For this week’s horror review, I decided to go with the 1987 classic, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. I discovered Barker’s work in the 80s and enjoyed many of his books, including the short story this film was based on called The Hellbound Heart from the Books of Blood collection. Great stories, masterfully told…

The film centers around the concept of a box that opens up dimensional doors, mostly to hell it would seem. The door is opened by those seeking the darker arenas of pleasure and pain, only once opened they get much more than they bargain for. Such is the circumstances with Frank who manages to escape his torturous confines when an unfortunate accident with his brother Larry provides a way back to humanity.

Hellraiser marks Barker’s directing debut. The film was made for about a $1M budget and has moments where it feels a bit dated, especially with regard to the appearance of some the effects. Still, most of the film stands the test of time in terms of story, acting and overall presentation. It’s plenty creepy and jarring despite some of the 80s remnants of clothing and hair style. Even some of the bad effects moments will hold up to the gross factor of present day horror counterparts.

The actors are all strong. Andrew Robinson is a great balance of likable and then not so likable later on as Larry. Clare Higgins portrays Larry’s treacherous wife expertly and Ashley Laurence as Larry’s daughter plays her role passionately. All-in-all, tight, professional acting throughout the movie.

If you’re looking for another horror film to add to your must-see wish list, be sure to include Hellraiser as well as Hellbound: Hellraiser II. I wouldn’t go beyond that though…

reviewed by Sean McKnight