Hellraiser: A Halloween Classic


New World Pictures

Alexandra Martschenko, Staff Writer

As Halloween approaches, the urge to curl up with a bowl of popcorn and dive into a blood-curdling, nightmare-forging horror movie is steadily growing stronger. Horror movies are the pinnacle of the ‘spooky season’ and a profitable market for writers and directors such as William Friedkin and Clive Barker. Lucky for us, Netflix has embraced this genre with open arms and has an abundance of chilling movies at our disposal, including Barkers 1980’s thriller, Hellraiser.

Thirty-one years ago, Clive Barker released his debut film, Hellraiser, based on his own popular novella The Hellbound Heart. The movie featured a deviant named Frank who opened a portal to hell after purchasing a cursed puzzle box from an antiques store. The movie begins relatively mundane, for a horror movie, then quickly progresses into spine-chilling scenes as creatures named Cenobites follow Frank through the open portal to wrench apart his body leaving him in perpetual pain and with a thirst for blood. Nevertheless, no horror movie is complete without the curious bystander who gets sucked into this world of terror. When Frank’s brothers family moves into Frank’s old house, they awaken his remains. Frank is able to convince Julia, his sister in law and one-time lover, to sacrifice her husband and other unfortunate men she picks up in bars in order to bring Frank back to his former state. Overall the movie was a thrilling tale from beginning to end but to many horror fans it has become an outdated and unsettling.

Years after the release of this movie, the horror industry is still split on whether this controversial film is an interesting take on a spine-chilling novella or a truly twisted and horrific movie that goes a little bit too far. The horror industry has been known to push the limits of acceptability and cross the line between horror and horrific. This was evident in movies such as Cannibal Holocaust which was pulled from theaters because of its obscene images, and The Exorcist which caused heart attacks in many unlucky viewers. Hellraiser is another film on the edge of wrong, with its implications of Frank’s sexual deviancy and Julia’s relative insanity for willingly going along with his disturbing quest and readily being attracted to Franks grotesque form. Regardless, whether or not it crosses the line is up to you.