An unfaithful wife encounters the zombie of her dead lover; the demonic cenobites are pursuing him after he escaped their sadomasochistic underworld.
Clive Barker's feature directing debut graphically depicts the tale of a man and wife who move into an old house and discover a hideous creature - the man's half-brother, who is also the woman's former lover - hiding upstairs. Having lost his earthly body to a trio of S&M demons, the Cenobites, he is brought back into existence by a drop of blood on the floor. He soon forces his former mistress to bring him his necessary human sacrifices to complete his body... but the Cenobites won't be happy about this.
A man finds he is given more than he bargains for when he solves the puzzle of the Lament Configuration - a doorway to hell. But his ex-lover has found a way of bringing him back, and his niece, Kirsty Lawrence, finds herself bargaining with the Cenobites, angels to some, demons to others, whose greatest pleasure is the greatest pain.
- Somewhere in North Africa, Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) purchases an antique puzzle box from a dealer. Back at his house in England, Frank solves the puzzle box and hooked chains immediately fly out of the box and tear into his flesh. Demons called Cenobites from another realm appear to inspect Frank's remains. Their leader, Pinhead (Doug Bradley), searches among the shreds of flesh and blood and reassembles the pieces of Frank's face. He finds the mysterious box and twists it back into its original state, and the room appears empty as if nothing ever happened.
Frank's brother Larry Cotton (Andrew Robinson) soon moves into Frank's abandoned house with his second wife, Julia Cotton (Clare Higgins), who previously had a secret affair with Frank. The house is a mess, leftover food rots in the kitchen & they both assume that Frank is off on one of his notorious adventures. Larry's teenage daughter Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence) chooses not to live with her step-mother and moves into her own place. After cutting his hand on a nail (while moving a mattress), Larry goes upstairs to the room where Julia is, the same room where Frank was killed. Larry's blood falls on the floor & mysteriously disappears through the floorboards as they leave the attic, Frank's minimal remains have been hidden under the floorboards. Julia takes Larry to the ER to have his hand stitched. Frank uses Larry's blood as nourishment to partially regenerate his body. Down below the floorboards, Frank's body bursts out and emits a sustained shriek of pain and his body begins to regenerate.
Later, Julia finds Frank (Oliver Smith -- plays Frank as a monster) alone in the room, his body only partially regenerated and grotesque. She's repulsed by his appearance but Frank convinces Julia to help restore him to his full physical form, reminding her that while she was his secret lover and she promised to do anything for him. Julia succumbs to Frank's entreaties and agrees to help him by seducing men and luring them up to the empty attic where Frank hides. After having Julia incapacitate them, Frank is able to move in and drain them of their blood, which allows him to further regenerate his body. Frank tells Julia about the puzzle box and explains that by reclaiming his body he has broken his deal with the Cenobites. He wants to fully restore himself and then run off with Julia before the Cenobites can track him down.
Kirsty, already suspicious of Julia, eventually sees Julia bringing a strange man home and sneaks into the house to investigate. In the attic Julia beats the man, allowing Frank to feast on his body. Kirsty approaches the attic unaware of what's happening within. Suddenly, the bloody man stumbles out of the attic, soon followed by the skinless Frank who confronts Kirsty. Before Frank can grab her, Kirsty picks up the puzzle box as a weapon. When she realizes it holds value for Frank, she throws it out the window and escapes from the house, picking up the box as she runs down the street. A disoriented Kirsty awakens in the hospital where she tells herself it all was a terrible dream, until the doctors hand her the puzzle box. Kirsty begins to play with the puzzle box and inadvertently solves it. The walls of her hospital room open a dimensional door with a long tunnel behind it. A large, hideous monster begins to chase her and she escapes; when she looks back at the wall, it's sealed up, though she can hear the beast's roaring behind it.
Suddenly, the walls of the room begin to change again and the Cenobites appear. Their leader, Pinhead, tells Kirsty that she has summoned them, and therefore they must take her to their world of pleasure, pain and suffering. She then begs them to spare her, offering to lead them to Frank in exchange for her freedom. Kirsty escapes the hospital and races to her father's home to warn him about Frank. Larry informs Kirsty that Frank has been taken care of, and Julia shows Kirsty a bloody body in the attic. The Cenobites reappear, demanding the man responsible for this death. Kirsty believes they want her father and she runs to warn him. However, she soon realizes that Frank has murdered her father and stolen his skin and worn it like a suit to fool Kirsty into believing that he was her father.
Frank comes after Kirsty, accidentally stabbing Julia in the process. Frank then drains Julia of her blood, further nourishing himself. He then goes to the attic where Kirsty is hiding. Kirsty weeps and accuses Frank of murdering her father. Frank reveals to Kirsty that her father was already "dead inside" anyway. Having heard Frank's confession, the Cenobites appear. Frank tries to kill Kirsty for setting him up, but dozens of hooked chains grab him and tear him apart, his last words are "Jesus wept." Kirsty runs through the house, eager to escape, but the Cenobites want to take her as well. Kirsty finds the puzzle box clutched in the hands of Julia's chained corpse on a mattress. One by one she banishes the Cenobites back to their realm by reversing the solution to the puzzle box.
Afterward, Kirsty tries to burn the box in a fire outdoors, but the strange vagrant appears and picks it out of the flames. As the man is consumed by the flames he transforms into a winged, skeletal creature that flies away into the night. In the final scene, the box is shown in the hands of the merchant who originally sold it to Frank, asking another prospective customer, "What's your pleasure, sir?"