The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker

The Hellbound Heart - Clive Barker

After reading Beauty In Ruins fabulous review, I went looking for my review to refresh my memory but I couldn't find it here - guess it didn't make it in the conversion. Anyway, I found it on GR so it wasn't all in my mind. 


 “No tears, please. It’s a waste of good suffering.”

My boyfriend made the mistake of allowing me to pick out the movie on one of our earliest dates way back in the late 80’s. I chose Hellraiser which was based upon this novella. I didn’t know he had never seen a horror movie and couldn’t figure out why he was so pale and quiet when we left the theater. The poor boy married me and his movie going experiences have never been the same and I’ll always have fond feelings for Hellraiser. Recently I realized I had never read the novella it was based upon and decided to check it out.

When Frank solves a puzzle box revealing a door to another world promising great pleasure he gets more than he bargained for. He thought he had prepared well, observing every ritual to welcome the Cenobites, experimenters in the higher reaches of pleasure. He was expecting oiled up women, eager for him to use as he wished to slake his lust but instead four scarred beings arrive and alter him in unimaginable ways.

Meanwhile Frank’s brother Rory and his wife Julia are moving into a decrepit old house. The house was willed to both Rory and Frank but since Frank is missing Rory assumes possession. Julia and Frank had something going on way back when, if you know what I mean, and Rory ignores her misgivings about the house and remains blissfully ignorant while reveling in Julia’s beauty. Kirsty, a friend of Rory’s who appears desperately in love with the man, drops by to help with the move and annoy Julia. I see a big, bloody love triangle in the making. I’ve also seen Hellraiser so I think know where some of this is going. Though I don’t remember Kirsty being a love interest, I thought she was the husband’s kid?

Julia starts to settle in but there’s one room with sealed blinds that unnerves but attracts her. She begins to spend time in the room alone. The room seems to demand it. One day Rory has an accident and bleeds on the rooms floorboards and soon after Julia is reunited with Frank and the blood bath begins.

This book is pretty cold and brutal, especially in its portrayal of super-bitch Julia, but there’s a very dark thread of humor running through it too. Imagine a slim beautiful woman chasing a flabby naked man around an empty room, sticking him with a knife as he flails away, refusing to keel over quickly. I don’t know about you but this image struck me as ridiculously humorous.

Kirsty, who is a home-wrecker sort in this book, stumbles upon Julia and Frank doing bad things (that’s what you get Miss Nosey-pants) and takes off running with The Box in her hands. Of course, she can’t leave well enough alone and has to fiddle with it. Now they’re all going to experience their fair share of suffering.

The cenobites are only in the story briefly early on and again at the end. Most of the grisly horror happens at the hands of Julia and Frank which makes it all uglier. I vaguely remember the cenobites being a larger part of the movie but I prefer this version of the story better.