HELLABRATION DELUXE! Thirty-One Days of SHOCKTOBER: Intro And Day One – 10/01/18

As long as there have been movies, and as long as there have been Halloweens, Hollywood and the independent denizens who scrape and scrounge outside of the system, have been more than happy to exploit the holiday, by presenting crowd-pleasing, creepy creations of the killing kind. The offerings have been as diverse and diabolical as anything the human mind has been capable of whipping up, and for this particular occasion, HOUSE OF TORTURED SOULS – and Yours Cruelly – have devised a diversion of devilish delights just for you, dear readers!

Starting today, and for the days to come, we dug back into the dusty archives, going back THIRTY-ONE YEARS, and will be presenting to you, reviews of films that served as “fright fulfillment” for the spookiest night of each.

Hopefully, no one’s going to feel insulted or that I’m being condescending, but I’m going to talk about each one of these as if none of you readers have ever seen or heard of these before and at thirty-one years and counting, believe it – there are quite a few of you who have not.

I’ve relied on IMDb.com for the suggestions here, but I made each selection in terms of what film I found meant THE MOST to me for that year. That will make it easier, even though some time periods made it a lot harder to choose than others!

10/01 – 1987: HELLRAISER


In a year that was literally ‘an embarrassment of riches’ for die-hard horror fans, which saw the release of EVIL DEAD 2, THE LOST BOYS, THE HIDDEN, ANGEL HEART, NEAR DARK and PREDATOR, choosing the best film would seem like a daunting and impossible task. Filmmakers were transcending boundaries, going deeper into imaginative scenarios. There seemed to be no limit to what could be done to refresh what audiences recognized as the “tried-and-true” stories that were quickly  becoming established horror tropes, but it was writer/actor/artist/poet CLIVE BARKER, who struck out to give fans something totally new: a vision of horror not seen before in any previous effort. But HELLRAISER would certainly become highly influential for many, many years to come.

So here’s the skinny on HELLRAISER in a nutshell…think of it as a more arty, intimate version of THE GATES OF HELL, THE DEVIL’S RAIN or THE BEYOND.  Based on the Barker novella, “The Hellbound Heart,” it’s the heart-freezing story of the Cotton family: stepmonster Julia (CLARE HIGGINS), husband Larry (ANDREW ROBINSON) and daughter Kirsty (ASHLEY LAURENCE) and the house they’ve just moved into.

Nobody knows that Julia was seeing Larry’s brother, Frank (SEAN CHAPMAN) on the side, but that would be the  least of their worries even if they did know. Frank was into some pretty intense, weird occult shit, which included a certain ornate Chinese puzzle box, that once solved, opens the doors to Hell and summons a group of demonic entities known as the Cenobites – devotees of a brand of eternal torture and suffering undreamt of by mortal men…well, most of them.

In any case, Frank didn’t just solve the damn thing, but he did it in this very house.  And now, having suffered a fate worse than death, he’s looking for a way – any way – to escape.
Enter Julia. She loves (well, actually more lusts after) the disappeared Frank as much as she loathes mealy-mouthed Larry, but that’s not the point. The point would be that there’s not a lot that she wouldn’t do to have her lover back, as she discovers when a drop of blood on the floor of the room where Frank was taken, begins to bring him back to earthly life (and the special effects are something you’ve got to see to believe, courtesy of a crack English FX team, lead by legends BOB KEEN and GEOFF PORTASS).

Things begin to get really complicated, when Kirsty stumbles over what they’re up to, and she decides to strike her own deal with the satanic emissaries, to stop Julia and hopefully save her father.  The rest of the movie is devoted to revealing whether or not she’s successful.  Not saying this is a spoiler, people, but there are about a half-dozen HELLRAISER sequels now at the very least, so you can pretty much figure out the answer to that one.

Up to that time, no one had seen anything like HELLRAISER, and it would raise the bar for so many horror films to come, not just in the occult sub-category of horror, but horror in general. Barker really let his art school roots show with this one, as the creature designs, the amazing, atmospheric photography by ROBIN VIDGEON, and CHRISTOPHER YOUNG’S dark, chilling score combined to complete a vision that could only belong to him, and was introduced by the cult favorite “Books Of Blood” (also destined to provide some other film adaptations, none of them as much of a hallmark as this.)

The unforgettable roles portrayed by acting vets Robinson, Higgins and Chapman and the then-‘unknown’ Laurence made a lasting impression upon the young minds of blossoming horror fans and seasoned horrorphiles alike, but it was DOUG BRADLEY, BARBIE WILDE, NICHOLAS BURMAN-VINCE and SIMON BAMFORD, once relative unknowns to mainstream moviegoing audiences, who all became household names as the “angels to some, demons to others”, the S&M-by-way-of-Bosch infused Cenobites – a mouth-watering future challenge to cosplayers everywhere.


Posted by Samuel Glass

We want to hear your thoughts!