Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Hellbound Heart

Morally bankrupt and nihilistic Frank Cotton has found this world and the pleasures it has to offer lacking, boring, and predictable. After hearing about Lemarchand’s Configuration, a puzzle box that if solved opened up a realm of unimaginable pleasure, he finds it and spends hours trying to solve. He succeeds, but instead of hoards of nude women, like he was expecting, the Cenobites emerge instead. They are horribly scarred and mutilated beings that perceive extreme pain as not different from extreme pleasure. They take him to their extradimensional plane to suffer for eternity. Meanwhile, Rory, Frank’s brother, and his wife Julia have moved into the house passed down from their grandparents. When Rory is injured during the moving in process, Frank uses his blood to communicate with our world. He demands more blood from Julia, who has been infatuated with him ever since their affair shortly before her marriage to Rory, to become whole again. She complies and feeds him several men. Kirsty, Rory’s friend, suspects Julia is having an affair and discovers Frank and Julia’s horrible plot. Will she be able to return Frank to the dimension he escaped from or would the Cenobites rather have her instead?

I recently saw the film Hellraiser, so I had to read the novella it was based on. There is very little difference in plot and characters between the two works. However, both have their own strengths and weaknesses. The strength of the film is the horrific visuals it provides. The Cenobites look so much more disfigured and fetishistic than I ever would have imagined. The audience is also shown some of the horrors in the other world and I was shocked by how twisted and horrifying the images were, considering it was made in the 80’s. I was riveted to the screen (with my mouth gaping open) and literally couldn’t look away. The book only describes the Cenobites, but not in a great amount of detail. The other world’s sights aren’t described at all, but the novel excels in ways the film did not.

The novel is incredibly well written. Even though the character development is a little lacking, I really didn’t notice too much because the writing is so fluid and rich with dark imagery. The relationship between Frank and Julia seemed to happen spontaneously, but their evil tendencies that were exhibited later made them a fitting couple. Their sick relationship is an interesting comparison to the false, empty one between Julia and Rory. However, Frank’s interest in her is only to be restored to human form and nothing more, showing Julia in the role of her husband: adoring and unaware of the others indifference. Both relationships are exposed to be hollow and devoid of anything remotely resembling love. Julia is portrayed as much more malicious than in the film. She has nothing but disdain for her husband and would like nothing more than to kill him. Frank and Julia represent the need for man to seek more and more empty, fruitless sensory experience and where this road will lead if gone to extremes. This view may be depressing, but makes for an entertaining and horrifying read.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

1 comment:

Misty said...

I had NO IDEA that Hellraiser was based on anything. I loved (and was completely creeped out by) those movies and Pinhead as a kid. But I also weirdly found him a little bit attractive...Yeah...