Monday, August 27, 2012

Cenobites Can't Work Doorknobs: Blogger Spotlight Elizabeth Twist

There are so many amazing bloggers out there, and I want to spread some love, so every month (or at least I try for every month) I do a spotlight on a deserving blogger.

This month I have the wonderful Elizabeth Twist over talking about the Hellraiser films. 

You can find Elizabeth at her blog Elizabeth Twist.

Take it away Eliabeth!

Warning: This post contains spoilers with regard to the first Hellraiser movie and its unintentional moment of hilarity.

Ah, horror movies of my youth and semi-youth! How I love thee!

In the past couple of weeks, inspired by a back issue of HorrorHound (Jan./Feb. 2008) that included comprehensive coverage of all things Hellraiser, I've been slowly watching my way through the film series. When I was in my teens I read and loved Clive Barker's The Hellbound Heart (1986), and was super excited to see it made into a film, the first Hellraiser (1987).

The series went on to spawn a bazillion sequels, including 2011's Hellraiser: Revelations, which currently boasts a score of 2.9 out of 10 stars on IMDB. Woot! Say what you want about this recent incarnation, that first film was good stuff if you're into fetishistic sex parties that end in mutilation and death. I've never forgotten it.

In case you've never seen it, here's a sketch outline / aka massive series of spoilers: Frank is a bored sexual sadist (the saddest kind of sadist) who purchases a Chinese puzzle box purported to open new dimensions of pleasure. Ooops! It opens a door to a hell dimension ruled by Cenobites (fun note: "cenobite" is a non made-up word meaning "member of a religious order"). The Cenobites exist to explore the boundaries of extreme sexual experience / ripping you to shreds while somehow ensuring you continue to live. Even if you're not familiar with the films, you've almost certainly seen iconic images of Doug Bradley as Pinhead, that dude with nails sticking out of his cranium in geometric formation.

Frank takes up residence in molecular form in the attic floorboards in a house inherited by his brother Larry and Larry's wife, Julia. When Larry cuts his hand and spurts blood all over the attic, oops! Frank is partially resurrected. Julia, who had a skanky affair with Frank on the eve of her wedding to Larry, decides to help him reconstitute all the way by getting him more blood, because she likes it rough and slimy with a side order of mass murder.

Generally speaking, Hellraiser is a super serious film that does some incredible things to and for horror imagery and the horror aesthetic. There is not much to laugh at here. It is just one of those movies. But there's a moment in Hellraiser that had me and Dave doing spit-takes across our living room.

Throughout most of Hellraiser, the Cenobites are background-ish monsters. They show up at the beginning and you have this idea that someone will sooner or later diddle with that puzzle box and they'll show up again. That is precisely what happens, when (oops!) Larry's daughter Kirsty accidentally opens the box. Not being into super sexy ripping times, Kirsty makes a deal that she will lead the Cenobites to Frank if they will leave her alone. So at the climax (hurr!) they show up again, in that troublesome attic, ready to reclaim Frank.

Frank and Julia are racing around the house being evil and murderous, and Kirsty's doing a nice approximation of a damsel in distress and all this time…the Cenobites are just hanging out behind the closed door of the attic.

For quite a while.

I guess it makes a kind of sense? They can't come to regular reality from their hell dimension unless someone opens the box, so sure, okay, they can't work regular doors either. Dave and I pictured them having a rousing debate about the purpose of the doorknob:

Pinhead: We'll tear this door apart.
Girl Cenobite: Maybe if we wrap our chains around it?
Chatterer: Clickclickclickclick
Butterball doesn't speak, just swirls his greasy finger around and around the doorknob in little circles.

We joked about this for days. There should be, I guess, some kind of ratio established? The more serious and scary your film or book or whatever, the fewer weird and inexplicable errors you should have in it. Powerful beings who can use telekinesis should probably not be stumped by a door. I'm just saying.

About Elizabeth Twist:

Writer, plague enthusiast. 

Twitter: @elizabethtwist
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