Tuesday, September 17, 2013


This time out, we exposed the nanobots to Clive Barker’s 1987 directorial debut, Hellraiser. We love this movie on many levels: for its atmospherics, its makeup and costume effects, and most especially for the complexity of its antagonists, the Cenobites--who, much like the nanobots themselves, are amoral seekers after pleasures forbidden and obscure.

Was it all a waste of good suffering? Will this movie tear your soul apart? Read on, and decide for yourselves.

  • As always, the pursuit of pleasures at the outer realms of human experience is a cash-only business. = +9pts
  • Frank Cotton teaches us that you can only open the doorway to hell from inside the “Wrapped Around Your Finger” video. = +7pts 
  • We get our first glimpse of the Cenobites, who really, really, really enjoy chains hanging from their ceiling. We can’t possibly stress this enough. = +4pts 
  •  That ancient wooden post with hundreds of bloody pieces of flesh nailed to it really ties the room together. = +9pts 
  • We have such sights to show you ... Specifically, the sight of your own face being ripped off with iron hooks. = +15pts (What? Did you even look at the brochure?) 
  •  Back on earth, Larry and Julia Cotton are moving into the Cotton boys’ mother’s house. Like all the locations in this movie, it appears to have never, ever been clean and wholesome. It is also filled with decaying food, maggots, and weird religious artifacts. Since this is a horror movie and not Extreme Makover: Home Edition, they don’t seem to mind at all. = +12pts 
  •  Andrew Robinson, who plays Frank’s brother Larry Cotton, will go on to play Liberace in a 1988 biopic, surprising no one. = +3pts 
  •  Ahh, the 1980s. Where actresses established eye-makeup traditions that are still observed in porno to this day. = -8pts 
  •  Julia is …. dear God! Forget all that stuff with the hooks and chains and blood and face-meat—she’s SMOKING INDOORS! = (In 1987 = +/- 0pts; in 2013 = -20pts) -10pts 
  • Introducing Kirsty Cotton, played by Ashley Laurence. You will see her again in three other Hellraiser movies, the 2008 action-movie Red, and probably nothing else. = -1pts 
  •  Julia really likes those pictures of Frank nailing underage Thai hookers. Dirty girl. = +6pts 
  •  Fantasy sequence: Julia likes her men rapey and stabby. = -6pts 
  •  If you walk into a room and detect an audible heartbeat, get the fuck out. Did Edgar Allan Poe teach us nothing? = -3pts 
  •  The stages of Frank’s rebirth: 1) boiling snot 2) giant bug-antennae 3) the mutant xenomorph baby from Alien Resurrection . = +9pts
  • Ballpark Franks plump when you cook 'em. Frank Cottons plump when you feed ‘em the blood of middle-aged adulterers. = +15pts 
  •  Kirsty Cotton interlude: Say hello to the creepy cricket-eating vagrant. Surely his presence will be explained later in the movie. = +3pts 
  • Clothes make the man. But sometimes the man just makes the clothes sticky. Because no skin yet. = +7pts 
  •  That awkward moment when your husband is sexing you, and then his skinless ghoul of a brother sneaks into the room and flays a rat with a switchblade. = +11pts 
  • Maybe the Foley guys shouldn’t have used the sound of an eight-year-old finishing a Shamrock Shake to represent Frank feeding off his victims. Just a thought. = -2pts 
  • Uncle Frank tartare attempts to rape-eat Kirsty Cotton, but she escapes by punching him right in the sigmoid colon and stealing his steampunk paperweight. = +9pts 
  • Clearly, the thing to do now is to walk around a deserted industrial area until you pass out and awaken in a hospital from the 1950s. = -3pts 
  • The hospital sure is boring. Might as well play with this puzzle box that my murderous undead uncle was terrified of. = +6pts 
  • Hey, look! A clearly extradimensional passage, from which emanates the sound of screaming. Guess you’d better go in and check it out. = -2pts 
  • That is one angry giant piranha-fetus-slug-scorpion. Just sayin’. = +3pts 
  • At last, we meet the Cenobites. Here is what makes them the best villains ever: they only come when you ask them to. And you can’t just shoot them a text, either—you have to go to fucking Morocco, buy a magic puzzle-box, and figure out how to operate it entirely on your own before the Cenobites even recognize that you exist. They will not inflict tortures on you beyond your imagining … until you beg them for it. = +75pts 
  • That’s exactly how Comcast technical support works! = +25pts 
  • What are the Cenobites? “Explorers in the further regions of experience. Demons to some; angels to others.” Pinhead is a public-relations savant. = +25pts
  • … although, if you are introduced to a group of leather-robed, humorless albinos with nail-studded skulls and indescribable facial deformities, and your first thought is “Hey, angels!” you are something of a statistical outlier. (no points, just an observation) 
  • So Frank is now fucking his brother’s wife with a cock covered in skin that he stole from his brother by murdering and devouring him. I think Frank just committed EVERY SINGLE SIN at one go. Achievement unlocked! = +69pts 
  • Goddammit, Kirsty. Frank just got that face. = -2pts 
  • Way to take one for the team, Julia. Sorry about the stabbing and leaving you a desiccated husk. = +14pts 
  • “You set me up, bitch.” Probably the understatement of the century. = +3pts 
  • Frank-splosion! = +10pts 
  • Whoa! Looks like the piranha-fetus-slug-scorpion doesn’t take “no” for an answer. = +8pts 
  • Hey, you signed the puzzle-box end-user agreement: Violation of the terms stated hereunder may result in penalties not to exceed $250,000 and/or the fiery destruction of all your material goods by Sesame-Street quality visual effects. = +23pts 
  • Aha! Now the creepy cricket-eating vagrant’s significance will finally be explained … = +15pts 
  •  …by his turning into a skeletal dragon for some reason before stealing back the puzzle-box. Thanks, movie. = +1pt
Total Score = +334pts
Available on: DVD, Netflix streaming, the shadowy marketplaces of Tangiers.

What have we learned?

  • That the things we struggle hardest to attain may be phantoms, concealing dire consequences we did not dream of? Check.
  • That we must take care not to be ruined by our own desires? Check.
  • That when your shifty uncle who lives in the attic says, “Come to daddy,” you run right the fuck out of there and don’t look back? Check check.
  • But most of all we’ve learned that, if the sexy sex you’re having in the normal space-time continuum just isn’t doing it for you—if you actually transcend the borders of reality in search of the absolute sexiest of sexes—then you deserve whatever it is you find. Enjoy the hooks, weirdo.

Score Technician: John Ormond

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