Hellraiser (1987) - Rotten Tomatoes


Hellraiser (1987)



Critic Consensus: Elevated by writer-director Clive Barker's fiendishly unique vision, Hellraiser offers a disquieting - and sadistically smart - alternative to mindless gore.

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The directorial debut from horror novelist Clive Barker stars Sean Chapman as a man who buys a strange Chinese puzzle box in a sex shop only to discover that its solution opens a portal to Hell.

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Sean Chapman
as Frank Cotton
Clare Higgins
as Julia Cotton
Andrew Robinson
as Larry Cotton
Ashley Laurence
as Kirsty Cotton
Oliver Smith
as Frank the Monster
Leon Davis
as 2nd Victim
Antony Allen
as 1st Victim
Mike Cassidy
as 3rd Victim
Frank Baker
as Derelict
Niall Buggy
as Dinner Guest
Gay Baynes
as Evelyn
Dave Atkins
as Moving Man
Oliver Parker
as Moving Man
Pamela Sholto
as Complaining Customer
Doug Bradley
as Lead Cenobite
Nicholas Vince
as Chattering Cenobite
Simon Bamford
as `Butterball' Cenobite
Grace Kirby
as Female Cenobite
Anthony Allen
as 1st Victim
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Critic Reviews for Hellraiser

All Critics (50) | Top Critics (11)

The conclusion is pat and predictable, an amateurish effort at showing the advantages of good over evil.

August 16, 2021 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…

The reason the movie works as well as it does is because of its human characters.

October 14, 2019 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

Horror is at its best when it's relentless. Clive Barker knows this, and his debut feature as director is so gleefully vicious, so relentlessly grim that it's going to be very hard for fans of the genre not to like it.

November 13, 2017 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

With Hellraiser, Clive Barker created one of the most genuinely disturbing movies of the last 20 years.

November 12, 2017 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Utterly bizarre and entirely ridiculous - and yet effective, an imaginative guignol festival, like the goriest of soap operas, in which one wrong move opens a portal to hell.

October 11, 2017 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Barker's vision cribs equally from the mythos of vampires and zombies, but Hellraiser's overriding ridiculousness (and nagging budgetary shortcomings) can't disguise the fact that the movie is at least unwittingly a product of the AIDS crisis.

April 20, 2009 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Hellraiser

A gory, trashy cult classic of the genre with an interesting (and very disturbing) idea, fascinating villains and a great makeup that stands out above all else, yet on the other hand the poor special effects and cheesy moments make it feel like a second-rate horror movie.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


People are pretty split on whether they find this film to be the start of the new frontier of horror, and the beginning of the horror porn manifestation we see today, or it's an easily forgotten flick that tries too hard. Whatever people say, Clive Barker is gross in the best kind of way, and this is definitely something never before seen. Fusing together sadomasochism and the limits of physical pleasure with the terrifying machinations of pain was never truly explored before in mainstream horror. In the indie market this was a palatable formula, but here there's also concern for gore, humiliation, and positing the female victim with the male monster. Frank (Chapman) is, by all accounts, a giant pervert, who travels the world, doing inappropriate things and people. He buys a mystical box from a market in Eastern Asia, which is supposed to bring him unbridled pleasure and pain. He figures out the mechanism, and opens it, experiencing the pain of meat hooks, demons, and Pinhead, the enduring figure for the many sequels spawned from this film. Frank's body reforms at his childhood home thanks to the blood of his brother being spilt. The transformation from blood and guts, to muscle and cartilage, was the most gruesome thing I have seen onscreen, and it has the most staying power of any scene throughout the film. There's more blood, more sexual tension, and sabotage sprinkled throughout, but most of the plot concerns Frank and Julia's (Higgins) relationship, as she kills people for the lothario to feast upon. It's a bit cut and dry with its story, but it packs on the gore and bloodlust with aplomb, and it's all you can do not to marvel at the effects, which are almost thirty years old. That and the bonds made between two pivotal humane experiences that are so often thought to be counterintuitive of one another, really make for an interesting and uncomfortable watch.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer



Directors Cat
Directors Cat

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