“We will tear your soul apart!” That infamous phrase comes from one of the most demonic, satanic villians in horror history. His ways of torture haunt the dreams of those who have watched him on the big screen or read about him in literature. The image of the chains from Hell shooting from blackness and stabbing into the skin of the guilty is a picture that will always be burned in this reader’s mind. But where did it all start? Where were these ideas born? And where was the devil’s favorite demon first unleashed on our world?
Clive Barker’s The Hellbound Heart is the novella (or short novel) that started it all. Spawning seven sequels and the hellish group simply known as the Cenobites, this horror classic continues to have relevance in today’s macabre community. The lead Cenobite, who fans have adoringly nicknamed Pinhead, is an iconic figure within the morbid public. His historical tale of violence and finding pleasure in perverse pain is relatable among those sadists who look for their fantasies in books or movies.
The Hellbound Heart is the story of Frank, a selfish degenerate who seeks greater sexual pleasure in his life. Unlucky for him, he comes across Lemarchand’s Configuration, a puzzle box that, if solved, will unleash the Cenobites, a group of demons, upon the poor soul who solves the puzzle. Of course, Frank solves said puzzle, and all hell breaks loose, quite literally.
As always, Clive Barker succeeds in making the reader feel uncomfortable at all times. Whether it is awkward sexual situations or gory descriptive details, Barker lays it on as thick as human skin. And the Cenobites, oh wow, the Cenobites, perhaps the most sadistic antagonists ever created.
The story touches on sensitive subjects. Hell. Unfaithfulness. Adultery. Sadism. Nihilism. Masochism. Demons. All uncomfortable. All demonic. All creations of the Devil. And Barker brings them to life.
And as the story ends, and your stomach is tied in knots, you will feel your soul literally torn apart.