Horror author Clive Barker rose to fame in the mid-1980s in the wake of his short story collections known as the Books of Blood, with no less than Stephen King gushing at one point: "I have seen the future of horror, his name is Clive Barker."
Barker himself wrote and directed the 1987 film Hellraiser (based on his novella The Hellbound Heart),and suddenly the genre had a new wunderkind along with an iconic S&M demon in the form of Pinhead (Doug Bradley). Bradley's villain is so central to the franchise that Screen Rant recently unveiled an exclusive look at Sideshow Collectibles upcoming Pinhead figurine, based on the design featuring Bradley in the role from Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth. Despite numerous theatrically-released sequels of decreasing quality and a string of forgettable direct-to-video titles, the franchise lives on in the imagination of horror fans, whose hopes for an official reboot have been fed for years. The last we heard, Barker himself would be writing the script for the reboot after the project left the hands of Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer (Drive Angry).
Now, after a long period of silence, we have updates from Clive Barker, who spoke to EW (by way of /Film) on the occasion of the Blu-ray release of Barker's 1990 bizarre horror flick Nightbreed. Barker said he has finished the second draft of what he calls "a loose remake" of Hellraiser, and while the project is still very much in the development phase, he did provide some new story details.
According to Barker:
I think the phrase is ‘reboot,’ although I’ve never really understood what that meant. I wanted to make sure we sounded some fresh notes. The movie actually begins on Devil’s Island. I wanted to fold into the Hellraiser narrative something about the guy—the Frenchman Lemarchand—who made the mysterious box, which raises Pinhead. I figured, ‘Well, what would have happened to him?’ He might well have been taken to Devil’s Island and I thought that would be a pretty cool place to start the movie. We’re waiting for Bob to come back to us and see when we’re going to actually make the movie.
The "Bob" mentioned presumably refers to Bob Weinstein, one half of the movie mogul siblings who currently control the rights to the franchise. Barker's new story sounds closer to a prequel than a reboot, with the notion of starting with the lunatic who first designed the puzzle box an intriguing notion. While the character of Lemarchand was featured in 1996's Hellraiser: Bloodline, Barker may ignore that story entirely and give us a new history of the box.
In the original film, nihilist Frank Cotton (Seah Chapman) found the box and succumbed to the Cenobites, who - led by Pinhead - do not differentiate between extreme pain and extreme pleasure. He escapes their realm and is discovered as a skinless monster by his brother's wife - and former lover - Julia (Clare Higgins), who provides him with victims to help rejuvenate him. Barker originally wanted Julia to become the monster of the series, but the audiences fell in love with Pinhead - could the original characters somehow figure into the reboot?
As for whether or not Barker would direct, he said:
We’ve got some really cool things coming down the pike. They’re movies which I’m able to watch over as a producer rather than as a director, [but] each time another thing gets added to the rest of the things that we’re doing, I get more tantalized by the idea of actually doing it as a director myself. So, I don’t think I’ll wait too long until I sign on for something myself.
Barker's horror fiction dives headlong (and unapologetically) into the realm of the extreme as a matter of course, so while some horror films have found success in focusing on old-fashioned scares (The Conjuring), other newly launched franchises (The Purge, V/H/S) can arguably be seen as throwbacks to the kind of gory body horror that Barker (and a circa-1980s' David Cronenberg, who co-starred in Nightbreed) once championed.
What do you think, Screen Ranters? Would a Hellraiser reboot guided by Clive Barker help usher in a new age for horror movies? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Hellraiser is currently in development.