Clive Barker's "Hellraiser" (citywide) is one of the more original and memorable horror movies of the year: a genuinely scary, but also nearly stomach-turning experience by a genre specialist who seemingly wallows in excess and loves pushing conventions to their ghastly limits.
"Hellraiser" is adapted from Barker's short story "The Hell-Bound Heart," and he uses it for his debut as writer-director. It's a relatively modestly scaled story--with lots of effects but limited settings--in which we watch a typical, and well-acted, bourgeois household, the Cottons, sink into depravity and murder, dragged there by the family black sheep, Uncle Frank (Sean Chapman).
Frank is presented as an amoral adventurer and sexual libertine, the flip side of his settled, somewhat dull brother Larry (Andrew Robinson), and also the seducer of his sister-in-law, Julia (Clare Higgins). Somehow, in some exotic locale, Frank has attained a mystical puzzle box and has stumbled into the ultimate nasty kick: supernatural sadomasochism. This habit has pulled his rotting soul and ravaged body down to the Underworld.
When the Cottons--along with daughter Kirsty (Ashley Laurence)--move back into the London family house, some spilled blood summons Frank back--a peeled-raw version of him that's mostly bloody ganglia, bare gristle and stripped muscle, sticking to the Giacometti-like bones; a Frank hungry for blood and still the vile seducer, enlisting Julia into his cannibalistic schemes. And also a Frank pursued by the Devils who run the franchise--and want him back.