Clive Barker’s Hellraiser brings the master of the Stygian lore back to his dark roots to explore the demonic mythos that made him legendary. And how very fitting, dear reader, that we – after celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the original film – now dare to unlock further revelations into this hellish saga and explore deeper into the undiscovered depths of the Carnal House of Pain.
Hell awaits us in Clive Barker’s Hellraiser
The dimension of horror is no stranger to the searing visions of Clive Barker’s resplendent imagination. When we think of his work we typically get a visceral display of crimson images. Torn flesh strung wetly across dripping chains. Long passages leading to perpetual depths of yet-to-be discovered agony. And standing in the sickening glow of sweet decay are the misshapen visages of graceful beings disfigured beyond recognition but ripe with repulsive elegance. This is a peek into Hellraiser, Clive Barker’s most successful contribution to horror
After its initial success the little independent project became a franchise that’s spawned a throng of sequels, many of which I’ve seen, but admittedly they all get lost in each other. Mainly because their stories are embarrassingly too similar. With very little distinction, the Hellraiser franchise became all about – “oh no! We’ve found the Box! Oh no! We’ve opened it! Oh no! Pinhead! Oh fuck, now I’m dead” and that was as deep as it got.
Lacking in each succeeding film – from Hell on Earth onward – was the primal philosophies introduced to audiences by Clive Barker. Those being – the terrors of the flesh, and the price of carnal demands. Pinhead was gradually degraded into another slasher villain, rather than the Hell Priest who looked on with dull indifference to the fetid affairs of Mr. and Mrs. Everyday Man. It was a far cry from the original inspiration, and was not the vision Clive Barker had in store for his obsidian creation.
Clive Barker’s idea for the third-film installment was expected to take a grand departure from the franchise we already knew.
The third segment of the trilogy would have taken us back into the ancient past. To the times of mystic Egypt. In Clive Barker’s Hellraiser III we would have been introduced to the first Cenobite, the mighty Pharaoh, a man obsessed with the secrets of the dead and seeking the key to immortality. In that movie-that-never-was the first Lament Configuration would have been the great pyramid itself. Its entire structure being a magnanimous construction of the Occult, making it a conduit of enormous supernatural energy. Enough energy to split open the fabric of reality and pry open the forbidden lairs of the Underworld.
The scale of such imagination for a horror film is titanic, as would have been its undertaking. In a perfect world Clive Barker would have been given a budget befitting to Lord of the Rings and this movie would have happened. No doubt going on to be a master-class horror trilogy worthy of the name Hellraiser.
We do not live in a perfect world though. What we were given instead was Hell on Earth, a decent enough slasher, but nowhere near the depth of Barker’s genesis concepts. What then followed was Pinhead in space and a myriad of sequels that lost both fans and respect for the original lore along the way.
The fans deserved far better, and Clive Barker knew this. That’s why he treated us to Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, the continuation of Kirsty Cotton’s battle against the pale denizens of the Labyrinth. And the true third installment to the trilogy according to many.
This time around Kirsty – together with Tiffany (survivor of Hellbound) – has formed a group known as The Harrowers, an esoteric team dedicated to ridding the world of the Lament Configuration and all of its many differing forms. That in itself is one of the many incredible insights this comic series offers us. The Lament Configuration is not limited to the box alone, but has several different incarnations, each one opening a new door to an altered dimension in the many levels of Hell.
Yet Kirsty is not the only one with followers. The Hell Priest has disciples of his own on Earth. Lost souls locked away inside the decaying husk of humanity, desperate and eager to gain the favors of Hell and serve its masters by shedding as many liters of innocent blood the Beast may require. If you’re wanting gore, look no further. This comic delivers.
This story also continues the peculiar dynamic between Kirsty Cotton and the Hell Priest which was established in the original two films. Overall this comic-book run genuinely feels like a more fitting third installment to the dark saga we’ve always wanted. It ties the beautiful cord between both Kirsty and Pinhead, entwining their bizarre connection even tighter.
If you’re a Hellraiser fan or if you love horror comics Clive Barker’s Hellraiser is a must read. This has been Manic Exorcism, and once again thank you for joining me in Hell
To preorder your copy of the upcoming Clive Barker’s Hellraiser Omnibus be sure to click here. You won’t regret it.
Or – if you have a little Manic in you too – you can visit your local comic book stores and collect each of the individual comic issues just like I did. The stunning cover art alone is worth the price.