Hellraiser (Blu-ray) - Mania.com

Blu-ray Review

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  • Blu-Ray: Hellraiser
  • Rating: R
  • Starring: Clare Higgins, Sean Chapman, Oliver Smith, Andrew Robinson, Doug Bradley, Ashley Laurence
  • Written By: Clive Barker
  • Directed By: Clive Barker
  • Distributor: Starz/Anchor Bay Home Entertainment
  • Original Year of Release: (Theatrical) 2009(Blu-ray)
  • Extras: Commentaries, Fast Facts, Interviews, Trailers, Hellraiser Documentary, TV Spots, Scripts
  • Series:

Hellraiser (Blu-ray)

Tearing the Blu Apart!

By Robert T. Trate     April 24, 2009

Doug Bradley as Pinhead in Hellraiser on Blu-ray
© Mania.com/Robert Trate


Immediately as the New World Cinema logo appeared on screen and each detail of the red and black sliced circle is revealed you can see that this was going to be different. Anchor Bay has outdone themselves with the Blu-ray release of Clive Barker’s masterpiece Hellraiser. Sure practically all of the special features are the same as the Hellraiser: 20th Anniversary Edition Anchor Bay released back in October of 2007 but it won’t matter to the true fan. Hellraiser on Blu-ray is the definitive edition in 1080p and Dolby TrueHD 5.1.
The story in the original Hellraiser film is not as convoluted or as Cenobites heavy as its numerous sequels, over seven now. It is more liken to a Greek tragedy. Larry (Andrew Robinson) and Julia (Clare Higgins) take possession of their family home after Larry’s brother, Frank, has long disappeared. Julia harbors a dark secret in that she had a tryst with Frank, one she still secretly longs for. Frank however, didn’t abandon the house. He is still there only trapped in Hell. Larry accidentally cuts himself and some blood on the floor brings Frank back. He’ll need more to be whole again and Julia is willing to kill to do so. Notice that there is nothing in there about white faced demons with pins in their heads. That is what made them so fascinating.
Pinhead (Doug Bradley) or the Lead Cenobite, as he is appropriately billed, has little screen time in the first film. He appears here and there making deals with Larry’s daughter Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) to send Frank back to Hell instead of her father. This less is more quality is what makes it a modern day classic. Despite the quality of its sequels, Hellraiser will never be forgotten.
Anchor Bay is notorious for releasing multiple editions, collections and versions of their ever growing horror catalogue. Their Evil Dead films alone could fill a library. So why pick up this third version of Hellraiser? The picture quality, hands down. There are many who will argue the difference is negligible between DVD and Blu-ray. Owning Anchor Bay’s first edition of Hellraiser and comparing it to the Blu-ray I saw numerous things that oozed new life into the film. Sweat glistened, the orange light on human skin burned, the blues froze and the bathed-in-light Cenobites never looked more sinister. Long gone are the memories of faded transfers and the video store copies. Hellraiser burns on screen and is proof that Blu-ray really does make a difference.
By far the best scene in the entire film is Frank’s re-birth into the real world. Christopher Young’s brilliant waltz can be heard in TrueHD as each corpuscle reassembles its self. The puss, blood and sweat are now layered with amazing see through details and give the scene a beauty that may have only previously be witnessed during its filming. This re-birth in Blu-ray makes one realize that no matter how perfect CGI may become there is no substitute for real world special effects. This is another thing that Hollywood may have to reconsider, outside of actors’ make up, is the realization of the movie monster. If it looks like a cartoon on screen people will treat it as such. If you watch as Hell literally gives up one of its own and you believe it, like this scene, real world special effects are ready to have a renaissance. 
There are several great interviews on the Blu-ray from the 2007 edition all of which are worth watching as cast and crew reminisce about the film. The commentary track featuring director/ writer Clive Barker and star Ashley Laurence is from the 2000 edition. Barker and Laurence reveal many secrets to the film and divulge a lot of problems they had with the studio. Barker had to animate the Cenobites’ re-capture into the box by hand because New World Cinema refused to give him any more money. Laurence, who looks angelic in Blu-ray, also reveals where she lost skin do to numerous takes with the chattering Cenobite. Yet, both speak about their love for the film and how no other experience has ever come close to the making of the first Hellraiser. It was after all a first for both in making movies.    
If you are a diehard fan or interested in owning your own puzzle box Anchor Bay released the Hellraiser: Boxed Set in the same design. Included in this set is Hellraiser: 20th Anniversary Edition, Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 and Hellraiser on Blu-ray. The lure is the obviously the puzzle box and a must have for any collector. So what’s your pleasure?

Anchor Bay's Puzzle Box for Hellraiser(2009).


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