Hellraiser: Judgment director Gary J. Tunnicliffe feels the success of Scream led to Pinhead’s downfall. The original Hellraiser was the film debut of horror author Clive Barker and is a story filled with intense gore, kinky sex, and all manner of gruesome imaginary. While Pinhead soon became a horror icon after Hellraiser’s release, he’s only in the original for ten minutes, where he was originally credited as “Lead Cenobite.”
When the series moved to Dimension for Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth, there was an attempt to make the franchise more commercial, and turn Pinhead into a Freddy Krueger-style character. The fourth movie Bloodlines remains the franchise’s last theatrical outing to date, and the series has gone straight to video ever since. These DVD offerings have generally met with a negative reception and were often unrelated scripts the studio owned that were rewritten to become Hellraiser sequels. Recent release Hellraiser: Judgment marks the tenth entry, and finds a group of detectives chasing a brutal killer – only to run up against Pinhead and his cenobites during the case.
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Hellraiser: Judgment writer/director Tunnicliffe discussed the series current fate in a new interview with Comic Book, and feels the success of Scream is what sent Pinhead to DTV hell:
This series has stumbled and faltered and struggled along the way because the reality is you can’t shoehorn this franchise into a commercially successful movie without stripping away the things from it that make it what it is. And this is where [producer] Bob [Weinstein] and the guys have had a problem because Bob really isn’t a fan of sadomasochistic sexual perversity, and hooks, and flesh, and that kind of stuff.
Hellraiser: Bloodlines came out the same year as Scream and provided to be a messy production for all involved, so when Scream hit big for Dimension, Hellraiser became a low priority:
That’s why I think in 1996 when Bloodline came, and we had the whole debacle of that. I got a call to go in and meet with Bob about a Hellraiser story I pitched called ‘Holy War,’ and I was maybe talking about directing that was that. That week Scream came out and did its business, and then Bob and the guys, rightly so, were like, ‘Oh, look, let’s try and figure out this guy with the nails in his head and this weird sexual stuff. Look, Scream, there it is. Ka-ching. It’s easy, it works. It’s a f***ing guy in a mask going around with a big knife chopping up teenagers.
Scream’s meta deconstruction of the genre was a big hit with audiences, leading to a series of sequels and copycat movies. While the 1980s gave rise to a number of horror icons like Freddy, Jason and Pinhead, their franchises struggled to find a foothold with audiences following the success of Scream, with later sequels and reboots often disappointing fans and failing to relaunch their respective series.
There’s been talk of a Hellraiser reboot for at least a decade now, and while interesting filmmakers have been attached and Clive Barker himself wrote a screenplay for it, it’s never come together. In fact, the last two movies were put into production so the studio could hold on to the franchise rights. By all accounts Judgment is something of a return to form, with Tunnicliffe’s new additions to the series mythology receiving good reviews.
There are currently no plans for another movie, but with horror being a hot genre and the forthcoming Halloween sequel/reboot getting fans excited, maybe Pinhead will get another shot at big-screen stardom in a proper Hellraiser reboot.
More: Hellraiser: Judgment Star Says Pinhead Is ‘Bored’
Hellraiser: Judgment is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download.
Source: Comic Book