Review: The Hellbound Heart audio play
Adapted by Paul Kane (Sherlock and the Servants of Hell, The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy) from Clive Barker’s seminal and much loved Origins novella ‘The Hellbound Heart’. This one story opened up a universe of Hell for initiates, The Hell Priest (Pinhead), the Cenobites, Marchand’s Box, and has so far been the inspiration for 10 films and I think, and 2 short films.
Perhaps there is only one other person who could adapt this, and that’s Clive himself, but Paul does an admirable job of condensing a few hours text into a thrilling hours audio play. Paul has a long association with the Hellraiser ‘franchise’ writing a book about The Hellraiser films (which our very own Dave is in!) and a very unusual, entertaining crossover book about Sherlock Holmes and ‘The Order of the Gash’ (Cenobites), so is more than qualified to take us to Hell.
Now I am biased when it comes to most things associated with Clive Barker. When I heard that an audio play was being made of Hellbound Heart I was literally foaming at the mouth to hear it. I was unfamiliar with the company who made it; Bafflegab, but looking at their past productions (The Scarifyers, Hammer Horror Tales) I am sure they will be very successful.
Now we all know the story, don’t we? Let me get those who don’t up to speed. Kirsty is Rory’s best friend (remember this is the book and not the film), she is also in love with him. When Rory and his wife Julia Cotton move into a dilapidated house left to him and his brother Frank by their grandmother, Kirsty, annoying as she is, helps them move. Frank has been ‘missing in action’ for several years, a hedonist, sadist, sexual predator. Rory is his brother’s complete opposite, and he has no idea that his wife has had an affair with him, and that she is still obsessed with him. Frank is missing because his desire for pleasure has led him to acquire the infamous LeMarchand box; a conduit to extreme pleasure. Unfortunately for Frank, he gets more than he bargained for.
I’ll stop there, because this is an audio experience any horror fan should not miss. The whole cast are wonderful. Frank Cotton is played by Tom Meeten (The Ghoul, Prevenge) and oh Lordy lord, his voice is just perfect, the husky, sexually titillating, commanding, slimey way he wheedles and makes deals, is sizzling as Frank. He then turns it all on its head by being the amiable, loveable Rory. I admit I did have to check BOTH parts were played by Tom as his delivery is so completely different for each character.
Neve McIntosh is Julia, and totally making you forget Claire Higgins with her beautiful soft Scottish accent, gives a very nuanced performance. Julia will do anything for her man, including bringing him fresh blood, and Neve’s level performance gives just the right hint of something rotten and putrid behind the soft Scottish tones. I should also mention that there are sex scenes between Julia and Frank (and Rory), the groaning and squelching (perhaps the squelching was just in my head, sorry) which are an integral part of the story are handled really effectively and certainly made my son raise his eyebrows in a ‘what the hell are you listening to mum?‘ way.
Last, but definitely not least is Alice Lowe as Rory’s friend Kirsty. Giving just the right amount of unrequited longing, pathetic yet likeable, she is totally believable as the girl next door, who conquers Hell.
I listen to a lot of audiobooks, around 3 a week, so I consider myself a connoisseur of them. Bafflegab are definitely a company to look out for, good stories and the perfect actors, I will be buying Hellbound Heart on CD, I liked it that much! Their next release is Blood on Satan’s Claw, starring Adam Roache’s bessie mate Mark Gatiss and Reece Shearsmith, which is coming out in June on CD/download, but is already available on Audible.
All Bafflegab’s audio releases can be purchased via www.bafflegab.co.uk and their Bandcamp shop. The Scarifyers is available (sometimes) on BBC iPlayer, but you can also buy them on download and CD from their website. We also encourage listeners/readers to BUY music, well I’d like to encourage you to support Bafflegab and buy their products too.
Review by Tina (co-host of 60 Minutes With) from an audio file kindly supplied by Bafflegab.