Written & Directed by Clive Barker
Larry and his wife Julia move into his mother's old home, only to find evidence that his wayward brother Frank had been there recently. In fact, he's still there...in a manner of speaking. And he requires Julia's help.
Having gotten a hold of a mystical Chinese puzzle box, Frank called forth a race of demons known as the Cenobites, and he was dragged into their domain for untold tortures. A minor household accident allowed Frank to escape, and by absorbing Larry's spilled blood, he began to reconstitute his body. To fully regenerate, he needs more blood--lots of it--and that's where Julia, Frank's former lover, comes in.
The characters of Frank and Julia just scream 1980s. He's your typical bad boy type with a callous attitude, but he has no heart of gold. He's just as cruel beneath the surface as he is on top. Julia is a severe '80s bitch, with the harsh makeup to match her attitude--not to mention a dreadful hairdo that is part mama mullet and part pompadour. Larry is a bit of a milquetoast, so it's not much of a surprise that Julia cheated on him with his brother. They make a much better couple. The two of them are coldhearted hedonists seeking out all the extremes that life has to offer. I don't know what Larry is searching for, except for maybe a stable little life. Keep seraching, Larry.
Larry's teenage daughter Kirsty is a real beauty, inside and out. She's the flipside of Julia's personality, the Angel to her Demon. Obviously when it comes time to intervene, it's going to be her job to do so.
The S&M themes here aren't very subtle, but they are effective--"pleasure and pain, indivisible", in Frank's words. There are a lot of intense visuals that I think were too much for me to take in when I initially saw this as a youngster. It's a horror movie for adults, plain and simple, and now that I'm an adult, I have learned to appreciate it for what it is: a dark and disturbing piece of visceral art. It's not a perfect movie, and a few minor changes could have helped things--for instance, there's a creepy hobo who crops up on occasion for very little reason and has no bearing whatsoever on the plot other than to add a wee bit of absurdity to the finale--and some may think it's a little too high-minded for its own good, but I enjoy it more with every viewing. It has a slick and gooey vibe all its own, and kicked off an epic media franchise that gave us the great Pinhead and the fabulous puzzle box, both of which have become pop cultural icons.
"We have such sights to show you!"