaced awhile back were derived and based upon some of these stills.

DVD-ROM: If you hook your player up the internet you can download drafts of the screenplay. This is feature first for me, but one I think is pretty damn cool.
The concept behind HELLRAISER truly is ingenious, and the fact Barker had his BLOOD novels to base it on should have made this a successful venture. Age isn’t an issue either, as lots of eighties horror films are still fun today. Barker dropped the ball here, plain and simple. This Blu-ray is for SERIOUS fans/collectors only. Or you could buy the puzzle box DVD set, and be a pimp like me.
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