‘We’ll tear your soul apart’ promised ‘Pinhead’ in 1987 with the release of ground-breaking horror Hellraiser… and with audiences demanding to see more of his terrifying visage and his posse of equally hellish Cenobite pals, Pinhead and co. have continued to feast on the souls of dedicated horror fans for over three decades!
With the release of two new instalments in the Hellraiser legend, Hellraiser: Judgement and Hellraiser: Revelations, we’re now being treated to a double dose of horror from this timeless franchise, digging ever deeper into its dark mythology. Pinhead may have risen to the status of horror royalty, up there with Freddy, Jason and Michael Myers, but he isn’t the only horror villain to have found an audience with a never-ending appetite for his unholy deeds. Many franchises have emerged over the years which have continued to make their mark years later.
To celebrate the release of Hellraiser: Judgment and Hellraiser: Revelations on Digital Download 22 February and Blu-ray™ 1 March, we’ve taken a look back at some of our favourite horror creations that have continued to inspire terror since their inception!
PHANTASM (1979 – Present)
A bizarre mix of surreal dream logic and classic gothic horror, Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm seems an odd starting point for a franchise, yet the film’s unique weirdness struck a chord with fans leading to cult status and a string of sequels. Shot on a shoestring budget, Phantasm introduced the world to The Tall Man, played by enduring fan favourite Angus Scrimm, a towering undertaker who stalks a small town, murdering its inhabitants and transforming them into mutant monsters. When young Mike becomes aware of the evil in their midst he convinces his brother Jody and local ice-cream man Reggie to stand up to The Tall Man and his terrifying flying mechanical death spheres! All the main characters would return for the sequel, a grander affair with Universal Studios funding as they looked to cash in on the 80s hunger for horror hits. While the partnership with Universal didn’t last, a franchise was born and Coscarelli was able to continue the story, picking up each film immediately where the last one ended. Three further sequels have followed, with the last, Phantasm: Ravager, released the same year as the sad passing of series mainstay Angus Scrimm. Will The Tall Man return? We wouldn’t put it past him…
HELLRAISER (1987 – Present)
British master of horror Clive Barker had such sights to show us in Hellraiser, one of the 1980s most twisted horror films. Based on his novella The Hellbound Heart, Hellraiser was Barker’s first foray into directing. The series’ main monster is Pinhead, aka the ‘Hell Priest’, leader of the Cenobites, a breed of demented monsters who dwell in the darkest regions of Hell and lure sinful humans with the now iconic lament configuration puzzle boxes. What started in the first film as a contained but kinky horror film about murder, S&M sex and doomed souls escaping from Hell slowly morphed into a dense, gothic mythology as the series progressed with more monsters, more Cenobites and more Pinhead! Never afraid to try something new, the series has constantly evolved and added more layers to Hellraiser lore and the latest twisted instalment Hellraiser: Judgment is no exception, with its weaving together of a classic crime and punishment tale with evil new characters and shocking revelations about the afterlife. In the words of Pinhead, it ‘will tear your soul apart!’.
CHILD’S PLAY (1988 – Present)
Back in 1988 producer David Kirschner was on the lookout for a killer doll project, and Don Mancini had just what he was looking for… Inspired by the rampant consumerism of the 80s and toy lines such as Cabbage Patch Kids and My Buddy (a doll aimed at boys) everyone’s favourite psychotic children’s toy Chucky was born! Brad Dourif starred in the original as deranged serial killer Charles Lee Ray who finds himself mortally wounded inside a toy store after a high-speed police chase. Performing a voodoo ritual, he successfully transfers his soul into a nearby ‘Good Guy’ doll. When young Andy Barclay receives the doll as a gift, naming his new best friend Chucky, a killing spree begins! An iconic horror favourite, Chucky has run rampant through multiple sequels with the series mix of classic slasher tropes and dark humour proving an ever winning formula. The original film was followed by six sequels, with Chucky getting a love interest when Jennifer Tilly joined the series for 1998’s Bride of Chucky, before getting a full reboot in 2019 when Mark Hamill took over Chucky duties from Douriff. When will Chucky rise next? A TV series is due this year with Don Mancini at the helm and Brad Dourif and Jennifer Tilly both involved. We can’t wait!
PUPPET MASTER (1989 – Present)
Created by Charles Band’s Full Moon Features production company, the original Puppet Master introduced us to Blade and his band of killer puppets, who have been brought to life thanks to a black magic spell cast by puppet maker Andre Toulon. The original was set for theatrical release by Paramount Pictures but ultimately skipped cinemas finding its life as a VHS release, making Puppet Master one of the most successful direct-to-video series of all time. Throughout the series the puppets themselves have been portrayed as the good guys, the bad guys, and everything in between, but have always retained their passion for gory, inventive kills, thanks to some fantastic stop motion wizardry. With no less than 11 films in the original series spread across a sprawling timeline of prequels and sequels, Charles Band’s demonic toys finished their initial run of films in 2017 with Puppet Master: Axis Termination. However, the murderous marionettes returned to screens yet again in 2019 for the outrageous reboot, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, with cult movie legend Udo Kier taking up the mantle as Andre Toulon. With a sequel planned for future release, it seems you can’t keep a good puppet down!
TREMORS (1990 – Present)
Emerging at the beginning of the 90s, the horror-comedy Tremors pitted Kevin Bacon against a pack of giant ravenous subterranean worm monsters known as Graboids around the isolated community of Perfection, Nevada. Although an initial disappointment at the box office, the film was a hit on home video and spawned a follow-up in 1996 with Tremors 2: Aftershocks! It’s been a sporadic series to say the least, with gaps of up to 10 years between some entries but with every return to Perfection audiences have learnt more about the Graboids and their origins as they spread further afield, wreaking more and more havoc across the USA! As well as creating the iconic underground monsters, the series also gave us a beloved character in survivalist gun nut Burt Gummer (played by Michael Gross), who has returned in every sequel including the most recent entry from 2020, Tremors: Shrieker Island. Always staying true to its classic formula of tongue-in-cheek comedy mayhem, Tremors has proved to be an unshakeable addition to the American monster movie canon.
Hellraiser: Judgement is on Digital Download, Blu-ray™and DVD now from Lionsgate UK
Hellraiser: Revelations is on Digital Download and Blu-ray™ now from Lionsgate UK
Amazon Blu-ray: https://amzn.to/2Lc9Ctb
Check out my Hellraiser rankings.