Did he manage to tear my soul apart?

I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I have spent much of my horror-loving years actively avoiding the 1987 film Hellraiser. I’d flip through Netflix and see Pinhead’s charming, happy face, and quickly flip past to something else. I didn’t know anything about this movie, other than that it had some sequels, but it was single-handedly one of the images that terrified me most as a child. I remember constantly visiting Hollywood Video and seeing that grotesque face on the tape box and being so afraid, I vowed never to watch this movie, no matter what.

Fast forward to this past Friday night, when I decided it was time to face my fears and see what Hellraiser is all about. After all, it spawned eight sequels (!), a potential reboot is in the works, and the franchise is quite well-known by horror fans. I didn’t do any research before, and went in with an open mind.

What I found is this: Hellraiser is a lot weirder than I was expecting it to be. I’m not sure what I thought Pinhead’s backstory would be — perhaps a zombie that lives in a haunted hardware store — but I was not expecting it to be as sci-fi as it is. Without giving too much away to those interested in the film but haven’t yet seen it, I will say it is gory, and the Cenobites are really creepy looking, but the overall story was just not that engrossing to me. I’m a sucker for a horror movie with a compelling story, and I didn’t find that in this one.

Putting aside the cheese factor of a horror movie made in the late ’80s (the costumes, music, and special effects are a direct result of the time in which this movie was made), I found the film to be generally scareless, save for the very end when Kirsty tries to escape her creepy uncle Frank. In fact, the early scenes where Frank is not yet fully “nourished” made me chuckle out loud.

Pinhead does make for a great horror villain, though — enough so that I remember his face on a VHS box to this day — and I’d say that this is a great early example of torture porn before the term even existed, so it does hold its own in the horror canon. I’m not sure that I’m interested enough to check out any of the Hellraiser sequels, but at least my seven-year-old self would be happy to know that Pinhead isn’t as scary as he appears in the video store.




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About The Author

My cousin forced me to watch Child’s Play when I was around five years old, and I’ve loved horror movies ever since. I’ll watch anything (the gorier the better) but faint at the sight of blood in real life. Let’s be internet friends -- follow me on Twitter @mrstschinkel.