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March 21, 2012

The Mike's Top 50 Horror Movies Countdown: #46 - Hellraiser

Previously on the Countdown: Number 50 - Happy Birthday to Me  Number 49 - Prince of Darkness Number 48 - House on Haunted Hill  Number 47 - The Monster Squad
(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.


Ashley Shannon said...

Good review, I really like the original film too, like many 80s horror films it has suffered from a gazillion sequels which undermine this film. I think it's also quite similar to the first Friday the 13th, in that the character most associated with the franchise isn't really the protaganist. I think Uncle Frank is the villain not pinhead.

They Made Me Do It

Chris 'Frog Queen' Davis said...

Great of my favorite horror films and my favorite horror writer.

Looking forward to the rest of your countdown.


therealphoenixanew said...

I definitely find Uncle Frank far more scary than Pinhead. But I think that's just a case of overexposure - I've seen Pinhead used in other media so much that I'm mostly immune to him. It would have been nice to see the movie fresh and see if my reaction would have differed.

Enbrethiliel said...


"Hey, should you really enjoy watching this?" is the best question any Horror movie can get people to ask themselves. =)

Marvin the Macabre said...

They say the pleasure center in the brain is located right next to the pain center, which lends Hellraiser's themes some credence.

Hellraiser was about the sickest thing I'd seen when it came out, and while I may cringe at some of the special effects now, it really is a visionary film.

After I saw it, I became a Clive Barker addict. I've been rereading his stuff recently, and honestly, nobody compares. THE best horror writer, hands down.