“Spring, if it lingers more than a week beyond its span, starts to hunger for summer to end the days of perpetual promise. Summer in its turn soon begins to sweat for something to quench its heat, and the mellowest of autumns will tire of gentility at last, and ache for a quick sharp frost to kill its fruitfulness. Even winter — the hardest season, the most implacable — dreams, as February creeps on, of the flame that will presently melt it away. Everything tires with time, and starts to seek some opposition, to save it from itself.” ~ Clive Barker, The Hellbound Heart
"The Hellbound Heart" is a novella written by acclaimed author Clive Barker. The movie, "Hellraiser" was based on this novel and it has always been one of my favorite horror/suspense flicks of all time. Strangely enough; however, I have never actually gotten around to reading the novel itself until this past week. Of course, there are some minor differences between the book and the movie (both of which Barker was involved with), but for the most part the movie is true to the novel. And so, I have written this post to serve as the synopsis of the book's story line and plot (with added pics from the movie as well). Here goes ...
Frank is a selfish immoral degenerate who has participated in every hedonistic pleasure, extreme experience and sexual perversion known to man, each time seeking a greater sensual pleasure higher than the last. Frank explores a rumor of a mysterious puzzle box, “Lemarchand’s Configuration,” that provides the gateway into a realm of unfathomable carnal pleasures. Through great effort and unrelenting pursuit, Frank tracks down the box and eventually solves the puzzle. A gateway does indeed open and through it the Cenobites, a race of distorted creatures who practice an extreme form of sadomasochism centered around agonizing torture and mutilation. They see little difference between extreme pleasure and extreme pain. The Cenobites offer him the experience of unimaginable pleasures; all he need do is say “yes.” Frank, unwilling to turn back after his long awaited anticipation of this moment, accepts their proposal to which bring him intolerable pain throughout all of his bodily senses and leaving him to beg his tormentors to make it all stop. The Cenobites; however, are unmoved by his screams and his pleas are hopelessly futile. They then proceed to take him to their extradimensional realm; a place where a second of "our" time lasts for what seems to be an eternity.
Frank’s brother, Rory, and his wife Julia move into their grandmother’s abandoned house. Julia, who had willingly allowed herself to be seduced by “Brother Frank” on the eve of her wedding to Rory, has been going through the motions in her life ~ beginning with her marriage to Rory and setting up a life with him. Beneath her calm facade festers self-loathing and a barely contained desire for the raw, seductive physicality she had through her one night stand with Frank of whom she cannot stop thinking about. She buries herself in the mendacity of her daily existence with Rory in order to avoid dealing with this while still yearning for the ecstasy she once reveled in with his brother; a man whom had left her with little but a memory of their mating. What she wouldn’t do to know that feeling now, to once again have him ~ and he her.
Whilst working on the floorboards, Rory manages to cut his hand deeply with a chisel, warranting a trip to the emergency room. However, not before his blood had spilt onto the floor in the room where Frank performed his ritual that summoned the cenobites; thus providing the conduit for Frank to find a way back into the real world again. Furthermore, this weakens the barrier between the Cenobites' realm and the real world, allowing Frank to escape from their clutches. His form is incomplete, manifesting as an emaciated corpse, his consciousness fading in and out of reality through a wall in the room. Julia soon discovers “monster” Frank hiding in this room on one of her “trips down memory lane” which she often took in order to get away from it all. Startled and frightened at first, even appalled, she agrees to help bring him back in the promise that they will be together again ~ forever. She brings men home while Rory is at work under the pretense of having sex with them. Julia picks them up at a local pub, then lures them to their emanate demise. Each sacrifice of blood and nutrients causes Frank's body to become stronger and more whole again ~ his consciousness to become more stable. However, Frank knows that it would be merely a matter of time before the Cenobites realize that he had escaped them. Time was of the essence.
Meanwhile Kirsty, a good friend of Rory’s and, a woman whom has harbored romantic feelings toward him for many years, comes to the house in an attempt to speak with Julia upon Rory’s urging as he is concerned about his wife's strange behavior. Kirsty suspects that Julia is cheating on Rory and keeps vigil outside the house with the intention of confirming her suspicions before confronting Rory about them. She finally decides to sneak inside the house in the hopes of once and for all finding out what is going on. She shows up immediately after one of Frank’s “feedings” and sees “Monster Frank”; not recognizing him until he reveals himself to her. Frank then attacks her and she barely manages to escape with her life, but not before she gets a hold of the puzzle box which she had picked up off of the floor to use as a weapon to hit Frank in the head with. Upon realizing that she has the puzzle box in her hand, he immediately stops attacking her, practically begging her to give him the box. She vehemently refuses and hurls it out of the window and into the street just before making her narrow escape from him. She runs out of the house and down the street for as far as her legs could carry her until eventually passing out where a pedestrian finds her and gets her to a nearby hospital.
While in the hospital, she is questioned by the authorities regarding the box as, not only was it found in her possession when she was brought in, but it also had “someone’s” blood on it. The box was given back to her in an attempt to jog her memory as she had lied and told them that she could not remember what had happened to her. She decided not to reveal what she had seen until she could go back to the house and acquire proof of her story in order to be taken seriously by the authorities. In the meantime, she herself begins to play with the puzzle box in hopes of perhaps getting some answers by solving it. She succeeds and “The Engineer” Cenobite appears to her. It tells her that she must return to hell with it and she bargains for her life, vying to take it to Frank who had, still unbeknownst to the Cenobites, managed to escape their realm and therefore suggesting it take him back to hell instead of her. It agrees to do so, but only if Frank himself confesses it from his own lips it to be true. Furthermore, it warns her that if she dare betray them, they will “tear her soul apart!” She then returns to the house in order to get the Cenobite its’ “confession” and to send Frank back to hell. Now, for Kirsty, the REAL terror begins!
I would also like to add that the score for the movie, "Hellraiser" written by well-renowned composer Christopher Young, is absolutely incredible! Here is a vid clip of my favorite piece from the movie's CD ... Enjoy!
"The Hellbound Heart" (music from the Hellraiser soundtrack)
Next book I plan to read and review will be Clive Barker's novel, "Lord of Illusions."
Have a great weekend everyone!!!