Hellraiser (1987)

To appreciate Clive Barker’s adaptation of his own novella “The Hellbound Heart,” it really helps to have read the source material. Without it for context and insight, the movie’s narrative is muddled: Events happen that seem incongruous with the rest of the plot, the setting is confusing and disorienting, and the mythology is occasionally obtuse. Luckily, the novella is so powerful and effective that its power can’t help but find its way to the screen, and Barker’s imagination is so profoundly warped that it’s never anything less than arresting. Clare Higgins is terrific as the villainous Julia, and Ashley Laurence’s Kirsty is a compelling and powerful horror heroine. But it’s Doug Bradley’s Pinhead who emerges as the most striking aspect of the entire project, thanks of course to first-rate horror makeup, not to mention his grave, intimidating performance.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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