blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Hellraiser (1987, Clive Barker)

So, Hellraiser is supposed to be scary, right?

Because it seems like a poorly directed, completely illogical (if a wall split open in front of you, would you walk into it?) mess. It’s only ninety-four minutes, including credits, but it’s this exceptionally boring “scary” movie. The scariest thing in the movie might be the off-screen clean-up of the maggot-infested kitchen. It’s the scariest idea in the movie, anyway.

Someone, somewhere, has got to have come up with a theory about Hellraiser‘s rather negative view of heterosexual sex in relation to Barker’s homosexuality. But I can’t muster the interest to look it up. His romantic scenes between Ashley Laurence and Robert Hines are awful. Hines isn’t the worst actor in the film, but he’s close, so he doesn’t help anything.

Laurence is okay. She’s not particularly good, but not bad either. Clare Higgins and Oliver Smith are terrible. Only Andrew Robinson is good. He’s really good, but it’s Andrew Robinson and he’s always been really good and Hellraiser does give him some opportunity to flex. It’s not worth sitting through it to wait for him to have his best scenes, but he is good.

Barker opens the movie with a really gross skin pulling scene, which kind of makes everything subsequent–which tends to be a lot tamer–not so eerie or scary. Christopher Young’s music, which I think is supposed to lend mood, doesn’t help either. It’s a terrible score.

Hellraiser‘s much worse than I expected.



Directed by Clive Barker; screenplay by Barker, based on his novella; director of photography, Robin Vidgeon; edited by Richard Marden; music by Christopher Young; production designer, Michael Buchanan; produced by Christopher Figg; released by New World Pictures.

Starring Andrew Robinson (Larry), Clare Higgins (Julia), Ashley Laurence (Kirsty), Sean Chapman (Frank), Oliver Smith (Frank the Monster), Robert Hines (Steve), Anthony Allen (1st Victim), Leon Davis (2nd Victim), Michael Cassidy (3rd Victim) and Frank Baker (Derelict).


2 responses to “Hellraiser (1987, Clive Barker)”

  1. Rhian Owens

    I still can’t watch them and I’m really hard to scare after too many years of watching horror flicks. No they’re not well directed, no, they’re not believable (but if we start bringing plausability into horror films then we might as well dismiss 99% of them straight away!), and yes I’m sure that if you got a bunch of kindergarten kids to conjure up the most horrible stuff they could think of then they would probably be more imaginative, but these films are one of the best in their genre, which is crappy horror! At least in this respect they excel.

  2. Hellraiser is a real ugly lump of a movie. The story never moves. The characters are dull and unlikeable. It’s intent is to shock. It’s all about gore. There’s a scene in the movie where Ashley Laurence is hiding and, for no reason whatsoever, a corpse pops out and pukes maggots. Gorehounds love this movie. While the movie some wild ideas (the box, the Cenobites, etc.,) it also has some pretty dumb ones. Like how Frank manages to escape from hell. And I have no idea why the boyfriend character is there. He does nothing.

    Out of all the Clive Barker movies I’ve seen, I do like Nightbreed. That one is fun. Although it’s more fantasy than horror, it actually has one or two genuinely scary scenes, unlike Hellraiser.

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