Friday, October 11, 2013

Hellraiser (1987)

Kirsty Cotton: I... I can... I can lead you to him and you... you can take him back instead of me!
Female Cenobite: Perhaps we prefer YOU!
Lead Cenobite: I want to hear him confess, himself. Then maybe... maybe...
Female Cenobite: But if you cheat us...
Lead Cenobite: We'll tear your soul apart!
After losing his earthly form to demons from another dimension, an undead man asks his ex-mistress for human sacrifices in an attempt to rebuild his body.
Unlike many other horror films that preceded it, "Hellraiser" made its debut at the Cannes Film Festival in France on May 13, 1987.  The following September it was shown throughout various locations in the UK before making its premiere in the US later that month (September 18th, to be exact).  Out of the top 100 films that came out that year, "Hellraiser" only ranked #72 at the Box Office with a total gross of $14,564,027 (it had a budget of $1,000,000 to work with).  Though the film premiered on 1,097 screens on its opening weekend, it would be shown at 1,104 screens overall.
"Hellraiser" had competition its opening weekend with films such as "The Pick-Up Artist" starring Molly Ringwald and Robert Downey, Jr. and "The Principal" starring James Belushi.  But perhaps the hardest competition it had during that weekend was with the film "Fatal Attraction" starring Michael Douglas and Glenn Close.  "Fatal Attraction" wound up #2 at the Box Office that year.
Clive Barker was 34 when he wrote the screenplay and directed "Hellraiser" which wound up being his directorial debut.  Nominated for a few awards and winning two, the film starred Andrew Robinson as Larry, Clare Higgins as Julia, Ashley Laurence and Kirsty, Sean Chapman as Frank, and Robert Hines as Steve.  The "Cenobites" were Doug Bradley as Pinhead, Nicholas Vince as the Chattering Cenobite, Simon Bamford as "Butterball", and Grace Kirby as the female Cenobite.  Andrew had already been in many, many productions, most of them television.  Having also been in television programs, this was the second film for Clare.  It was the first feature film, however, for Kirsty who had also been in a couple of television productions previously.  As for the Cenobites, this film was the film premiere for three of the four actors.  Grace had already been in a couple of productions.  Almost all those aforementioned would reprise their roles in following sequels to "Hellraiser".
Filmed in various locations throughout London, England including Dollis Hill and the Production Village in Cricklewood, here are some more bits of behind-the-scenes information you might appreciate...
1.  The film was originally supposed to be called "The Hellbound Heart," after the novella it was based upon.  The studio decided that the title sounded too much like a romance and asked Barker to change the title.  Barker offered "Sadomasochists from Beyond the Grave," which was rejected for the overtly sexual content.  Barker ultimately opened the floor to the production team to offer up their own suggestions, prompting a sixty-year-old female crewmember to offer up "What a Woman Will do for a Good Fuck."  (Atta girl!  A little wordy, but a daring thought indeed!)
2.  It took six hours to apply the prosthetic Cenobite makeup on Doug Bradley ("Pinhead").
3.  Doug Bradley was originally offered a choice of roles between one of the mattress movers and the Lead Cenobite.  He originally thought it important that, as a new film actor, the audience should be see his face, and nearly turned down the Lead Cenobite role.
4.  Doug Bradley's character was named "Priest" in the earliest drafts of the script and ultimately became simply "Lead Cenobite" in the shooting script.  "Pinhead" originated as a nickname for the character that simply stuck and began being used in the sequels.  Barker disliked the name, finding it undignified, and in his Hellraiser comic series produced for BOOM! in 2011 had characters refer to Pinhead as "Priest."  He also maintains that the character has a "true Cenobite name" that he intends to reveal in a forthcoming work.  Similarly, the Female Cenobite was designated "Deep Throat" on set, though the overtly sexual nature of the moniker led to her simply being billed as "Female Cenobite" again in the sequel.  (Wasn't "Deep Throat" the name of... never mind.)
5.  The studio had planned on casting stunt men as the Cenobites to save on production costs.  Director Clive Barker, however, insisted on hiring actors, reasoning that even if the characters did not speak and appeared under heavy make-up, their body language would still convey a personality.
6.  The Chatterer and Butterball Cenobites had dialogue in the original script.  However, when their make-up made coherent speech impossible, their lines were given to the Female Cenobite and especially Pinhead which helped to cement his reputation as the film's trademark character.
7.  In his DVD commentary, Clive Barker explained that filming the movie in an actual house forced him to be creative in his cinematography.  There was often only room for a single camera and this explains why many of the shots are from only one angle.  In particular, vertical movement was often the only movement available to the camera operators, which explains many of the overhead and zoom shots.  Only one room in the house, the attic, was shot on a soundstage, but only the FX shots used this attic set.
8.  The concept of a cube being used as a portal to hell has basis in the urban legend of The Devil's Toy Box, which concerns a six-sided cube constructed of inward facing mirrors. According to stories, individuals who enter the structure and then close it will undergo surreal, disturbing phenomenon that will simultaneously grant them a revelatory experience and permanently warp their mind.
9.  The scene where Frank is being spun around upside-down covered in blood was a camera test and the very first thing shot of the film.  Afterwards, Sean Chapman (Frank) couldn't help but vomit.
10.  At the time of the movie's release the MPAA had an agenda on "intensity of tone".  As a result of this, director Clive Barker had to make several cuts to the film - consecutive hammer blows, fingers entering flesh, S&M spanking between Julia and Frank, additional "thrusts" during the sex scene - all with the intention of watering down the overall impact of the piece.
11.  Andrew Robinson convinced Clive Barker to replace the scripted line, "Fuck you," with the line actually shot, "Jesus wept."
12.  Many viewers have commented about the poor quality of the FX at the end of the movie.  And they're right.  It was rather cheesy.  Clive Barker has explained that, due to a very limited budget, there was no money left to have the FX done professionally after the primary filming.  Instead, Barker and a "Greek guy" animated these scenes by hand over a single weekend.  Barker has also commented that he thinks the FX turned out very well considering the amount of alcohol the two consumed that weekend.
13.  During a post production party when filming had ended Doug Bradley was dismayed to be ignored by the other members of the crew.  He thought to himself that he found it a pity as he thought he got on rather well with people.  It wasn't till later that he realized that none of the crew had actually ever seen him without his makeup when playing Pinhead and therefore did not recognize him.
14.  Industrial band Coil originally did the soundtrack for this movie. Clive Barker was a fan of the finished product, saying "[Coil was] the only group I've heard on disc whose records I've taken off because they made my bowels churn."  However, the studio ultimately decided to have the film re-scored by a "house band," who would not have to be paid royalties.  The score that Coil recorded, a total of nine tracks, can be found on their compilation CD titled "Unnatural History II: Smiling in the Face of Perversity" and on another album "The Unreleased Themes for Hellraiser".  Both are very rare.
15.  A total of 18 people helped with the special make-up effects, hair, and make-up.
16.  The address the house was filmed at in Dollis Hill, London is 187 Dollis Hill Lane, Dollis Hill, London, England, UK.
And now you know.
Doug Bradley would go on to reprise his role as "Pinhead" in sequels that followed "Hellraiser", including those that went straight to video.  His performance made it to the Movie Monster Hall of Fame with his role of "Pinhead" whom he portrayed in all eight of the "Hellraiser" films.
The following are for your enjoyment: The original theatrical trailer to the film as well as picture stills introducing the characters and following the chronological order of the film (some scenes I left out as I didn't want to reveal too much).  I will caution you that the pictures are graphic in content.
First the preview...

Now the key characters...


And now the remaining pictures...




Lead Cenobite: The box... you opened it, we came.
Kirsty Cotton: It's just a puzzle box!
Lead Cenobite: Oh no, it is a means to summon us.
Kirsty Cotton: Who are you?
Lead Cenobite: Explorers... in the further regions of experience. Demons to some, angels to others.

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