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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Slasher > Supernatural > Clive Barker’s Hellraiser – 20th Anniversary Edition (Anchor Bay DVD)

Clive Barker’s Hellraiser – 20th Anniversary Edition (Anchor Bay DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Film: C



When Clive Barker’s Hellraiser arrived, it was a hit, a film people talked about and made Barker a cause celebre, but 20 years later, the film can be seen as the end of the 1980s “slice & dice” cycle, a transitional work to the “torture porn” we have today and nowhere as important a film as many were saying at the time.  Sure, some of its look resurfaced in other films (most memorably in The Cell, though Barker did not invent the style by any means) and the rest is history.


The story centers on the poor people who find a strange cube (not unlike the one in Transformers, or the Borg Planet in the Star Trek franchise) and when they fool with it (Aladdin’s Lamp style, but guess that is too simple?) awaken evil spirits from another world (ala Phantasm) and hell literally ensues with Pinhead and his gang with their British accents.  What was shocking at the time seems lame now as far as its graphic nature is co0ncerned versus uglier, dumber films and the like since.  However, the film has its fans and this disc is designed to keep them happy.


Unfortunately, the anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is soft and the print looks aged, needing some work, with poor depth, detail and some color issues.  Maybe the Blu-ray Anchor Bay eventually will issue will correct this, but who knows.  The problematic performance also cuts into the effectiveness of the most graphic scenes.  The Dolby A-type analog theatrical sound has been upgraded to Dolby Digital 5.1 and it is simply not that good, showing the age of the materials and if these are second generation, also not helping the film.  Christopher Young’s score helps the film, but the dialogue recording sounds dated.


Extras are many and include DVD-ROM accessible versions of the first and final screenplays, stills (including posters & advertising) sections, storyboard gallery, TV spots, trailers, five featurettes and an audio commentary by Barker & lead actress Ashley Laurence moderated by Peter Atkins.


Needless to say, the sequels that were made were exceptionally lamer and some of the most unnecessary since the turkeys that followed The Howling, but as the sequels are dead and Hollywood is in high recycling mode, we may see this film remade soon and you can expect it to be nothing but slaughter.  Many compared the final antagonist to Event Horizon (reviewed elsewhere on this site) to Pinhead, but that was a much better film with a point.  The only point here is to be uniquely terrifying.  In that respect, it always was hit and miss.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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