Hellraiser's Regeneration Practical Effect Will Both Impress You And Make You Want To Vomit

Jamie Clayton looking beautifully terrifying as the Hell Priestess
(Image credit: 20th Century Fox, Hulu)

Spoilers ahead for the new Hellraiser movie.

Before 2022's critically well-received Hulu reimagining, The Hellraiser franchise was stuck in direct-to-video purgatory, cranking out half-hearted and ill-conceived sequels produced merely to retain the film rights. Some would say this was a fate worse than death for one of horror's most iconic villains. Ever since actress Jamie Clayton, taking over for original Pinhead actor Doug Bradley, debuted her Pinhead look on Instagram in September, it was clear that the beloved horror franchise was in the right hands with Director David Bruckner and his team. Many of the direct-to-video sequels relied more and more on CGI to try and conger up the scares, often to laughable degrees. With Bruckner's take on Hellraiser, it seems the utmost care and consideration were taken to do as much of the VFX practically as possible. 

A film fan took to Twitter to share (Bruckner retweeted) a fascinating, possibly for the weak-stomached, vomit-inducing, behind-the-scenes look at one of the film's most impressive practical effects. At the film's end, one of the movie's protagonists, millionaire slimeball Roland Voight, is momentarily set free from the Cenobites' gift of the Liminal configuration. The configuration manifested as a brass instrument embedded in Voight's chest. We witness the villain's body painstakingly regenerate once freed. The fan's tweet shows that the effect was achieved practically. Now, fair warning if you're sensitive to gore. 

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Gross right? But also beautiful, especially when you consider the hours of time and artistry it took the team behind these effects to achieve something so spine-tinglingly disturbing. This kind of care taken by the filmmakers is fitting for a series originating with an emphasis on practical effects. Clive Barker's 1987 original, though made on a relatively small budget, had some of the best horror makeup VFX. Remember a skinless Frank? Well, it still holds up even after three decades, which is why, in my opinion, Hellraiser 1987 is one of the best horror movies of all time. Hellraiser 2022 is a worthy reimagining of Barker's original.

Bruckner and his team didn't stop merely at the transformation scene regarding working with practical effects. In a Hollywood Reporter interview earlier this year, he revealed that the puzzle box, which takes on more configurations than we have seen in previous films, was done practically, as were all the Cenobites. The director said: 

...every box is practical, and every Cenobite is practical. We had a very practical approach to the film that's in keeping with the franchise, but there was VFX augmentation. There were moments where we leaned into digital, but we tried to be very, very judicious as to when that would happen. In horror especially, CGI can really pull you out of the experience. You really need that extra 10 percent of belief when you're watching something to really ingest the anxiety and the fear of a particular image. Your lizard brain has to believe, so to speak.

The filmmakers of Hellraiser brought that extra 10 of believability and did a great job blending practical and computer-generated visuals. Every gruesome moment of gore made me on edge, and as a horror fan, that makes me excited to see where the franchise goes from here. Especially if this level of care is given to the VFX going forward. 

You can witness all the movie's visceral horror for yourself with a Hulu subscription. For all of your film-going plans in the coming months, you can look at our 2022 Movie Release Schedule.

Ryan graduated from Missouri State University with a BA in English/Creative Writing.