100 Days of Horror welcomes you to ... SATANFEST 2013

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"Y'all know me, know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow ya whole. Little shakin', little tenderizin', and down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that'll bring back the tourists, that'll put all your businesses on a payin' basis. But it's not gonna be pleasant! I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I'll find him for three, but I'll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you've gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don't want no volunteers, I don't want no mates, there's too many captains on this island. Ten thousand dollars for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Ninety - "Hellraiser!"


"SEE IT! HEAR IT! AND ACTUALLY FEEL IT!"

Salacious Salutations, my morbid minions! Welcome back to the show that never ends, brought to you by your friends at Starbucks and Snickers!

Keeping the commentary brief today because my mind is spiriling out of control in a million different directions. It's best to focus my tiny little mind on the movie ahead, because it's one that should be on every fan's list. I certainly hope you can all join me tonight as we watch 1987's horribly dated classic, "Hellraiser!" Thanks as usual for playing along!

Hellraiser (1987): Directed by Clive Barker. Starring Andrew Robinson, Claire Higgins, Ashley Laurence and Doug Bradley.

The Skinny: A mysterious box that acts as a doorway to another dimension finds itself in the hands of a man driven to discover it secrets. When he finally solves the puzzle, however, he gets more than he bargained for as the denizens of this dimension are bent on reshaping the flesh.

What's Good: For a sluggish mess of an independent film, "Hellraiser" has a lot going for it - foremost of all, the iconic performance by Doug Bradley as lead Cenobite, Pinhead (unnamed in the original script). In fact, it's clear that the few Hollywood dollars the movie's producers managed to come up with went right into effects, including the makeup effects for all the Cenobites. And thank god for that, because they are all pretty damn cool. But nothing trumps Pinhead, with his hooks and his chains and his killer lines delivered in a manner that is the polar opposite of Freddy Kreuger and his wise-cracking puns.

What's Bad: This is Clive Barker's first attempt behind the camera, and it shows. The film is shot almost entirely on location in an actual house, limiting the angles and forcing many shots from one perspective only. Also the story - while in intruiging idea - takes a backseat to the characterizations in some places, which is a real disservice to the plot. It took the second film to really amp up the story and to bring the Cenobites to the forefront (especially after Claire Higgings said she didn't want to reprise her role as Julia, and Barker was forced to change the story's focus). The movie ia a mess, but it's an interesting, often beautiful mess.

Why We Like It: Why? Gave me nightmares, that's why! Actually I was a lot older by this point and was into horror movies in general, and slasher films specifically. However, even at this early point I was growing tired of Freddy's antics and Jason Vorhees had long since ceased to be a threat. So when this seemingly sophisticated movie came along, with its demons dedicated to order, bringers of pleasure and pain ("demons to some - angels to others"), I was immediately hooked. Bradley is a great find, bringing what he described as a mourning for lost humanity to the character. And there is a smiling strangeness to Pinhead, as if he has just the slightest memory of being human at one point. He's the best.

Memorable Stuff: Aside from every second Pinhead is onscreen? Hm. I'd have to say the scene where Brother Frank is resurrected after his brother's blood drops onto the floor where he was killed by the Cenobites. Accomplished on a shoestring budget and shot utilizing time-lape and reverse photography techniques, it stands as a testament to what you can do even if you don't have a $30 million budget at your disposal and is a great use of practical special effects. Arms shoot up from the floor, a brain reconstitutes from nothing and finally a screaming semi-corpes rises up from the ground. Disgusting. And fun.