Hellraiser (1987) #WiHM


Citizens of CineDump, in honor of Valentine’s day, we wanted to bring you the tale of a young woman, caught in the wiles of a dangerous, powerful man. He thrills her sexually with his rough, S&M flavored love making, and this leads to a contract that binds them both. Of course, I’m talking about 50 Sha--- no, wait, Hellraiser.

That’s right, Preston and I celebrated Valentine’s early by sitting down with the original tale of sex, blood, and devil’s deals. Left feeling cold after the tepid 50 Shades Darker? Friend, have I got something for you. Sure, Christian Grey might have your lecherous boss fired, but would he skin a man alive just so he can give you that sweet, sweet sadomasochistic loving? Yeah, that’s what we thought. This ain’t your sorority sisters’ erotica, babe.

Plus, this movie has Cenobites-- the kinkiest, creepiest, craziest movie monsters ever conceived. Does the Red Room of Pain seem tame? Well, hang on for the reveal of the Cenobite’s realm. You’ll never look at a severed penis the same way again.

To top if off, this movie has one of the strongest, and ultimately smartest, Final Girls in film history. Unlike Anastasia Steele, Kirstie starts the film weak and dependent, but by the end, she’s arm wrestling savage muppets and wheeling-and-dealing with Sex Demons. Eat it up, EL James. Empowerment tastes sooo good.

So, grab that certain special someone, promise them an exploration in the further regions of experience (who could resist?), and let’s look back at this exploration of eros and thanatos.


Preston Fassel: Brought to you by helvetica... it’s not helvetica.

Pennie Sublime: You know things are real when people are filthy.

PF: Forget candles and champagne, Hellraiser brings you candles and a portal to sex hell. Happy Valentine’s Day, grandma.

PS: The skin they use for Frank always reminded me of this one pudding your mom makes.

PF: It does! You’re so right!

PF: I love this shot.

PS: Yes, I know! When I saw this the first time we watched it, it really disturbed me.

PF: I always wondered what’s up with the pillars. I get the chains and hooks, but.,.torture pillars?

PS: No one does torture pillars like Hellraiser.

PF: Doug Bradley’s hand is so dainty. Look at how dainty!

PS: I love how mysterious the opening is. If you haven’t read the book, it’s kind of like, “What the hell?”

PS: Andrew Robinson!! King of creeps and sad sacks!

PF: Do we ever find out what Larry does?

PS: He does business. Can’t you tell by the suit?

PF: I would love to know the story behind Clare Higgins’ entire aesthetic in this movie.

PS: This is the best part: Larry knows Frank was there when he finds some pornographic sculpture. With a script like this, you don’t need character development.

PF: I love that Frank cares enough to cover all the good furniture and sleeps on a mattress on the floor.

PS: Just goes to prove my theory: the original Christian Grey. Kinky yet sensitive.

PF: So cute. So eighties.

PS: Kristie is calling from a gauzy netherworld.

PF: What’s up with Julia’s brooch? It’s like a pen? Is it like an entire silver pen? Do love her watch though. I think it’s a Tank.

PS: Julia found the stash. Ritualistic homemade porn.

PF: What’s up with the kabuki porn?

PS: Poorly dubbed movers! The most underrated characters in genre history.

PF: Why is Larry, one, moving his own stuff? And two, doing it in a gingham shirt and slacks?

PS: Because he is weak.

PF: Captain Eyebrows wants beer.

PS: To think, Doug Bradley could have played that creepy mover.

PF: And that creepy mover... could have been Pinhead.

PS: What a world…

PS: Larry should kick those mover’s butts.

PF: Larry has no taste. He’s in England and he’s drinking Budweiser. Do you know how much cheaper Guinness Stout is over there?

PS: Budweiser is the beer of the resistance, Prest.

PF: I love that moment when he says his wife is dead. It just says so much.

PS: Ha! Larry killed those movers’ boners. So brutally. Get ‘em, Larry. No mercy.

PS: My favorite poorly dubbed sex scene.

PF: It’s an interesting touch that there’s not so much an animosity between Julia and Kristie as there is a distance. Julia almost seems afraid of her standing on the balcony looking down.

PS: But then again, most people wouldn’t want their step daughters creeping on them while they fantasize about their ex-lovers. But I take your point.

PF: Julia’s just a steel town girl on a Saturday night looking for the fight of her life…

PS: Because of the lighting and window in this scene? Does it remind you of Flashdance?

PF: No, because the sweatshirt. She’s wearing that sweatshirt.

PS: That’s not a sweatshirt. Oh, in the flashback. I got ya. Preston sings “Maniac” with the film paused. I wait silently. Drink more wine.

PS: Oh, Frank, you have a way with the ladies.

PF: I try not to shove my fingers into the girl’s mouth until the second date.

PS: And that’s why you’re not ur-Christian Grey. Sorry, P.

PF: Damn. “It’s never enough.” Show some class, Frank.

PS: He don’t do hearts and roses. Laters, babe.

PS: Oh, when I saw that heart growing under the floor for the first time, I freaked out!

PF: This and The Thing have some of the best practical effects of the 80s.

PS: Oh, those sweet, sweet practical effects.

PF: Those rats must have had a good agent.

PS: The best…

PS: The music here is so crazy.

PF: I’ve always thought of it as tragically operatic.

PS: I love the goo. And the scream.

PS: Damn, Larry. It’s too early for a Holocaust joke.

PF: Larry just stands by while this guy makes a sleazy pass at his daughter. Right in front of him.

PS: And I know he could have murdered this guy’s erection. We’ve seen him do it before. Poor Larry.

PF: I’ll be a gentleman and not make any comments about Ms. Ashley Lawrence. Just… so cute. When she bites her lip…?

PS: The moment where they look at each other and that one party guest is like “Does it still hurt?” and Larry pauses for a long time... that is legitimately my favorite moment in any horror movie. It breaks my heart a bit.

PF: Clive Barker really is a master of small moment characterization.

PS: Just a shame he never got “Last Will and Testament” off the ground. That would’ve been awesome.

PF: That would have been the shit.

PS: Indeed.

PF: I can see Clare Higgins doing Jacqueline Ess.

PS: Eighties pumps!

PS: I love the Frank makeup.

PS: All things considered, Julia takes this really well.

PF: Uh huh.

PF: Frank could make a killing on the freak circuit

PF: Practically speaking, your hand doesn’t bleed that much. I know from that time I cut my thumb off. Your face, on the other hand, bleeds like stuck pig. Now, what Larry lost on the floor was enough not just to resurrect you from Sex Hell but make you a pretty good approximation of a Romero zombie. Julia could have gotten around this whole murder thing with a couple of shaving nicks. Just saying.

PS: But then she wouldn’t have been the ur-Anastasia Steele. See where I’m going with this?

PF: …’kay.

PS: One has to endure awkward, humiliating sex with a stranger, the other has to kill weird day drinkers. It all evens out in the end.

PF: So cute in that hat!

PS: My favorite movie homeless guy! Sorry Pursuit of Happyness.

PS: This guy’s supposed to be British, but they dubbed him with the same soulless American who did all the male voices in this movie. It makes this last three-minute conversation they’re having nonsense.

PF: I love the shot of them kissing in front of the white brick wall. It’s one of my favorite shots in any movie ever. It very unironically captures something very true about the 80s.

PS: If Norman Rockwell lived in the 80s…

PF: No joke. They cut a butt sex scene here.

PS: Just like in 50 Shades of Grey! There’s a whole scene in the second book where they talk at length about butt plugs and all that could have been.

PF: I love the nightmare.

PS: The blood soaking through is effective.

PF: I think this and The Sopranos are the only two things that have ever really “done” nightmares right. And the first Nightmare on Elm Street.

PS: Yeah, that Hamlet/sheep dream is a trip.

PF: Every other movie nightmare is too “on the nose.”

PF: Why is he sleeping on the floor? And who waxed his chest?

PS: I can only answer one of those questions.

PF: I feel for the guy with the forehead patch… but… dude… just shave it.

PS: I love it. I’m down with the patch. It shows his masculine virility... how posh is this restaurant? You can get a decent martini AND a murder hookup.

PF: “Not gonna change your fucking mind, are you?” Wow, man. Way to sweet talk a lady.

PS: I know, this guy goes from zero to rapist. And I was rooting for you, forehead patch man.

PS: This is just like the scene in the novel when Christian Grey finds Anastasia with Jose and he gets all mad and then he drags Jose outside and eats his face off. See? I told you. The parallels are there.

PF: Tightie whities dude? C’mon.

PS: I always remember in the book it said that Julia guessed they were bought by his wife who had “long stopped seeing him as a sexual creature.” Not an exact quote, but now that I’m thinking of it, “Sexual Creature” would have been a great title for this movie. Wouldn’t “The Sexual Creature” franchise have a certain special ring to it?

PF: On Cinemax.

PS: I love that patch of blood under her eye.

PF: Does Frank have a hand dryer in his bathroom? I just noticed there’s some kind of thing next to the bathroom door. It says “on/off.”

PS: Knowing Frank, it’s a sex torture device. Larry just hasn’t gotten rid of it yet. He’s been busy.

PF: Oh, yeah. I saw one of them in a Quick Trip men’s room in Tulsa once.

PS: Yep, cause it’s still the 80s in Tulsa. They probably just saw this movie nine minutes ago.

PS: See? This movie centers around a Mephistophelean sex pact. There’s all this talk about doing things for each other, holding up ends of deals. Much sexier than all that contract patter in 50 Shades if you ask me. Go Frank.

PS: A midday brandy. Julia’s a rockstar.

PS: Just like Anastasia lost her sex virginity, Julia just lost her murder virginity. Coincidence? I think not.

PS: Ooooh, and Frank is just as derisive of “babe” as Christian is. The evidence is piling up.

PF: “Like love, only real.” That’s just another instance of a single line saying so very much about a character.

PS: What kind of problem does this lady have with those chubby birds? I’d be happy if I were her.

PF: They swear.

PS: And smoke cigarettes.

PF: And drink Pabst Blue Ribbon.

PS: Dirty hipster parakeets.

PS: I love this guy. He just doesn’t care. Eat those crickets, homeless guy. And next time, set that monkey free. That would be a sequel worth seeing.

PS: Is Julia trying to kill every balding man in England?

PF: The more Julia sex murders, the higher her mullet becomes.

PS: You know, maybe we could look at these murders as hair motivated hate crimes. She’s killing the bald to resurrect her mulleted lover, and her own mullet grows more resplendent as the film goes on.

PF: Chatterer is the shit.

PS: Yes he is.

PF: One of the scariest 80s monsters hands down. Pinhead’s got the charisma, but Chatterer is just like... shit. And I want to know more about Butterball. Truly the most underappreciated Cenobite.

PF: “They’ll never find us.” Apparently they really wouldn’t have if you hadn’t tried to fuck your niece, Frank. Because they don’t seem to be looking for him that hard at this point.

PS: Yeah. they don’t even go back to the room where they found this guy. It’s not like he’s huddling in a safe house somewhere. He’s basically where they left him. Good job, Cenobites.

PS: It’s great that Frank put on a sports coat to spy on his brother’s love making. It adds a real sense of propriety. And wait... what color is that sports coat… surely not… grey?

PF: Cause Frank keeps it classy.

PS: Larry, love, that sweater has “master of the sensual arts” written all over it.

PS: Larry, why are you talking about your sex problems with your daughter? The kinkiness in this family runs deep.

PS: Oh no. A victim with a full head of hair. Where’s this going? What’s going to happen?

PS: That moment on the staircase... man. “I... uh... I get lonely sometimes.” How sad. Now he’s gonna get eaten by a Sexual Creature. It’s been a bad day.

PF: I love that Kirstie hears that man screaming in pain and her reaction is to try to catch her mother in the sex act. She must think Julia is some kinda freak.

PS: Lionel Richie is her doctor. He will heal her with the power of song.

PF: She looks vaguely aroused when she picks up the box.

PS: Well, in the second one they say it’s desire, not hands, that open the box.

PF: Notice that the little beams of light coming off the box look like sperm.

PS: They do indeed. And the little circle is clitoral in quality.

PF: I know designers of fan boxes call one face the “priapism” face.

PF: I always loved the shot of her on her stomach playing with the box.

PS: When the walls open, it’s like... oh yeah. This is what we’ve been waiting for.

PS: This puppet is amazing.

PS: There’s nothing in modern films as awesome as the Cenobites’ full reveal.

PF: This scene leaves me speechless every time.

PS: “Nobody escapes us... supposing he had escaped us.” I love how Pinhead instantly retracts.

PF: It’s a very subtle thing that I don’t think a lot of people really look at. Pinhead is sort of a tool. He’s awesome, but he’s sort of a tool. A teenage girl gets him to admit in the course of five seconds that maybe he’s not as good at his job as he likes to pretend. If I ever meet Doug Bradley again, I want him to sign my DVD “Supposing he had…”

PF: And then as soon as the Female Cenobite says, “Maybe we prefer you,” Pinhead immediately shuts her down. These guys do not have their shit together as well as they would like to think.

PS: “We’ll tear your soul apart.” Go on, fancy little screenwriters. Come up with a line to top that. Just try.

PF: You just know Pinhead practices that in the bathroom mirror.

PS: It shows. Practice makes perfect.

PS: See and Frank holds up his end of the bargain. Just like what other sensual explorer we know... that’s right. Christian Trevelyan Grey.

PF: Frank could have gotten away with this... again, if he hadn’t tried to fuck his niece. Again.

PS: I love how the Cenobites show up literally eight minutes too late. Frank was just in this room, killing his brother and dressing up in his skin.

PF: I never noticed that Butterball is over to the side nodding like ‘Oh yeah.’ Did you ever notice that?

PS: Nope.

PF: The man they’re looking for is one floor down.

PS: They can’t open a door and hover down a small staircase. Why?

PF: They don’t even follow her.

PS: And of course, readers of the second book know all about Christian Grey’s incestuous fixation on his mother. Just like Frank and certain special someone... I’m telling you. Clive needs to sue EL James.

PS: Oh, and the ironic use of “babe” just as he kills Julia. Yes.

PF: Didn’t Frank just come out of the room the Cenobites supposedly can’t leave? What kind of interdimensional sex predators are these?

PS: You had one job, Cenobites. One job.

PS: Take that, Frank. Things are about to get waaaay kinkier in here. Welcome to the Blue Room of Pain. Am I right?

PF: You are so right.

PS: Does anyone ever wonder what those chains are attached to?

PF: I love Pinhead’s “This is not for your eyes.” It’s Cenobite shorthand for “Shit’s about to get fucked up. You might want to leave.”

PS: Blood--splosion!

PS: “We have such sights to show you…” What a line.

PF: “No, don’t do that”... so impotent.

PS: He controls tentacle chains with hooks and he just stands there while she solves the box. Good job, Cenobites!

PS: I like that the boyfriend is really superfluous to everything. That proud tradition is carried over to the second one. Good job, you useless guy, you!

PS: Butterball is defeated not by the Lament Configuration, but by house. Good job, drywall!

PS: Laughed so hard when that puppet punched her idiot boyfriend. Good job, puppet!

PS: Kirstie, you survived the rigors of hell, now your reward is scrawny, white Cliff Huxtable.

PS: I love the almost bored non-reaction of Kirstie and her boyfriend when the hell dragon shows up.

PF: It ends with a demonic hobo transforming into a pterodactyl skeleton and flying away with the portal to sex hell. Just like 50 Shades of Grey. Case closed.

PF: The Original Christian Grey, ladies and gents. You’re welcome.