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The Writer of ‘Beetlejuice’ Almost Penned ‘Hellraiser II’

The Writer of ‘Beetlejuice’ Almost Penned ‘Hellraiser II’

Clive Barker wasn’t able to write the sequel to Hellraiser, although he still gets story credit on Hellbound: Hellraiser II. At a Screamfest Q&A with Doug Bradley, director Tony Randel, and screenwriter Peter Atkins, the filmmakers revealed Atkins was not the first writer on the sequel. During the Q&A they said another writer had to leave due to tragic circumstances before he ever wrote a page, but they did not name the former writer.

So after the Q&A I approached Atkins and Randel and asked who their first writer was. They shared that it was Michael McDowell, whose partner died before McDowell could begin. That’s Michael McDowell, the writer of Beetlejuice!

The rush to find a new screenwriter gave Atkins the chance to break into screenwriting. “Clive called me and said, ‘Funny question. Have you ever written a screenplay?’” Atkins shared. “And I said, honestly, ‘No, I haven’t, Clive.’ He said, ‘Well look, if a producer calls you in five minutes and asks you the same question, are you prepared to lie?’ And I said equally honestly, ‘Oh yes, Clive.’ The thing is, screenplay form is just laying it out. Any idiot can learn how to format a thing. Chris is a great producer. What he responds to as all smart producers should, is enthusiasm, smartness, quickness and a modicum of talent. I’m certainly enthusiastic, smart and quick. I don’t know about the talent, so he said yeah.”

Barker did give Atkins the ideas for the screenplay, but it wasn’t quite as formal as “outline” suggests.

“I’m sure Clive told the executives that he had an outline but what happened was he said, ‘Come around to the house. I’ve got a bottle,’” Atkins said.

“We just jammed over an increasingly empty bottle of vodka. Then they put me on a train back to Liverpool and I wrote a 10 page, based on the drunken conversations we had. Then they brought me back to London, put me in a hotel and I wrote the screenplay. That’s not to downplay Clive’s involvement at all. Obviously, he originated the entire series. He’s quite smart and has many ideas. It was reminiscent of the theater days, workshopping.”



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