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ANCHOR BAY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Clive Barker
Cast:
Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence
Writing Credits:
Cliver Barker

Synopsis:
An unfaithful wife encounters the zombie of her dead lover, and the demonic cenobites pursue him after he escaped their sadomasochistic underworld.

MPAA:
Rated R.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 93 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 4/21/2009

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Clive Barker and Actor Ashley Laurence
• “Fast Film Facts” Text Commentary
• Five Featurettes
• Image Galleries
• Trailers & TV Spots


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RELATED REVIEWS


Hellraiser [Blu-Ray] (1987)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 18, 2019)

Arguably Clive Barker’s most successful project, 1987’s Hellraiser spawned a mini-franchise across a handful of sequels. Like all 1980s horror films, apparently a reboot will hit in the not-too-distant future as well.

Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) boasts a serious sadomasochistic bent. A ne'er-do-well throughout the years, he pursues whatever he desires.

However, Frank bites off more than he can chew when he gets a mysterious puzzle box. This cube traps him in an alternate dimension where creepy critters called "Cenobites" torture him.

Frank's fairly clean-cut brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) and his chilly second wife Julia (Claire Higgins) move into the house previously owned by his parents. They see that Frank had been there but have no idea of his current otherworld whereabouts.

We learn that Julia had a fling with foxy Frank and apparently she hasn't really gotten over him, a fact that comes back to her in spades. Larry spills some blood on the floor where Frank had last been, which starts to reconstitute Frank's dead form.

Horny Julia then starts to kill for Frank so he can sop up the blood and goo and eventually become human. Larry's daughter Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) begins to suspect something's up after a while.

The plot follows the action as Frank and Julia pursue their wishes while Kirsty sees what happens and the Cenobites eventually re-enter the picture.

Hellraiser suffers from some fairly dull characters, primarily Kirsty. Laurence does fine in the role, but Kirsty lacks much definition. Frank and Claire have some apparent depth but this isn't really explored, so they remain somewhat shadowy.

Ultimately, these deficiencies don't really matter, as Barker explores the eerie subject matter with aplomb. The Cenobites offer truly inspired creations, as these Giger-esque terrors seem to exist just to torture.

We get no backstory or exposition, and that's actually a positive, as it makes them scarier. They often appear nearly omnipotent, and they provide a genuinely horrific and moody aspect to the tale.

Frankly, without the Cenobites, I don't think we'd still care about this film. The Cenobites take the movie to a higher level.

Overall, Hellraiser offers a satisfying horror tale. The film shows some flaws - the effects haven't aged well - but the story gets under your skin - literally! - and is much more unnerving and nightmarish than most in the genre.


The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Hellraiser appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a decent but erratic image.

Sharpness varied. While most of the film seemed accurate and well-defined, some softness crept in at times, a factor that became exacerbated by mild edge haloes throughout the movie.

I saw no issues with jagged edges or moiré effects, and print flaws remained minimal. The image felt grainy to the point where I suspected digital artifacts caused some of these distractions.

The movie’s palette leaned toward a mix of reds, ambers and blues, all of which looked decent. Though the colors never felt strong, they worked fine.

Blacks seemed a bit inky, while shadows could be a little dense. I felt the image was good enough for a “B-“ but it lacked real strengths.

As for the film’s Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack, it created an active but not especially natural impression. While a lot of information came from the side and rear speakers, the elements didn’t blend as smoothly as I’d like.

This left us with a soundscape that added a lot of material but not one that felt particularly well-integrated. Not that it became a bad sonic setting, but the remix felt a bit overdone.

Audio quality was dated but fine. Music showed fairly nice range, and effects packed a decent punch. Those elements could come across as metallic at times and suffered from too much reverb, but they mostly came across with appropriate reproduction.

Speech seemed intelligible and reasonably natural, without obvious edginess or other issues. Though not a great track, this one was somewhat above average for its age.

When we head to the set’s extras, we start with an audio commentary from writer/director Clive Barker and actress Ashley Laurence. Moderated by writer Peter Atkins, Barker dominates the discussion as he talks about what he attempted to do with the film and also relates various technical aspects of making it.

Laurence also offers her take on the movie, and Atkins helps move the proceedings along nicely, though Barker and Laurence seem to do well on their own. The three appear to gel with each other, and the commentary has a pleasantly relaxed tone about it. Overall, it's a solid track that should be interesting to fans.

Also available alongside the movie, Fast Film Facts provides a text commentary. It brings us a mix of production notes to become a moderately informative piece.

Five featurettes follow, and Mr. Cotton, I Presume? brings a 16-minute, 13-second interview with actor Andrew Robinson. He discusses aspects of his career as well as his work on Hellraiser. Robinson offers a useful view of the subject matter.

Laurence reappears in the 11-minute, 58-second Actress From Hell. She covers her time on the film and other aspects of her life. This seems like a decent but unexceptional chat.

Unsurprisingly, Hellcomposer delivers an 18-minute, 19-second discussion with composer Christopher Young. He talks about his work on the film in this fairly informative reel.

Resurrection provides a 25-minute, 25-second featurette with Barker, Laurence, Young, actors Doug Bradley, Simon Bamford, Nicholas Vince, and Oliver Smith, special effects make-up artists Steve Johnson and Bob Keen, Cenobite costume designer Jane Wildgoose, performance artists Puncture, and filmmaker Bill Condon.

As expected, “Resurrection” brings a fairly general view of the production, so it touches on a wide mix of topics. While it lacks depth, it becomes a satisfactory overview.

Finally, Under the Skin gives us a 12-minute, 32-second piece with actor Doug Bradley. He tells us about his role and experiences through this enjoyable program.

In addition to three trailers, we get four TV spots and four Still Galleries. Those split into “Behind the Scenes” (61 frames), “Makeup and SFX Photos” (43), “Promotional Material” (27) and “Storyboards”. The last one has some still frames but it also includes side-by-side art/movie comparisons.

Although the “Galleries” present good elements, their quality seems terrible. All the shots look so blurry and ugly that they’re borderline useless.

Hellraiser isn't one of the greatest horror films ever made, but it holds up well after 32 years. The story seems creepier and more insidious than most, and director Clive Barker provides a tale that really sinks into your subconscious after a while. The Blu-ray offers generally positive picture and audio along with a good array of supplements. This winds up as a reasonably solid release for a compelling movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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