Movie Review: Hellraiser


Will Engle, Staff Writer

It feels a little redundant to review a film that has been beaten into the ground by constant praise, but to be quite frank, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser deserves all of this praise and much more. I am no stranger to the depths of vintage horror cinema. I constantly strive to find deeper, darker movies that have somehow withstood the test of time to appear within my “recommended” list. Unfortunately, most of the time these films leave me cold and disappointed. A lot of the horror from the 70s and 80s seems to lack something, some degree of madness or malice that gallons of fake blood and gelatin organs cannot be substituted for. Hellraiser, for lack of a better term, delivers.

Hellraiser, at its foundation, is a one hour and 34 minute odyssey through the deepest fears of the parents of the 80s. Every skeleton in their closets is unearthed and vomited forth upon the screen, ranging from demonic rituals to sexual deviancy. The movie follows the harrowing tale of an adulterous wife, Julia Cotton,  who must save one of her past lovers from the grip of the Cenobites, a pale-skinned race of demons who rule over the domain of pleasure and pain. In order to save him, Julia must lure unsuspecting men into her home and murder them, thus feeding the Cenobites the blood they so desperately crave. However, this plan is uncovered by the plucky young heroine, Kirsty Cotton, who decides to investigate Julia’s strange behavior and is thus dragged into a hellish landscape of sado-masochistic madness, directly into the hands of the Cenobites.

I’ll be frank, I didn’t expect much from this film. I had heard little about it, and expected it to play out much like many other pulp 80s horror films. I had just finished Wes Craven’s A Nightmare On Elm Street (absolutely incredible), and believed that nothing could truly compare to the iconic Freddy Krueger. However, after binging Hellraiser with wide, glazed eyes I can safely say that the villainous Pinhead (lead Cenobite and god of pain) and Hellraiser as a whole is even better than A Nightmare, and deserves much more of the 80s horror limelight than it was given.

Overall I would highly recommend this film to any purveyor of classic horror cinema. As I said before, it feels redundant of me to review a film that has been praised up and down for decades. Hellraiser, in all its otherworldly glory, deserves this acclaim.