Hellraiser came out in 1987. Many horror movies of the 1980s relied on being scary, silly, or some combination of the two but Hellraiser is one of the few that is primarily disturbing. The themes of sex and power, the slow dread of the script and cinematography, and the idea of some kind of sexual torture dimension leave a lingering sense of disgust throughout the movie. The intense but somehow not really over the top gore only exacerbates that feeling. Had the movie left out the silly non-humanoid monsters (particularly at the end), and tamed a bit of the dialogue down, Hellraiser would be an hour and a half long stomach ache.
I watched Hellraiser tonight for at least the tenth time. What keeps bringing me back to watching it is exactly that feeling of discomfort. The movie could, simplistically, be read as being anti-sex, but for me it always felt like it was really about greed and selfishness acted out through sex. That is something incredibly common in human sexual relationships. The villain in the movie, Frank, bases his entire life around attaining his own sexual desires and he is a real slimebag. The discomfort comes a lot from his character’s sexuality - it’s such an un-Hollywoodified view of sex that it feels far more realistic, in a bad bad way. The fact that he’s punished for eternity by BDSM demons somehow doesn’t take away from the feeling of realism around him and how little he cares about anyone but himself. The movie makes you feel that selfishness is a truly nauseating character trait.
If you haven’t seen Hellraiser and you like horror movies, it’s a must see. You probably know that already, but you really should get around to watching it. I also love the sequel...but after that...it gets rough fast. It’s a very unique horror movie and the fact that it still holds up its message today is pretty amazing so if you haven’t already, go watch it!