Monday, August 04, 2014

Vamp or Not? Hellraiser

When I looked at the film Under the Skin I received a comment from friend of the blog Alex who suggested I should look at the 1987 Clive Barker directed classic horror film Hellraiser. Indeed Alex suggested it was worthy of either a ‘Vamp or Not?’ or, at the very least, an ‘Honourable Mention’.

Now, it had been years since I watched the film and it was, if nothing else, a darned good excuse to re-watch it. As you can see, by the very fact that you are reading this, I decided it most definitely deserved looking at on TMtV.

Doug Bradley as Pinhead
I’m sure most readers will be aware of the series, but just in case... The films centre around the Lament (or Lemarchand) Configuration Puzzle Box, a box that opens gateways to Hell – most specifically the Hell inhabited by the demonic cenobites (as an aside did you know that cenobite is a word, rather than a made up name, and means a member of a religious group living together in a monastic community). Most famous amongst these is Pinhead (Doug Bradley, Umbrage & the Reverend) but it is not these hedonistic S&M creatures that are the subject of the ‘Vamp or Not?’

in pieces
At the beginning of the film we see thrill and forbidden pleasure seeker Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) buy the puzzle box. He opens it and opens the gateway for the cenobites. Lots of hook-ended, flesh rending chains and Frank is literally ripped apart. Pinhead closes the box and seals the doorway. The house is then taken by Frank’s brother Larry (Andrew Robinson), who cuts his hand whilst moving in and bleeds in the very room (and on the very spot) where Frank died.

Frank regenerates
As Larry is taken to hospital the blood in the room is absorbed and something oozes back into existence, becoming a partial rebuild of Frank’s skeletal form. The blood causing him to reconstitute plays like a staple vampire resurrection and, indeed, there is many a vampire film that would have benefited from the practical effects used for this scene. Frank is discovered by Larry’s unfaithful wife Julia (Clare Higgins, Being Human). The two had a past illicit relationship (unknown to Larry) and he enlists her help to bring him more blood to continue reconstituting his body.

one of Frank's victims
Julia lures victims back to the house and incapacitates/murders them to allow Frank access to their blood. It appears that he penetrates their flesh with his fingers and then somehow sucks the blood into himself. The mechanism is not clear but it leaves them drained and twisted (and considerably lighter, Julia lifts and carries one of the “husks” with ease). Each feed – for there can be no doubt that this constitutes a feed, causes more of Frank’s body to regenerate, eventually allowing him to feel again (the nerves come back to life) and taste a cigarette. The act of feeding would eventually have reconstituted his own skin, as is confirmed in a later film, though we don’t see that in this film, rather we see him borrow someone else’s.

Frank attacks
So is Frank a vampire? Well he certainly appeared to have died (and been taken to Hell in some form or another). Blood reconstitutes him corporally on Earth and he must take more to continue the healing process. This is apparently sucked from his victims (albeit through his fingers). I am going to have to say yes, Frank is a form of vampire and thus Hellraiser is Vamp.

The imdb page is here.


Alex. G said...

Cool, you did it. Good work.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

did it? it became a marathon of all 9 films!! But I do aim to try and please ;)

Alex. G said...

All 9 films? Time well spent?

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Actually - as I hadn't seen most of them, even though the quality varied (and nose dived after the first three - which I had seen) it was a fun weekend (especially as the summer vanished for a couple of days and became wet and windy)