Frank is sociopath that buys a mysterious box from a sex shop under the promise it will deliver pleasure unlike any other. However what Frank doesnīt know is that the box is actually a portal to hellish realm where pleasure and pain are one and the same.
Since "Halloween", the horror genre has been criticized for focusing on gore and makeup rather than story, characters or style, and while filmmakers like Carpenter or Cronenberg have proven this wrong, Clive Barkerīs directorial debut is the embodiment of those accusations. "Hellraiser" has all the trademarks of a second rate horror movie: Horrendous acting thatīs either hammy or deadpan, a nonsensical story that leaves the door open for a sequel, uninteresting and disposable characters and a good amount of gore. However Barkerīs directorial debut has two elements that make it stand out: Cool looking makeup on its villains and a disgusting but interesting concept at the center of it. Out of the four Cenobites we get, three of them look absolutely disgusting and terrifying (they undeniably deserve a place in the horror pantheon just by their looks alone), and the idea of focusing on sadomasochism as a weapon of destruction is disturbing but quite fascinating. But sadly, this film fails to live up to its premise. Excluding the already mentioned Cenobites, the special effects and make look so dated that they come off as cheesy and Barkerīs direction is so amateur that not only does the film lack any style whatsoever but at times the editing makes some scenes feel disconnected from the previous one.
"Hellraiser" is a dated horror film that's filled with incredible and peculiar horror ideas but sadly they arenīt well executed. Clive Barker shows that heīs a noteworthy horror writer but an amateur director that lacks vision. While it is easy to understand its cult appeal, this is a dated and barely mediocre body horror film.
Barker's visions aren't quite at 100% in this film, but it's an admirable first feature and I was surprised by how little screen time the Cenobites actually have, especially considering their enduring popularity. There are some truly inspired visuals, particularly the scenes leading into the Cenobites appearance, the lights traveling up the walls, the mist drifting in, it's all very atmospheric.
Remember, whatever you do, do not watch any sequels.