The Cambridge Geek

The Hellbound Heart

This is an adaptation of Clive Barker's original novella, which embarrassingly I have never actually read. I've watched the original Hellraiser film, but had the slight problem of not being able to take it seriously due to the soundtrack. A major piece of music was repurposed into the theme for Old Harry's Game, one of my favourite radio shows of all time, which was very definitely a comedy. Took some of the sting out of the more dramatic moments of the film, given I'd heard the radio show first. Still, the (much later) sequel, The Scarlet Gospels was absolutely amazing.

Anyway, through what appears to have been a long and winding route, I've ended up here, back at the start, with Bafflegab's full cast dramatisation.

A quick summary, for anyone new to the story. Frank is a jaded soul, who has travelled the planet seeking new and exciting sensual pleasures, before finally hunting down the Lemarchand Configuration, a puzzle box that opens a portal to the realm of the sadomasochistic Cenobites. He taps into that power in an old family home, leaving this world behind.

With his absence, the house is left absent, so into it moves Rory, Frank's younger brother, and Julia, Rory's wife. Unknown to Rory, Julia had a fling with Frank prior to their wedding, and she's held a candle for him ever since he left her to go hunt the box. Of course, with him being trapped in a land of pain and pleasure, she might have to do something troublesome to get him back.

(Presumably) in keeping with the original novella, it's told in an achronological order, which I did occasionally get briefly confused by. This is one that you probably shouldn't try and do anything complex while listening. The flashbacks are sneaked in with a certain subtlety, and I had to rewind a couple of times to catch the transition.

The film's gore is reproduced with some impressively squelchy sounds, and the brief appearances of the Cenobites have the necessary grimness in their voices. The playing of both Rory and Frank by the same actor is a clever touch, giving their relationship a solid grounding. The voice work is good all round though, particularly the delightfully manipulative Julia.

Other than the slight flashback problem, the show is well plotted, with a good ratcheting up of tension over the course of an hour or so, and the investigation into the suspicious goings-on being interweaved around the main trouble. It's a very polished production, and should appeal to both Barker fans and Bafflegab's main audience.

Score 4

Tagged: Audio fiction Horror Cast Dramatised Horror Standalone