Hellraiser (Blu-ray)

Hellraiser on Blu-ray (click for larger image)Reviewed by Uncle Creepy

Starring Doug Bradley, Andrew Robinson, Ashley Laurence, Sean Chapman, Clare Higgins

Directed by Clive Barker

Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment

Man. How in the world do you sit here and write a review for Clive Barker’s masterpiece Hellraiser? What is left to be said? If you’re any kind of horror fan, the smart money is on you already knowing all there is to know about the movie so rehashing the story is pointless. Additionally, I’m guessing that you’ve already purchased nine different DVD editions of this flick over the last few years. So … all that remains is the Blu-ray. Is there anything new? How does it look/sound, etc.? I am going to tackle that, but before I get to the goods …

It should be noted that about 98% of the special features included in this high definition package have already appeared on the stellar Hellraiser: 20th Anniversary Collection DVD (review). Hit that link for the skinny on everything that is a non Blu-ray exclusive.

So first the big question … how does it look? Does the addition of 1080p enhance the experience? Hell yes, it does. And amazingly so. There are times when there’s a good deal of film grain still present, and then there are moments when everything is crystal clear. The blacks are solid and have much more depth to them. I found myself seeing things I’ve never noticed before, and I’ve seen this movie A LOT. Countless times even. One look at the now clearly visible rust and viscera on the chains, and you will be, pardon the pun, hooked. Though not as drastic a difference as, say, Anchor Bay’s amazing hi-def transfer of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, Hellraiser will still have your eyes popping out of your skull. It’s impossible to not notice the difference.

Hellraiser on Blu-ray (click for larger image)In terms of audio we get an upgraded English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track. Without question Christopher Young’s score is the star of this particular area of remastered goodness, and the ambient sound effects like chains rustling, etc., have been wonderfully mixed, emitting their sounds of suffering from every corner of your room. There’s just one small problem. Every now and again the movie’s dialogue seems a hell of a lot lower than everything else. This makes for a constant monitoring of the volume, and that can be a bit of a pain in the ass. Still, this package definitely delivers in the audio and video departments.

In terms of Blu-ray exclusive features? Not so much. As mentioned, all of the special features from the last edition of Hellraiser are present and accounted for, but the only completely new bits of extras are a pop-up Fast Film Facts subtitle track and the fact that the disc is BD Live enabled. [Note: None of the BD Live features were working yet at the time of the writing of this review, but they usually consist of sharing pictures, clips, etc., with other BD Live users.]

Also noteworthy is that you can get this Blu-ray in one of two ways, either by itself or in a really badass boxset that looks like a large version of the famed Lament Configuration. The box is made of sturdy hard plastic, and it houses the Blu-ray along with the 20th Anniversary Edition DVD and even the latest DVD edition of Hellbound: Hellraiser II DVD (review here). By virtue of the stellar packaging alone, this is a must for fans and collectors.

So there you have it, kids. The Cenobytes still have “such sights to show you” only now you can see every single gory detail leaping off of the screen. If you’ve got the tech and are a fan, there’s not a single reason in the world why you shouldn’t own this.

Special Features

  • BD Live Enabled (Blu-ray exclusive)
  • Fast Film Facts bonus track (Blu-ray exclusive)
  • Commentary with Clive Barker, Peter Atkins, and Ashley Laurence
  • Interviews with Doug Bradley, Andrew Robinson, Ashley Laurence and composer Christopher Young
  • Hellraiser: Resurrection featurette
  • Trailers and TV Spots
  • DVD ROM: Screenplay
  • Storyboard gallery
  • Still galleries

    5 out of 5

    Special Features:
    4 out of 5

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  • Steve Barton

    You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.

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    • Barfneck

      I got this bluray the same day as Texas Chainsaw and maybe it’s just the fact that the TCM bluray is so fucking amazing that this bluray could just never live up. It doesn’t help that the lazer effects and the crayon color blood in Hellraiser are even clearer in bluray. Sometimes high def viewing can be an absolute pleasure, but in this case I just think the bluray highlights the flaws of this classic a bit too much for my liking.

    • PelusaMG

      This film and “Hellraiser 2” would be VERY strong motivation to take my plunge into the world of Blu-Ray.