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    "HELLRAISER" [1987 - New World Pictures] - 10 out of 10
    The original classic from macabre horror master, Clive Barker. Written & directed by Barker, based on his short story, "The Hellbound Heart". Possibly, the most gritty horror film since "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", but far more gory. The gore quality is damn near off-the-chart, and well, this film is truly an original piece of classic horror cinema. As stated by Stephen King himself..."I have seen the future of horror fiction, and his name is Clive Barker."
    This film's premise is certainly original in all aspects. It starts out with a small puzzle box, seemingly harmless, but is said to unlock an experience where pain & pleasure are indivisible. The man who seeks it is named Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman). He thought he'd been to the limits of human pleasures, but his fate is unimaginable. He solves the puzzle box, but what it invites is hell itself, in the form of the Cenboites. He dies in the third floor room of this house that is soon inhabited by his brother Larry (Andrew Robinson), his wife Julia (Clare Higgins), and his daughter Kirsty (Ashley Laurence). After cutting himself trying to haul the mattress upstairs, Larry's blood spills upon the floor that Frank died on. Unknowingly to them all, that small amount of blood is enough to regenerate some amount of Frank's living body. He has escaped from hell, and hell doesn't like that. We learn of a past sexual relationship between Julia & Frank, and well, he uses her devotion to him to regain his full form through unsuspecting men. Kirsty gets caught in the middle, and things rise to another level when the Cenobites come looking for more victims.

    This is a dark, gory, and unbound vision of horror by Clive Barker. Even the way its filmed makes it even more gritty. The Cenobites are more of a simple plot element, an embodiment of hell. Tortured, twisted, and mutilated to hellish perfection, the Cenobites are background characters here, but powerful ones. Doug Bradley begins his legendary role of Pinhead here (referred to, simply, as "Lead Cenobite" in the credits to this film). In a time where B-level, slasher horror films were the dominant sub-genre in horror, this film came out and changed the standard for horror films. Although, nothing has yet to compare to Hellraiser, except for its first sequel, Hellbound: Hellraiser II. As you can say with most every installment of this franchise, the cast is solid, very solid. The score is wonderful and powerful, and despite Barker's belief that this is an uneven film, and excuse the unintentional pun, I believe he did one HELL of a job! The storytelling is tight and taut. There's a lot of tension of varying kinds throughout the film, and Barker delivers it all quite well. Definitely something for him to be proud of for his first feature length directorial work. The cast couldn't be better, and the makeup effects rival the best in the industry - even today! A definite classic, and one that can't be passed up!