|31 Days of Horror, Part 14|
When you think Hellraiser, you naturally think of Pinhead, the face of the franchise, right? Well, this is only the first entry in the series, so you're going to have to wait a bit to catch more than a glimpse of him here. Larry (Andrew Robinson, who looks like the evil cousin of Randy Quaid) and his wife, Julia (Clare Higgins) are moving into a new house. Well, it's a "new" house; it used to belong to someone in Larry's family, but is now dilapidated. The house technically belongs to Larry's brother, Frank (Sean Chapman), but nobody has heard from Frank in years; knowing Frank, he's probably dying from syphilis in jail somewhere. He won't mind if Larry moves in and takes over this fixer-upper, right? Not so fast. Larry is missing two crucial pieces of information about Frank. The first is that Frank had a passionate affair with Julia a few years ago; it was not about love so much as it was about expressing carnal appreciation.
|Frank exudes sexuality like...wait...that's Frank? Really? Ew.|
|Interestingly, he left his pants on|
|To put it another way, you won't hear this guy complain about his shoes being too tight|
|It is explicitly stated that Julia wants to have sex. With this. Interesting.|
There is not a whole lot of acting in Hellraiser. The main character, I guess, is Ashley Laurence's, and she treats the role like a typical slasher movie part. And that's fair, given her scenes. She's not bad, but she's not exactly impressive, either. Clare Higgins was pretty dreadful as Julia. It's one thing to play a character that is hopelessly, irrationally in love with someone who asks them to do bad things. It's another issue entirely when that "someone" looks like they were turned inside-out. I don't care how much you lust for someone, that is a turn-off; if it's not, I suggest you stop torturing small animals and preemptively turn yourself in before you start murdering transients. Also, Higgins has to play a woman who is seducing men in the middle of the day, and her "come hither" hairstyle is basically a 1980s version of Bride of Frankenstein? I just don't get the 80s. Andrew Robinson typically plays unlikable characters, so I was a bit surprised when he appeared to be a bland but friendly fellow for the first three-quarters of the film; it turns out that he's not quite believable as a nice guy.
|This is his "sympathetic" face|
Hellblazer was written and directed by Clive Barker. His direction is a little shaky at times, but he makes up for it with the horror elements. Basic things, like editing and continuity, are recurring problems; thankfully, they are all fairly minor moments. The score doesn't help matters much, because it is stereotypical and cheesy. Barker manages to balance those flaws with some pretty cool horror elements. The practical effects, for the most part, stand the test of time and are still disturbing.
|The face puzzle? Not so much.|
|Who let John Madden in the editing booth?|
1) He told her, "Believe me, it's me." Bear in mind that this is a different actor's voice we're hearing in this scene, too, since the Frank roles were split between two people.And I'm not even going to touch the Joseph Mengelev joke during the dinner party scene. It's not just the dialogue that is lacking in Hellraiser. There are some basic plot elements that simply fail to work. Characters make inexcusably stupid decisions and the plot that has built up over 80 minutes devolves into a chase scene, starring a magical box. But every time the story takes a wrong turn, it follows up with a scene of unique cinema violence, which almost neutralizes the stupidity with gore.
2) When Julia acts justifiably freaked out, Monster Frank gets annoyed. He actually cuts her off, saying "Just help me, will ya?" Oh, when you put it that way, I would love to feed my murder corpses to an ozzing pile of slime and pus. Oh, wait, I am not a mass murderer, looking for a way to get rid of the bodies. I am Julia, a dissatisfied housewife. And I just let Inside-Out Man win me over with promises of sex.
|Pages 87-93 are just this guy dropping the F-bomb over and over|
What Hellblazer boils down to is how entertaining it is when there is not blood and gore on the screen versus how good it is when things get icky. Every horror movie has these filler moments that are typically used to try (and fail) to make the audience care about the characters. Barker puts effort into these scenes, but they are scripted awkwardly and are fairly dull. However, when the bizarre/gory scenes occur, they are pretty fun to watch. The moments that made me squirm the most were fairly basic. One involves Andrew Robinson cutting his hand on an old nail --- specifically, the suspense that went into that scene --- and the other was how weird it would be for some stranger (Cenobite or not) to put his fingers in my mouth.
|Why does this freak me out so much more than eternal torture with hooks and chains?|