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This is one of those rare classics that I had next to no knowledge about, besides it features a character known as Pinhead. Hellraiser follows the story of a husband and wife, Larry (Andrew Robinson) and Julia (Clare Higgins), who move into an old house. In this house Julia discovers what, at first, appears to be a hideous creature that escaped from the depths of hell, but soon announces himself to be Frank (Sean Chapman), Larry's brother and Julia's ex-lover. To survive, Frank requires human blood, but he can't get this himself, so he gets Julia to do so, but it creates big consequences for them as the Cenobites, a group of demonic creatures, aren't happy with him.
The best way to describe this film is weird. It's a very weird and disturbing movie. It opens with a series of short, gory scenes, none of which are trying to make any sense. This is also when we get our first look at Pinhead, who I will delve into in good time. This film does actually get less weirder as the plot commences, but it's still a rather odd and unique movie. The idea for Hellraiser is interesting. The concept of this storyline and the box and the Cenobites is quite original, and was already granted plenty of potential. It never fully pays off all this potential, but it gets credit for trying. What they do with these ideas isn't miraculous. The story is thin and stretched, plus it lacks any real suspense or scares. Hellraiser is simply, and unfortunately, a mediocre movie.
Kudos to the make-up department though, as this film's make-up can be incredibly disturbing. The film is almost entirely practical, and both the Cenobites and the character of Frank looks frightening enough to scar the minds of countless viewers. Hellraiser is a deliriously bloody movie, and that's not a bad thing. Yes, it's mediocre, but no, it's not bad. This film isn't really remarkably bad nor remarkably good. It simply exists. The violence is shown for a long enough time frame to come as a delectable shock, but cuts away fast enough so that it doesn't over-stay its welcome. It's violent enough to entertain without overdoing the gore. As the saying goes, less is more, and Hellraiser is an adequate example of this.
As previously mentioned, I didn't know a lot about this film. When going into it I expected Pinhead to be the primary antagonist, because antagonist is a more pompous word than villain. I was sad to discover that he actually only plays a minor role in the grand scheme of things. Well, really, every Cenobite only plays a minor role in this film. They're disturbing, catastrophic characters that could easily have made for a more entertaining movie if they'd just been implemented a bit more. Perhaps that's why I hear the sequel is so much more fun to watch than the first. Maybe I should give that one a shot too. After all, I love me some fun horror sequels. Except Seed of Chucky, because f**k that movie.
To sum up, Hellraiser is a rather disappointing movie. Not a bad one, but not a great one either. It's got decent concepts, but they stretch the plot too far and it ends up being neither remarkably scary nor remarkably suspenseful.