Cocktails and Movies Take Out Theater: “Hellraiser”

by Tim Barley

This week’s Take Out Theater selection introduces us to the overlooked demon (angel?), Pinhead

After 25 years, Hellraiser can still surprise the viewer with its eerie feel, even if the special effects are very dated and the acting a little hammy. Clive Barker is one of the most overlooked horror writers of the last 30 years, giving us many books of short stories and films like Midnight Meat Train, Nightbreed, and Candyman. However, it’s Hellraiser, with its look at pain and pleasure and escaping from the hell, that makes it a seminal piece in keeping with this week’s #MonstersManiacsAndMadmen. So, for this week’s #TakeOutTheater, we give you Hellraiser.

The Film

cocktails and movies take out theater HellraiserTitle: Hellraiser

Directed By: Clive Barker (also written by)
Year Released: 1987
Starring: Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Doug Bradley
Rating: R
Runtime:  93 Minutes
Studio: New World Pictures

In the opening scene, Frank Cotton buys a mysterious puzzle box and later “solves” it in a room in his family’s house. As hooked chains emerge from the walls, ripping him apart, a black-robed figure picks up the box and returns the room to normal. Frank’s brother, Larry, has decided to move to their childhood home in an attempt to rebuild his strained relationship with his second wife, Julia. The abandoned home shows traces of Frank’s recent presence, but Larry assumes Frank has fled the authorities.

Larry cuts his hand and the blood partially restores Frank’s soul to life and consciousness. Julia later finds Frank in the attic. Still obsessed with him, she agrees to harvest blood for him so that he can be fully restored.. Julia begins picking up men in bars and bringing them back to the house, where she murders them, allowing Frank to regenerate. Frank explains how he came to be this way: when solved, the box opens up a portal to the realm of the “Cenobites” – angels or demons, depending on your idea of pain/pleasure.

Kirsty, Larry’s daughter, spies Julia bringing men to the house and follows her to the attic, where she interrupts Frank’s feeding. She escapes with the box and awakens in a hospital and solves the puzzle box, summoning the Cenobites. Their leader, Pinhead, explains that although the Cenobites have been perceived as both angels and demons, they are simply “explorers” of the carnal experience. She offers up Frank’s return instead of her and she escapes the hospital, returning to the hospital.

Frank chases Kirsty to the attic and is about to kill her. The Cenobites appear, now sure he is their prey, and ensnare him with chains and tear him to pieces. They then attempt to abduct Kirsty. Ripping the puzzle box from Julia’s dead hands, Kirsty defeats the Cenobites by reversing the motions needed to open the puzzle box, sending them away in a burst of electricity. Her boyfriend shows up and helps her escape the quickly deteriorating house.

“Oh, that old story”

Upon rewatching Hellraiser this past week, I was reminded that 1987 and 2013 are two totally different time periods. In retrospect, the movie feels very dated, with some antiquated effects and some uninspired acting all around. Unfortunately, there isn’t anything new that you haven’t seen in movies today. A remake of this movie could really delve into the ideas of pleasure and pain and a good director could amp up the eerie quality of Pinhead and the Cenobites. And a rumored remake, stuck in development hell (how appropriate!), cannot come fast enough. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch it. There are still a few bumps and rattling chains (literally) in this movie to watch it on a dark night alone or with a friend. I must confess that there are a few moments that had me looking at the screen out of the corner of my eye. What you should be watching for in this movie is the introduction to Pinhead and the Cenobites, who have gone on to star in eight sequels in the Hellraiser franchise.

In the later sequels, the production values and budgets went way up, but a lot of them suffered from incoherent plots. Bring on that remake!

The Drink

Special thanks to http: for the shot recipe:


1 oz Sambuca (black if you can find it)

1 oz Midori Melon liquor

1 oz Strawberry liqueur

Mix, pour, drink (just the way we like it)