Some time ago, Julia (Clare Higgins) had an affair with Frank (Sean
Chapman), the brother of her husband Larry (Andrew Robinson), but now
Frank has disappeared from the face of the earth, and Larry and Julia have
decided to movie into his house.
Thing is, Frank hasn't just gone away, he has gone to hell - out of
curiosity rather than anything else - but now he has found a way to escape
hell again but needs a few human sacrifices to become fully human again.
Thank God that Julia still loves him even if she finds him to look less
than human, and is soon found all around town picking up men whom she
brings to Frank to kill, who becomes more human with each sacrifice.
Of all people, only Kirsty (Ashley Laurence), Julia's teen stepdaughter
whom she hates, suspects something's wrong. But when she finds out
everything about Julia and Uncle Frank, he almost kills her like all the
others. Fortunately though Kirsty doesn't only manage to escape - if just -, she
even gets hold of uncle's puzzlebox, which is actually the key to the door
Rather by accident Kirsty opens the door to hell, and to save her own
hide, she strikes a deal with Pinhead (Doug Bradley), the leader of the
denizens of hell called the Cenobites: She promises to help her recapture
Frank in exchange for her life ...
Uncle Frank though has meanwhile killed Kirsty's father and assumed his
identity, and thus she almost walks into a trap and he would have killed
her too if the Cenobites wouldn't have intervened in time
- but while they might have saved her life for now, the Cenobites
are the sort of allies not to be trusted ...
By the mid-1980's, Clive Barker has become a quite successful horror
writer and 2 films were made based on his stories, Underworld
(1985) and Rawhead Rex (1986), both directed by George Pavlou. But
since both of these movies were very poorly done, Barker (who already had
some background in directing) decided to direct the adaptation of his
novel The Hellbound Heart himself - and what a fine decision that was: Hellraiser
had upon its release almost instantly become a genre classic and over the
roughly 30 years since its release it has lost none of its attraction:
It's a film that combines very hard
gore scenes with atmospheric filmmaking, gothic horrors with modern
scare tactics, blunt shock scenes with a complex mythology (if a weird,
perverted mythology at that), and besides all that, Barker has managed to make a modern,
gory horror film with a intelligent storyline (if you can accept some
genre-immanent suspension of disbelief of course). The resulting film is a horror masterpiece and
a movie that seems to look fresh even on repeated viewing, and that is
thus definitely recommended - even if the movie's many sequels (and
counting) have marred the film's reputation a bit ...