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Is Hellraiser Lovecraftian?

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Poll: Is Hellraiser Lovecraftian? (372 member(s) have cast votes)

Is Hellraiser Lovecraftian?

  1. Voted Yes (21 votes [31.82%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 31.82%

  2. No (45 votes [68.18%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 68.18%

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#1 darryll

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 05:50 PM

I've always thought of the puzzle box from these films to be rather Lovecraftian, but what about the rest of the Hellraiser mythos? Lovecraftian or not?
Any thoughts?

 

(credit to the Alien/Lovecraftian thread for this idea)


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#2 Guest_squashua_*

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 06:39 PM

Conceptually, the puzzle box is Lovecraftian, but overall the Hellraiser mythos is closer to a vision of a Hell afterlife rather than anything truly alien.

#3 Sinister-Ornament

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 06:40 PM

I'm not a fan of the Hellraiser films.

That fact may have coloured my response to the question.

But I quite like the original short novel, so hopefuly this is a balanced response.

The box (lament configuration) is a well-used device with a good imagined history to it - but other such 'cursed' object have been used in traditional horror for ages. And I don’t think any Lovecraftian entities would have a cursed item that was too difficult to open (they might get peckish waiting).

The idea of the S&M ‘hell’ is certainly different. If the Hellraiser Creatures had a deep agenda that was beyond and above the human race then they might qualify but they come from a too human a perspective to my mind.

I did really like the vaguely M C Escher-esque labyrinthine corridors that were glimpsed in the second film.
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#4 Max Schreck

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 06:58 PM

My immediate thought would have to be "no". Clive Barker's universe is much more laden with religious symbolism than the pulp horror science fiction of Lovecraft. Lovecraft's horrors are extra-terrestrial monstrosities that are meant to defy human description; they are mostly alien lifeforms.

The cenobites in Hellraiser, on the other hand, represent very human fears and vices. Their horror comes from their immediate familiarity, rather than their alien-ness. Humans are horrified, because of the cenobites' recognizable human form bearing signs of self-mutilation and self-inflicted torture. They are also intimately connected to human life unlike the chulhoid monstrosities. Without humans, the cenobites would have no raison d'être, whereas many of Lovecraft's aliens are not terribly concerned with the simian brutes, who recently acquired sentience on Earth. Cenobites live to explore the depths of human suffering and pleasure; they are demons (and angels to others, as the line goes), and they are literally from Hell, where their Biblically named master Leviathan reigns.

Hellraiser is about sin, corruption, vices, and forbidden sexuality. These themes (except for corruption) are antithetical to Lovecraft's atheist and non-moralistic universe, as far as I can read. On a stylistic note, I surmise that Hellraiser is probably also too gory compared to Lovecraft's writing, but certainly not the roleplaying game he inspired.

The puzzle boxes are, however, as you pointed out, somewhat Lovecraftian, because in a sense they are secrets man was not meant to know. By solving them, man unwittingly subjects himself to knowledge he was better off without, and that is a Lovecraftian theme, I guess.

But the rest of the Hellraiser cosmology: the cenobites, the Labyrinth, the S&M aspects and the Judeo-Christian imagery is not Lovecraftian in my opinion. That does not mean that it can't work in its own context. I did not care much for the films, but the idea itself of sadomasochistic demons/angels torturing people in a parallel hellish universe is very inspiring and workable, I think.

Max
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#5 allicorn

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 09:20 PM

As far as I'm concerned, Max just totally nailed it. Oh ho. Couldn't resist. I'll get my coat.

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#6 StagLord

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 09:31 PM

I really wish I could vote" Sort of", but I reluctantly went with "no".

Other writers above have developed the concept of how all too familiar teh cenobites seem to be. I would only add that I think a few of them actually were human at one point, and that they have chosen their demonic status to better experience pain/pleasure. To me - that makes them a little more accessible than your typical Lovecraftian entity (the odd ghoul aside).

But on the other hand - even more than the puzzle box - that demon lord of the cenobites - Leviathan - spinning above the maze struck me from the get-go as very Lovecraftian. It seems to be some sort of barely sentient column, obliviosu to its surroundings, emitting random beams of destructive energy. The thing creeped me out when I first saw it, and really remains my lasting image from the series.

Even given its biblical name (which can be accepted as simply the name the Judeo-Christian characters have for it) the Hellraiser Leviathan remains evocative of Lovecraft's indifferent "gods" and does lend a slight HPL feel to the series.

But that's about it, so I had to opt for the negative.

#7 RJDeepOne

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 09:16 PM

Well, neither yes nor now.
It is kinda complex.

The overall Hellraiser story just carries too much typical religious imagery, especially later in the series.

However, the original concept of Cenobites could count as HPLesque, as they were as far as I remember from novella itself, not Christian-like "Evulz-demonz", but creatures with a vastly different mindset, who genuinely perceive extreme pain as a special case of pleasure, and extreme pleasure as a special case of pain. And they eagerly deliver the things they consider worthy of experiencing to those foolish enough to ask them for such a favor.

Ageless experimenters in the higher reaches of pleasure. Cenobites can bring about "conditions of the nerve endings the like of which [one's] imagination, however fevered, could not hope to evoke."

That kind of mind is definitely alien, hard to understand, and creepy.

As for Leviathan, well, yes, he has a painfully Biblical name, and a painfully Biblical role, etc etc... but, at least, his (its?) appearance could be considered, well, quite otherworldly:
Posted Image

So, my answer is: Hellraiser critters could have been quite Lovecraftian if they were presented in a different manner, and if they were not watered down by christian imagery so much later on in the series...

P.S.: Also, the poll is racist ;)

#8 ZodiaK

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 09:57 PM

No, it isn't. The Hellraiser-mythos is very moralistic, Lovecraft is free from that.

#9 HomoLupusDomesticus

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 07:17 AM

Apart from agreeing totally with Max I think the cenobites are also too silly to even be considered Lovecraftian. The whole evil torture S&M thing is taken way too seriously. It's like Nightmare On Elm Street without the sense of humour.

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#10 mr_mitts

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 08:05 AM

Barker was obviously channeling Y'glonac and the entire film (and its sequel) is a thinly veiled reference to the terrible lair in which the Mouths That Feed awaits and his sordid servants.

Naturally.
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#11 Dr_Locrian

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 02:47 PM

Apart from agreeing totally with Max I think the cenobites are also too silly to even be considered Lovecraftian. The whole evil torture S&M thing is taken way too seriously. It's like Nightmare On Elm Street without the sense of humour.


Hmmmm . . . to be fair, Barker's earlier stories and novels did have a unique flavor. He was at least trying to create monsters that felt distinctly Barker in flavor and not just rehashes of your standard ghoulies and goblins. I read an essay years ago (I can't remember where) that described Barker's world as the inverse of Stephen King's:

Whereas King excels in making you believe in his mundane, everyday universe that is invaded by otherwordly forces that don't beling there, Barker assumed that the world was a strange, perverse place from the very beginning, and didn't paint such a nice, simplistic dividing line between his monsters and his people. Or something like that.

But Barker completely lost me when he started making movies, and his novels have been terribly inconsistent for a long time now.

EDIT: But then again, the Cenobites do have an iconic sense of style about them, even if the films don't quite hold up over the years.

#12 Guest_squashua_*

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 02:52 PM

Barker was obviously channeling Y'glonac


Taking it one step further, I do agree that if we had to shoehorn Hellraiser into a Cthulhu Mythos mold, it would probably end up as a manifestation of Y'golonac and/or an iteration on The King in Yellow.

But then again, the Cenobites do have an iconic sense of style about them...


What, like the one that has a CD player jammed in his head? :D

#13 ThothAmon

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 04:29 PM

The initial two Hellraiser movies have a touch of the Lovecraftian. In the first the two human players trade their humanity for what they perceive to be great rewards. The psychiatrist in the second movie obsessively pursues the secrets of the Lament configurations. Pinhead himself was once a pursuer of the forbidden and suffered accordingly. These aspects are meat-and-potatoes to a Lovecraftian story.

If you've played or read 'Horror on the Orient Express' it's not too off-kilter to suggest parallels between the Brothers of the Skin and the Cenobites. Or you could consider the Cenobites as an advanced cult of Y'golonac given their obsessions with sensation.

As for the Hellraiser 'Mythos', it's more Derleth than Lovecraft. To his credit Mr Barker tried to stand out from the horror crowd. He succeeded for a while and, like Lovecraft, his own particular mindset came through in his work. His Hellraiser creations were subsumed into the slasher / gore subgenre of horror movies and thus diluted. Such is Hollywood.

Apart from agreeing totally with Max I think the cenobites are also too silly to even be considered Lovecraftian. The whole evil torture S&M thing is taken way too seriously. It's like Nightmare On Elm Street without the sense of humour.


Like Lovecraftian fanboys who obsess over Mythos entities and the purity of HPL's vision? Pot / kettle?
Cheers.

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#14 darryll

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 04:49 PM

I am a fan of the first film. It is a lean, mean little horror film. I always felt it would make an excellent stage play. You've got just a handful of characters interacting in just a few small locations and buckets of blood to splash the audience with. :lol:

Wouldn't you classify dear Uncle Frank as a rather lovecraftian cultist type? Pursuing maniacally that which man was not meant to know. He kind of reminds me of the wizard Joeseph Curwen, back from the dead to torture his own family. There's even a hint of Thing on the Doorstep, albeit, a messier version than Lovecraft would have considered.
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#15 darryll

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 05:17 PM

Nice, Squasha. That gave me an idea for my next topic thread: Are the Transformers Lovecraftian?
"Have with you, at all times, iron that cuts, polished silver, a sprig of mistletoe, and a loaded pistol."

#16 glyph

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 07:11 PM

Jesus wept, let's not go into anything after the first two movies. Still, there has to be some merits to setting up a Gate in your matress for a quick getaway.

#17 Evans

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 07:40 PM

The idea of the Cenobites as a cult of humans who have gained the power to trancend mortal frailties and so became incredibly differant to what they once were is sort of Lovecraftian. The judio christian referances mar it slightly though.

#18 Guest_squashua_*

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 07:46 PM

Nice, Squasha. That gave me an idea for my next topic thread: Are the Transformers Lovecraftian?


Potentially the sequel film may qualify that particular iteration of the Transformers (no promises), and I would almost qualify any comics that use Primus and Unicron as Elder God entities, but none of the cartoon series.

And I wouldn't create a poll thread about it. :D

Hellraiser III : Hell on Earth. I think the CD is "ABBA - Greatest Hits".

CD—The Boiler Room's resident DJ Jimmy "See-Dee" Hammerstein[3] found himself unwittingly recruited into hell's dark army in the form of a 'Pseudo Cenobite'. He stores razor edge compact disks in a retractable panel in his torso which he throws like shuriken.


#19 ThothAmon

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 01:13 PM

Mwahahaha!

I think the CD is "ABBA - Greatest Hits".


Surely it's "Queen's Greatest Hits"?

If we were applying the same good / silly decision-making process to help pass judgement on HPL / Cthulhu Mythos movies I'm sure the bad would outweigh the good. As an intellectual property the Mythos has been tentacle-raped many, many times over without even the courtesy of a reach-around.
Cheers.

Peter.

#20 mr_mitts

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 01:22 PM

As an intellectual property the Mythos has been tentacle-raped many, many times over without even the courtesy of a reach-around.

I think a little part of my soul just died.




Again.
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