Hellraiser is a franchise near and dear to my heart; it took the awkward teenager I was, sliced opened his skull and filled the insides with nightmarish perversions that haven’t been topped by a movie since. Was that too graphic? Probably. Now let’s talk about why Hellraiser: Judgement (or Hellraiser X as it was going by) is a mixed bag of worrying announcement spliced with intriguing possibilities.
There’s no doubt you’ve seen the first one. Clive Barker’s visual masterpiece of 80s horror pushed the boat out further than anything Freddy, Jason or Michael were doing at the time. If you were to pick up the beautiful new boxset of the original trilogy on Blu Ray, you’ll be set for further adventures into an imaginative franchise.
The next couple of films were mixed; Bloodline was a mashup of stories that pushed a little too far and ultimately fell on its face. Inferno I honestly quite like – an infernal detective story that gives Pinhead a bit of his mystery back. The Rick Bota trilogy that followed are themselves hit and miss, but hey, look at this young Henry Cavill having a wee sing song in Hellworld!
The next film (which brings us up to date) was Revelations, a shambles of a movie, tossed out by Dimension Films seemingly so they could hold onto the rights a little longer. It’s awful, honestly don’t watch it.
And instead of doing the logical thing and putting some money behind it, bringing Barker back on or doing a half-decent remake, it looks like Judgement will be another straight to DVD affair.
Doug Bradley, the man who played Pinhead since the 1987 original, did not return for Revelations. I respect his decision to do so. Again, he will not be back for Judgement. Here’s what he had to say on Facebook recently:
“Ladies, Gentlemen and Others,
I gather word is beginning to spread about the new Hellraiser movie which is, apparently, already shooting.
First, a point of clarification. This is the first time I have said anything about this. Anything else you have heard me say about any proposed Hellraiser film refers to the constantly rumored remake. And, for the record, I still know nothing about that.
First I heard about this new film was around Christmas in a phone call from Gary Tunnicliffe, who was my make-up artist on Bloodline through Hellworld. Gary, you may recall, also wrote the screenplay for Revelations. He has written and is directing this new effort. I can also assert, contrary to some rumours I’ve already seen, that Clive Barker is not involved with this in any way, shape or form.
Gary said he would send me a copy of the script when he had completed a second draft, but before I could be allowed to set eyes on the precious document, I was required to sign a gagging order. This was a three page document preventing me from talking about the script ‘in restrooms’, ‘on elevators’, ‘in restaurants’ or ‘in cellular telephone conversations which may be overheard’. There was also dark reference to ‘people talking out of turn at conventions’. I read this thing in disbelief, and informed Gary I would not be signing it.
And that’s that. Clearly, I am deemed too much of a security risk to be allowed to read a Hellraiser script. People are starving to death in Syria and they’re worried about me talking about a Hellraiser movie? Get a fucking grip. Can you say ‘sense of proportion’?
Anyway, story short: a new movie is happening and I have nothing do with it. I was unable to make a decision about it because I was not allowed to read the script, unlike Revelations where I made a conscious decision not to do the movie based on the motives for making it and the poor quality of the script.
And that’s everything.”
Peace and Pain
I hear what you’re saying; “didn’t you mention intriguing possibilities?” Yes I did. And here’s why.
Gary Tunnicliffe, the man responsible for the franchise’s glorious makeup from Bloodline until Hellworld (number 8), will be sitting in the director’s chair. Although he hasn’t directed a full length entry in the franchise before, he did make this glorious short film No More Souls a few years back:
And in a recent interview with Fangoria, he had this to say:
“This is not a simple recycling of the Hellraiser formula. This is a film that will boast some of the strangest, most bizarre, horrific and thought-provoking sequences ever seen in a horror film – a horror film that owes its inspiration to the works of Heironymous Bosch and Francis Bacon as well as Cronenberg, Fincher, and Lynch as well as, obviously and foremost, Clive Barker. I have to thank Bob Weinstein, Matthew Signer, Stu Arbury, Scoop Wasserstein, and the rest of the team at Dimension for helping me and for being brave enough to let me do what I want to do… which is to simply create a horror film that flat out horrifies.”
If you’re giving the franchise to anyone, at least he’s a lifetime fan of the series, as well as his horror in general.
The other ace in the hole seems to be the addition of Heather Langenkamp to the cast. A scream queen in her own right, she is best known for playing Nancy in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. Her role is yet undefined, but we can only hope the pieces of what could be a grotesque sequel fit together in such a way so they shock for better, not worse.