Alongside the Nightmare On Elm Street,Friday The 13th and the Halloween film franchises, the Hellraiser films are some of the most popular in the cannon of modern American horror.As is the films infamous villain, Pinhead.Nine films spanning 3 decades, it’s popularity and longevity remain unquestionable.However, its the franchises first entry Hellraiser released in 1987 that still remains the most prolific.
The film was written and directed by Clive Barker, and based off of his novella The Hellbound Heart. A big problem that faces a great deal of filmmakers is adapting literature to the silver screen.A director might take their own approach to entertaining a film audience.So unlike the rest of the sequels in the franchise, Having the writer of the original source material behind the camera ensures continuity.The differences between the book and the film are few, and also very subtle.Both forms of media somewhat give a re-imagination to the reanimation theme.In an age where the slasher film was the easiest way to ensure ticket sales, Barker gave a fresh face to the gothic horror tale.With a heavily influenced theme of sadomasochism.The old phrase of “One mans pain is another’s pleasure” is not only deeply explored.It’s one of the central themes of both the book and the film.
Long before Clive Barker’s writing would haunt the dreams of bookworms.He got his start in the theatre as a playwright.That influence is not only present within the film it dominates it.The film at times almost seems to unfold like an avant-garde stage production.Every scene is set up remarkably well, with no filler or pointlessness.The actor who has been portraying Pinhead on a consistent basis,Doug Bradley has been a longtime Barker collaborator.The two worked on the stage together, so naturally he would know how to not only take direction well from Barker, but know what he would want portrayed on screen.And although He’s gone on to be in almost every incarnation of the franchise, it’s his first impression of the nail ridden Cenobite that is the most enduring.
As far as the sequels go, the first two are watchable.At times they’re very entertaining.But they lack the imagination of the original.
Later this year Barker will be releasing a brand new book The Scarlett Gospels. Decades after he introduced the world to the Cenobites, and the puzzle box that dooms everyone who makes the mistake of opening it.It seems the legacy of hellish suffering and torment is far from over.