What a Woman Wouldn’t Do for a Good F*bleep* – The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker

As I’ve made abundantly clear on this site, I am a huge, avid, diehard fan of the Hellraiser franchise. I hold the first Hellraiser in such high regard that I consider all its production and script flaws as charming. Don’t say shit about it, I’ll kill you. Having said that, I feel a bit ashamed that I never got the chance to read the source material. I wasn’t prepared for how so very different and how very the same the novel would be.

Some Spoilers ahead! You were warned.

The Hellbound Heart tells the story of four unlikeable people and their lack of control over their desires. There’s Julia, the beauty queen wife trapped in a loveless marriage. There’s Rory, the well-meaning goof who manages to be completely, yet unintentionally selfish. Frank, the absolute butthole and estranged brother of Rory who had sex with Julia the day before her wedding which “had in every regard but the matter of her acquiescence, all the aggression and joylessness of rape”. Frank is a dildo. And then there’s Kirsty who — rather than be Rory’s daughter — is actually Rory’s best friend who is hopelessly in love with him and jealous of Julia. She is an absolutely pathetic character if I’m being honest, and I am. She is majorly just satisfied to be “part” of Rory’s relationship no matter if she’s permanently friend zoned by the man. She does nothing to really hide her jealousy of Julia and is mostly a wet noodle as far as her character is concerned, but I’m sure that’s the point.

But let’s talk about these guys for a moment.

Frank decided to play around with a BDSM nightmare box where solving is the only consent you give and it will summon Sadomasochists from Hell. They’ll show you a good time you’ll never forget and then promise they will let you go. Frank is pulled into this and is turned into literal Chef Boyardee by the time he escapes their grasp into his mother’s house. Lo and Behold, Julia and Rory are just moving back into it. So the pile of mucus in the corner makes a deal with Julia that if she brings him fresh blood and flesh, he will essentially run away with her. Julia is skeptical of this but at this point, the memories of their one-time affair and the absolute snore that Rory is got her down bad like the BTS Army at a Jung Kook meet-and-greet. So this woman starts to lead unsuspecting men to the house. Kirsty thinks she’s cheating when in reality she’s turning out meat pies for Frank’s corpse to rebuild itself. From here, the movie actually is quite an accurate adaptation with only minor changes — such as Kirsty being Rory’s daughter rather than his friend. I think that was a great chance since, and I’ll say it again, Kirsty is a wet noodle.

So what made me like the book more than the movie I uphold as a standard of psychosexual horror?


Julia’s character starts as a woman who simply no longer wants to be present in the life she has chosen. There’s so much more depth and care given to her in the novel to the point that she was actually my favorite. It was a bit intense and darkly comical how she treated the idea of helping Frank. Julia isn’t a love-struck idiot. She doesn’t love Frank in the slightest, but she seeks an escape and does not have the guts to do it alone. Frank is offering her that escape and in her mind, she slowly considers that she’d be able to “love this hateful creature” and teach it to love her in a way that Rory nor Frank can.

Her severe loneliness and estrangement from Rory are depicted so well that you actually feel sorry for both of them. You want them to get a divorce and move on from each other. But Rory wants her too badly, and Julia isn’t brave enough to say no to him. She couldn’t even bring herself to say no to her husband’s unwanted advances towards her and just allowed him to do as he pleased to her just to have some peace from him.

Much of this depth was lost in the adaptation because much of it was inner dialogue/thought from Julia herself and that can be very, very difficult to capture on screen — especially on the shoestring budget upon which Hellraiser was shot.

The fact that Kirsty was allowed to be the final girl while Julia is killed but the hateful creature she wanted to teach love to is an irony that almost made me hate the story. But then I thought, Julia had been wounded and Frank had stayed true to whom he was and used her as his next victim. If anything her death paralleled the joylessness of their initial sexual encounter in which Frank gratified himself with her body and tossed her aside a final time.

The Hellbound Heart — much like Hellraiser itself — is not about the wicked cool monsters, but the very real humans that inhabit this pocket dimension Clive Barker has created. Each of their flaws and desires becomes the things that enslave them from Julia’s desire for love and sexual gratification to Kirsty’s desire for Rory in any way that could allow her to be close to him. The eagerness with how each of these four people throws away morality and humanity just to satisfy themselves is what makes this book an amazing read despite the choppiness of Clive Barker’s writing. The dark, surrealism of the events gives a very haunting tone to the entire thing long before you even see your first cenobite.

I absolutely loved this book. I gave it 5 stars as it very well deserves it.

If you love Hellraiser in any one of its incarnations, definitely a must-read. If you’re into psychosexual horror/thrillers then hell yeah pick it up!

Thank you for reading

-Stay Well-Read-

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