HELLRAISER. 1987. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY CLIVE BARKER. STARRING DOUG BRADLEY, ANDREW ROBINSON, CLARE HIGGINS AND ASHLEY LAURENCE. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
This is the cracker of a cult British horror classic from the 1980’s that introduced us to the character Pinhead, or The Head Cenobite, as he’s known in this first instalment of the franchise. He’s the horror icon with the long dress thingy on him and the pins sticking out of his head (Pinhead… geddit…?) whom we sometimes see hanging out with other horror icons of the 1980’s in funny Facebook memes: namely, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and Freddie Krueger. Ah, you know who I mean…!
The Cenobites are these weird, otherworldly creatures who thrive on inflicting terrible pain on the poor stupid eejits unlucky enough to fall into their evil hands. Frank Cotton is one such eejit. He enters their messed-up world after mucking about with a Chinese puzzle box that has the power to open up doorways, or portals- into hell. Now what in the world would you go and do a damn fool thing like that for…? Seems like a body deserves all they get, they go and do a crazy thing like that…
Initially eager to experience all the pleasure and pain the Cenobites’ world has to offer, Frank escapes first chance he gets, so it can’t have been all that pleasurable for him down there. Or over there, wherever. He’s got no flesh on his bones, however, and so he begs his sister-in-law, Julia, to help him to regenerate himself.
Julia agrees in a heartbeat, as she’s a hot, horny little slut who had a steamy affair with ‘brother Frank’ when he was alive and kicking and also handsome, in a sleazy kind of way. She’s desperate to rekindle their love, or should I say lust, so she’ll do anything, even murder…
Julia lures strange men back to her house when her husband Larry is out and kills them so that Frank can drain the blood out of them, thereby regenerating himself bit by bit. Imhotep in THE MUMMY (1999) and THE MUMMY RETURNS (2001), the terrific action romps set in Ancient Egypt and also 1930’s Egypt and directed by Stephen Sommers, does the exact same thing.
It’s not all plain sailing, though. Larry’s beautiful daughter Kirsty is sniffing around by now, Larry himself is getting curious as to what’s going on in his own attic- that’s where freaky-looking brother Frank is hiding out- and, to cap it all, Pinhead and the Cenobites are royally pissed off that Frank has managed to escape them and they want him back, or else… Or else what…? Watch it and see, haha.
The fashions, hairstyles and make-up are so painfully ‘Eighties you’d have to see ’em to believe ’em. Julia in particular looks like she belongs on the cover of the JACKIE annual. The acting is hilariously hammy and campy, but this only adds to the fun of a film I thoroughly enjoyed but wasn’t remotely scared by.
Ashley Laurence is gorgeous and infinitely watchable as Kirsty, and she really knows how to simulate restlessness while sleeping. Her truly excellent tossing and turning deserves some sort of acting award. Her running away from ghosties and ghoulies, also, is like pure poetry in motion. She does it so unbelievably well. I’m not actually being sarcastic, you know. There’s a knack to running away from the monsters in a horror film and she, ladies and gentlemen, has got that knack.
You should definitely watch this film if you haven’t already done so. It really is terrific, campy fun. It will tear your soul apart, though, that’s the only downside, so I don’t know, you might want to have a needle and thread handy for any little repair jobs…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at: