The Hellbound Heart is the short novella from Clive Barker which gave birth to the Hellraiser film franchise, starring Doug Bradley as head Cenobite, Pinhead.
…possible spoiler warning…
The story follows Frank Cotton, a man so eager for pleasures far removed from human possibility, that he seeks solace in Lemarchand’s Puzzle Box. A device he believes will open him up to these exquisite pleasures, but which also brings him unbearable pain.
Regretting his choice, Frank finds an escape from the Cenobite’s torture, but in order to return to the human world of flesh and bone, he needs blood, lots of blood and nourishment. Can he recruit his brother’s wife, Julia to do what he cannot? Will Julia’s love for Frank convince her to come to his aid, and provide the human sacrifices he requires?
Those not familiar with the movie series will probably enjoy this very short read, however bear in mind that it’s only a novella which focuses more on Frank’s resurrection than on the real horrors provided by the Cenobites. Pinhead and the Cenobites are sadly lacking within this books pages, given very little attention beyond brief descriptive detail and as a result the story doesn’t really pack any real horrifying punch.
At 3.5 out of 5 stars, I enjoyed The Hellbound Heart as I loved the concept of Lemarchand’s Puzzle Box and found this to be an interesting fast-paced story, but it just wasn’t fleshed out – excuse the pun – enough to warrant high praise. In my opinion the movies do the horrors of this concept much better justice, with their visual representations of the odd Cenobites and their torturous Hellscape.