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Sunday, October 20

13 Reads of Horror! - The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker


For the life of me, I cannot remember when I first read The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker, which is the novella that inspired the classic horror film Hellraiser (and its many sequels). I'm going to take a wild guess that I'd purchased the book at Barnes & Noble during my teenage years (a.k.a. the mid-'90s). This was probably right after I first saw the edited versions of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II on cable.

The Hellbound Heart is a dark twisted fairy tale with lots gore. It begins with Frank Cotton, a pleasure seeker searching for the Lemarchand Configuration, which is a puzzle box that's supposed to open up a gate to another realm full of carnal pleasures. However, pleasure is the last thing Frank receives after solving the box. The Cenobites, former humans turned into disfigured creatures, are released from the box. A price must be paid for anyone who calls upon them and for Frank, that price is his soul.

Sometime later, Rory Cotton (Frank's brother) and his wife Julia move into his later mother's home (and the last place Frank was seen alive). Prior to the their marriage, Julia had an intense affair with Frank. She has no romantic feelings for Rory and only stays with him for his money.

After Rory cuts his thumb, a few drops of his blood drips on the attic floor where Frank was tortured and taken by the Cenobites. The blood mixes in with Frank's dead sperm that was left on the floor from his torment. This causes Frank to be reborn as a fleshly creature. With Julia's help, she lures unsuspecting men from bars to the attic so she can murder them and let Frank feed on their blood. The more Frank feeds, the faster his body heals.

The only person standing in their way is Kristy - a dear friend of Rory's who finds the Lemarchand Configuration and makes a deal with the Cenobite leader.

Final Thoughts

If you have ever read a Clive Barker story, then you would know The Hellbound Heart isn't for everyone. It's a twisted tale about the consequences of seeking carnal desires. At least that's what I got out of it after rereading this morning. 

It's been awhile since I've last read the novella so I had forgot Pinhead is only referred to as a "Cenobite" instead of "Hell Priest" as he was called in the 2015 sequel novel The Scarlet Gospel. Pinhead isn't even the leader here, instead "Butterball" is the Cenobite leader, though he isn't referred to by name. 

In the original Hellraiser film, Rory's name was changed to Larry and Kristy isn't his friend, instead she's his daughter. In the novella, Kristy is more of a side-character instead of being the protagonist. Beside from these few things, the book is very similar to the movie.

Overall, The Hellbound Heart is a quick horror-filled read. 


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