I remember growing up and I would enjoy going over to my aunt’s house, one because that is where my cousins were, but two because she would let me watch anything I wanted to watch. You see I grew up in a sheltered home and I wasn’t allowed to read comic books or watch horror movies, heck I couldn’t even listen to the radio unless it was a local christian station. This explains a lot in my adult life where I am constantly thirsty for more comic books and horror movies.
One of my favorite series growing up was Hellraiser. Clive Barker had a big fan in this 9 year old boy. Yep, 9 years old and I was seeing things that I couldn’t even imagine as a little boy…looking back it was extremely campy and needed some help, but that is just the visual effects. The story line is very imaginative and well executed to view the inner psyche of these twisted yet helpless human beings that would be so weak to fall for these dark traps of the soul.
The extremely sad memory from my childhood is that I wanted more, you see as a sheltered nothing but the bible will do home, I always wanted more! Fortunately there is more living out there and it is in a comic book form. Much like the movies this series of books takes our inner most fears and brings them to life. That kind of power can only belong to the dark beings of Dante’s Inferno, or the same beings waiting for you at the gates of Hell. But what about those who do not believe in any life after death? What about those who say there is no God so there cannot be a Devil. No God, no Devil but there is a Pinhead. Yes, the non judgmental character from my darkest nightmares. The voice of reason for the unreasonable situations. At the exact moment you think you have beaten the odds and your soul is saved from eternal damnation, Pinhead shows up and tells you that you are completely wrong and that you will now have to pay for all of your wrongdoings in life. I really don’t understand why I was forbidden from seeing any of this, did the adults in my life ever read Revelations? That book is one bad acid trip that gave me more nightmares than any horror movie I ever saw as a kid or even now as an adult.
Now that I have more and my thirst can finally be quenched I am happy to dive into Hellraiser.
Test. That is all there is to it, pass a series of tests, both physical and psychological. Nothing about faith, nothing about beliefs, unless you are talking about beliefs in ones self. If you pass a series of tests then you are free to go…for now. Nothing more and nothing less. Beat the system and you get your freedom. Sounds easy, I mean we have all seen SAW, it is all about action and reaction. One good deed does not always lead to salvation. A chain of good deeds does not always lead to forgiveness. I like the idea behind this, the execution to the reactions to the actions can sometimes be questionable. But not to worry, unlike Saw, Hellraiser is a group of damned souls with a special set of skills. Not one is more dominant than the other and not one is less powerful than the other. Equals among damnation.
How do people get chosen to be put into these special circumstantial situations? A box or puzzle box if you would. One of the strongest senses the human spirit has is the sense of curiosity. We are curious about all things and the old saying “Curiosity Killed The Cat” is all too true with the Hellraiser situations. Only a few people have been able to escape the grasps of the puzzle box that leads to a soul’s eternal damnation, this puzzle box if not executed perfectly brings forth souls from the dark beyond and puts a human through another series of tests. You see everyone has a dark past. Pastors, Cardinals, Police Officers, Army Generals and Nuns all have a dark past. Something has happened to all of us that would drive us to do good deeds, hoping that all will be forgiven.
A dark and mysterious past is what these dark souls count on. You may not give any information willingly, but don’t worry a testimony is not needed in these situations. A weeping man with tears rolling down his face and a truly sorrowful face brings the most joy to these dark priests and justice executioners. What the human race does not understand is at this very moment when you come face to soul with these deliverers of evil it is already too late. You have only one chance to escape and that is to win their pain tests. Again, these are both physical and psychological tests. That are designed to break even the strongest human being. A man of faith stands no chance as he will win the psychological and even a faith based test, but he will not win the physical tests.
For most people this is not a winnable situation. There is no escape. But there is always a loophole, a backdoor to any security code. After all, that is exactly what this puzzle box is, a code of sorts. In order to escape the grasps of the dark underworld you have to break the code. You have to figure out what the weakness is and expose that weakness. Much like these dark spirits pry at your weaknesses you must find theirs and dig and dig until there is a break in their grasps.
You can see that I enjoy this all too much. It allows me to have my dark side while living in a bright and sunny world. I appreciate the series in the fact that it stays true to movies. The artwork is lacking, there are so many vivid scenes that need to be exposed and there is a lot of story hidden in these scenes but if the artwork wasn’t as dark as the story is these scenes would not be lost and would give the story much more depth.
This story is not for the faint of heart, neither is it suitable for young readers. Yes I sound like a hypocritical writer right now saying that after all the time I spent on how I was sheltered as a child. I just want everyone to know what they are getting into, it is not like going into the store for Monopoly and walking out with a Ouija board. If you miss a little bit of horror in your life, I suggest picking this one up.