Hellraiser - 35th Anniversary

UK 1987, 93 mins
Director: Clive Barker

+ intro by actors Nicholas Vince and Simon Bamford, with Phil Stokes, BFI Governor/Curator of the Clive Barker Archive

On location with ‘Hellraiser’
In a gutted North London mansion that, conveniently for the publicity people, is supposed to be haunted, Clive Barker was – with apparent ease – making his directorial debut. Best known as a groundbreaking author of short (the Books of Blood) and long (The Damnation Game) horror fiction, Barker turned to direction after a disappointing foray into screenwriting.

Hellraiser resulted from a team-up between Barker and former assistant director Christopher Figg. Figg wanted to produce and Barker to direct and, after discarding several stories from the Books of Blood, they hit on an original idea (‘three people in a house, and things happen’) intended mainly as a showreel. Barker wrote it up into a novella, The Hellbound Heart, for an American anthology, Night Visions 3, which he shares with other leading lights in the current literary horror generation, Lisa Tuttle and Ramsey Campbell. New World stayed with the project after their co-financiers Virgin withdrew. In response to a suggestion that Hellraiser is an American film shot in Britain, Figg claims, ‘It’s as American as the Mayflower.’

Although an admirer of the baroque splatter of Dario Argento, Barker says he is not imitating any particular school of film horror. ‘We’re telling a strong story and therefore the rococo flourishes which distract are redundant. We’re not cheating. We’re not putting in point of view shots of creatures which do not exist. There are always payoffs to hints like that. We show the monsters, the horrors. That was always the thing with the short stories. We’re giving the audience the goods.

‘The movie is a perverse love story, and if any element is going to deter people, it’ll be the perversity. The line between pleasure and pain, between violence and desire, is so fine, and I find that an interesting ambiguity. I’m not saying this isn’t a horror film. Directors will say, “Firestarter isn’t a horror film, it’s a human drama.” Give me a break. This is a horror film, and unapologetically so. What we were trying to do is collide this very strange, dark, forbidden imagery with really nice pictures.’

Barker hoped that the rock group Coil would score the film (New World overruled him), and gleefully claimed that he had selected them because ‘it’s the only music I’ve heard on disc that I’ve taken off because it made my bowels churn,’ although his publicist tactfully suggested that cinema managements might prefer it if that last quote read ‘…made my spine chill.’

The difference between Barker’s fiction and film is the difference between The Hellbound Heart and Hellraiser. A minor character in the original has been turned into the second lead in the adaptation and polished up as a more or less conventional heroine. ‘I liked the fact that in the novella the girl was a total loser. You can live with someone like that for the length of a novella. You can’t for a movie.

‘I think New World are hoping Hellraiser will appeal to a few people who wouldn’t go to House 2 or Creepshow 2, that word of mouth will attract people to its slight off-centredness. There are lots of monsters. We’ve got all the weird stuff in there, a lot of action. I believe the thing to do is go out there and scare people. But this isn’t one of those pictures where you cast the 12 most good-looking youths in California, and then murder them. We’ve cast people because they are terrific actors, and then murdered them.’
Kim Newman, Sight & Sound, Autumn 1987

SPOILER WARNING The following notes give away some of the plot.

A contemporary review
Like Michael Crichton and Nicholas Meyer – and unlike fellow horror authors Stephen King (Maximum Overdrive), John Farris (Dear, Dead Delilah) and William Peter Blatty (The Ninth Configuration) – Clive Barker’s career move from novelist to director is distinguished not only by a more-than-competent technical job but by a carry-over of the distinctive voice of his prose work. Barker, still relatively new to the genre, made his initial splash with the Books of Blood, six ground-breaking volumes of short stories, and has since produced two weighty, genre-stretching novels, The Damnation Game and Weaveworld. In addition, he has supplied the original stories and screenplays for two British films, Underworld and Rawhead Rex, directed by rock-video specialist George Pavlou, which have gone unreleased in this country even on video and whose shortcomings seem to have prompted Barker to assume more control over his filmed work. The Hellhound Heart, the source story for Hellraiser, can be found in Night Vision 3, the showcase anthology which Barker shares with Ramsey Campbell and Lisa Tuttle, also major figures in the current literary horror revival. It is sketchier than the best of Barker’s novellas, reading in fact like a screen treatment which has in the event been given flesh – much as its central character is – and emerged as an impressive though not quite whole creation.

The most immediately striking aspect of the movie is its seriousness of tone in an era when horror films (the Nightmare on Elm Street or Evil Dead films in particular) tend to be broadly comic. Although one slimy monster – identified in the story as The Engineer, but unnamed here – could have strayed in from New World’s House movies, the overall approach is straight, not to say relentlessly grim. As with the seminal early films of Romero, Cronenberg, Hooper and Cohen, the explicitly physical horrors of Hellraiser are rooted in twisted family relationships. Larry Cotton, betrayed and sacrificed by his contemptuous brother and wife, is a curiously powerless central figure for a horror film – top-billed, but necessarily killed off-screen.

The film is for the most part a return to the cutting edge of horror cinema, and in its inventively gruesome moments – Frank being turned inside-out by creaking millworks, his face being put together on the floor like a jigsaw puzzle – a reminder of the Grand Guignol intensity that has recently tended to disintegrate into lazy splatter.
Kim Newman, Monthly Film Bulletin, September 1987

Directed by: Clive Barker
©: New World Pictures
A Film Futures production
Made by: Rivdel Ltd.
Presented by: New World Pictures
In association with: Cinemarque Entertainment BV
Executive Producers: David Saunders, Christopher Webster, Mark Armstrong
Produced by: Christopher Figg
Associate Producer: Selwyn Roberts
Production Co-ordinator: Clare St. John
Production Auditor: Alex Matcham
Production Accountant: Pat Poole
Location Manager: Jane Studd
Assistants to the Producer: Su Lim, Selby McCreery
Floor Runner: Robert Fabbri
1st Assistant Director: Selwyn Roberts
2nd Assistant Director: Waldo Roeg
3rd Assistant Director: Rupert Ryle-Hodges
Script Supervisor: Ene Watts
Casting Director: Sheila Trezise
Assistant to the Casting Director: Ping Mudie
Written by: Clive Barker
Director of Photography: Robin Vidgeon
Camera Operator: David Worley
Focus Puller: Danny Shelmerdine
Clapper/Loader: Clive Mackey
Gaffer: Steve Foster
Best Boy: Gary Donoghue
Electricians: Andrew Hebden, Raymond Wardley
Camera Grip: Gary Hutchings
Still Photographer: Tom Collins
Additional Stills: Katya Grenfell
Edited by: Richard Marden
1st Assistant Editor: Roy Birchley
2nd Assistant Editor: Tim Grover
Production Designer: Mike Buchanan
Art Director: Jocelyn James
Production Buyer: Belinda Edwards
Property Master: Ron Allett
Standby Props: Paul Turner, Paul Purdey
Props Stand-by: Gerry O’Connor
Art Department Assistant: Mark Stevenson
Stand-by Stagehand: Derek Ede
Stand-by Rigger: Richard Harris
Construction Stand-by: John Rankin
Stand-by Painter: Colin Lovering
Chargehand Carpenter: Steve Ede
Stand-by Carpenter: John Potter
Costume Designer: Joanna Johnston
Cenobite Costume Designer: Jane Wildgoose
Cenobite Costume Assistant: Rosemary Sylvester Fisher
Sketch Artist: Floyd Jones Hughes
Wardrobe Supervisor: Daryl Bristow
Wardrobe Assistants: Brian Cox, Jane Howells
Make-up: Sally Sutton
Special Make-up Effects Designer: Bob Keen
Special Make-up Effects Workshop Supervisors: Geoff Portass, Nigel Booth, Julian Caldow, Paul Catling, Stuart Conran, David Elsey
Special Make-up Effects and Creature Crew: Little John, David Keen, William Petty, Roy Puddefoot, Jason Reed, Ian Rolph, Jim Sandys, Simon Sayce, Cliff Wallace
Hairdresser: Aileen Seaton
Titles and Opticals: Optical Film Effects Ltd.
Optical Supervisor: Peter Watson
Animation: Nick Xypnitos
Rostrum Cameraman: Tim Field
Optical Printer: Dick Dimbleby
Optical Printer: Peter Swinson
Colour by: Technicolor
Music Composed by: Christopher Young
Orchestra Conducted by: Paul Francis Witt
Music Orchestrated by: Christopher Young
Music Supervisor: Anne Atkins Young
Synthesiser Programmed and Performed by: Tom Calderaro
Music Recorded by: Jeff Vaughn
Percussion Consultant: Mark Zimowski
Sound Mixer: John Midgley
Boom Operator: Clive Osborne
Chief Dubbing Mixer: Graham Hartstone
Dubbing Mixers: Nicolas Le Messurier, Michael Carter
Dubbing Editor: Tony Message
Assistant Dubbing Editor: Joe Gilmore
Sound Effects Editor: John Ireland
Assistant Effects Editor: David Beesley
Stunt Arranger: Jim Dowdall
Stunt Man: Bill Weston
Stand-ins: Alan Harris, Kathy Sinclair
Film Extracts Courtesy of: Oxford Scientific Films
Unit Publicist: Steve Jones
Additional Publicity: Dennis Davidson Associates
Made at: The Production Village

Andrew Robinson (Larry)
Clare Higgins (Julia)
Sean Chapman (Frank)
Robert Hines (Steve)
Ashley Laurence (Kirsty)
Oliver Smith (Frank the monster)
Antony Allen (1st victim)
Leon Davis (2nd victim)
Michael Cassidy (3rd victim)
Frank Baker (derelict)
Kenneth Nelson (Bill)
Gay Baynes (Evelyn)
Niall Buggy (dinner guest)
Dave Atkins (moving man 1)
Oliver Parker (moving man 2)
Pamela Sholto (complaining customer)
Doug Bradley (lead Cenobite, ‘Pinhead’)
Nicholas Vince (chattering Cenobite)
Simon Bamford (‘butterball’ Cenobite)
Grace Kirby (female Cenobite)
Sharon Bower (nurse)
Raul Newney (doctor)

UK 1987©
93 mins

Nosferatu (Nosferatu – Eine Symphonie des Grauens)
Mon 17 Oct 20:50; Sun 13 Nov 15:50 (+ intro by Silent Film Curator Bryony Dixon); Sat 19 Nov 14:10
Tue 18 Oct 20:50; Fri 28 Oct 18:20; Tue 8 Nov 18:20; Sun 27 Nov 13:00
The Skeleton Key
Wed 19 Oct 18:00; Mon 14 Nov 20:45
Meet the Monsters: A Season Introduction
Thu 20 Oct 19:30 BFI YouTube
I Walked With a Zombie
Thu 20 Oct 20:40; Tue 1 Nov 18:10
Creature from the Black Lagoon (3D)
Sat 22 Oct 18:15 (+ pre-recorded intro by Mallory O’Meara, award winning and bestselling author of ‘The Lady from the Black Lagoon’); Sat 29 Oct 11:40; Tue 1 Nov 20:50
In Dreams Are Monsters Quiz
Sun 23 Oct 19:00-22:00 Blue Room
Kuroneko (Yabu no naka no kuroneko)
Tue 25 Oct 20:45; Mon 31 Oct 21:00; Fri 18 Nov 18:15
The Fly
Wed 26 Oct 21:00
La Llorona
Thu 27 Oct 20:30; Mon 7 Nov 21:00
Celluloid Screams and Live Cinema UK presents: Ghostwatch + Q&A
Fri 28 Oct 20:20
Fri 28 Oct 20:45; Tue 8 Nov 20:50
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Sat 29 Oct 18:30; Wed 30 Nov 20:50
Sat 29 Oct 20:45; Thu 17 Nov 20:50 (+ intro)
Nightbreed – Director’s Cut
Sun 30 Oct 15:10 (+ intro); Sat 12 Nov 20:35
28 Days Later
Mon 31 Oct 18:00 (+ Q&A with director Danny Boyle); Sat 26 Nov 20:45
Tue 1 Nov 20:40; Sat 19 Nov 15:10; Tue 29 Nov 20:40
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
Wed 2 Nov 18:10; Sat 26 Nov 20:40
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death
Wed 2 Nov 20:45; Sat 19 Nov 20:45
Thu 3 Nov 20:55; Sat 26 Nov 13:00
Fri 4 Nov 18:30; Sat 19 Nov 12:10; Sun 20 Nov 18:30
Fright Night
Fri 4 Nov 20:50; Tue 22 Nov 20:40 (+ intro)
Sat 5 Nov 20:20 (+ intro by author Kier-La Janisse); Sun 27 Nov 15:30
Ganja & Hess
Mon 7 Nov 18:00; Sat 26 Nov 15:20
Wed 9 Nov 20:40; Sat 26 Nov 18:20
The Entity
Fri 11 Nov 17:55; Tue 15 Nov 20:30
Def by Temptation
Wed 16 Nov 18:10 (+ intro); Sat 26 Nov 18:10
Jennifer’s Body
Sun 20 Nov 15:15; Mon 21 Nov 18:00; Fri 25 Nov 20:45
Mon 21 Nov 20:30; Sun 27 Nov 12:20
Under the Shadow
Wed 23 Nov 20:40; Tue 29 Nov 18:10
Ouija: Origin of Evil
Thu 24 Nov 20:40; Mon 28 Nov 18:10
Pet Sematary
Fri 25 Nov 18:15; Mon 28 Nov 20:40
Good Manners (As Boas Maneiras)
Sun 27 Nov 18:10; Wed 30 Nov 20:25

City Lit at BFI: Screen Horrors – Screen Monsters
Thu 20 Oct – Thu 15 Dec 18:30-20:30
Beyond Nollywood World Premiere: Inside Life + Q&A with director Clarence A Peters
Sat 29 Oct 14:00
Matchbox Cine presents House of Psychotic Women
Sat 5 Nov 17:50
Son of Ingagi + Panel Discussion
Wed 9 Nov 18:10
Live Commentary with Evolution of Horror, Brain Rot and The Final Girls
Sat 19 Nov 18:00
Big Monster Energy
Tue 22 Nov 18:30

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