Leather, needles, blood, cloudy sexuality… The saga hellraiser evokes all these things, and also the famous soundtrack by the composer Christopher Young for the original 1987 film. With its sumptuous decadence, the main theme of said BSO perfectly fits the morbid world of clive barker already the Cenobites of the Order of the Slit, always in search of the perfect symbiosis between pain and pleasure.
Or maybe not. Maybe hellraiser was about to have scores even more terrifying than Young’s, also made by artists whose lifestyle would have given trouble to the very Pinhead. Maybe that story is real, and we’re about to tell it to you right now…
To do so, let’s travel back in time to the mid-1980s, when Clive Barker was already fairly well known thanks to his literary facet. Not only because the stories contained in the anthology the blood books were able to put the stomach in the mouth of the most painted, but also because the very same Stephen King he had hailed his manager as “the future of terror.”
Always ambitious, Barker also wanted to make his mark on the cinema with an adaptation of his short novel the doomed heart (The Hellbound Heart, in the original). A title that his producers considered uncommercial, and that he wanted to change to that of The sadomasochists of hell, without getting it. What a woman would do to have a good fuck, the title suggested by one of his production assistants did not go down well with the executives either.
In order to give his first film the tone it required, Barker needed extensive documentation of unorthodox sexual practices. And she also needed music capable of convincing the viewer that the Lament Configuration It was going to open at any moment. Luckily for him (or so he thought), she had found both in one place, and that place was the music records. coil.
Narrating the trajectory of this band, one of the most influential in the industrial scene, would require an entire article. Let us leave it, then, in that its (then) three members, Peter Christopherson, John Balance Y Stephen Thrower, they had much in common with the Cenobites in interests and lifestyle. Also, his LP scatology (1984), the writer had liked it very much: “They are the only group capable of turning my guts over,” said Barker of them. And it was a compliment.
To make matters worse, the interests of the members of Coil went beyond getting high until they burst, going through the gay bars of London as Attila’s horse and recording music that reflected the apocalyptic climate of the AIDS years. Stephen Thrower, in fact, was an expert in horror films, and he knew Barker thanks to his work at the famous comic book store Forbidden Planet. Thus, when the writer considered taking the doomed heart to the cinema, he called the group to record the soundtrack.
Coil were also of great help to Clive Barker in another respect: Peter Christopherson, head of the band’s technical department and a noted music video director, I knew the world of extreme sex thoroughly, and his collection of magazines on fetishism, piercings and other topics was mammoth. Barker drew from her a wealth of images (“All kinds of fun and games with genitalia, male and female,” according to Stephen Thrower) that would help him shape the creatures from her.
In this way, and after conversations about the tone that Barker wanted for his songs (a mixture of the orchestrations of carrie with the noise of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Coil got down to business, putting together early versions of the OST in their home studio. However, the party soon fizzled out.
“The producer [New World Pictures] he had his own composer waiting in the wings,” explains Thrower. When Clive got into trouble with hellraiser Because he didn’t have the money to shoot the special effects, he went to the executives and showed them a first cut.”
“As far as I know,” he continues, “the conversation was something like: ‘We didn’t know this was going to be so commercial. Reshoot those special effects and take some money. On one condition: we want our man to do the soundtrack”. In this way, Christopher Young (described by Thrower as “a plug”) became the musical director of the film, and Coil were left with a span of noses.
Film critic as well as musician, with a body of work that includes books on Lucius Fulci Y Jess Frank, Thrower confessed in 2017 that he was still angry with Clive Barker for that betrayal. Some of the pieces composed by the group for the film ended up appearing in 1987 under the title of The Unreleased Themes for ‘Hellraiser’, albeit in unfinished versions with which the trio was never satisfied.
Backstabbing aside, the truth is that Coil’s songs for hellraiser they are much more transgressive than the score that we have all come to associate with the film, although it must also be said that the group was cut (a little) and did not manage to draw landscapes as apocalyptic as those that populate their best-known albums.
In fact, Stephen Thrower claims that the sound of Horse Rotorvator, the LP that Coil published in 1987, is quite close to the plans of its authors for the unfinished BSO of Hellraiser. As a curious note, Clive Barker gets a mention in the acknowledgments of the album, although perhaps (with Coil you never know) it was a gesture of irony.
Stephen Thrower left the ranks of Coil in 1992, after the release of the album Love’s Secret Domain. As for John Balance and Peter Christopherson, both are dead: the first died in 2004, due to an accident related to his alcoholism, while the second passed away in Thailand six years later. The circumstances of his death have never been clarified.
Clive Barker, for his part, has continued with his career as a writer and filmmaker, although without ever reaching his heights of the 80s and early 90s. On what would have happened if his collaboration with Coil and his entourage had continued, only the Cenobites know.
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This is the terrifying soundtrack of ‘Hellraiser’ that you never heard