If you were born in the eighties, just like me, then at one point in your life you probably watched the cartoon Doug. There’s this one episode where Doug and his gang go see a scary movie. Doug gets really scared and covers his eyes and afterwards everyone is talking about how awesome the monster was. The movie becomes really popular and Doug feels like the big fat phony that he is for not knowing what the monster looks like. So he sees it again and forces himself to watch the monster and isn’t scared at all, especially because he can see the zipper in its lobster suit. Then he feels like an idiot for being so scared.
Doug represents the futility of existence.
That’s how I felt watching Hellraiser. You see, this is my dirty little secret–I never saw Hellraiser before. My parents weren’t too strict about what I watched and the one time they put their foot down is when my mom made me read the book of The Exorcist before I saw the movie. That’s how I learned that Regan would be fine because the demon’s name was Pazuzu and nothing truly evil could have that goofy of a name. The whole horror section of Blockbuster was open to me. But I shuddered every time I passed Hellraiser and was always scared of Pinhead. I’m not sure if it was the black eyes or the “He’ll tear your soul apart” or the actual pins but he always, always scared me. My hand would hover over the box but I’d always end up just checking out 976-Evil again rather than face my fear.
I started facing my Pinhead fear when someone on a disturbing book forum that I frequent recommended The Hellbound Heart, the Clive Barker novella that the film is based on. I read it and it left me deeply moved and kind of shaken. Reading the book is a very visceral, sensual experience and I found some ideas trapped in my head like the idea of bells tolling from very far away and the damp room.
So I was ready to watch Hellraiser when I saw it for sale for $1 at a sale where some archive group was cleaning house.
So I watched it last night and there were definitely some creepy moments but I don’t think it warranted the fear I had of Pinhead.
In no particular order, the things I liked:
1. The music was creepy without being overwhelming and I like that they kept the bells.
2. The scene when Frank first pulls himself out of the floorboards is actually kind of amazing. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It was amazing, even with the dated technology.
3. Totally frivolous but Kirsty had the cutest eighties outfits ever. I had that brown leather jacket, I inherited it from my big sister. Plus, she was totally right to be skeptical of Julia because Julia was pretty evil.
4. Some scenes were incredibly beautiful, like when the blood bursts into the IV bag at the hospital.
The things I disliked:
1. That scorpion-goblin thing that guarded the entrance to the cenobite dimension. So goofy.
2. Pinhead was just too emotional. I think things are scarier when they’re quiet and book Pinhead, who is unnamed, was quiet and very androgynous. I think that’s why I actually liked the female cenobite better, because she whispered. I just think she’s creepier.
Plus, in the book the cenobites were pretty indifferent to humans. They pursued Frank because in solving the Lamarchand Configuration he became a part of their dimension but once Kirsty could offer them Frank they lost interest in her and didn’t try to renege on their deal. In some ways indifference is scarier than pursuit.
3. I can deal with the primitive effects when the cenobites disappear back to their dimension, but what the hell was up with that skeletal dragon?
So, it was a good movie. A good way to spend the night but I really don’t see all the fuss about it. It just didn’t scare me as much as I thought it would.
Maybe I should rewatch Candyman. That movie terrified me when I was young, especially the scene in the bathroom.
- Scarina--the authoress and editrix of this site. I like scary movies and have dedicated my free time to cataloging horror--the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes there are books too.
There's film criticism, literary criticism, and humor here. I can be highbrow but there's lots of pop culture too. And feminism.
I fervently love "Twin Peaks" and wish it were a real place so I could move there. I can't list my favorite scary movies because they change depending on my mood, the season, and how much coffee I've had.
I'm an artist looking for ways to blend creepy with cute. I try to channel my childhood nightmares, my love of horror, and my experiences with sleepy paralysis.
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