The Hellraiser movie is an icon and “classic” of the genre. It was written and directed by Clive Barker (his directorial debut), a legend himself, who also wrote the novella that the movie is based upon, called “Hellbound Heart”.
It is known that the money invested to make the movie was around 1 million dollars. And that it grossed an astounding 15 million at the box office. But there are also some things which are less known about it that only serve to increase its mystique and will probably intrigue most readers. Of these, 5 interesting facts about Hellraiser will be discussed in the following lines.
1. Fortunate or unfortunate location?
Due to the relatively small budget it had (compared to other major productions), the producers couldn’t opt to build a set especially for shooting “Hellraiser”, so instead they had to work with an already built house. But their organizational problems didn’t end here. The only viable option they ended up with (meaning the affordable cost) was a house in which, reportedly … a suicide had just taken place. Talk about inspiration for the actors, right?
2. The fine red line of vulgarity
Those who’ve seen “Hellraiser” (and those who surely will soon, right?), will know that it features a LOT of violence and gruesome images. Including but not limited to: skinned yet still alive characters, pin-cushioned yet still alive characters etc. And Clive Barker mentioned that he had planned even MORE gruesome scenes that the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) kindly requested he take out and probably burn forever. But, that’s not where they drew the line. They went further and instructed Mr. Barker that the movie, which features a sex scene as well, which sex scene included several hearty thrusts (as is to be expected), could only have two consecutive thrusts. Two was okay. Three, however meant it was vulgar filth and it would get the X rating. You have to admire the machine like precision of the quantification process. Some people are surely amazed that the answer was not given in decimals. Say… 2.73 thrusts would be more to the mark. Also, one wonders: if Clive Barker would have been more of a troll and just had like… 20 sequences of 1 or 2 thrusts interspersed randomly throughout the film, would that have been OK with the MPAA?
3. “What shall we call it?”
The title of the film was initially supposed to be the same as the novella, “Hellbound Heart”. But that didn’t sit well with the producers who were of the opinion that it sounded more like a romantic novel than a horror movie, so they asked Clive Barker for another one. Their opinion was duly noted and Clive came with the (dead-pan) suggestion “Sadomasochist From Beyond The Grave”. You can almost hear the sarcasm pouring out. Thankfully, “Hellraiser” was chosen as the final version.
4. Pinhead troubles
The most emblematic character in the movie is that of the Cenobite leader, nicknamed “Pinhead” by fans. But his name in the script and the original novel was just “the lead Cenobite”. And Clive Barker hated the nickname, which is why he gave him the name of “Hell Priest” in later novels.
There were other problems with the character as well. The prosthetics and make-up for the lead Cenobite took 6 hours to apply. And Doug Bradley, the actor who played him, later confessed having difficulties in hitting his marks while wearing the costume because of the contact lenses that made it hard for him to see. Not to mention the skirts he had to wear which he was constantly afraid of tripping over.
5. Inspiration in the little things
Oliver Smith, the actor who played Frank the Monster had a habit of smoking cigar after cigar on set when not filming, even while in costume. Clive Barker noticed this and instead of kicking him out as a fire hazard and just overall bad health related manners, he thought that a skinless man smoking is a pretty cool image for a horror movie and decided to implement this in the film.