WTF?! // 31 Days of Halloween — Day 5 (Hellraiser 1987)

Happy 31 days of Halloween! 

This year, we’re celebrating with a different movie pick each day that made me audibly gasp, “WHAT THE FUCK?!

On the 5th day of Halloween, we celebrate the rebirth of Frank in Hellraiser. Ben Keen led the special effects team and gave us this gloriously disgusting, oozing, dripping mess. Together the team created this spindly-armed, skinless, skeletal monster shell of what was once a man. That was fun to write! Lube and condoms and animatronics, oh my!

Clive Barker’s Hellraiser terrified me as a kid, and I hated/loved it so much that I forced myself to watch the sequels. Each Cenobite was freakier than the last, and only the most beautifully sick minds could have created such creatures. I know we all have a favorite. A lot was going on in every scene. A little too horrible for my younger self and still horrifying for my old lady self. But I have chosen just one moment that still makes me uncomfortably squirm and shiver with a “WHAT THE FUCK?!

Frank (Sean Chapman) unlocks a puzzle box he shouldn’t be messing with. He is torn apart and pulled into an alternate realm to be tortured for eternity. Or is he? You’re supposed to read that last part in a sinister voice. I’m funny, I swear. When Frank’s brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) returns to their childhood home, he brings along his wife, Julia (Clare Higgins), who is also Frank’s lover. Or was. Or is. The tea is good in this movie. And after cutting his hand, Larry stumbles into Frank’s death room while Julia is there and bleeds all over the floor. And this is when shit gets wicked. Frank is reborn from the cracks in the floorboard thanks to his brother’s blood “sacrifice.” 

Keen had wanted to create a living corpse reconstituting itself from the ground up, and he did just that in as gloriously wet and grotesque a manner as he could. This was all a work of special effects magic using condoms, tubing, lube, glue, methylcellulose, wax, thread, wires, and puppet rigs; you get the point here. Everything is wet and slimy. And when this monster creation began pulling itself out of the floor, I was quietly screaming into my hands. What the fuck, indeed.

"Hellraiser" (1987) New World Pictures