WTF is with Hellraiser?

I watched #Hellraiser (1987) for the first time yesterday, and I kind of don't know what the hell I just saw.

I gotta be honest, the 80s and 90s are not my preferred decades for horror films (1982 John Carpenter masterpiece The Thing notwithstanding). So that's some of it.

I do watch and enjoy weird shit. Baskin (2015) makes Hellraiser look quaint af as far as bizarre hellishness goes. So it's not that weirdness is automatically a problem for me. I also didn't dislike it, per se, and I will watch some more Hellraiser films because the series is significant in horror history.

There's just something about this film that has me going “what is going on though?


I may have just answered my wtf question a bit. I was thinking that the film felt like it was based on some existing intellectual property, like it would have made more sense in another medium et voila! Turns out it is based on a horror novella, The Hellbound Heart. Ok, so that explains the vibes I was getting.


Seriously, this film felt less like a plot or character-driven story and more like it just sort of “happened”, and it doesn't have a clear POV. At some point we switch over from Julia to Kirsty as our apparent protagonist, and it feels kind of confusing. I think this is the sort of thing that tends to work better in a novel than a film, and may be a major piece of what feels off to me.

To me, it would be a better film if Kirsty were introduced as one of two POV characters/protagonists from the beginning instead of feeling like a promoted supporting cast member halfway through.

Likewise, Julia just sort of got demoted. At the beginning of the film we were inside her head, but SPOILERS


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she just dies without fanfare at the end. We don't get a chance to register shock or anger or anything at Frank draining her (or whatever we want to call it). It just happens. It really contributes to the wtf-ness of the movie to just...no longer have a connection to the character who was introduced to us as the story's protagonist.

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3/5 stars. Worth watching, but neither scary enough nor well-crafted enough for me to really feel a lot about it.

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