Hellbound Hearts: Prisoners of the Inferno Short Story Review

Short story: “Prisoners of the Inferno”

Hellbound Hearts is a collection of 21 short stories based around the mythology of Hellraiser. The book was released in 2009 and contains several tales from such people as: Peter Atkins (writer: Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, Hellraiser: Bloodline), Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) and Barbie Wilde (Female Cenobite: Hellbound: Hellraiser II), just to name a few.

I felt that the best way to tackle this collection of the macabre, is to do a short review of each story and finally an overall review of the book in the end. So sit back and enjoy the first review from Hellbound Hearts, titled “Prisoners of the Inferno”, by Peter Atkins…

The story opens with two friends, Jack and Carducci (a small nod to Hellraiser: Bloodline) at a film/television convention. The two are discussing the woes of having to pay ridiculous prices for autographs (something I’m all to familiar with), when Jack pulls out a movie still of Prisoners of the Inferno (which you later find out was retitled to, The Cabinet of Doctor Coppelius) that he obtained from someone at the convention. Carducci is extremely jealous of Jack’s find because we find out that the film was lost in time and long forgotten, making this still very rare. The plot of the film revolved around a Doctor who contracts a toymaker to make a mysterious cabinet that turns people who enter it into killer dolls (I can see why it was lost). Jack, being strangely drawn to the still, decides to seek out the film and before you know it, he is contacted by a mysterious stranger who claims to own a copy. What happens next is an interesting, albeit short tale, that is connected to the Hellraiser mythology, but doesn’t cater towards the normal ideas/images you would expect when thinking of Hellraiser. It’s grounded in reality and having the story revolve around a mysterious lost film, certainly piques your interest.  

I feel that having Peter Atkins start off the short stories of Hellbound Hearts, is a brilliant idea. He’s deeply connected to the Hellraiser universe and knows how to tell a tale. Unfortunately, given the restrictions of short stories, Atkins’ story is tied up to quickly. I wish more could’ve been told on the back story behind the lost film and it’s characters. You’ll just be getting into the plot and before you know it, you’ll flip the page and it’s over. This is one story that manages to be different and needed to be a few pages longer. Having said that, the Hellbound Hearts is off to a good start and has hooked me. I look forward to more pain and pleasures this book will deliever.

Short Story Rating: 3.75/5 

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Travis J. Gates
Travis J. Gates
7 years ago

*Spoilers below*

I liked the story even though I agree that it was too short. The plot at first reminded me of John Carpenter's Masters of Horror episode "Cigarette Burns," but it quickly found its own voice. I would read a much longer work about this main character. I also like the idea of the cabinet, which I saw as an allusion to the transformation box in the labynth in Hellraiser 2. Also nice was the very brief appearance of Dr. Channard at the end. Those tentacles that came out of his hands always fascinated me in that movie.

Michael Tatlock
7 years ago

Yes, it definitely invokes a Cigarette Burns vibe at first. You're right about the allusion to the transformation box in Hellraiser II, I totally missed that the time I read it, or else I would've mentioned it. Great job pointing it out. 🙂

This was a nice story to start off the collection.

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