Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hellrasier (1987)

Hellrasier (UK, 1987) - Color, Director(s): Clive Barker
MPAA Rating: R
[UK: 18]
Approx. 94 min.

Z-rating: 5 stars out of 5

Cheese Factor: 1 stars out of 5

The Lament Configuration

Clive Barker directs this adaptation of his own novel entitled, "The Hellbound Heart." From the very beginning of the film, you know you're in for a hell of ride! A man is shown paying someone off to get his hands on a cube that turns out to be some kind of puzzle box. In the next scene, he's kneeling in a dark room lit only by the candles arranged around him in a ritualistic manner. Once opened, chains with hooks shoot out from the box and tear into his flesh as he cries out in pain. The room is suddenly transformed into a nightmarish torture chamber with chains dangling from the ceiling as creepy, gothic S&M monsters dig through his remains. A mysterious figure picks up and closes the puzzle box and all of it disappears. The entire sequence sets a creepy atmosphere for the rest of the film and is incredibly violent. There's no dialogue except for the exchange over the puzzle box but the visuals paint a powerful picture.

Frank, the man that was killed, has traveled the world in search of the ultimate sensual experience. After having experienced every sexual pleasure known to man, Frank has become jaded and seeks more extreme stimulation. During his travels, he hears rumors about something called the Lament Configuration (the puzzle box) that opens a portal to a dimension of limitless pleasures. The monsters that come through the portal, called Cenobites, are so extreme that they don't differentiate between pain and pleasure. Larry and his wife, Julia, are moving into his mother's old house. During the move, Larry cuts his hand on a nail and bleeds onto the floor of the attic. The blood revives Frank, who was killed at the beginning of the film, but he's not whole yet.

I've talked about regeneration scenes before when I reviewed Child's Play 3 and Jason Voorhees has a good one in Freddy vs. Jason but this may be the best one yet. The blood seeps through the floorboards and we see Frank's heart starts beating underneath the floor. Bones push up through the floor and his brain reforms from a pile of goo, it's one of the most disgusting regeneration scenes ever witnessed. Frank slowly regenerates over time and gets his skin last, so he's walking around with his muscles and intestines exposed. Larry's daughter, Kirsty, manages to get ahold of the puzzle box and releases the Cenobites. Frank has killed her father and taken his skin but Kirsty must now prove that Frank escaped the Cenobites and get out of the house before she is taken herself.

Nudity: We see Julia and Frank fully naked in bed together but no gentials are shown.

Gore: Some of the best I've ever seen. The scenes with the Cenobites are so gruesome, people are torn apart by their hooked chains. The Cenobites are sadomasochistic monsters that modified their bodies in horrific ways to achieve some sick level of pleasure. A lot of the effects still hold up today.

Awesome: to the MAX! This is one of the greatest horror movies of all time, it perfectly blends creepy supernatural elements with being violently gruesome gorefest. This film spawned a series that would eventually become a direct-to-video franchise. The sequel was still decent but the rest of the series strays way off course, eventually going into space and a cyber world within a video game. Doug Bradley's Cenobite is now known as Pinhead and he reprises his role in all of the sequels with the exception of the remake. Most of these sequels do not live up to the original, in fact, the remake was released just to retain the rights to the franchise. Ignoring the sequels, the original is still one of the most truly terrifying and twisted horror movies ever made.