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Review of Clive Barker’s ‘Hellraiser’ Remake Script Reveals His Approach

Review of Clive Barker’s ‘Hellraiser’ Remake Script Reveals His Approach

You may remember that back in 2014, Clive Barker was attached to remake his own debut feature, Hellraiser. In fact, he wrote a script and delivered it to Dimension Films back then, but of course, the film was never actually made. Instead, Dimension made new sequel Hellraiser: Judgment, which to date still hasn’t been released.

Nevertheless, Barker’s Hellraiser remake script is out there, and writer Rob Ridenour of the Clive Barker Cast just managed to get his hands on it. Over on the podcast’s website, Ridenour wrote a short review of the unused script this week, giving us some insight into Barker’s vision for the remake that never was… and likely will never be.

Interestingly, Barker’s script seems to stick pretty close to the original film, centered on the Cotton family and their hellish experience with Lemarchand’s puzzle box.

The script opens on Devil’s Island in the 1700’s where toymaker Philippe Lemarchand is being held prisoner by an evil warden who wants him to finish building the infamous box—its design closer to The Hellbound Heart here—known as the Lament Configuration,” Ridenour begins his review. “Once done, Lemarchand only wishes to be free and return home to his family. The warden has other plans and wants Lemarchand to open the box, so he can show the toymaker what it does. Things turn quite grisly when a familiar lead cenobite shows up and wreaks havoc on the unsuspecting prison custodian.”

The review continues…

The story then moves to present day Massachusetts where Larry Cotton, a college professor, and his unhappy wife Julia are moving into the “old homestead” along with Larry’s daughter Kirsty. Also, to their surprise Larry’s brother Frank has been occupying the upstairs attic for the past few months. Larry allows Frank to stay in the attic until he can get back on his feet. Little does Larry know, that Frank and Julia have been having an affair. These early parts of the script—other than Larry letting Frank live with them—stick very close to the basic structure of the original film, but Clive writes all this in a new way that makes the material feel fresh. Eventually, Frank opens the box and is torn apart during a ritual where he summons the Hell Priest which forces Julia to once again find him victims, so he can have a new skin.

It’s only when Kirsty escapes from Frank and steals the box, that this story really starts to develop its own identity. The sequences of Kirsty in the hospital are some of the strongest in the script. This is where Barker begins to introduce his new mythology and let Pinhead have some devilish fun.

Be sure to read Ridenour’s full script review over on the Clive Barker Cast website, where he details two new Cenobites that Barker created for the unmade remake!



  • Creepshow

    Has anyone ever remade their own movie before? Sounds asinine.
    (and no, Sam Raimi doesn’t count)

    • mbetz13

      The director Michale Haneke made Funny Games and the 2007 remake

      • Creepshow

        Thanks for that. I never watched either, but after reading about the remake, it sounds like a cash-in US remake when torture porn was ripe.

        • Mikey C

          DON’T watch the remake. Other than not having to read subtitles, its pretty bad and lost what made the original one special.

    • JoeInTheBox

      Hitchcock with The Man Who Knew Too Much. George Sluizer with The Vanishing. Ole Bornedal, Nightwatch. Takashi Shimizu, Ju-On/The Grudge. Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments.

    • Don Mancini nearly remade Child’s Play in 2011.

      • Creepshow

        If he did, it would have been just another Chucky movie that I wouldn’t have cared about.

    • Romero remade Night of the Living Dead in 1990, though with Tom Savini in the director’s chair.

      • Creepshow

        Not technically the same. And here’s another 2 cents..
        I really can’t stand that movie.

        • I mean, he wrote it and was on set. While not technically the same, it’s nearly the same.

          And you didn’t like it? I think I prefer the original, but the 1990 version has its merits. Giving Barbara a more active role was a smart decision. Not sure how I feel about ramping up the dickish behavior of the downstairs guy, though.

          • Creepshow

            The remake changed everything that was great about the original. They changed Barbara (and her fate). They changed Ben (and his fate). And…they changed Harry (and his fate).
            I don’t really care about the amped up gore in the newer one. The original was shocking, and the remake was just annoying.

          • All fair points.

    • Saturn

      The guy who did The Mcpherson Tape, which recently had a feature on here.

  • I hate how Dimension Films is so concerned with releasing cannon fodder to keep the rights, yet every single time an interesting project falls into their laps, they never want to greenlight it.

    They were literally handed a script for a reboot written by Clive Barker himself, with Doug Bradley intended to star. They did nothing with it. There was going to be a Michael vs. Pinhead film, with Barker writing and John Carpenter directing. They did nothing with it. In 2012, a group of filmmakers did all of the work for them by developing a fully formed pitch and trailer for a Hellraiser reboot, and they STILL did nothing with it.

    What’s the point of making awful direct-to-video sequels to keep the rights if you aren’t actually going to use the rights?

    • I don’t know the behind-the-scenes stuff, but sometimes these situations actually come down to personal vendettas and pissing matches. With the amount of money some of these studios have to throw around, it’s really nothing to blow a couple million dollars on a “placeholder” DTV release if you’re just being spiteful. It will likely make back the budget from diehards, and if not, then it’s a write-off.

      • Yeah, there have been a number of pissing matches between Clive Barker and Dimension Films over the years (just take look at some of the back-and-forth regarding Hellraiser: Inferno).

        Really, Dimension just needs to let go of the rights. They aren’t even using the DTV format as a means to go around the MPAA. It’s just cannon fodder; Gary Tunnicliffe (Hellraiser: Judgment) is the only director in years that actually seems to care about what he’s doing.

        • Dimension, if I remember correctly, is part of the Weinstein empire, isn’t it? They have a reputation for being raging assholes, based on quite a bit of anecdotal information. Very good BUSINESS people, mind you, but not particularly good human beings, and not especially adept with movies, from what I’ve read. Just good a selling and marketing them.

          • It is indeed the same company.

          • J Jett

            CJ, i agree w/ what you wrote but i think the Weinsteins/Dimension wasn’t even really good as business. i could swear that i read that they were nearly bankrupt or something. i’m just glad their atrocious empire has crashed.

          • I hadn’t read anything about that, though it wouldn’t necessarily surprise me. Their talents seemed to be more in marketing and schmoozing the awards judges to get movies recognized that really weren’t of the caliber of the awards they were getting. “Shakespeare in Love” as Best Picture? Seriously? Has that even really help up as a movie people remember?

    • J Jett

      Dimension Films/the Weinsteins are/were THE worst blights on horror movies. i’m so fucking happy they are gone (at least Harvey).

      • Thankfully, they already lost Halloween to John Carpenter and Blumhouse. Now if Clive Barker can somehow get the Hellraiser rights back (which will probably end up happening if Dimension doesn’t release Judgment soon; that was another made-to-keep-the-rights sequel).

    • TheGuy

      I remember the first time I saw the trailer for Origins. I thought to myself, 2 minutes of a fan made trailer was better than the last 6 hours of hellraiser sequels lol.

  • MrX13

    As long as Barker redid his own movie, I would be ok with that

  • Jay Bennett

    With Barker in control Im down with it, but Id still like to see Judgement out of curiousity, whenever they release it…

  • Brett Lovejoy

    I remember being excited for the prospect of this, but then nothing ever came of it (didn’t realize I had heard about this way back in 2014), so figure it’ll never happen at this point. What a shame.

  • guest

    i’d be down with it just to have barker back breathing new life into the hellraiser franchise.

    • With the current state of the sequels, I think this is a rare example of a franchise that probably needs a reboot. It’s gotten to the point that even Doug Bradley is starting to refuse to return (and this is the same guy that said “yes” to Bloodline,
      Hellseeker, Deader, and Hellworld).

    • Otterlee

      It’s probably my favorite franchise. I just hope this time around they keep the biblical hell/evil theme out of it.

      • I definitely agree that Cenobites are not demons that judge people for there sins (as they have been erroneously portrayed in the later sequels), but it has been established by Clive Barker that Cenobite Hell/The Labyrinth is a separate order within the biblical Hell. It’s not a parallel dimension in its own right, though its purpose remains the same.

  • ShadowInc

    I liked the idea of a female Pinhead that was floating around for a bit.

    • In the original novel The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker, Pinhead was a woman. In the movie Hellraiser (which was based on the book), Barker turned her into a man by casting Doug Bradley.

      I don’t think anyone minds, though. Doug Bradley is awesome.

  • Rob Ridenour

    Hey John,

    Thanks for sharing the review. Much appreciated.

  • Rake

    I like the first Hellraiser but I don’t know if I want to rewatch that same story take place. I was a little disappointed with Scarlet Gospels because it turned hell into the biblical version instead of being its own thing. But I would prefer to see that compared to a remake of the original because it would be more original.

    • In all of Clive Barker’s work, Cenobite Hell/Labyrinth is a separate faction within the biblical Hell. It’s not a parallel dimension. Its purpose has always been the same, though; the Cenobites are not demons that judge people for their sins (unlike what Dimension Films seems to think).

      • Rake

        I don’t remember the biblical version of hell being refrenced to in hellhound heart but its been a while since I read that story.

        • In that and the original Hellraiser, details on Hell are kept scarce. It’s Barker’s other work where Cenobite Hell was revealed an order within regular Hell (keep in mind that the purpose of the Cenobites hasn’t changed; people don’t die and go to Cenobite Hell).

  • Rohan

    I heard an idea by someone who was gonna make a sequel that would be like National Treasure with Frank looking for the box and doing all types of sick shit like an evil Indiana jones. I thought that was pretty cool. Also I had an idea where they would do a movie on the derelict, the puzzle keeper, and have it be like a coming of age movie because when the derelicts are 16 they become puzzle keepers and carry the box around. That would be pretty cool.

    • Saturn

      A prequel showing Frank going in search of the box could be pretty cool – they could open up the world to other monsters while they’re at it. I’d be happy to watch that movie.

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