(1987, Dir. by Clive Barker.)
Why It's Here:
There's something pretty sick and twisted about Hellraiser that doesn't really compare to any other horror film. I'm not talking about the sheer grossness or evilness of the film, because there are plenty of horror films that set out to achieve those things, and probably do so better than Hellraiser. But they generally do so in a superficial manner. Hellraiser feels slimy and creepy and evil, but it feels like that slimy and creepy and evil actually matters to the film and enhances the horror experience that comes from watching Hellraiser unfold.
The Moment That Changes Everything:
Pretty much any moment when Pinhead's booming voice can be heard qualifies. "We have such sights to show you" and "We'll tear your soul apart" qualify as two of the most haunting phrases I've ever heard on film. Combined with Christopher Young's booming musical score and that gong-ish sound that accompanies the heavy stuff, Pinhead's appearances become nightmarish and effective.
It Makes A Great Double Feature With:
Clive Barker's seriously underrated - and severely cut by the studios - Nightbreed. The film misses the mark at times due to the meddling that occurred during production, but the world of monsters that is shown should go perfectly with the world of the cenobites in Hellraiser-land.
What It Means To Me:
Hellraiser works for me because, by my standards of horror, it's about the perfect balance of art and chaos. It's gory and sadistic, but it's still endlessly fascinating to me. It's perhaps the one movie that I just stare at and get all morally concerned and ask myself "Hey, should you really enjoy watching this?" And I never really know the answer, but I keep watching it. And I think that maybe that's what horror is supposed to make me feel.