Hellbound Heart Recap

A great read!

The novella’s plot was not a new writing concept.  It held the ever popular subjects of sex, money, murder and the occult.  I was repulsed by what I was reading in Barker’s story, yet so engrossed, I couldn’t set the book down.  The main character was Frank Cotton, “a sex
obsessed thrill seeker” who stops by to see Julia, his future sister-in-law for the first time.  This was the day before her wedding to Rory Cotton.  Frank and Julia felt an instant spark and fucked like wild animals.  Frank disappears, just like he appeared and Julie never sees him again.  Rory and Julia get married and about 8 years later move into Rory and Frank’s parent’s vacant house.

Rory was a bit of a “tool” because he never realized his wife had “jumped his brother” the way she had.  He adored “the whore” who in turn couldn’t get over her lust for his sexy, tight-bodied, brother.  Frank was at the house, waiting for the opportunity to once again make use his up-tight sister-in-law.  He had left his sperm in an explosive orgasm,
made possible by The Cenobites. The Cenobites were part of the “Theologians of the Order of the Gash” a sadistic cult of former humans.

Frank is “ripped to hell” with two meanings.  Literally torn to pieces by a sadomasochistic tower of bloody hooks and figuratively sent to hell to suffer for eternity.  Frank is a character you instantly hate.  He is greedy, evil and willing to risk his own life and others for his own sexual pleasure. His brother Rory is a character you love.  He was a good guy, worked hard and loved his wife.

It was Rory’s blood that ignited the very possibility of Frank returning to human form.  When his chisel slipped working in a back bedroom window, he gashed his hand open and bled heavily.  Frank’s sperm he had long ago deposited, absorbed the blood through the floor boards.  It gave him enough strength to whisper one word, “Julia.“

This takes place about halfway through Barker’s novella.  Julia is driven by her
sexual desire of Frank to hunt down men and murder them.  It was after Frank’s absorption of Julia’s victim that Kirsty becomes an important character of the plot.  Kirsty was a long friend of Rory’s, who appreciated his friendship but was deeply in love with him secretly.  Kirsty hated Julia with a passion, viewing her as a snob that never deserved Rory.  Kirsty interrupted Julia and Frank during their blood fest.  She was convinced by Julia to leave and believed Julia was cheating on Rory.

The next day, Kirsty spied on Julia and discovered the secret of Frank, now covered in blood and bandages, in the attic.  She had met Rory’s brother once before and remembered him when he said his name.  Frank tries to kill Kirsty but she escapes by
throwing the puzzle box through a window.  She wakes the next day in a hospital.

The puzzle box is given back to her and she begins solving it while in her room.  She accidentally summons the Cenobites and now is faced with certain death.  Kirsty
cried and begged for her life and the Lead Cenobite replied, “No tears, please.  It’s a waste of good suffering.” (Barker p. 136)  This was possibly the best line in the entire movie.  Kirsty manages to make a deal with the Cenobites to take them to Frank who had escaped hell.

The Cenobites “magically take” Kirsty to the Cotton residence.  There she encountered her friend Rory in terrible condition.  He tried to explain that he was injured in a horrible fight with Frank.  Trying to reassure her that all was well he said, “Come to Daddy.” (Barker,
p.151) and Kirsty realized it was Frank in Rory’s skin.  She gets Frank to admit his name and the Cenobites immediately set their hooks into his body.  The Cenobites tear his flesh to pieces as Kirsty is ordered to leave the house.  She hears Franks head hit the door as she exited. Kirsty survived her encounter with the Cenobites and keeps the wooden puzzle box, just in case she might need to use it someday.

Caesarean born Hellraiser

Clive Barker’s fascination with blood and terror all began at his childbirth.
He was a Caesarean birth and became stuck, upside down, nearly killing
his mother and self.  On October 5, 1952, Mrs. Joan Barker gave birth to a healthy baby boy, not far from Penny Lane in Liverpool, England.

Young Barker began his story-telling abilities at the age of two.  His father, Len Barker, and mother doted on their son and at the age of eight, encouraged him to perform
marionette puppet shows in their backyard. (Winter, p.10-13)

Early to recognize Barker’s exceptional talent was Norman Russell.  Russell was the assistant master of the English Department and Barker’s instructor and mentor in Quarry
Bank English.  Russell recalled saying “I can’t mark this paper” to Barker, who was fourteen at that time.  “You’ve moved into a realm where your writing
is a personal statement.” (Winter, p. 43-44)

Barker was an outgoing, student with an amazing following on campus.  His
art and theater productions pushed him into the spotlight, where he thrived.  By the time of his graduation, Barker had come “out of the closet” with his close friends.  In 1977, he and his boyfriend, John Gregson moved to London and Barker told his parents he was gay.  His parents were disappointed, but his mother said, “As long as Clive is all right, that’s all that matters.” (J. Barker, Winter, p.91)

Clive Barker, as a writer and a director, has the important key elements that lead to
success.  His sense of composition and pacing are not influenced by any one writer or director.  He describes his success with these words, “I enjoy the company of creative people (during filming).  It’s a different buzz from when you get to the end of the day and you’ve got 15 good pages (written).  That’s a private victory.  In films, the victory should be shared.” (Wooley, p. 41)  Clive’s success has been achieved slowly, gaining the respect of novelists and film producers.

Barker gained instant notoriety when Stephen King said, “I have seen the future of horror and its name is Clive Barker.”  This quote is published on the cover of Barker’s books and makes a connection to King fans.   (Winters, p. 153)  “The Hellbound Heart was not conceived as a template for a film.  It was an exorcism of his failed relationship
with Gregson.”  Their relationship ended in 1986.  In 1987, New World Pictures
committed 4.2 million dollars for the filming budget and The Hellbound Heart novella transforms into the film Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. (Winter, p.255-56)

Pattie Crider

Literature of Terror

The Hellbound Heart

I just received my reading/movie assignment for Literature of Terror class.  The list to pick from was huge so I decided to pick an author I recognized, other than Stephen King.  King is the most popular pick in this class and only one student could choose a King novel.  I didn’t want to be that person.

I recognized the name Clive Barker from my highschool years reading “Fangoria” and “Gorezone” magazines with Brian Brillhart and Scott Rouscher.  Horror movies appealed to me back in my teens, now they just give me nightmares.


I did some research on Clive Barker and his novel “The Hellbound Heart” to find out what movie would tie in.  I’m not sure why I chose this title out of all Barker’s books other than it seemed to ring a bell in my life. 

To my surprise it was a movie I saw back in highschool, at a marching band party.  I had only watched it with one eye open and ran out when things became very bloody.  The movie I’ll be watching again, 24 years later, writing a report and giving an oral presentation…

Now all I have to do is find it on DVD and keep both my eyes open!

Nightmare prone,



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