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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Slasher > Supernatural > Hellraiser (1987/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)

Hellraiser (1987/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)


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



Looking back after 20+ years on a film like Clive Barker’s 1987 film Hellraiser, it’s quite amazing that the film was even made, let alone spawned numerous sequels.  I say this only because by today’s standards, the film is unusual and for it’s time and even unconventional in many respects.  For starter the film has a unique pace, especially by the more modern trend of rapid cutting torture/horror films.  Likewise, the film bounces back and forth between the past and the present day in interesting ways that require the viewer to not only pay attention, but to determine what it is that they are actually seeing, this would not fly by many newer audiences that are challenged to watch films that require such thought.  Hellraiser also doesn’t fully explain all that we are seeing as well, rather it puts things before us only to allow us to figure it out for ourselves and then later it reveals what is fully happening. 


We’ve covered the film on DVD already, you can read about the film in more detail here.  Upon revisiting the film here for this Blu-ray release it only becomes more evident how much Clive Barker was making films very similar to the cerebral-esque thrillers of David Cronenberg, even the grit, editing, and pace feel much like a Cronenberg film, or even Brian DePalma. 


We are however glad to finally get a high-resolution version of the film presenting 1.85 X 1 transfer for the first time in 1080p High Definition, which greatly improves over the severely poor DVD we covered earlier.  As much as I’d love to say that the film is restored to pristine glory, that is simply not the case.  Much of this has to do with the relatively lowered budget and production on the film to begin with that will always limits its abilities in any format.  That being said, the biggest improvement from the world of DVD to Blu-ray is the overall resolution and amount of detail that gives the picture a more life-like image and overall appearance.  Darker scenes hold up better and are not nearly as soft as the DVD, in particular there are several scenes where Pinhead appears and the detail between the whitest parts and the darkest parts of the image hold up and show more definition than ever before.  Colors feel more accurate and less “fake” as well, giving the film more credibility overall and also making it feel less dated. 


While the image is certainly an improvement over the previous DVD editions, there is still some work that could be done to make it even a few more degrees sharper and more refined, but for now this is a good starting place.  Again, the films original source materials would limit even a full restoration, so we have to be mindful of that fact as well.


Likewise the audio has been given lossless treatment in the form of a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix that brings life back into a mix that was poorly treated on DVD with several lackluster Dolby mixes that never allowed the films soundtrack to be fully realized.  That now is changed as the DTS-HD mix is far more open and engaging with fuller sonics that update the sonics to feel more like a newer film rather than a dated 20+ year-old film.  While there are still limitations overall, which again are primarily directed to the sound format of the time, Hellraiser has probably never sounded better in the home and with the updated picture fans will finally have their hands on the best version available in this Blu-ray release. 


The supplements have been carried over as well from the previous anniversary release on DVD, and we know that this film has such a strong fan base that more versions of the film will likely surface over the next few years, probably more supplements or other cool packaging, so we’ll look forward to those as well!



-   Nate Goss


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