Hellraiser: Revelations remains an infamous installment in the long-running horror franchise for many reasons - here's why longtime Pinhead star Doug Bradley passed on the production. It's difficult to imagine now, but the filmmakers behind Hellraiser didn't initially see cenobite Pinhead as the star of the series. Despite his instantly iconic visage adorning posters and artwork for both Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II, the original plans for the future of the series were quite different.
Both creator Clive Barker and the studio felt Julia Cotton (Clare Higgins) should to be the franchise star, with the original ending of Hellraiser II featuring Julia coming back from Hell. Julia actress Clare Higgins had grown tired of the part, however, and fan response to Pinhead showed he was considered the series icon. Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth made him the star of the show and turned him into something of a Freddy Krueger-style figure, who wasn't afraid of a pithy one-liner before dispatching victims. Unfortunately, the series never achieved the same success as A Nightmare On Elm Street or Halloween, and subsequent sequels went straight to video following the lukewarm box-office of 1996's Hellraiser: Bloodline.
Fans of Hellraiser are a loyal bunch and have stuck with the franchise through any number of poor STV follow-ups. Following the release of Hellraiser: Hellworld in 2005 Dimension spent years developing a remake of the original movie, with filmmakers such as Pascal Laugier and Patrick Lussier (My Bloody Valentine) briefly attached. They spent so long developing a remake they failed to notice the rights to the franchise were about to lapse, so they had to rush another sequel into development or lose the property, leading to Hellraiser: Revelations being greenlit.
Hellraiser: Revelations was essentially doomed from the beginning, with the filmmakers behind the project having little time or resources to craft a proper sequel. The story follows two families who gather together to mark the anniversary of the disappearance of their sons in Mexico - only for one of the missing to return and tell of his gruesome experiences with the cenobites. The story actually features a couple of interesting concepts and ideas but the execution, from the poor acting to the lackluster direction, make Hellraiser: Revelations a real chore.
Doug Bradley had played Pinhead from the start of the series, but when Revelations was being assembled he quickly ruled out a return. Bradley has been vocal in his criticism over how Dimension has handled the franchise so after reading and disliking the script for the sequel, and seeing it was being shot on a short schedule for a tiny budget, he opted out, sensing it was little more than a cash grab. With little time to find a replacement, actor Stephan Smith Collins was cast instead.
Early photos of Collins playing Pinhead did little to quell fan fears, with the release of the Hellraiser: Revelations trailer betraying the low-rent quality of the production. Clive Barker also came out against the project on Twitter when the trailer used his name, with the creator declaring the sequel had nothing to do with him. Collins' performance as Pinhead was roundly lambasted, with the make-up appearing ill-fitting on the actor, though it should be noted he did the best he could with the weak material. Hellraiser: Revelations is easily regarded as the worst of the series, with Bradley's presence being greatly missed.