Never Raised Hell

October 13, 2012 — Last Halloween season, I subjected my wife to one of the many classic 1980s horror movies that she’d never seen before. First, though, I polled the OTIS Facebook page to see which one to go with of four that I had narrowed it down to. Then I messed the whole thing up by including one that she’d already seen, An American Werewolf in London, which of course ended up winning the poll. So we watched the second place movie, David Cronenberg’s The Fly. After that I questioned her about the movie and published a transcript of our conversation.

This year, I skipped the Facebook poll out of embarrassment and just chose one for her. Also because I wanted to ensure maximum cruelty in the movie I forced her to watch. That meant Clive Barker’s 1987 Hellraiser, a movie that came out before she was in grade school and which she never caught up to until just a few days ago.

When we're not ripping people apart with hooks,
we're a dance troupe.
Unlike my wife for most of her life, you know the story. A hedonist searching after the fullest experience of pleasure tries to escape from some S&M demons who show him how close to pain pleasure really is. I gave her a few days to think about it after we watched it, and then I interrogated her. It went something like this:

ME: What did you know about Hellraiser before you watched it?

I can't walk down a hallway of any length without
thinking about this creature.
WIFE: I’d just seen that image of the guy with the needles in his head. Nothing else.

ME: His name is Pinhead.

WIFE: Clever.

ME: Have you ever heard of Clive Barker?

WIFE: The name sounded vaguely familiar. Thought he was some kind of game show host.

ME: That’s Bob Barker. They’re brothers. So what did you think about the movie overall?

WIFE: I liked it. It really surprised me right from the start. I liked that it was a lot different than I thought it would be.

ME: What did you think it would be like?

WIFE: More of a slasher movie with that Pinhead guy as the killer.

ME: Makes sense. You always seem him referenced in the company of Jason, Freddy, and Leatherface.

WIFE: I also thought it would be extremely violent just based on the way he looked. Maybe he got a new pin for every victim or something, I don’t know. I didn’t realize the movie would be so quiet.

ME: What do you mean by quiet?

WIFE: It was almost more of a drama than a horror movie. Nothing jokey in it. It wasn’t at all youth-oriented. It was just a mature movie.

ME: Was it scary?


My wife thinks this is sexy.
ME: Disgusting?

WIFE: No. You’re going to ask me if it was sexy next.

ME: Was it?

WIFE: Yes. Really sexy. Don’t put that down, though. My parents are going to read this.

ME: Why really sexy?

WIFE: They did a good job of casting the woman and her husband’s brother, and they did a good job of creating that lustful back story between them.

ME: Right, but that brother was skinless and goopy for most of the movie.

WIFE: They still did a good job of establishing this pre-existing carnal passion between them. Why she was in his control and would do anything for him, anything to get him back. How the husband fit in. And they did it without pushing it into melodrama.

ME: So you weren’t disgusted by faces being put together on the floor and hooks ripping flesh apart and a human being rebuilding himself from the inside out by murdering and consuming people?

WIFE: I actually loved all of the special effects. Probably my favorite part of the movie.

ME: Yeah. Twenty bucks worth of KY and Karo syrup was way more compelling than multi-million dollar software. Still, you’re not usually into gory movies.

WIFE: Right. But gore itself doesn’t scare me, so I have no problem watching and gauging it. It’s the movies that stretch the tension out and then make you jump that are really uncomfortable for me to watch. Besides, this wasn’t the usual kind of gore, no blatant torture or anything like that.

ME: No victim gore.

WIFE: Right.

This guy will always be Garak to me.
ME: Still, if you didn’t have a visceral, repellent reaction to it, I’d almost say that is a failing of the movie. Or there’s something wrong with you.

WIFE: Is that a question?

ME: What was your favorite part besides the effects?

WIFE: I liked the beginning a lot. Not the guy opening the box. The husband and wife moving into that old house. Also when the woman started bringing home guys to kill. You got the movie at that point.

ME: I recently saw on Twitter, I think, I can’t remember who I saw make this comment, but they said that Hellraiser and Little Shop of Horrors, which you saw for the first time about a week ago as well, both had the same plot.

WIFE: Guess that’s true. No Doo-Wop chorus in Hellraiser.

ME: Again, failing on the movie’s part. What was your least favorite aspect of the movie?

WIFE: I didn’t like the ending too much. Turned kind of cheesy and predictable. The entire movie seemed different, but when they wrapped up, that part seemed like every other movie. Chase the seemingly defenseless girl around until she lucks into a thousand-to-one shot of beating powerful supernatural forces.

ME: What did you think about the Cenobites?

WIFE: Cenobites?

ME: The pasty demons in black leather.

Chatterer thought hiding under a sheer veil would
make him creepier. Chatterer has never looked in a mirror.
WIFE: They weren’t scary. More like interesting. Very different from any movie monsters I’ve seen.

ME: Rank the cenobites by the order that you liked them.

WIFE: I only remember two, Pinhead and that fat one with the sunglasses. He was the creepiest one to me.

ME: There was also Chatterer, the one with no eyes and his lips ripped back to expose his teeth and that girl one who just looked like she was wearing something from the orthodontist.

WIFE: I don’t really remember those two.

ME: Would you want to watch the sequel, Hellbound: Hellraiser II?

WIFE: Yeah, I would.

ME: Did you like this better than David Cronenberg’s The Fly from last Halloween season?

WIFE: I liked The Fly way better. Just thought it was a better movie overall. Although they definitely reminded me of each other because they were so different than what I thought they would be.

ME: That’s all I got. I was hoping you’d be a lot more disturbed by it. Would've given me something to really delve into.

WIFE: You have daily opportunities to disturb me.

This picture makes everything my wife observed about
the movie seem like a lie.