Clive Barker’s Hellraiser Remake Script Review (Mild Spoilers)
The Clive Barker Podcast wants to let everyone know that this script isn’t being made available to the public. We hope you all understand this.
Here’s a question I often ponder: Does the world really need a Hellraiser remake? The original film is perfect and was a product of inventive storytelling that touched on taboo ideas like no other film has done before. It remains to many horror fans an all time classic. So why bother remaking it?
There have been many attempts to get a remake off the ground with various treatments submitted to Dimension Films over the years. Thankfully, most of them were rejected for being god awful forcing the company to get franchise originator Clive Barker—for the second time I might add—on board the project to write a script. At the present time I’m not sure what the status is on the remake, but after reading this draft, I’m pleased to report that Clive’s new take would keep faithful fans engaged, while also bringing in a whole new legion of fans. The core Barker elements are in place here as well as an interesting twist in the established mythology.
A twist that only Clive Barker could pull off.
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. 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.
With this opening prologue, Barker introduces fresh elements into the story, especially involving Pinhead. He also goes right for the gullet and isn’t shy with the red stuff in some of these scenes. Besides, the Hellraiser franchise has never been ashamed of letting the blood flow.
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. This pleases Julia immensely, so they can continue where they left off. They’re literally out of their knickers as soon as Larry turns his back to go see the rest of the house with Kirsty. 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 (another fine gory moment) 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. This time around, Julia is much more savage in the way she dispatches her victims. She’s a much nastier character who never garners any sympathy from the reader. While Frank is still…Frank. The bastard that the reader either loves or hates.
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. There are a couple of disturbing scenes involving the creation of two cenobites (dubbed SCALPEL and BLOAT) that really bothered me. Without giving away any details, I’ll just say it involves a maternity ward and a morgue. Also, don’t expect Barker to tread familiar ground with going back to the labyrinth when a character opens the box. The box acts differently in this version, which I thought was really nice change. Also, the Hell here is more in common with Dante’s Inferno on a visual level which was another new direction I really liked.
I loved the script, but it did have some faults. There was some dialog, especially Frank’s one-liners, that were a little clunky. Those can always be changed in future drafts. I didn’t really care for Kirsty in this version of the script. She came across as a very spoiled daddy’s girl that rubbed me the wrong way. In the original, Kirsty was more independent and didn’t want her father’s help. Times have changed though, and many kids today are still living with their parents. It was also hard to read this without not picturing Ashley Laurence in the role. I’d hate to be the actress who must follow in her footsteps. I also wanted a better explanation of why Frank is so important to the Guardian of the box? A backstory that’s still confusing at this point, but like I said before, another draft or two can help fix this.
So, does the world need a remake of Hellraiser? I say yes, but only if Clive is involved. I’ve said this many times and I’ll say it again, there’s no one else that knows this world like the man that created it. If he doesn’t have a hand in the creative process, then I say don’t bother.
I think we can all agree with that.