Monday, 30 July 2012



Now I don't normally shill things on this blog and I KNOW how late my next review is (but it will come soon, I promise) however, this is a cause that I feel warrants our support.

If you've read my previous epic post on how all horror films tie-together (here), you'll have heard of the gloriously underrated and frankly superb Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon.

Alongside Scream and Joss Whedon's Cabin In The Woods, BTM is one of the most intelligent and entertaining deconstructions of the horror genre I've ever seen. 

Set in a world that neatly combines several horror icons, the film follows a film crew as they record the titular Vernon during his plans to join his idols Voorhees, Krueger and Myers on a bloody night of slaughter.

It's superb.

And now there's going to be a sequel/prequel/remake, named Before The Mask: The Return of Leslie Vernon.

Marvellous news... BUT IT NEEDS YOUR HELP!

Scott Glosserman (the producer and director of BTM) has launched a Kickstart campaign to raise the necessary funds to see the film come to production... and this is where you step in.
Using a very simple payment system, you can buy into production. From a paltry $1 donation (IT ALL COUNTS!) to buying an original poster for the film, T-shirts, £32 gets you a pre-order of a collectors edition of the film, autographed by the director and with a frame from the final cut of the film included!
Bigger and better donations see even more amazing rewards.

That headline up there? Well a number of these donations include you getting A SPECIAL THANKS in the credits for the film!

Even better, these start at just $5!!!!!!!

What's stopping you?

If this film is HALF as good as the first, it'll be an instant cult classic... and YOU get to point to people who flock to it in the future and say 'I was THERE from the beginning, man.'

So come on people, support the genre.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012



Dir: Clive Barker
Starring: Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Sean Chapman, Doug Bradley

So here we go, my first request and my first attempt to tackle an entry from one of the big franchises. And yes, I count Hellraiser as one of the big franchises. Maybe not A-List like Halloween, Elm Street and Friday the 13th, but it’s not far off. Perhaps B-List then.

The film starts with a very sweaty, anxious Frank somewhere hot and where people have FILTHY fingernails. Seriously, these people look like they've been mining for bumgold up an elephant's jacksy. A local merchant appears with an odd foreign accent (Asia? Africa? Watford?). Oh, it's Morocco. Watford would have been better. It seems his pleasure is 'the box'. He eagerly grabs the aforementioned odd puzzle box (itself a BEAUTIFULLY designed prop) and off he goes. The next scene has him back in his home in London (wha...? This is based in the UK???? YES!!!!!!) Frank proceeds to solve the puzzle box, which upon closer inspection looks like THE EASIEST PUZZLE TO SOLVE IN HISTORY.


Well, more accurately, chains and hooks hit Frank. Ouch, gory latex flesh-rending ahoy! After Frank splits (quite literally) we get cool eerie chains jangling and swinging, then PINHEAD, played by Doug 'Awesome' Bradley. He awesomely puts the pieces of Frank's face together like a jigsaw puzzle, awesomely picks up the box, awesomely returns it to its original state and then he and his fellow hideous (but awesome) Cenobite buddies awesomely disappear.


After this awesomnitude Frank's brother Larry and Larry's new wife Julia move into Frank and Larry's old home. This is brilliant, Larry is Andrew Robinson, Scorpio from Dirty Harry! This guy fucking rocks!
How fucked up is Frank if the 'normal' brother is the one who said: 'Come on sing everyone! Sing or I'll go home and kill all your mommies, sing, sing!' to a busload of school kids?????

Julia is THE most 80s looking woman in history but at least she's English. A continual source of amusement to me in this film is the way it tries to paint Julia as some kind of redhot sex siren and really, well, she's not. Like, at all.

She does have a KILLER 80s POWERHAIRCUT though. Sweet.

Anyway, they get inside and find all kinds of rubbish, rotting food, muck and odd sexy statues.
That was not a typo.
This place is a bit of a fixer upper!
Larry realises that Frank has been here. He isn't that much of a genius though, because the pictures of Frank with loads of half naked ladies laying around the place were kind of a big clue.
Larry gets a call from his daughter Kirsty... and it turns out she's American too. Hmmm. She was originally meant to be staying with Larry and Julia's POWERHAIR but isn't now. Her frizzy perm probably felt it couldn't cope in the same house as such ALPHA HAIR.
Speaking of Julia's POWERHAIR, it's currently in the room where Frank got got. That wasn't a typo either. She's TOTALLY ogling Frank's pornaroids. DIRTY 80s SLUT!
And with that they decide to move in. Mmmmm, homely.
Cut to them moving into the house, compete with PROPER fat/sweaty removal men. Who also appear to be American. And drink Bud. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
Finally Kirsty gets some screentime. Ok she's just walking along the banks of the Thames (I think, but seriously, this film could be set ANYWHERE)

She walks into the house and Julia buggers off upstairs. Julia is her stepmum, you see, and they don't really get on. That's some deep character development shit, right there. Upstairs Julia goes into Frank's room where we get a sudden raunchy flashback to the day before she got married. Turns out Frank visited while Larry was out and proceeded to give Julia such a serious dicking that she's STILL not recovered. LEDGE.
For those of you wondering what his super hot moves are, they seem to consist of sticking his finger in her mouth, then using a flick-knife to ruin her 80s POWERNIGHTIE.

Hang on one second...

Dark floppy hair?
Handy with a flick-knife?
Surname COTTON?

Why DOES that sound familiar?

Ahem, anyway while Julia's POWERHAIR is reminiscing over Nick Frank's weapon (HARUMPH!) Larry proves what a useless soppy twat he is in comparison by cutting his hand on a nail, then acting as if he'd just stapled his bollock to a pitbull. It's a cut, man up!

He stumbles up the stairs, still acting like a major league sissy, then stumbles into the room with Julia's POWERHAIR where we get MAJOR GRAPHIC SLOW MO BLOOD SPLASHES!

Okay, it's not exactly Saw but it distracts Larry from the puddle that Julia made too...

They head off because the aforementioned cut requires stitches and then we get treated to some FUCKING BRILLIANT SPECIAL EFFECTS! The blood seems to resurrect Nick Frank from a weird mini heart thing under the floorboards. I think it's safe to say it was his. From here we get to see his body kind of knit itself together sinew by sinew and bone by bone. This is so COOL I may have to take a minute.




Ah that's better. This scene is made all the better by the payoff that the odd animatronic missing tissue man at the end looks like violent racist professional footballer Lee Bowyer. Nice.

Cut to later and Larry is having a dinner party. His guests are all fucking twats (and American. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm) After a couple of unfunny minutes where Julia's POWERHAIR thinks about the dicking she got from Nick Frank, she makes her excuses to leave this bunch of pricks.
I do not blame her.

Needless to say she goes up to Frank's room and soon meets SKINNED NICK FRANK.
This guy is da bom, fo' shizzy, and explains that the blood we were shown in super graphic slow mo somehow resurrected him. I've just had a thought... when Pinhead and friends were shown gathering up all the bits of Nick Frank and sticking them on the spinning pillars (best 90s indie band name ever!) was it because they know that if any bits are left behind and come in contact with blood the victim can be brought back?


WAS IT?????

ANSWER ME, DAMN YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Where was I? Oh yes, SKINNED NICK FRANK lays the whammy on Julia's POWERHAIR... and my god she is STILL into that dicking, even though he's a skinned undead violent racist footballer. She evens goes back for more finger sucking. FILTHY 80s SLUT!

SKINNED NICK FRANK is all: 'Yeah baby, get me some more man blood and I'll be whole again (like Atomic Kitten, yo) and I'll totally say my 'Come to Daddy' catchphrase.'

And Julia's POWERHAIR is all: 'Okeydokey. Sure I can work out both of your plums and you may violently attack asian cab drivers (allegedly) but you're still more fun than that shitty fucking party downstairs. Now give me some more finger to suck. SLUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRP!'

After this Kirsty goes home with a guy who I think is her boyfriend (and American. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm) and she is wearing a MAJORLY SHARP HAT here. Whoo hoo! Perhaps she thought it was the only way her head could hope to overcome Julia's POWERHAIR? All this scene does is show us that the ridiculously dressed American wanke... wait a minute... he's called Steve! BEST CHARACTER IN THIS, he's SO the hero with bravely unconventional hairstyle and unique fashion sense. Anyway Steve and Kirsty are hooking up. Oh and a hobo who looks a bit like Russell Brand is watching her.


Back in Cotton Towers Julia's POWERHAIR is still frothing over thoughts of Frank's dicking. That's it. Mind made up.

Time to go all Fred and Rose.

Meanwhile we get an odd dream at Kirsty's involving feathers, blood and a sound effect of a baby crying. It's actually quite creepy.

She goes out in enormous sunglasses and quite possibly the ugliest orange blouse in history.
Words cannot do it justice.

Julia's POWERHAIR goes to a bar where a small, bald, sad, little man who may not be called Derek but SHOULD be soon cracks on to her.

He's English too! WHERE IS THIS SET????? Pretty soon J's PH convinces Derek to go home with her. Even in THAT blouse, he agrees. Derek here does something BRILLIANT.

When Julia's POWERHAIR leads Derek upstairs into SKINNED NICK FRANK's room, he astutely notices that it is not a bedroom.
She (equally astutely) says 'We don't need a bed.'
He pulls the best you-little-minx! face and replies: 'Why not, eh? There's a first time for everything!'



Unless he's referring to this being the first time he's ever done it with somebody with such POWERFUL HAIR in a luminous orange blouse.

Anyway Derek gets distracted and it's HAMMER TIME! Julia's POWERHAIR batters him senseless with it. Then SKINNED NICK FRANK drinks him like an extra thick McDonalds Strawberry milkshake.

Poor Derek. Sadly gone, but never forgotten. Let's all play that Puff Daddy/Faith Hill song for a while.

Or not.

The upshot of this is that we get a bit more SKINNED NICK FRANK! He's a bit more glisteny and globby now.

While he finishes his large McDerek meal, Julia rushes to the wc to wash all the blood off her face and (HIDEOUS) blouse. Of course Larry comes home now so she pretends she's feeling sick, then suggests Larry cracks out the booze in the next breath. FILTHY 80s LUSH!

Meanwhile Kirsty works in a petshop. You can probably guess the nationality of the customers. For no reason Hobo Russell Brand turns up, eats some crickets, then leaves.

Back to SKINNED NICK FRANK and Julia's POWERHAIR's nefarious plan and we see another bald Englishman get offed. This time Julia looks much less perturbed afterwards. Maybe SKINNED NICK FRANK is coating his fingers in valium before he sticks them in her gob now?

After this latest meal Frank is whole enough to put on a suit and shirt. He's still kind of a bloody raw mess, so the shirt is ruined. Daz Doorstep Challenge time! The best thing is that SNF is looking pretty damn cool in his fancy threads.


Turns out Frank summoned the Cenobites because he's so bloody extreme, but they were more than he bargained for and now he desperately need to get healed and run away quick before they realise he's left the hell dimension they dragged him to. EVERYBODY watching knew this by this point SKINNED NICK FRANK! Maybe stick to dicking, eh?

Later that night SKINNED NICK FRANK's reforming nerves cause him to get het up, crashing around in the loft while Larry watches a boxing match during a thunderstorm. Julia temporarily forgets how to lie, so she's forced to distract Larry with the temptation of nookie. Meanwhile SKINNED NICK FRANK has nailed some rats to the wall, so it's probably safe to say that he's in a pissy mood.

And as Larry starts bumping and grinding on Julia's POWERHAIR (which I don't see nuttin' wrong with) SKINNED NICK FRANK makes an appearance, looming menacingly in the background with a knife in his hand. Julia's POWERHAIR has kind of a twinge of conscience and starts crying and pleading ('NO, PLEASE, I CAN'T BEAR IT!')
Needless to say this TOTALLY kills the mood and as SKINNED NICK FRANK slips back to his hiding place, Larry sulks and marches out to have a chinese with Kirsty.
At least that's how the editing makes it appear.
After they moan about Julia's POWERHAIR for a while, Larry thinks it might be that Julia's POWERHAIR is a little lonely and needs some company. Kirsty begrudgingly agrees.
So of course the next day when she goes to visit Julia's POWERHAIR she sees her wicked stepmother taking a bald man inside! Ooooooooooooooooh, FILTHY 80s SLUT!

Suspicious at this, Kirsty sneaks inside and up the stairs... where she sees what happens to SKINNED NICK FRANK's victims. Gunky! Sloppy SKINNED NICK FRANK appears to try to placate her, then suddenly gets a bit rapey. That finger is poised for Kirsty's mouth when she finds the Lament Configuration puzzlebox among SKINNED NICK FRANK's shit. When SKINNED NICK FRANK bricks it, she realises that the box is a pretty handy tool and hurls it through the window. SKINNED NICK FRANK is not amused, even less so when Kirsty scarpers down the stairs, grabs the box and does a runner.
For some reason, in the next scene Kirsty suddenly goes deep into shock and passes out. Okay, maybe the reason was that her skinned dead uncle just tried to molest her after she saw a man get vampirised. Not THAT unexplained after all.
As she fades into unconsciousness we get a weird timelapse photography flash of a flower blooming.

That's right, nothing says sheer gruelling terror like Chrysanthemums, BITCHES!

After that fucking stupid interlude, Kirsty comes round in hopsital, apparently having forgotten some stuff. When the staff talk to her (all of whom ARE FUCKING AMERICAN) they tell her she was clutching a strange item... and give her a signed photograph of Keith Chegwin.


Needless to say, as soon as Kirsty's alone, she starts to play with the box.


Upon solving it the wall opens!
AWESOME! The wall actually parts and there's some damn spooky catacomb-looking tunnels exposed... which Kirsty walks into.


She doesn't make it far before she bumps into the equally great AND crap Engineer. This Cenobite isn't like the others, it seems more like a mindless monster and definitely spent less time sorting out its outfit at the Goth/Emo stalls in Camden Market.

Rather wisely, Kirtsy shits herself and runs, just making it back into the hospital room before the Engineer can get its claws on her. Phew, close call... until a bell sounds and light and steam starts to seep between the tiles on her wall. First Chatterer appears close by, grabbing Kirsty by the face. Hey, that finger is awfully close to her mouth. Maybe SKINNED NICK FRANK gave Chatterer some pointers while he was tortured in the Cenobite Hell dimension? What a guy!
Awesome, here comes Doug 'Awesome' Bradley. Pinhead awesomely delivers a load of awesome lines that awesomely inform Kirsty just how awesomely fucked she is for summoning the awesome Cenobites, whether on purpose or not.
Kirsty promptly shits herself again and starts pleading and begging for her life. Pinhead awesomely laughs at her tears, much like Cartman with Scott Tenorman.


Finally Kirsty manages to get his awesome attention by completely grassing up SKINNED NICK FRANK.
Pinhead is all: 'Btch, please, we're the fucking Cenobites, nobody escapes us. We'd know, dig?'
While Kirsty is all: 'No straight up, Guv, strike a light and no mistake, SKINNED NICK FRANK did and he's at my gaff right now.'
As Pinhead is so awesome he awesomely says that he might let Kirsty go if she cvan present SKINNED NICK FRANK in her place AND he confesses what has happened.
Kirsty knows she doesn't have long and promptly sets off to confront Julia's POWERHAIR and SKINNED NICK FRANK... but little does she know that her dad has already returned home and SKINNED NICK FRANK just needs one last thing to be whole... SKIN.

Okay, so I won't ruin the end, but suffice it to say that it completely delivers.
It was kind of daunting writing a review of Hellraiser because it's such a beloved film. Even a whole slew of shitty sequels haven't killed this franchise, primarily on the strength of this initial outing.
This is with good reason  —  Hellraiser is a true classic. With an oddly dreamlike, sexual and disturbing story and amazing visuals, Clive Barker's adaptation of his own novella is a MUST WATCH.

Just try not to have any nightmares about timelapse pansies now.

HEY, I KNOW YOU:  ANDREW ROBINSON – Hey, this guy is a proper actor and everything! He’s been in Dirty Harry (where he’s AWESOME), Cobra alongside Sly Stallone and he had a recurring role in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as Garak. Good work.
CLARE HIGGINS — A strong actress, but not that glittering a career. TV roles including Casualty and Midsomer Murders litter her cv, although she had a role in the big screen adaptation of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass (Northern Lights to us Brits) and she was in the top drawer BBC horror dramedy Being Human.
ASHLEY LAWRENCE — Nowt of any note. Well, except a role in Red.
DOUG ‘AWESOME’ BRADLEY — Okay, so he’s Pinhead. He needs NOTHING ELSE on his cv to be A-OK in my book, but he has added to his horror awesomeness with roles in Nightbreed (another Clive Barker work) and a TOP role in Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes. Which I kind of love. AWESOME indeed, Douglas. AWESOME indeed.
CLIVE BARKER — is one of the greatest horror writers in the worlds. His Books of Blood are ESSENTIAL reading while his dark, disturbing fantasy efforts such as Weaveworld and Abarat are captivating. Barker is Britain's Stephen King.

ANGELS TO SOME: In a film with this many monstrous, murdering flesh-renderers it’s pretty damn tough working out who the biggest monsters are. First we have uncle Frank. 

A ne’er-do-well thrillseeker who has pushed himself to the limits of sensation for his own sordid pleasures, subsequently became unstuck and is now desperately screwing over anybody he can to get out of the hell he brought on himself. This is a man who would happily sleep with his sister-in-law the day before her wedding day, then manipulate her to bring random men to him so he can vampirically feed on them to bring himself back to our dimension. He’s also happy to sacrifice this same sister-in-law AND his brother to escape Hell. Oh, and he kind of wants to rape his niece. In this story, Frank (and to a lesser degree, Julia) really are the villains of the piece. 
But they’re not what people remember.
Oh no.

The coolest, most iconic things to come out of Hellraiser are the Cenobites. 

Pinhead (billed as Lead Cenobite in this first outing), Butterball, Chatterer, um, Female Cenobite and the barely-glimpsed-but-nonetheless-very-creepy Engineer MAKE this film. Not so much villains as an alien force of nature, the Cenobites are the threat. Never really explained in this first entry in the franchise, all we know is that the Cenobites are linked to the box (later identified as Lemarchand’s Lament Configuration) and those that seek the extremes of experience can summon these demonic entities using the box. From here the Cenobites will drag their victim's soul back to their own hell dimension where they will be tortured for eternity. The Cenobites themselves all sport various scars, tears and piercings, suggesting that the tortures they share with their victims are also experienced by the Cenobites. In fact later films explore this in greater depth, revealing that many of the Cenobites were victims of the box before being twisted and transormed into this new physical form.
The heavy S&M message here, the link between pleasure and pain and a revelling in the experiences of the flesh, is perhaps enough to fill an entire thesis, but the Cenobites themselves are not vindictive. There are strict rules to what they do. They obey them and force everybody else to obey them too.
Their powers include a supernatural physical resiliency, the ability to teleport to anywhere they are summoned and a control over hooks and chains that are used to snare and torture their prey.
Plus they look frickin' UBERCOOL.


CREATIVE CARNAGE: Chains, hooks and a flesh explosion!


DIALOL: There’s loads, this film is a goldmine!

MERCHANT: 'What’s your pleasure, sir?'
NICK FRANK: 'Come to Daddy.'
PINHEAD (BILLED AS LEAD CENOBITE): ‘The box. You opened it. We came.’
NICK FRANK: ‘I thought I’d gone to the limits. I hadn’t. The Cenobites gave me an experience beyond limits — pain and pleasure indivisible.’
KIRSTY: ‘Who are you?’ PINHEAD: ‘Explorers in the further regions of experience. Demons to some, Angels to others.’
PINHEAD: ‘You solved the box, we came. Now you must come with us, taste our pleasures.’
PINHEAD: ‘No tears, please, it’s a waste of good suffering.’
KIRSTY: ‘You can go to hell.’ FEMALE CENOBITE: ‘We can’t. Not alone.’
PINHEAD: ‘We’ll tear your soul apart.’
NICK FRANK: ‘Jesus wept.’
PINHEAD: ‘We have such sights to show you.’

10 WORD WRAP UP: A genuine, undeniable horror classic from the great Clive Barker

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Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.