Hello Geeks and Ghouls, Famous Monster here. Well, it’s finally October and you know what that means? Breast Cancer Awareness 5Ks? Good guess. Pumpkin Spice Lattes? Delicious, but no. Halloween? YES. Horror movies? DOUBLE YES!
Welcome to 31 Days of Horror, where I’ll cover at least two noteworthy horror films a day for the entirety of the month. That’s 31 Days of Horror and 62+ scary movies perfect for a cold, dark October night. Be sure to visit Geeks of Doom every day this month for a double-shot of chills and thrills!
I have such sights to show you! Today’s picks will give you an experience beyond limits… pain and pleasure, indivisible! Prepare yourself for a double-shot of Clive Barker‘s signature sadism with his 1987 film, Hellraiser, and Bernard Rose‘s 1992 film, Candyman.
Based on the writer/director’s own novella, The Hell-Bound Heart, Clive Barker‘s feature-film debut opens with a disturbing prologue in which notorious pervert Frank (Sean Chapman) — a connoisseur of sexual depravity seeking the ultimate sensual experience — purchases an antique puzzle box.
Upon solving the puzzle, Frank opens the door to a hellish dimension and is ripped to shreds by a barrage of hooks and chains; his strewn body parts are subsequently collected by the Cenobites. Demons to some, angels to others, the Cenobites are “explorers” of carnal experience, practicing a form of sadomasochism so extreme that it transcends the boundary between pain and pleasure.
Years later, Frank’s brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) decides to move into Frank’s abandoned home with his second wife, Julia (Clare Higgins). While moving into the house, Larry cuts his hand on a nail, and his blood drips on the attic floor. The blood awakens the remnants of Frank’s shattered soul, partially restoring his body and allowing him to walk amongst the living once more.
Frank recruits Julia (who previously had an affair with him) to bring him human sacrifices. “Every drop of blood you spill puts more flesh on my bones.” Frank has cheated death and escaped the Cenobites’ hellish realm of pleasure and pain – but soon they’ll figure out that Frank’s missing, and come for him once more…
That Creepy Scene:
Hellraiser is filled with nightmarish images of depravity and gore, but perhaps the most disturbing sequence comes when the Cenobites, led by Pinhead (Doug Bradley), return to our realm to reclaim Frank, who is walking around in the skin of his now-dead brother.
The Cenobites call upon their hellish, supernatural abilities to ensnare Frank – giant hooks rip into his flesh, piercing his eyelids and cheeks while chains wrap around his body. The chains slowly tighten and the hooks pull Frank’s skin tight, reminiscent of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. Suddenly, the chains and hooks tear Frank to pieces in an orgasmic explosion of blood and meat. Frank’s screams are silenced for eternity.
Barker’s Hellraiser is a dark, disturbing shlock-fest that isn’t nearly as effective as it should be. While it does scare up a few horrifying visuals, Hellraiser‘s conversion from paper to celluloid is marred by dull characters, poor performances, and a thin narrative that lacks suspense, style, or reason.
I would love to see an up-and-coming filmmaker like Ti West (House of the Devil) write and direct a remake of Hellraiser, executive produced by Eli Roth (Hostel) with Greg Nicotero’s KNB Efx group in charge of all the blood and guts.
There’s a better cinematic story to be told involving Barker’s antique puzzle box and the pain-worshiping Cenobites – and characters like Frank, Larry, and Julia could be better served by casting big names like Michael Fassbender, Bryan Cranston, and Rose Byrne to flesh out (pun intended) their motivations. While we’re at it, let’s cast Liev Schreiber as the iconic Pinhead. THANK ME LATER, DIMENSION FILMS!
“The pain, I can assure you, will be exquisite. As for our deaths, there is nothing to fear. Our names will be written on a thousand walls. Our crimes told and retold by our faithful believers. We shall die together in front of their very eyes and give them something to be haunted by. Come with me and be immortal.”
Based on Clive Barker’s short story The Forbidden, Candyman stars Virginia Madsen as University of Illinois in Chicago graduate student Helen Lyle, who is compiling a thesis on urban legends. After interviewing tenants of Chicago’s crime-ridden Cabrini Green project, Lyle becomes aware of the prevalent superstition regarding the legend of Candyman (Tony Todd) – a hook-wielding phantom who appears if his name is recited five times into a mirror…
Similar to Hellraiser, Candyman ultimately fails to succeed from a narrative standpoint. The premise is fantastic and solid performances by Todd and Madsen keep you invested while the poetic, dreamlike imagery created by director Bernard Rose and cinematographer Anthony B. Richmond (The Man Who Fell to Earth) enhance the film’s style and dread.
Candyman is, if anything, one of the more philosophical horror movies – a film that presents several interesting ideas and themes but fails short of tying everything together. The score by Philip Glass (Koyaanisqatsi) is a memorable component of the film, and while Tony Todd will forever be known as Candyman, a remake could be compelling if approached properly. I imagine a cross between The X-Files and HBO’s The Wire with crazy supernatural shit goin’ down in the inner-city; with maybe someone like Nate Parker in the lead role.
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