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Ideas and sounds (with all due respect): Clive Barker, ...Pretty Hate Machine liner notes
In 1995 on MTV's Superock, when asked what film he would ideally like to recompose the score of Trent said it would "probably be the first two Hellraiser films". Some years earlier it was friends/collaborators Peter Christopherson and John Balance of Coil who actually did the score but had it rejected on the grounds of it actually being too frightening for the movie (which says a lot when it's in the context of a film about demons from Hell coming to earth) and Barker opting for a more traditional film score. However the dark, demonic, black leather, chains, pleasure/pain S & M overtones make the first two Hellraiser films fit hand-in-hand with Nine Inch Nails' early aesthetic, themes and imagery.
Trent did make one subtle reference of direct inspiration to Hellbound: Hellraiser II in 1992's Broken EP. When Hellraiser I survivor, Kirsty, appears in the sequel we find her admitted to a mental hospital telling her story of demons and gateway boxes to authorities with no avail. During her first night as a patient, she looks up from her sleepless bed to find a skinless presence beckoning her with a message written in blood which should be all too familiar to NIN fans.
Secondly, in a scene where Kirsty ventures into the depths of Hell, viewing the chambers of each soul's own individual imprisonment she comes upon that of her uncle Frank, who murdered her father and was the first who summoned Pinhead and his Cenobite demons in Hellraiser I. Inside the cell of Frank's personal torment Kirsty finds the same message scrawled in blood on a mirror, "I am in hell help me." And of course, Broken's fourth track is titled 'Help me I am in Hell'.
Even more subtle, in what is more than likely just stylistically in vein and on the same album no less, is a scene in the unreleased video for 'Gave Up,' which is the climax of The Broken Movie. When Trent, disguised as a cop, enters the house where the snuff/torture has taken place to find the corpses and decayed aftermath of multiple murder victims, the scene is set up almost verbatim to one of the first scenes in Hellbound where the investigators enter the home where the atrocities of Hellraiser I unfolded.
|Police Investigator in Hellbound: Hellraiser II entering the house where the murders of the first Hellraiser took place. Right, MTR in the guise of a cop in The Broken Movie.|
|A festering corpse found in a basket by said investigating cop above. Right, similar found in refrigerator by Detective Reznor in the Broken Movie.|
If 'Aliens' and 'Abyss' (coincidently two 1980's epics by James Cameron) had a low-budget, illegitimate child its name would be 'Leviathan'. The film concerns a group of deep sea miners (a la 'Abyss') who throughout their trials encounter a virus in a torpedoed Soviet ocean liner that genetically alters those infected. Gestating inside the host (a la 'Aliens') turning the its victims into aquatic humanoids who can regenerate limbs and survive dormant underwater as living Soviet weapons.
At the beginning of the film as the crew is discussing their undersea plight, a problem with the air duct causes harrowing noise sounds throughout the ship, as it repeatedly does until the vessel finally implodes at the climax of the film. It's this noise which is sampled, interlaced and looped atop itself as the opening of 'Reptile'.
Worse interpretations of song influences have arisen over the years (Incite PC Gaming, June 2000, half-facetiously comparing 'Somewhat Damaged' to an outdated PC comes first to mind) but two choice correspondences do exist with the film and 'Reptile'. Leviathan is the name of the mythical serpent and incarnation of Satan in the Book of Revelation, the serpent being of course a 'reptile'. The film is also prefaced as taking place 16,000 feet under the sea in an oppressive and isolationist nether world, whereas Trent in 'Reptile' laments, "I now know, the depths I reach are limitless".
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In a post apocalyptic world where war is banned after the devastating nuclear holocaust, conflicts are settled between the still existing Cold War forces in a microcosmic staged battle between two robot fighting machines. The pilots of these machines are called 'Robot Jox' and the victor of the battle determines the outcome of the said conflict. For the premise of the film, the dispute is between the Soviet and US forces for control of Alaska.
Funny? Oh my, yes, and so is the fat wily Texan manager who's only missing his six-shooters to fire into the air after every line. Rocky IV except with robots? Possibly, but while the first fight is held to determine which side will retain ownership of the Alaskan territory, as the Soviet robot loses control of his 'bot, Achilles, the star of the American "Jox" throws himself at the mercy of the fates to save the arena's spectator crowd who are about to be killed by the projectile hand of the Soviet. This leap of heroism ends tragically as the American robot is knocked backward, falling on the spectator stands and killing hundreds. The aftermath of this tragedy, the pain and suffering of the dying and wounded was sampled as a continuous looping clip on 'The Becoming' on The Downward Spiral.
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Probably the most well known sample used by Nine Inch Nails is from Georgre Lucas' debut film THX 1138. It's a dehumanized, dystopian view of the future in the vein of Huxley and Orwell where mankind is reduced to living underground as soulless worker drones and are forced to undergo mandatory State sanctioned drug therapy, as to ensure their "unstable" human emotions never rise to the forefront. Though much less optimistically than the, "A new day, don't forget the soma" of Huxley's 'A Brave New World'.
The prime conflict of the film begins when our protagonist, THX 1138, and his female cohabitor, LUH 3417, begin evading their law enforced drug sedation and, as they slowly become human once again, engage in the absolutely forbidden act of sexual union, the punishment for which is death.
A future site update will follow on the various thematic and parallels to imagery that Marilyn Manson utilized in reference to THX 1138 during the Mechanical Animals era, but for purposes here as many may be familiar with, the scene where THX masturbates to a dancing black woman on the hollographic TV and changes the channel to find a criminal being beaten by android police officers (as foreshadowing to punishment incurred by acting upon human instinct), this beating is that which was sampled and sped up as the introduction to 'Mr. Self Destruct'.