Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Little Romance

So this weekend I had my first Valentine's date ever...and I kinda liked it.  Of course, had the date taken place for any other reason or on any other date it would have been just as good.  Afterall, Valentine's Day is just a day.  However, Patrick and I enjoyed ourselves immensely.  We had a very classy dinner at Mitchell's Ocean Club at Easton...and it was a tasty and lovely as I always dreamed it would be (I've been wanting to go for years).  And then we both gave each other a cliche Valentine's gift.  I gave Patrick a heart shaped box of chocolates and a necklace...and he gave me a card and a Build-a-bear teddy bear.  It was almost sickeningly cute.  We also did some heavy baking here at the house and watched a lot of movies.  It was a really great weekend that really wasn't long enough at all, but its good to have experienced it rather than not.   This coming week should be a pretty easy one, and then I get a three day weekend with little plans outside of resting and having a good time.  It will also be the first weekend in a long time that I won't see Patrick...but I think that's a good thing.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder afterall.  Anyway, since I'm in a lovey-dovey kinda mood I thought I'd talk about a love story...but not the kind of love story you think.  This is a tale of forbidden love that tears about the fabric of a family and which spits in the face of all that is good and decent.  It also questions the rules of the afterlife and the thin line between pleasure and pain.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Hellraiser.

The film opens on Frank Cotton, a criminal and deviant, hiding out in his parent's house.  He sits in a darkened attic, surrounded by candles, and fiddling with a puzzle box.  He finally solves it and as it plays a sweet tune, black chains spring from it and tear him apart while several black-leather-clad demons watch.  The head demon closes the box and the gory scene disappears just in time for Larry Cotton, Frank's brother, and his lovely wife Julia to move in to the old house.  Julia is particularly uncomfortable in the new house seeing as it is an unfamiliar place and things with Larry seem to be strained.  In fact, Julia has a secret.  The day before her wedding to Larry, Frank seduced her and she has never stopped loving him.  Julia's memory of Frank is interrupted when Larry finds her in the attic and bleeds on the floor where Frank died (he cut himself on a nail).  While Julia and Larry are out at the hospital, the blood is sucked into the floor and Frank is reborn in a gelatinous and skinless state.  Julia finds him and, because she still loves him, agrees to bring him men to drain of blood so that he can become whole again.  Problems arise when Frank demands to use Larry and Julia refuses...and when Larry's teenage daughter Kirsty discovers Frank in the attic.

Hellraiser a love story?  It sure is...the gore and the horror is only a function of the story itself.  The real driving force of the tale is the forbidden love that Julia feels for Frank...and is not returned to her.  Frank makes promises he doesn't intend to keep and betrays her in time, but for her it is almost a fairy tale romance.  She must rescue him with her love and devotion and for her, that is the greatest reward.  It makes her empty life mean something.  People always make the mistake believing that love stories are always supposed to be happy and healthy...but some love stories are about poor choices, being consumed by lust, and the pain that love causes.  This is one of those stories, and it is worth seeing for that side alone.  Of course, its also worth seeing for the excellent gore effects and the introduction of one of horror's most memorable faces...Doug Bradley as Pinhead, the head cenobite (or demon).  Also a standout is Claire Higgins as Julia, the good (if slightly frosty) woman who becomes evil by the close of the picture.  A true tragic hero in the vein of Shakespeare, she has a tragic flaw that draws her into a destructive spiral leading to her eventual undoing and demise.  Its a rich narrative and a gothic love story worthy for a bit of anti-romantic viewing this time of year.  See it, if you can stand it.

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