The Hellbound Heart – Clive Barker

I have never found anything in the horror genre scary. I think Tracy Harris summed it up best when she said that she hasn’t been afraid of horror since getting real problems in life. If you have a mortgage, or mountains of student loan debt, what could Hellraiser possibly scare you about? My pet fear is my complete lack of job security and massive uncertainty regarding the future. I’d take on a legion of cenobites to not miss sleep about that.

Call me jaded. I think it is pragmatic.

But people love the horror genre, and I never really got why. But this doesn’t mean that reading the genre is pointless. You can still learn a lot about those things that people do find in the genre.

The Hellbound Heart is the novella from which the Hellraiser movie series is based off of. It is partially the story of the internal family drama that results in the more fantastic elements – the emergence of man who escapes a potential eternity of torment from some hedonistic demons.

That is a strange way of describing the story, but some time after reading it some of the moments of family drama are what are best lodged in my mind – particularly the scene where Julia remembers the lust she felt – and still feels for Frank, and to what extent her marraige to Rory will never fill that gap.

That is the type of real problem that does would keep one up at night.

The Hellbound Heart is the story of Frank, who is off in the world seeking the limits of pleasure. This brings him to a puzzlebox which, once solved, summons demons dedicated to pure sadomasachistic pleasure, and more or less drag him to a hell-like analog. When his brother Rory and his brother’s wife Julia later move into that house, a droplet of spilled blood revives Frank, who convinces Julia to kill strangers and feed them to him to facilitate in the completion of his resurrection.

Somehow, many sections of those parts of the story are less memorable.

But what becomes interesting is the marriage of the two aspects.  They bind together well, and they push the story along. And it then becomes clear that there is a lot to enjoy in this even if you don’t have a lot of confidence in the horror genre. Despite my best attempt at the ridiculous descriptions above, the supernatural elements of the story are interesting, at least from a person who tends to love everything in the so-called para-literary genres. Those things are still pretty cool, and all the family drama does much to keep one invested in the story.

I might need to start giving the genre a few more fair shakes, just to see if I find anything else in it that is worth it, and even if it doesn’t give me anything to keep me up at night.

Frankly, I have no idea. And I am happy this way.

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