The Best Horror Movie Kills of All-Time: #3 – HELLRAISER (1987)

Guys, I fucked up.

Today I was writing this post and I inadvertently referenced a film that COMPLETELY SLIPPED MY FREAKING MIND! Dear God, you all deserve better than this.

To make up for it, I’ll be doing a #2A and #2B on Thursday. Thankfully, the scene I forgot was one I intended to rank very high, so it’ll fit like a glove. Not to sound too pun-y, but it’ll be a killer duo.

Again, I’m a dope.

Moving along. I know I’ve stated this multiple times in some earlier posts, but it bears repeating: SPOILERS TO FOLLOW!!! The scene I’m talking about is at the very end of the film, so if you haven’t seen the flick then steer clear.

Ok, enough of that! Tearing it’s way to the #3 spot is Clive Barker’s grotesque, supernatural horror classic, Hellraiser.


I can remember watching this film for the first time years ago and thinking, “I thought Pinhead was the bad guy…” And for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie (and is still reading this for some reason), don’t expect to see too much of him in the first installment.

And this is by no means a complaint. I find that tends to be a recurring motif in many hellraiser14successful horror or sci-fi films. Think about the villain in Jaws, Alien, the original A Nightmare on Elm Street or even the original Godzilla, all of whom are kept hidden away until the moment when they create the most impact.

That same structure holds true for Pinhead (Doug Bradley), who would go on to become a cult figure, horror icon, and gatekeeper of the franchise. But here, the Cenobites essentially only bookend the film, and Pinhead is famously credited only as “Lead Cenobite”. To take it one step further, I think whether or not they’re even villains in this film is up for debate.

It’s no secret that the Cenobites contain a fetish-y, BDSM aspect, which is a community of people who choose to live out alternative, often erotic, fantasies and lifestyles. The acronym stands for some combination of bondage-discipline-dominance-submission-sadomasochism, all of which figure directly into Barker’s story.


The opening of the film involves a transaction involving Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) wherein he procures a mysterious puzzle box, which is a means of summoning the Cenobites. It could be said that Frank may not be aware of the extent to which they will go to show him “pain and pleasure, indivisible” as he puts it, but I think it’s apparent he hellraiser09has at least partial knowledge of who and what they are. Perhaps they are best summarized by Pinhead, himself, in the oft quoted line: “Explorers, in the further regions of experience. Demons to some, angels to others.”

In other words, it’s all a matter of perspective.

This is all without going into the leather, hooks, and chains prevalent in the aesthetic of the film, which are some of the more publicized aspects of the BDSM culture.

The scene I’ve chosen amounts to be, essentially, the climax of the film and it is fucking GNARLY.

To give a brief summary: Larry (Andrew Robinson) and his second wife, Julia (Clare Higgins), move into the old family house to try to repair their marriage. Little do they hellraiser11know that Larry’s brother, Frank, had been squatting there and his corpse is reanimated when some of Larry’s blood spills on the floor in the upstairs bedroom where Frank had summoned the Cenobites.

Julia and Frank had an affair before she married Larry and when she discovers that Frank has come back and needs her help to reform his body so they can runaway together, she readily agrees.

Larry’s teenage daughter, Kirsty (Ashley Laurence), who does not maintain a good relationship with her step-mother, catches wind of their scheme and steals the puzzle box. When she inadvertently summons the Cenobites, she offers up Uncle Frank in return for her own life.

Deep breath, we’re almost there!

Kirsty goes back to the house and finds “dad” and Julia there, claiming they killed Frank. It’s eventually discovered that Frank is alive and wearing Larry’s skin, who is now a hellraiser12corpse in the upstairs room. Frank confronts Kirsty, referring to himself as “Uncle Frank”, which summons the Cenobites to reclaim him for their own.

The practical effects are out of this world and the final line before Frank is ripped apart is one of the most classic dying lines in horror history. Not for the faint of heart!

Ok, that’s all for this one! Again, I’ll be back on Thursday for #2A and #2B on the list of The Best Horror Movie Kills of All-Time!

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