This Day In Writing History
On September 18th, 1987, Hellraiser, a feature film adaptation of Clive Barker's acclaimed horror novella The Hellbound Heart, was released to theaters. The movie was written and directed by Clive Barker himself - the first time that the popular British horror novelist ventured into film making.
It was not, however, the first time that Barker's writings were adapted for the screen. His short stories Transmutations and Rawhead Rex were adapted as feature films in 1985 and 1986, respectively. Barker hated both movies, which is why he decided to write and direct the next film adaptation himself.
Hellraiser opens with Frank (Sean Chapman), a hedonistic adventurer always in search of new sexual thrills, buying a mysterious antique Chinese puzzle box in an unnamed Third World country. Back home in England, Frank solves the puzzle and opens the box. Chains with small hooks on them fly out of the box and tear into Frank's flesh, then tear him apart. Three demonic beings called Cenobites appear and examine Frank's remains, after which, the leader, Pinhead, (Doug Bradley) picks up the puzzle box and closes it. The room returns to normal.
Later, Frank's brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) moves into Frank's house, along with his wife Julia. (Clare Higgins) They don't know what happened to Frank - they think he's off on another one of his adventures. When Larry goes up to the room where Frank was killed, he cuts his hand and some of his blood drips onto the floor - and mysteriously disappears into the floorboards. This allows Frank's soul to partially regenerate his body. He appears to Julia, with whom he once had an affair, and convinces her to help him complete the regeneration of his body so he can escape from the Cenobites, breaking the deal he made with them.
Soon, Julia is luring men up to the attic, where Frank drains them of their blood, which he uses to regenerate his body. He tells Julia about the Chinese puzzle box, which allows the Cenobites to cross over from their hellish dimension into ours. Soon, Frank, Julia, and Frank's teenage niece Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) all run afoul of the demonic Cenobites, who believe that the extremes of pleasure and pain are inseparable - and are more than happy to introduce the trio to the pleasures of pain.
When Hellraiser was completed, in order to avoid an X-rating, the MPAA required Clive Barker to trim some of the gore and tone down the overall sadomasochistic theme of the movie. Some of the cuts would later be restored without resulting in the loss of the film's R rating. Ironically, the movie's first working title was Sadomasochists From Beyond The Grave.
Hellraiser became a huge box office hit, grossing twenty times its budget. Rightfully considered one of the great cult classic horror films, it would inspire numerous sequels and make British actor Doug Bradley, who plays Pinhead, a cult film icon. Clive Barker would write and direct more film adaptations of his works, including Nightbreed (1990) and Lord of Illusions (1995). He is currently working on a remake of Hellraiser, which is due for release in 2011.
Quote Of The Day
"My imagination is my polestar; I steer by that." - Clive Barker
Today's video features the original theatrical trailer for Hellraiser. Enjoy!