Critics Consensus

Elevated by writer-director Clive Barker's fiendishly unique vision, Hellraiser offers a disquieting - and sadistically smart - alternative to mindless gore.



Reviews Counted: 41

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User Ratings: 69,454


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.5/5

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Movie Info

The directorial debut from horror novelist Clive Barker stars Sean Chapman as a man who buys a strange Chinese puzzle box in a sex shop only to discover that its solution opens a portal to Hell.

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Sean Chapman
as Frank Cotton
Clare Higgins
as Julia Cotton
Andrew Robinson
as Larry Cotton
Ashley Laurence
as Kirsty Cotton
Oliver Smith
as Frank the Monster
Antony Allen
as 1st Victim
Leon Davis
as 2nd Victim
Mike Cassidy
as 3rd Victim
Frank Baker
as Derelict
Niall Buggy
as Dinner Guest
Gay Baynes
as Evelyn
Dave Atkins
as Moving Man
Oliver Parker
as Moving Man
Pamela Sholto
as Complaining Customer
Doug Bradley
as Lead Cenobite
Nicholas Vince
as Chattering Cenobite
Simon Bamford
as `Butterball' Cenobite
Grace Kirby
as Female Cenobite
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News & Interviews for Hellraiser

Critic Reviews for Hellraiser

All Critics (41) | Top Critics (5)

  • Utterly bizarre and entirely ridiculous - and yet effective, an imaginative guignol festival, like the goriest of soap operas, in which one wrong move opens a portal to hell.

    Oct 11, 2017 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Minor grisly fun, but don't expect the movie to linger when it's over.

    Jan 11, 2008 | Full Review…
  • [Writer/Director Clive] Barker's dazzling debut as a director creates such an atmosphere of dread that the astonishing visual set pieces simply detonate in a chain reaction of cumulative intensity.

    Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Derek Adams

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • This is a movie without wit, style or reason, and the true horror is that actors were made to portray, and technicians to realize, its bankruptcy of imagination.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 0.5/4 | Full Review…
  • It's a dark, frequently disturbing and occasionally terrifying film that suggests Barker's vision hasn't quite made the conversion from paper to celluloid.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • Rightly considered a horror classic for pushing boundaries around sex and horror, Hellraiser is a flawed film with forgettable characters and gaping plot holes in the second act.

    Nov 25, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Hellraiser

A gory, trashy cult classic of the genre with an interesting (and very disturbing) idea, fascinating villains and a great makeup that stands out above all else, yet on the other hand the poor special effects and cheesy moments make it feel like a second-rate horror movie.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


People are pretty split on whether they find this film to be the start of the new frontier of horror, and the beginning of the horror porn manifestation we see today, or it's an easily forgotten flick that tries too hard. Whatever people say, Clive Barker is gross in the best kind of way, and this is definitely something never before seen. Fusing together sadomasochism and the limits of physical pleasure with the terrifying machinations of pain was never truly explored before in mainstream horror. In the indie market this was a palatable formula, but here there's also concern for gore, humiliation, and positing the female victim with the male monster. Frank (Chapman) is, by all accounts, a giant pervert, who travels the world, doing inappropriate things and people. He buys a mystical box from a market in Eastern Asia, which is supposed to bring him unbridled pleasure and pain. He figures out the mechanism, and opens it, experiencing the pain of meat hooks, demons, and Pinhead, the enduring figure for the many sequels spawned from this film. Frank's body reforms at his childhood home thanks to the blood of his brother being spilt. The transformation from blood and guts, to muscle and cartilage, was the most gruesome thing I have seen onscreen, and it has the most staying power of any scene throughout the film. There's more blood, more sexual tension, and sabotage sprinkled throughout, but most of the plot concerns Frank and Julia's (Higgins) relationship, as she kills people for the lothario to feast upon. It's a bit cut and dry with its story, but it packs on the gore and bloodlust with aplomb, and it's all you can do not to marvel at the effects, which are almost thirty years old. That and the bonds made between two pivotal humane experiences that are so often thought to be counterintuitive of one another, really make for an interesting and uncomfortable watch.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer



Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

Another 80s horror classic ruined by many half-assed sequels. "Hellraiser" has an excellent concept and offers plenty of gore. Everything from the atmosphere, script, and characters are great. The story is disturbing and unpredictable. Some of the special-effects are cheesy but that is not surprising considering the time the film was made. If only Clive Barker could have directed some of the sequels.

Eric Shankle
Eric Shankle

Super Reviewer

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