(The gist: I did myself a great disservice by waiting so long to watch Hellraiser. The movie is horror at its best and obviously inspired many of the horror I have enjoyed since. I need to continue my backtracking homework and watch the franchise.)

I have admitted on more than one occasion that I am lacking in my horror history. I had a sheltered childhood, which resulted in me not being able to dive into the genre until the Scream era. I have done some backtracking, of course. There was a Halloween marathon weekend, a Nightmare on Elm Street marathon weekend.

Obviously, I am still missing some. Hellraiser was one that I was sorely missing. Missing it more than I knew. I learned that Hellraiser should be mandatory horror viewing.

I feel like everyone in horror has seen Hellraiser already, so I feel a bit silly recounting it with fresh eyes for a review, but here is my first experience of it.

Hellraiser is about an unfaithful woman, Julia, whose lover (also her husband’s creepy brother) gets himself drawn into a sadist underworld by a puzzle box. When the husband gets some blood on the floor of their house, it draws his zombie-like brother, Frank, back to their plane of existence.

It would be too brief of a review to just say that Hellraiser was brilliant, but it was just that: brilliant horror. I loved it top to bottom and everywhere in between, as I suppose any good horror movie lover should.

The plot is enthralling, particularly Julia. I was captivated by her imperfect, often evil and lustful character. She is so fully infatuated with her lover, even years and a death later, that she is willing to foolishly do anything for him. I was interested in everything that happened in the story, every step, every action she took.

The movie is also very well paced. The scenes are fleshed out (pun intended) enough to develop the scene, story, and characters without any impediment to the interest or action. While I was watching, the movie felt long and full without being weighted down or boring. It definitely did not feel abbreviated or skimmed, as horror movies can so often become as they sprint to the carnage.

And the special FX. Oh, the special FX. Hellraiser was released in 1987 (when I was all of 4 years old), and the effects hold up today. The puppetry and even more so the makeup are just outstanding. On more than one occasion, I could feel my jaw drop or my body flinch. It is all so effectively unnerving and impressively. And obviously the forefather of decades of gore to follow.

Frank’s “resurrection” was masterful and my favorite scene.

Frank, as a creature, is almost as mesmerizing as Julia as a character. He is just so boundlessly creepy. Not to mention the cenobites.

I could honestly keep gushing, but instead, I will say: if you have not seen Hellraiser, go watch it immediately! It’s even on Netflix, so there are no excuses.

Like I said, just brilliant. I have no complaints. I have only the burning desire to own the movie and add it to my festive Halloween horror marathons.

Hellraiser is clearly required watching for anyone who claims to love the horror genre.