Movie Review: HELLRAISER (Special Edition) Blu-ray

HELLRAISER is based on Clive Barker‘s novella The Hellbound Heart. The movie was written and directed by Clive Barker and stars Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Sean Chapman and Doug Bradley. The score is by Christopher Young.

Stephen King was once famously quoted as saying, “I have seen the future of horror… his name is Clive Barker.” That future was realized in 1987 with the release of Barker’s directorial debut Hellraiser. Based on his own novella The Hellbound Heart, Barker’s Hellraiser sees Larry (Andrew Robinson) and his wife Julia (Clare Higgins) move into their new home, unaware that something evil lurks beneath the floorboards of the dilapidated house – something that wants human blood… Introducing the world to the iconic Pinhead and his sadistic band of Cenobites, Hellraiser became an instant genre classic upon release and remains one of the most frighteningly original visions in horror.

The story for Hellraiser centers around Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) who opens a mysterious puzzle box (the Lament Configuration) and summons otherworldly demons called Cenobites, led by Pinhead (Doung Bradley). Frank was searching for the ultimate pleasure but what he got was pure hell because the Cenobites ripped him completely apart with their chains. This bloody ritual took place inside the family home that Frank’s brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) and his new wife Julia (Clare Higgins) happen to be moving into. This is when Julia makes the shocking discovery that Frank has survived his hellish encounter with the Cenobites, kind of, so she helps her former lover regain his humanity.

There’s also Larry’s daughter Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) who gets caught in the middle of this supernatural chaos which gets her targeted by her Uncle Frank and her wicked stepmother Julia as well as the evil Cenobites but when she tells them that Frank escaped they kind of give her a pass. Kirsty still has to dodge Julia’s wrath who even used poor unsuspecting Larry as part of Frank’s rebirth but she’s always able to outmanuever her attackers. The creepy thing is, Frank takes Larry’s skin at the end but this is when the Cenobites finally show back up to collect, thanks to Kirsty, and they get their vicious revenge on the elusive survivor to make sure he doesn’t escape again.

The front of the packaging features the newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx that you can see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details and list of special features. The reversible sleeve features some original artwork and movie credits so you have your pick of which side you’d like to use as the front cover. The Blu-ray disc also features some artwork that matches the front cover. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. Hellraiser has been given a brand new 2K restoration approved by director of photography Robin Vidgeon. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, Hellraiser is one of those horror movies that I revisit at least once a year so needless to say I had a blast with this Blu-ray release courtesy of Arrow Video. This 1987 supernatural creeper is the ultimate low budget movie that put Clive Barker and his creation Pinhead on the map and it’s one of the few horror movies that scared the crap out of me the first time I watched it. Pinhead fits right in with horror royalty like Michael Myers, Leatherface, Chucky and Jason Voorhees. This myterious puzzle box lies at the heart of this interesting story and the movie itself is a combination of a forbidden romance and supernatural terror that’s mixed to near perfection. The horror is courtesy of Pinhead, Chatterer, Blob and the Female Cenobite who steal the show in their limited screen time. The movie also features old school practical effects that includes lots of blood and gore. There’s even some shock factor to it all. Clive Barker captured lightning in a bottle with his directorial debut that has spawned ten sequels and a merchandising empire that includes everything from trading cards to action figures. Back in 2016 Arrow Video released the Limited Edition Scarlet Box Blu-ray Set that included the first three movies so what they’re doing now is release each movie individually and they’ve included all-new artwork and all the extras for the first two. Hellraiser will be available on a Special Edition Blu-ray on September 24th and is a must have for those who missed out on the Scarlet Box.

Distributor: Arrow Video

Run Time: 93 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1)

Blu-ray Audio: English Uncompressed PCM Stereo 2.0 / English Lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features: The extras include two audio commentary tracks, the feature-length making of documentary that features interviews with some of the cast and crew, more standalone interviews, a vintage featurette that also has interviews with some of the cast and crew, an original EPK, draft screenplays, three trailers, four TV spots and an image gallery.

  • Audio Commentary with writer-director Clive Barker
  • Audio Commentary with Barker and actress Ashley Laurence
  • Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser – brand new version of the definitive documentary on the making of Hellraiser, featuring interviews with key cast and crew members. (1:29:17)
  • Being Frank: Sean Chapman on Hellraiser – actor Sean Chapman talks candidly about playing the character of Frank Cotton in Barker’s original. (26:24)
  • Soundtrack Hell: The Story of the Abandoned Coil Score – ex-Coil member Stephen Thrower on the Hellraiser score that almost was. (18:11)
  • Hellraiser: Resurrection – vintage featurette including interviews with Barker, actors Doug Bradley and Ashley Laurence, special make-up effects artist Bob Keen and others. (24:26)
  • Under the Skin: Doug Bradley on Hellraiser (12:41)
  • Original EPK featuring on-set interviews with cast and crew (05:58)
  • Draft Screenplays [BD-ROM content]
  • Theatrical Trailer (01:37)
  • Red Band Theatrical Trailer (01:36)
  • International Trailer (03:27)
  • TV Spots (00:34) (00:32) (00:32) (00:33)
  • Image Gallery (00:52)
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