Clive on Hellraiser

JULIA : What's that?
FRANK : A puzzle. A conjuring box. I bought it in Singapore after I left here. It cost me a small fortune -
JULIA : Why?
FRANK : The man I bought it from told me it was a way to invoke powers. Forces from another level of creation -
JULIA : The Cenobites?
FRANK : The Cenobites.
He holds the box up. Pale, barely recognizable forms move in the shiny lacquer of its surfaces.
FRANK : I wanted pleasure, you see. I wanted access to experiences only they could offer -
We can see the faces of the Cenobites moving in the lacquer; but they are tantalizingly blurred and distorted. Julia looks nevertheless, trying to work out what she's seeing.
FRANK : - the highest reaches of sensuality. Fantasy made flesh -
Oiled bodies move in the box now. Again, they tantalize. What are we seeing? Some elaborate coupling, maybe? Or terrible torture? Impossible to be sure.
JULIA : But they cheated you.
FRANK : Oh no. They gave me experiences I would never forget -
The images in the lacquer are becoming clearer, and they are appalling. Wounds and scalpels; flesh torn open, revealing pulsing organs. And flowing between these atrocities, the Cenobites' faces, and that of Frank, screaming and screaming -
FRANK : But their pleasure was my pain. The heights they took me to...
His voice trembles with remembering. He can't go on. But the images in the box continue to play; one horror after another.
When Frank speaks again his voice is heavy with suppressed feeling.
FRANK : I gave my body to them. But they left my spirit here, in the boards. In the walls. Watching the world, but never able to touch it. God, it's been a long twelve months. Waiting for something to happen. Someone to come.
JULIA : And Rory's blood let you out.
FRANK : There are ways to resurrection. Blood's one of them...

Draft - January 1986

"Generally [in monster movies] the monsters don't talk about their condition - about being a monster. What I wanted Frank to be able to do was have dialogue scenes, even romantic scenes that play between him and Julia. I wanted Frank to be able to stand around and talk about his ambitions and desires because I think what the monsters in movies have to say for themselves is every bit as interesting as what the human beings have to say. That's why in stalk and slash films I feel that half the story is missing. These creatures simply become, in a very boring way, abstractions of evil. Evil is never abstract. It is always concrete, always particular and always vested in individuals. To deny the creatures as individuals the right to speak, to actually state their case, is perverse - because I want to hear the Devil speak. I think that's a British attitude. I like the idea that a point of view can be made by the dark side."


By Phil Edwards, Crimson Celluloid No 1, January 1988

Meathooks - storyboard

"I'm not just taking the twelve most beautiful youths in California and murdering them, I've got real actors, real performers - and then I'm murdering them!"

Who's Afraid Of Clive Barker?

By David Streitfield, (i) the Washington Post, 1987 (ii) Clive Barker's Shadows In Eden (EDITED)

"The story [of Hellraiser] is based on a novella, The Hellbound Heart... the movie is based on that story, but is quite a distance from it; there have been many changes. It is an original screenplay I wrote with the intention of making it my directorial debut...
"We wanted someone [for FX] who has a new eye and was as hungry to produce something as original as we are. We have faith that this picture will break new ground, and we wanted a talent in the special makeup effects department who would be willing to take considerable risks. And what we have in Bob [Keen] is someone with the most marvellous technical know-how married with a tremendous imagination. For us, that's a very potent combination. I see eye-to-eye with that aspect because that's how I view my fiction."

Clive Barker Raises Hell

By Philip Nutman, Fangoria No 60, January 1987

"I think in 'Hellraiser', we get away with a lot of stuff which I was kind of surprised by frankly. I was surprised that the MPAA was as accepting of some of that imagery, which is very seriously taken necrophiliac imagery, as it was. Maybe they didn't get it, I don't know."

Clive Barker : What Makes Him Tick

By Tim Caldwell, Film Threat, No 19, 1989

"You know we would have done the thing for free in order to get it shot and we rolled over on the deal. We didn't make a huge amount of money out of it, but we did make a picture. It was much, much more exhausting [than I'd anticipated]. I hadn't realised... You know you're up at six o'clock in the morning; you're dealing with thirty different people, all of whom have a very important job to do - all of whom cannot do that job without first asking you yes or no; you finish at eight o'clock in the evening; you go see yesterday's rushes and get depressed; you go home; you plan the next day's work; you get into bed at one o'clock and at half-past five in the morning the alarm goes to take you off to work again. The moments which were really exciting were the major cockroach scenes, which I really liked. We had American cockroaches brought in - passports, visas, the whole thing. They were big, fat ones. We had a roach-wrangler, yes. They cooled down in the refrigerator because then they get sluggish. We had tupperware, you know? The ultimate tupperware container - your Roach Tupperware Container - in the 'fridge. You opened the door and got this sort of sszzhhh noise while they're all crawling over each other. They weren't mating because they were all male. You're only allowed to bring in males because that way, if they escape, they can't procreate. Somewhere in Customs there's presumably a roach sexer!"

A Little Bit Of Hamlet

Barker at UCLA 25 February 1987, by Dennis Etchison, Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden

Opening credits storyboard

"With Hellraiser, we're delving into the dark side of desire. This is an extremely dark story, but there's visual grace and elegance present... The imagery we're employing is, as far as the creatures from hell are concerned, something that hasn't been done before. They're like sadomasochists from beyond the grave. In fact, that's what I originally wanted to call the picture, but they wouldn't let me! What I like very much is the notion of intellectual puzzles resulting in physical manifestations of one kind or another. In 'The Inhuman Condition', the puzzle stands for many things, such as evolution; you solve the knots and beasts - which are three parts of the evolutionary puzzle - appear. In Hellraiser, the puzzle stands for something quite different - it's a way to open a door to hell, but it also stands for the puzzle of desire, because the configuration is tantalising in that if you solve it, you're supposed to have access to physical experience beyond the level that one can ever hope to reach in this world... After you solve the puzzle, which requires intellect and systematic investigation, you then have access to this sudden surge of physical experience. It's a paradox which greatly appeals to me. Hellraiser has turned out to be far weirder than I expected."

Hammering Out Hellraiser

By Philip Nutman, Fangoria, No 65, July 1987

"A book speaks for itself. But a movie is perpetually in progress. Everything you do in a given day - your screw-ups, your occasional moments of triumph, are visible the next day. And when your producer asks what happened or why you did such and such, you've got to have answers... that took time to learn. I'm glad you only have to do one first picture. What was different was seeing the various beasts and special effects - theatre hasn't often lent itself to that kind of material - and that was a revelation. [re. the Engineer] I spent many evenings with the special effects team, exchanging drawings. We wanted to create something that didn't resemble anyone else's beast. And it was an absolute delight, a wonder, to be something of a midwife - and to see this thing appear before one's eyes and, you know, be beastly."

Raising Hell With Clive Barker

By Douglas E. Winter, Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine, Vol 7, No 5, December 1987

"The theatre experience of doing it on the cheap was directly useful in making Hellraiser look as good as it did. Because I'd been there. I'd found ways round. I could say to Bob Keen... 'Look, I know there's a lot of special effects here but I've done skinned men - I did it in The Forbidden, I did it in Frankenstein In Love - and I know we can do it on the money.' Doing a low-budget movie in a house in Cricklewood is the equivalent of the eight quid play. Actually, I'd go further; low-budget moviemaking is fringe theatre, except that you can actually get the audience numbers I always wanted us to get. It's what fringe theatre claims to be and so often isn't - non-élitist, populist... I saw Hellraiser a couple of months ago in a grindhouse on 42nd Street and the audience - when they weren't making out in the back row - was really voluble. They were screaming at Kirsty. 'Get out of the fuckin' house, you dumb bitch!' I loved it!"

A Dog's Tale

By Peter Atkins, Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden

"Andy [Robinson] has a marvelous reputation as a legitimate actor. In addition to that fact I knew from much of his screen work that he could do credibly menacing roles. So it was the combination of those two reasons that we chose him. And I'm really glad that we did since he's great on set. Andy came up with suggestions, inferences, with new lines of dialogue that worked. When Larry says 'Enough of this cat and mouse shit', that's Andy, and it was perfect for that scene."

Scorpio Goes To Hell

By Philip Nutman, Fangoria, No 67, September 1987

Early sketch of Frank

"I always knew [Hellraiser] was going to be raw. There were things which, if we'd had more time, money and experience, I would have done differently. It's a slightly misshapen baby, but it's mine. [It] was very claustrophobic. We working in a small house in Cricklewood and a tiny sound stage in North London, because of the budget, and it profited from that."

If You Knew Clive Like We Know Clive

By Philip Nutman, Fangoria, No 78, October 1988

"It's interesting that nobody ever walks out on 'Hellraiser', but a lot of people cover their eyes... they want to know what happens... In a stalk 'n' slash picture, once the gag is established, once you've met the victims and set up who's going to get knocked off, there's nothing left. It would be selfish and mean-spirited of me to suggest that this is an auteur picture. The whole thing is a communal experience... It's a different buzz from when you get to the end of the day and you've got 15 good pages. That's a very private victory. In films, the victory should be shared."

No Apologies

By John Wooley, Bloody Best of Fangoria, No 7, 1988

"[Before I was published] I spent a lot of time working through the processes of my imagination. Now, in hindsight, I think they were very useful years, and besides there are 11 full-length plays and hundreds of drawings and a whole network of contacts and knowledge which has stood me in great stead where the movies are concerned. I don't think I could have directed Hellraiser if I hadn't had a lot of time directing in the theatre."

Babel's Child

By Mark Salisbury, Fear, No 2, Sept/Oct 1988

"It's about desire. It's about people desiring something they can't have and the consequences of desire pushed to its limits - and then beyond. Hellraiser is about a guy who does a deal with the Devil - or forces beyond our comprehension - and is torn apart for his pains. His mistress, who happens to be his brother's wife, decides to resurrect him by murdering men so that their life forces can be transferred to him. She does it for love...
"There has been a general move towards the infantile in horror pictures recently, a desire to soften the blows. I hope this time we're going to get tough again. Hellraiser is a fast-moving, intelligent and popular horror movie filled with demons, haunted houses, things coming back from the dead... It's a love story from beyond the grave.
"I wanted to make a picture which has some of the originality which I hope I bring to my written fiction, so there's a sense that you're dealing with a mind that will push that little bit further... but will not necessarily push that little bit further into gore. Hellraiser is not a stalk 'n' slash movie, not is it exploitative."

Clive Barker : Raising Hell In London

By Stephen Jones, Monsterland, No 17, Fall 1987

"There's no sense in which Julia is the heroine of the picture in the conventional sense. She's clearly the Lady Macbeth of the film. We did a bunch of things with the way Claire Higgins was made up, the way her hair was done and the way she was costumed to suggest that she was more beautiful the more she committed murder. And she's not committing murder in the way that Jason is in the Friday the 13th films commits murder - just for the sake of blood-letting - she's doing it for love. So there is a sympathetic quality about her, enhanced hugely in my estimation by the fact that Claire Higgins does it so well.
"There is a point late on in the picture when Frank says, 'We can all be happy here' - implying that there can now be a new family unit made up of stepdaughter, stepmother and uncle/monster/lover - and you think , 'God, he means this'.
"There are places in the picture, I hope, where the images are both beautiful and repulsive simultaneously. Some of the Cenobites, for example, are very beautiful in a bizarre kind of way - the guy with the nails in his face has a kind of elegance about him. That isn't often exploited in horror movies: the monsters tend to have faces of evil; they tend to vomit over priests; and make themselves social outcasts. Now, we've got some beasts that do some unpleasant stuff, but I also like the fact that there's a kind of cool, a kind of elegance to some of the creatures. Also, there's a lot of humanity about them. The point at which Frank lights a cigarette, he's back from the dead, he's risen from a pool of slime, it's time to light up a cigarette. It's a nice moment because it's pure, and it works as an image. I get a great charge from the fact that it's a skinned man having a word with his mistress while smoking a cigarette. I get a charge out of it because it's dislocating."

Clive Barker

By Nigel Floyd, Samhain, No 4, July 1987


"I couldn't be a neo-realist, however hard I tried. It's very important to me to make the motivations accessible, not to have people just succumbing to uncontrollable urges. However fantastic the story may be, the horror is still rooted in human desires. I'm just not interested in the kind of horror film where virgin girls are pursued by men in ski masks. There are no virgins in my movie. And no ski masks either, come to that."


By Tom Pulleine, Films and Filming, February 1987

"I became a director out of a desire to have as much control as possible over the way the stories I write for the screen are presented on the screen. I wanted to make sure that the kind of visions I include in the screenplay find their way in front of the audience.
"It's about Desire. It's about people desiring something they can't have and the consequences of desire pushed to the limits - and then beyond... I wanted to make a picture which had some of the originality which I bring to my written fiction, so there's a sense that you're dealing with a mind that will push that little bit further into gore areas.
"I hope it has an impact simply because it deals with the same areas of passion and perversity which mark my fiction. Added to that are some of the most outré and outlandish monsters to have been seen on the screen for a very long time."

Clive Barker: Anarchic Prince of Horror

By Stephen Jones, Knave magazine, Vol 19, No 5 1987

"I will never know what compelled people to come out in droves to see the first Hellraiser ten years ago. We made the picture in England for $1 million. For a movie to be as successful today on such a low budget would be impossible. I was quite lucky."

Clive Barker

By Timothy Nasson, In Step Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 14, 25 July - 6 August 1996

"12 years ago, having survived two horrendous experiences as a screenwriter, I decided to take the jump into directing something myself. Never having been given the chance to stand behind the 35mm camera in my life, I knew nobody was going to trust me with a significant sum of money. I reckoned that something under $1 million might be a plausible amount for somebody to give me to make a movie. I had just published a short novel called The Hellbound Heart. I decided to adapt the piece to the screen. I cast one of my best pals from my theatre days, Doug Bradley, as the villain. We jokingly referred to him as Pinhead. The name stuck . The rest you probably know. In fact, I remain delighted and surprised that our $900,000 movie still has an audience ten years later. I've been told - and you out there may know better than I whether this is true - that the new movie 'Event Horizon', which opened this weekend, looks suspiciously like Hellraiser in space!"

AOL Appearance

Transcript of on-line appearance, 18 August 1997

"I directed the first Hellraiser movie back in 1986 in order to protect myself from truly appalling adaptations of my short stories for example , Rawhead Rex, which is one of my favourite tales from the Books of Blood, reduced to a mockery of a picture back in 1985. I decided to direct pictures to protect myself from BS like that."

AOL Appearance

Transcript of on-line appearance 16 July 1996

"My favourite reviews of Hellraiser have been the alternative reviews. There have been some wonderful S&M magazines that have done great reviews of it. There is a magazine over here, I think it's called 'Skin', which said that the movie was kind of fun and it would give you great ideas if you have dungeons. I think people need to know stuff about how to design their dungeons!
"Peter [from Coil] & Jeff , in fact, lent me a whole bunch of magazines , specialised magazines, which were highly influential in the design of the Cenobites."

Clive Barker : What Makes Him Tick

By Tim Caldwell, Film Threat, No 19, 1989

"Something happens at the very end of the film, you only get one clue in the entire picture and unfortunately the censors had a go at it. When Frank is chained up at the end, the audience thinks that this has got to be the worst experience in his life. Then he suddenly grins and licks his lips. That is the only moment when you realise that this guy is, in some weird way, into this torture. Also, in the middle part of the picture, when Frank is presenting himself to Julia, he takes a kind of perverse joy in his malformation. A kind of visible pointer is when Kirsty says 'I don't believe this', he replies, 'that's what I tried to tell myself, I tried to tell myself that I was dreaming all this but don't kid yourself, the worst experiences have to be confronted and that makes the pleasure so much sweeter' and then he tries to kiss her of course.
"I think the clues are there, just buried far deeper than perhaps I would have liked. There are other problems with trying to deal with this area on film as well. The main one is that you can't actually show eroticism and violence together on a screen. The censors won't allow you to do it. There are a couple of scenes in the novella where the Frank character confronts a woman who is naked and oiled and sitting in this room with a row of human tongues lined up on her oiled thigh. That is the kind of correlation of the perverse and the sexual and the violent which you just couldn't get anywhere near on screen. I decided , therefore, to go a slightly different route and do it all with suggestion. There is a kind of elegance in the Cenobites with their self-mutilation - designer wounds -and all their appendages, and I hoped that this would signal to the audience their paradoxical nature - they were both disgusting and extraordinary and violent at the same time.
"We were trying to do something that wasn't just monsters with sharpened teeth. We had a real problem trying to produce creatures that were original. One of the things that I don't like about horror movies in general, is the way that themes emerge. You go through a whole series of pictures which use bladder effects, or ones with lumped together and categorised. So I spoke to Bob Keen, our make-up effects designer, and we agreed that we would do state of the art stuff if we needed to but that we wouldn't try and seek out designs just to show off special effects. What we ended up with was a mixture - the re-birth of Frank at the beginning of the picture was real state of the art stuff but the Cenobites were created with prosthetics. They used techniques which have been used before, it's just that they used them particularly beautifully. I felt that they should imply that they have a whole culture and we're just seeing the bit of the iceberg that 's above the surface. I think it's always intriguing when that happens.
"I'm also much more interested in monsters that talk and reason. Our Frank in Hellraiser has an awful lot to say for himself, and I like that. I think that dialogue from monsters is much more interesting than having them chase after the heroes. What we've got here is the monster doing the talking and as a result you get inside his head. When Frank says 'We belong together, you and I, for better or worse, like love - only real', that's his own cynical point of view and I'm really interested in that because too often the beasts get the dull end of the wedge."


By David J Howe, Starburst, No 110, October 1987


"For the most part, the reviews have been extremely kind. The audiences seem to have been having a good time with it, which is a major satisfaction. So I would have to say yes, I'm satisfied. One of the interesting things about watching the picture with audiences is seeing how it actually does disturb people. Of course there's the laughter, of course there's the tension release but... it seems to work on people, it really seems to scare them, which is great. And there's some images in the picture, like the guy with the hooks in his face, that I really like a lot. Hopefully, some people will be dressing up as Cenobites this Halloween.
"I think it would be great if some of the images from the movie become... images which recur in people's heads and stick with them. So much of horror is about images anyway.
"I would really like to see a Hellraiser series get going. I'd like... Julia to be the first running character in a horror series who's a woman, like a female Freddy Kreuger. I think Claire Higgins does a great job as Julia."

Weird Tales Talks With Clive Barker

By Robert Morris, Weird Tales, No 292, Fall 1988

"I went to my local library to find a book on film directing and they had two but they were both checked out and I thught, 'Oh, I'm so fucked, I don't even have a book!'"

100 Scariest Movie Moments

No.19: Hellraiser, Bravo, [first broadcast, October] 2004

More comments on Hellraiser

home search contact Films