Hellraiser (1987)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

An exotic puzzle box serves as a gateway to a nightmarish alternate world in this gory horror film, the directorial debut of popular horror author Clive Barker. A prologue recounts the death of a sleazy sexual experimenter named Frank. Attracted by the legend that the box held the secret to ultimate pleasure, Frank unlocks the device and falls victim to a group of otherworldly demons known as the Cenobites. The bulk of the film takes place years later, when Frank's brother Larry and his family … More

Rating: R (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Horror
Directed By:
Written By: Clive Barker
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 3, 1998
New World Video


as Frank Cotton

as Julia Cotton

as Larry Cotton

as Kirsty Cotton

as Frank the Monster

as 1st Victim

as 2nd Victim

as 3rd Victim

as Third Victim

as Derelict

as Dinner Guest

as Evelyn

as Moving Man

as Moving Man

as Complaining Customer

as Lead Cenobite

as Chattering Cenobite

as `Butterball' Cenobit...

as Female Cenobite
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Hellraiser

Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.


Critic Reviews for Hellraiser

All Critics (33) | Top Critics (5)

Minor grisly fun, but don't expect the movie to linger when it's over.

Full Review… | January 11, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

[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.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
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.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

For all that it is an incredible, and incredibly disturbing, film to look at, Hellraiser doesn't entirely click as a narrative.

Full Review… | August 7, 2011
Antagony & Ecstasy

Gore-torture-horror-ghoul fantasy from the '80s.

Full Review… | February 1, 2011
Common Sense Media

Audience Reviews for Hellraiser


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.

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.

Market Man
Eric Shankle

Super Reviewer

Hellraiser Quotes

– Submitted by Lane S (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Nick S (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Jakob S (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Horror F (3 years ago)

Discussion Forum

Discuss Hellraiser on our Movie forum!