Saturday, May 2

Hellraiser and Pinhead on Blu-ray Redux

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This was the first Horror film I witnessed during my formative years that had such a prominent subversive sexual tone and that aspect freaked me out more than Frank the Flesh Head or the gaggle of sadomasochists from Hades. It's not so much the sex, but perhaps my mind equating the maggoty sinew and creepy as fuck house with Julia and Frank's carnal lust. The film is one of the few I didn't want to see again out of sheer creeps.

Watching it over the years since, I've come to see Barker's work as not quite perfect as its reputation lends it to be. Kirsty's boyfriend is inconsequential and just impedes Kirsty's climatic escape. The character just seems shoehorned in to give a trivial amount of levity. The same (minus the levity) goes for the hallway creature Kirsty narrowly escapes and plays Spin-The-Lament Configuration with at the climax. The maligned sketchy yellow Cenobite line explosions don't bother me nearly as much.

That's about it though, Barker omits the right amount of explaination so as to not take viewers by the hand, like the details of Frank's escape from Hell or his sudden appearance as Larry. The film acts as a double edged sword, building upon Frank's horrific transformation back to the living and then introducing hell's surgeons of otherworldly torment. It's not hard to imagine a lesser (or more simplistic) feature being content with one of these threads and probably not handling it nearly as well. Okay, enough with the talk over a film that has already received an immense amount of attention.

As surmised earlier, Anchor Bay's Blu-ray looks stunning, even better than those screen captures indicate. Tight grain structure is apparent throughout, but this is a clear positive, since grain is natural to film and vital to providing beautiful fine detail. Of course, the picture is rather drab and always has been, but fleshtones especially look accurate and colors pop without appearing oversaturated. The image looks completely digitally untouched and there's not so much as a fleck of damage to be seen.

The audio comes in only one flavor, lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1. Truth be told, it's not a particularly noticeable upgrade from the standard Dolby 5.1 on the 20th Anniversary Edition DVD. I wish the original stereo mix was included, but at least this remix doesn't add any new sound effects.

The supplemental material exactly mirrors those found on the 20th Anniversary Edition DVD. Exclusive to this Blu-ray is a feature-length trivia track and BD-Live interactivity with the Internet. If you have a BD player or are planning a purchase of one and love Hellraiser--it's a no brainer. This release will be definitive for some time to come.

Film: 9.5/10
BD Picture: 9/10
BD Sound: 8.5/10

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