Hellraiser: The Scarlet Box Limited Edition Trilogy on Blu-ray – The DVDfever Review

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Hellraiser began life as a series of Clive Barker novellas entitled The Hellbound Heart, but I was first aware of it with the first movie in this series, and it’s a fab new boxset which is out now in advance of the Christmas sales rush. However, with only 2000 units for sale, if you want one now then you’ll have to fork out a few extra quid for it on the likes of Ebay or Amazon.

Hence, beg, borrow or steal to get one… well, don’t steal, obviously, unless you can cover your tracks by distracting its owner with hooks flailing out towards them on chains!

If you didn’t get one, however, and your Pinhead rapacity knows no satiety, then fear not because later on I’ll divulge how you can still mostly achieve your goal.

About this first film, in the meantime, I could go into detail about the ins and outs of the plot, but the chances are that if you’re reading this then you know what Hellraiser is about. a headstrong young man called Frank (Sean Chapman) goes to buy the mysterious box, which features through the series, from an elderly Chinese man who concludes their transaction: “Take it. It’s yours… always was”. And then it leads to his whole life falling apart… literally.

And then ol’ Uncle Frank comes back as the actor Oliver Smith, a gaunt man who, with the body internals make-up applied, looks proportional as a result. To make him whole again, Julia (Clare Higgins) brings men back to her house, while Larry is out, so that Frank, her bit-on-the-side, can feast on them. We’ve all had needy ex-partners in our time, but this one really takes the biscuit.

Things I love about Hellraiser:

  • I love the construction of the box. It’s amazing how such things could be put together before the age of CGI came along and ruined things – just look at the recent Poltergeist remake for an example of extreme lazyness.

  • Andrew Robinson plays Julia’s hubby, Larry – yes, it’s the baddie from Dirty Harry!

  • At around 12 minutes in, check the older of the two delivery men. As the angle of the shot changes, suddenly he’s got a cigarette in his mouth!

  • Why is the hallway taken up by so many stairs? They criss-cross over in exactly the same way that a normal house’s wouldn’t. There really is no need for that many stairs. Martin Roberts from Homes Under The Hammer would have a fit!

  • Of course, the most horrific sight isn’t Pinhead (Doug Bradley), or Uncle Frank, or even the weird hobo in the pet store who eats locusts, but it’s actually Kirsty’s (Ashley Laurence) boyfriend’s bouffant hairdo!

  • And if you ever find yourself in a situation when you’re playing with your funky box and Pinhead says “No, don’t do that!!” …. DO IT!!!

  • In addition, recently, we’ve also had World Psoriasis Day, and just recently, my hands were like Uncle Frank at the end of Hellraiser! – and just as painful 🙁

  • And having recently reviewed LEGO Dimensions, which features many different characters from TV and movies, is there any chance of a later wave featuring more adult characters like, say, Pinhead from the Hellraiser series? I believe he has such sights to show us…


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The extensive extras on the Hellraiser disc are as follows:

  • Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser (89:17): New interviews aplenty with cast and crew from all three films, including a now-bald Doug Bradley, albeit Clive Barker’s input comes from archive footage. I love how the descriptions come “Hellraiser is a domestic drama” and it’s a “love story”. However, I smile through gritted teeth that Richard Branson started the ball rolling by trying to get the first film financed, although he pulled out because it wasn’t family-friendly.

    With 6 chapters to this segment, yes, this really does last 90 minutes, which is almost as long as each film!

  • Being Frank: Sean Chapman on Hellraiser (26:24): This is a fascinating interview as Chapman takes us through Frank’s character and the development, as well as other films he’s been in such as Scum and, one of my favourites, Made In Britain, with Tim Roth.

  • Soundtrack Hell (18:11): Stephen Thrower, from the band Coil, talks about the abandoned score. This is also something hinted at by Chapman in the previous segment. And from Thrower working in the Forbidden Planet comic book store, to Clive Barker simply walking in one day, it’s amazing how life can throw opportunities your way. And it’s also amazing the body modification discussion that ensues which Baker was also into. However, the one about splitting the penis in two… erm… how do you go to the toilet after that??

  • Hellraiser: Resurrection (24:26): A featurette from wa back when with interviews including Clive Barker, Doug Bradley, Ashley Laurence, Bob Keen (special effects) and many more. This was filmed in 2000.

  • Under The Skin: Doug Bradley on Hellraiser (12:31): Would you believe Doug Bradley did 10 years of theatre prior to Hellraiser? Well, yes, I know it’ll be true, but I can only think of Pinhead treading the boards 🙂

    The interview was filmed in 2004, and I love the idea that somewhere there is footage of the Cenobites living in cages until they’re required to come out when the box is solved.

  • Original EPK (5:58): aka Electronic Press Kit, this is a brief featurette shot in 4:3. It’s the kind of thing you’d see dished up as filler to TV stations, not that it’s likely to air around 7pm of an evening 🙂

  • Trailers: Three here: the surprisingly non-violent Theatrical Trailer (1:37), Red Band Theatrical Trailer (1:36) and the International Trailer (3:27), the latter of which is notable for containing the original voice of Oliver Smith, aka the ‘skinless’ Frank.

  • TV Spots Four short and slightly different ads running 34, 32, 32 and 33 seconds respectively. I love this sort of thing as they’re the kind of ads which will never surface anywhere else.

  • Image Gallery: 51 fantastic images.

  • Audio commentaries: Two on this disc. One with Clive Barker on his own, and one with Barker joined by Ashley Laurence.

Hellraiser

Director: Clive Barker
Producer: Christopher Figg
Screenplay: Clive Barker (based on “The Hellbound Heart”)
Music: Christopher Young

Cast:
Larry: Andrew Robinson
Julia: Clare Higgins
Kirsty Cotton: Ashley Laurence
Frank: Sean Chapman
Frank the Monster: Oliver Smith
Pinhead, the Lead Cenobite: Doug Bradley
Steve: Robert Hines
1st Victim: Anthony Allen
2nd Victim: Leon Davis
3rd Victim: Michael Cassidy
Derelict: Frank Baker
Bill: Kenneth Nelson
Evelyn: Gay Baynes
Dinner Guest: Niall Buggy
Moving Man 1: Dave Atkins
Moving Man 2: Oliver Parker
Complaining Customer: Pamela Sholto
Chattering Cenobite: Nicholas Vince
‘Butterball’ Cenobite: Simon Bamford
Female Cenobite: Grace Kirby
Nurse: Sharon Bower
Doctor: Raul Newney

Go to page 2 for a look at the sequel and its extras…


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Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.


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