An exclusive behind-the-scenes gag reel shows it wasn’t all suffering on the set of Hellraiser: Judgment. The Hellraiser franchise has come a long way since the first entry in 1987, which was the writing/directing debut of famed author Clive Barker. The film’s graphic imagery and visceral intensity left a mark on jaded horror fans at the time, and made an icon out of Doug Bradley’s Hell Priest Pinhead. The character wasn’t meant to be the star of the movie (he has less than ten minutes of screentime and isn’t even named) but Bradley’s performance and the character’s distinct soon look made him a star.
The Hellraiser series never quite achieved the popularity of A Nightmare On Elm Street or Halloween, and after the financial disappointment of the fourth entry (1996’s Hellraiser: Bloodline) the franchise has gone direct to DVD. It’s fair to say the quality of most of these later entries has been lacking, and while there have been numerous attempts to remake/reboot the Hellraiser films over the last decade, the project has - fittingly - found itself trapped in development hell.
Hellraiser: Judgment is the tenth film in the series, and finds a group of detectives chasing a vicious serial killer - only to find themselves on trial for their own sins. After being kept under wraps for nearly a year, a trailer for Judgment was recently released, and it certainly appears to be an improvement over the last few sequels. A new behind-the-scenes gag reel also shows it wasn’t all pain and misery on set (see the video embedded above), and there’s even a little Freddy Kruger easter egg for those paying attention.
Hopefully, Hellraiser: Judgment will be something of a return to form. The previous movie (Revelations) was thrown together after Dimension realized they were about to lose the rights to the Hellraiser series. It was shot in a matter of weeks on a tiny budget, and the lack of effort involved has made it the most critically reviled entry yet; even Clive Barker publicly disowned it on his Twitter account. Judgment doesn’t have a high bar to jump following Revelations, but hopefully longtime fans will have their loyalty rewarded after so many disappointments.
Hellraiser has proved surprisingly hard to reboot since it lacks the copy/paste formula of most slasher movies. Unlike Michael Myers or Jason, Pinhead likes a good philosophical conversation with his victims, and the franchise’s mixture of sin and damnation, kinky sex and graphic bloodshed makes it a little harder to wrap in a user-friendly commercial package.
That said, 2017 proved to be a strong year for horror, and if 2018’s new Halloween reboot proves successful, maybe Pinhead can finally cast off the chains of straight-to-DVD hell and mount a big screen comeback. It would probably help his cause if Hellraiser: Judgement is good, too.
Hellraiser: Judgment hits Blu-ray, DVD and digital on Tuesday, February 13.