Having only made a couple of short films with a group of friends in Liverpool as a teenager, “Hellraiser” was Clive Barker’s first experience helming a major movie production. Directing a feature film for the first time was daunting, as he revealed in a YouTube video. “I didn’t know the rules. I didn’t know who the sound guy was. I only knew who the camera operator was because he was the guy behind the camera,” Barker recalled. He added, “I don’t think that finally hurt the movie. May have actually been useful because I sort of made it up as I went along.”
Barker explained in the same interview, “I’ve always loved the film. I’ve always enjoyed the movie-going experience.” When he was young, he and a group of friends who shared his passion grabbed an 8mm camera and shot two shorts, “Salome” and “The Forbidden.” The films were inspired by underground and experimental directors such as Kenneth Anger. Coincidentally, Doug Bradley (who would go on to play Pinhead) and Pete Atkins (who would later write “Hellbound: Hellraiser II,” “Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth,” and “Hellraiser: Bloodline”) were involved in the production of “Salome” and “The Forbidden.”
“They are technically extremely crude and their storylines obscure,” Barker has said of the shorts (per The Clive Barker Archive). “Actually I think it has a strange poetry about it.” That “strange poetry” and the themes of pacts, rituals, murderers, and sexuality did have a bearing on “Hellraiser” — particularly the scene where Frank is skinned.