the box

We all know what the true spirit of Christmas boils down to: presents! Big bow-topped boxes full of lovely trifles from your brother or lover (which, for some, are one and the same). But what about those boxes that aren't so jolly? Like the ones that don't contain the sterling-silver Tiffany razors that we've asked for year after year! We HATE those boxes, right? Well, here are some movies centered around boxes that don't contain anything from a department store.

Hellraiser (1987)--An ancient puzzle box is opened and a gateway to hell is unleashed. Crazy demon Cenobites come forth into the human realm to blur the lines between pleasure and pain, complete with flying hooks and flesh stretchers. Unlike the half dozen or so sequels that followed, the first installment of this gruesome series was written and directed by Clive Barker himself, instilling a palpable sweetness to the story that resonates in the dialogue and direction. The outcome is an uncanny and remarkable film that's gross and glorious in one bite.

Cube (1997)--One set, different lighting, and six actors who think they're in a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode use their combined "wits" to escape a labyrinth cube that wants nothing more than to make mincemeat pie out of their appendages. While deserving an A for effort and originality, the outcome is VERY straight-to-video pap. Leave it to the Canadians to make a boring horror film. But hey! They did give us Anne Murray and her little frickin' snowbird... now that was terrifying!!

Boxing Helena (1993)--Sensitive long-hair Julian Sands (Warlock) plays a kooked-out doctor obsessed with Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks). He's so in love with her that he cuts off her arms and legs and puts her in a box in his house. Wow... now that's some kinda lovin'! Directed by Jennifer Lynch (daughter of David), she proves once and for all that talent is not hereditary. The only thing good about this movie is that it ends. BRIAN BRAIT