Hellraiser has to be one of my favorite horror movies. I found myself drawn to and rooting for the franchise’s “bad guys”--the cenobites. I liked how, in the movie, the line between pleasure and pain, and good and evil, really depended on the person experiencing the situation.
What kicks off the movie is Frank-- a person who everyone describes as a self-admitted hedonist and a deviant-- and his pursuit of the ultimate pleasure and sensation. He is given a puzzle box that promises to meet all his desires, and that is when the trouble begins. Frank gets way more than he bargained for when he meets the Order of the Gash. These beings specialize in sensation of all kinds--pleasure and pain are all the same, and when you solve their puzzle, there is seemingly no way out. However, Frank may have found a way to escape these sadistic creatures’ clutches when his brother, and his brother’s family moves into Frank’s abandoned home.
Frank enlists the help of his ex-lover-- his brother’s wife--to assist him with escaping his suffering. One would assume that his ex-lover, Julia, would want no part of this, due to being married to her lover’s brother, and given the state she finds Frank in. You would be wrong! There are no lengths Julia would not go to in order to be in the arms of her lover. For her, a little violence and gore is worth the passion she feels for Frank. Frank is so wrapped up in escape, and Julia is so wrapped up in worldly passion that neither seems too concerned about getting caught by anyone...or the otherworldly beings that see all sensation as pleasurable, and giving all sensations as their divine duty. What could go wrong?
What really captured my attention with this movie is that I really like horror monsters that are intelligent and have a sense of morality, even when said morality comes off alien to mere mortals. Across the first two films, the cenobites are not particularly villainous. They only come when called, and even when summoned, they can choose to not even be bothered with the person who summoned them. However, they take their summoning very seriously. Once they are summoned, and they take a person, that person is theirs for eternity; no take backs.
Hellraiser as a movie is horrifying, thrilling, and strangely subdued compared to modern horror films. This movie set the tone for how I consume horror.