Like many teenage Stephen King fans in 1987, I was among those lured to the theater for the opening weekend of “Hellraiser” by the former’s endorsement plastered all over the ad campaign: “I have seen the future of horror. His name is Clive Barker.”
I recall being vaguely disappointed by the story of the mysterious puzzle box and the dangerous, interdimensional Cenobite creatures it unleashes when toyed with. Don’t want to have hooks pierce your skin at every imaginable point and then yanked? Then. Don’t. Touch. The. Puzzle. Box. Ever!
But maturation and time have been kind to Barker’s directorial breakthrough. “Hellraiser” has a stylish visual sense that shows he can craft images as well as words “ all the better for his vividly visceral vivisections and the like.
Anchor Bay’s handsomely packaged 20th anniversary re-release gives Pinhead and company their due with extra features galore. Among them, revealing interviews with stars Andrew Robinson and Ashley Laurence, who’s aged quite nicely and also joins Barker for a commentary.
The craziest extra comes in the form of an Easter egg, porting an advertisement from the flick’s original VHS release hawking official “Hellraiser” Thermoses and sweatpants. Wonder if anyone ever bit into such tear-your-soul-apart merchandising? Jesus wept.