Hellraiser (1987)

DVD Cover (Anchor Bay Reissue)
Add to Collection
Sign up to add this to your collection
Add to Favorites
Sign up to add this to your favorites
Overall Rating 72%
Overall Rating
Ranked #1,314
...out of 20,869 movies
Check In? Sign up to check in!

Connections: Hellraiser

When Kirsty's father, Larry, and stepmother, Julia, move into Larry's childhood home, Kirsty and her boyfriend take a room nearby. Unfortunately for all involved, Larry's house is already occupied: before the family's arrival, Larry's disreputable brother, Frank, used a supernatural puzzle box to summon a gang of other-dimensional demon sadists. Now, Frank requires a series of blood sacrifices to escape the clutches of Pinhead and the cenobites. --IMDb
User Image
Review by Chad
Added: September 11, 2004
In our opening scene, Frank (Sean Chapman) purchases the infamous puzzle-box from a shady merchant, and takes it to his house to play with it. Upon solving the puzzle, some chains come out of the walls, piercing his flesh. The cenobites come for him, and tear his body to pieces. We then fast-forward over to Larry (Andrew Robinson) and Julia Cotton (Claire Higgins), who have just moved into a new home, and it just so happens that this house was the one that was previously owned by Larry's brother Frank. As they're moving their things into the house, Julia decides to go upstairs and look around while Larry helps the moving-people bring their bed into the house. While trying to maneuver said bed up the stairs, Larry cuts the back of his hand on a nail that was protruding from the stair railing, causing massive amounts of blood to flow. Since he's a bit of a weenie when it comes to blood, he runs upstairs to find Julia and have her take care of it for him. The blood drops all over the floor, and is sucked down into it by some unknown force. Meanwhile, Larry's daughter Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) shows up to spend some time with her father, and we find out that her and Julia really don't get along very well. When do kids ever get along with their step-parents, hrmm? While those two are having some semblance of a conversation, Julia's mind keeps wandering back to her previous relationship with Frank; either she was with him before she got with Larry, or she was cheating on Larry with Frank. It's assumed that she was cheating on him, but it's never really mentioned one way or the other. After conversing with Kirsty for a while, Julia heads back up to the room where she was at when Larry came in bleeding, and discovers that Frank (Oliver Smith as the monster version) is back in the house now, but in a skinned zombie version. He tells her a portion of the cenobites story, and then goes on to tell her that Larry's blood brought him partially back to life (hence the no-skin deal), but he needs more in order to completely return to the land of the living. Due to her love for him, Julia decides to help out.

The storyline given here was quite nice, however, I can't say whether or not it stayed faithful to the original novel by Clive Barker. Since he directed the movie adaptation as well, I'd imagine it did; but I've not read the book, so no promises. The only real problem with the movie version was that it took a bit of time to get started; it focuses too much on Larry's relationship with Julia and Julia's obsessing over Frank. While those parts of the story certainly do deserve some air-time in order to get the point across, I think that those scenes could have been cut in half at least; the point was made, hammered home, and delivered a few more times just to be safe. Thankfully though, the storyline picked up and kept a nice pace after that slowness was finished up.

One thing that really surprised me upon my rewatching of this, was that the effects used here are a great deal better than those found in the sequels that came out more than a decade after the release of this one. You'd think that the technology to do gore effects would get better over time, not worse. The real winner in that category was the skinned version of Frank that was found throughout most of the running-time. While I've never seen a skinned man in person, it looks very similar to what I'd imagine one would look like, and the Cenobites that are found here are also great. I'm sure that we're all familiar with Pinhead (Doug Bradley), and he looks the same as in the other entries into the series. There's also a "Chattering" Cenobite (Nicholas Vince), and in my opinion, he comes off as looking even nicer than Pinhead himself. Some very good work done on his character, indeed. Then, there's the "Butterball" Cenobite (Simon Bamford), who looked decent enough, though I personally wasn't too fond of his look. Not that it was bad, just didn't do it for myself. Finally, there's the Female Cenobite (Grace Kirby), who (with the exception of a hole in her throat) doesn't look very different than a normal human. That was a bit of a disappointment in the looks department, but she did make the character much better with her actions and speaking lines.

I can't speak on the sequel that directly followed this as I haven't seen it in ages, but this one easily tops the other numerous sequels that followed it. Only a small stretch of slowness to bring things down a bit, but otherwise, this was quite the nice horror film and I believe that it deserves it's "classic" status. 8/10.
Bluesummers #1: Bluesummers - added March 7, 2005 at 3:47am
Here's something. Clive Barker's probably one of the best authors ever. The Hellbound Heart was an excellent little novella, and is perfect for a movie. Though the written word does make the terror more...palpable as the human imagination fills in the Cenobites' appearance, they aren't the characters (something the second sequel lost). This is a story about humanity, or lack thereof. What people will do for their own kicks. Scarier than any Hell imaginable, in my opinion. LeMarchand's Box (forgive any spelling errors) is something wonderful and terrifying. It's in every human's nature to look for things...yet the lesson is, we can very well mess ourselves up by it.

Great movie. The first sequel is pretty good, and the series should have ended there. However, I say see this, and then maybe read the book. The man can write, and direct. So enjoy!

Author's Note: The Cenobites are some of the creepiest things ever. S&M freaks from the Moon, I call them. Or something. FREEEEEAKEEEEE!
Big D #2: Big D - added August 20, 2005 at 11:41pm
Ah, yes. The birth of the pin-faced guy. (That's what I call the enemy from the Hellraiser series...don't ask.) Classic.
Tristan #3: Tristan - added May 3, 2006 at 9:14pm
I think they usually just call him Pinhead.
I think this is the first horror movie I ever saw when I was little. Loved it.
Dametria #4: Dametria - added April 24, 2007 at 11:26am
The original never did anything for me. This os one case where the sequels were way better. Number 4 was actually the best
Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #5: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added October 24, 2008 at 9:20am
To me, this could have easily been one of the greatest horror movies ever if only the story wasn't so underdeveloped... and if there was some better acting. As it is, it still has much going for it thanks to the awesomely gruesome effects.

Optimus Prime #6: Optimus Prime - added October 9, 2009 at 4:14pm
Just started watching all of these. Should of watched them sooner. Love it, 9/10.
Crispy #7: Crispy - added January 4, 2011 at 10:35am
Thought it was pretty meh the first time I saw it, but I realized that I had expected Pinhead and Co. to be in more of a direct slasher role. Watching it again, and appreciating it for what it is, I absolutely love it.
Sign up to add your comment. Sign up to add your comment.
Recommended Movies
Hellbound: Hellraiser II Hellraiser: Hellseeker Hellraiser: Deader Nightbreed Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth Hellraiser: Inferno Hellraiser: Hellworld The Living Dead Girl Girlfriend From Hell Nightmare Sisters Hellraiser: Judgment Lord Of Illusions Hellraiser Rawhead Rex Book Of Blood House II: The Second Story Hellraiser: Revelations Bordello Of Blood
Layout, reviews and code © 2000-2024 | Privacy Policy
Contact: Join us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Review Updates