Hellraiser: Quartet Of Torment Limited Edition is now out in a 4K Special Edition release (as well as a Blu-ray equivalent), and the original film 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, sales are limited, and if you don’t get one early on,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!!!
- And having reviewed LEGO Dimensions prior to the 2015 Blu-ray boxset, which features many different characters from TV and movies, I did wonder at the time if there was a chance of a later wave featuring more adult characters like, say, Pinhead from the Hellraiser series? I believed he has such sights to show us…
The extras are as follows, and are mostly new ones, but there’s some archival ones from earlier releases:
- Power of Imagination (58:14): A brand new extra, Clive Barker afficianados Sorcha Ni Fhlainn and Kamel Knipprath discuss the man and Hellraiser. One for those who like in-depth discussions.
- Unboxing Hellraiser (21:53): A visual essay Alexandra AK Benedict (The Beauty of Murder) goes into detail about the film series.
- The Pursuit of Possibilities (40:57): This is described as the following: “Brand new 60-minute discussion between acclaimed horror authors Paula D. Ashe (We Are Here To Hurt Each Other) and Eric LaRocca (Everything the Dark Eats) celebrating the queerness of Hellraiser and the importance of Clive Barker as a queer writer”.
Erm… pardon? This is not something I’ve ever thought about while watching these films, and does make me feel like these individuals are simply trying to see something that’s not there, just so they can highlight themselves in 2023. It’s perfectly fine to be supporting inclusivity and LGTBQ+ rights, but don’t start making things up.
And it’s a shade over 40 minutes, nowhere near 60.
- Flesh Is A Trap (18:19): Film critic Guy Adams apparently “gives an intimate appreciation of the ways in which the art, books and movies of Clive Barker embrace bodily existence, even as they endeavour to transcend it”…
Erm… it’s word porridge, morelike. He uses 20 words where one will do. It you thought that Mark Kermode was wordy… jeez!
- Behind the Scenes: Extended EPKs (electronic press kits) for Clive Barker (4:49), Andrew Robinson (4:24), Clare Higgins (3:18) and Ashley Laurence (3:07), plus one for ‘Creatures & Effects’ (9:28). Plus, the original 1987 EPK (6:00), and an intro from Stephen Jones and Kim Newman (10:30).
- 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 way 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.
- 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: One new one from Stephen Jones and Kim Newman, plus two archival ones: one from writer/director Clive Barker, writer Peter Atkins and actress Ashley Laurence, and one with Clive Barker on his own.
Director: Clive Barker
Producer: Christopher Figg
Screenplay: Clive Barker (based on “The Hellbound Heart”)
Music: Christopher Young
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…
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.