In 1987 author Clive Barker adapted his novella “The Hellbound Heart’ into the film Hellraiser, it told the story of Frank Cotton who purchases a puzzle box. When the box is opened Frank is sucked into the distuirbing world of the demonic cenobites and disappears. Some time later Frank’s brother Larry moves into the family home where Frank was last seen and after cutting his hand, blood drips onto the floor which causes Frank to be resurrected. Complicating matters, Larry is unaware of this development and his wife Julia previously had an affair with Frank. With this picture we would introduced to one of horror cinema’s most unique and iconic characters, Pinhead played by Barker’s friend Doug Bradley.
A year later, production began on the sequel entitled ‘Hellbound’ which continued the story of Larry’s daughter Kirsty who is in a mental institution ran by the sinister Dr. Channard who wants to bring back Julia from the dead. In 1992 after New World Pictures went under, the Weinstein’s Dimension Films took control and made ‘Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth’. This film took the story to America and the central character was a journalist looking into the history of the puzzle box. Hell on Earth revealed Pinhead’s human self before he became a cenobite in the form of a WWI soldier called Elliot Spencer this gave us a fascinating backstory. Unfortunately with Dimension taking the reins Pinhead went Hollywood, although the first two films (from New World) were instant classics and the third one was entertaining the Weinstein owned company’s subsequent outings ranged from average to piss poor. The saving grace was Doug Bradley remained as Pinhead throughout the series except for the last one (Revelations) which looked like it was made on a budget of about 50 quid.
Arrow’s boxset comprises of the first three films all restored and complete with commentaries from the people involved. There is a wonderful two part documentary called ‘Leviathan’ which covers every aspect of the production of parts one and two on their individual discs. A shorter featurette about Hell on Earth is on that disc and although brief is informative. Other stand out extras include a piece on the abandoned music by the band Coil and archive interviews of Clive Barker.
On disc four (sadly unavailable for review) are Barker’s short films, Salome and The Forbidden, amongst other interesting stuff and a 200 page book on Hellraiser and Barker. As with their release of Videodrome, Arrow have seriously kicked some ass with this boxset and improves on every edition of the films available prior to this release.
It may seem a bit expensive but it has two awesome horror films and one bloody great one (part 3) in the set along with hours of extras and to top it off, a rather attractive presentation box. Get it as soon as you can before Pinhead and his cronies turn up for you.
- Starring Doug Bradley Andrew Robinson Ashley Lawrence Clare Higgins Kenneth Cranham
- Directors Clive Barker Tony Randel Anthony Hickox
- Distributor Arrow Video