JANUARY 20, 2008
Here we have another of those (thankfully) increasingly rare films that I HAVE actually seen before, but so long ago (and only once) that I couldn’t remember a damn thing about it. What’s funny is that both times I have seen Hellraiser it has been more out of an odd obligation than actual interest. The first time (I was like 13) I watched it only because I hadn’t seen it and Fangoria kept talking them up, and now I’m watching it because I have put it upon myself to watch a horror movie every single day of my life. And write about it.
I’ve had the DVD for years (in a collectible tin!) but never really had any interest in watching it until recently, when I read an article about the film’s legacy in Horrorhound magazine. If you haven’t read Horrorhound, you’re not really missing much. It’s well meaning, and like Rue Morgue it covers a lot of different areas of horror, particularly toys (as opposed to the “just films and maybe a few books” Fangoria), but it’s riddled with mistakes and truly horrible grammar, so it comes off as a bad blog in print form, which is a problem when you’re paying 7 bucks to read it as opposed to a blog that is free. Even with my limited knowledge of the film, I noticed a few mistakes in dates, and the author also claims that the film has incestuous overtones between Larry and Kristy, which I don’t see at all (Flowers in the Attic – now THAT’S incestuous daddy-daughter overtones!).
As a kid, I really only liked slasher and zombie horror. Anything else was just sort of boring to me, including this. Now that I am slightly more intelligent (not to mention much less of a snob – I’m even coming around to werewolf movies!) I am happy to say I enjoy the film much more than I did then. The plot isn’t very complex, but it never feels padded, a tricky endeavor (especially for a first time director). It’s still not exactly one of my favorite movies, but I am now interested in re-watching the next two sequels (I’ve never seen any of them more than once with the exception of Bloodline, which is the only one I saw in theaters).
There are a few odd problems with the film, however. One is Kristy’s total blindness to her father’s SEVERELY WOUNDED HEAD during the climax. Seriously, his fucking ear looks like charcoal and he has blood pouring from his entire hairline, and she doesn’t seem particularly concerned about this. Kind of dumb. Also, the rate at which Frank regenerates seems a bit off – a few drops of blood (much more than should be dropped from the wound to begin with) are enough to make Frank come back to life, but 3 full bodies later and he’s still not whole? I would have liked to have seen another stage, in which he’s just a skeleton or something. And the Devil guy at the end is just ridiculous.
Otherwise this is a solid film. The makeup effects are PHENOMENAL, even moreso when you consider the low budget (less than a million, which with inflation would be about the same as Halloween’s cost). Andy Robinson is a hoot as well; there’s a scene where he, for no real reason, uses a ‘scary’ voice and says “You want a cookie little girl?” that had me in stitches. And even though it has a relatively low body count (5?) it’s pretty gory and violent. I also like how they don’t explain everything away; not only does it leave the mythology open for sequels, but also the point of the film is sort of a gory, supernatural take on Hitchcockian style themes (obsession, lust, sadomasochism, etc), and spending 10 minutes explaining the origin of Chatterer would take away from that focus.
While I now consider myself a fan of the film (I really didn’t like it as a kid, which is why I never watched it again), I still look forward to the remake. Not only do I think the directors could very well be the saviors of adult horror (if Inside is any indication), but also the new film would spare us Julia’s ridiculous 80s hair:
What say you?