Hellraiser is a British horror franchise that consists of ten films, a series of comic books, and additional merchandise and media. The franchise is based on the novella The Hellbound Heart by English author Clive Barker, who would go on to write and direct the adaptation of his story, titled Hellraiser. The films, as well as the comic book series, continually feature the Cenobite Pinhead.
The series’ storyline focuses on a puzzle box that opens a gateway to the Hell-like realm of the Cenobites, an order of formerly human monsters who harvest human souls to torture in sadomasochistic experiments. Although Clive Barker wrote the original story, and also wrote and directed the first film, he has not written or directed any of the succeeding sequels. Barker stated in an appearance on Loveline that he signed away the story and character rights to the production company before the first film, not realizing what a great success it would be.
In the original Hellraiser (1987), Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) escapes from the Cenobites when his brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) spills his own blood on the spot where Frank died opening a puzzle box that opened a gateway to the Cenobites. With the help of Larry's wife Julia (Clare Higgins), Frank begins regenerating his body with the blood of victims that Julia supplies him. Larry's daughter, Kirsty (Ashley Laurence), accidentally unleashes the Cenobites, but makes a deal to deliver Frank to them in exchange for her own life. After taking Frank, the Cenobites go back on their deal and try and take Kirsty as well. Solving the puzzle box, Kirsty sends the Cenobites back to Hell.
In 1988, a sequel titled Hellbound: Hellraiser II follows Dr. Philip Channard (Kenneth Cranham) as he resurrects Julia, who was stuck in Hell with the Cenobites. Kirsty is pulled back into the Cenobite world, where the demons decide to keep her, but, having discovered the human identity of the Cenobites early, Kirsty appeals to their latent humanity, specifically the Cenobite leader Pinhead (Doug Bradley). Pinhead decides to release her, but he and his followers are killed by Channard, who has become a Cenobite himself. With help of a teenage girl, Tiffany (Imogen Boorman), who unknowingly assisted Channard in opening the box, Kirsty and Tiffany escape the Cenobite world and close the gateway behind them.
In Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992), the revelation of Pinhead's humanity has resulted in a schism, splitting him in two—his human self, World War I veteran Elliot Spencer, and Pinhead, now a living embodiment of Spencer's id. While Spencer is trapped in limbo, Pinhead is trapped, along with the puzzle box, in the surface of an intricately carved pillar, a relic of the Cenobite realm. The pillar is found by a night club owner, J.P. Monroe (Kevin Bernhardt), who begins assisting Pinhead in his resurrection. A television reporter, Joey Summerskill (Terry Farrell), begins to learn about Pinhead and the puzzle box, which leads her to Monroe's night club. Pinhead is eventually resurrected, and begins creating new Cenobite followers in an effort to establish Hell on Earth. Joey manages to reunite Spencer and Pinhead, fusing them back into one entity, and is able to use the puzzle box to send Pinhead back to his dimension; afterward, Joey submerges the box into freshly laid cement at a construction site.
Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996) tells the story of the creator of the puzzle box, referred to as the Lament Configuration. A toymaker named Philip Lemarchand (Bruce Ramsay) is commissioned by the Duc de L'Isle (Mickey Cottrell), a wealthy Aristocrat and master of the dark arts, to create the box as a gateway to Hell so that de L'Isle can enslave a demon. Beginning in the distant future, and tracing the history of the box from its creation in 1784, Bloodline shows how the Lemarchand family attempts to close the box forever after learning what L'Isle uses it for. Eventually, Dr. Paul Merchant creates the Elysium Configuration, a space station capable of closing the gateway for good, and he traps Pinhead inside and destroys him and the box.
Hellraiser: Inferno (2000), the first of the succeeding sequels to be direct-to-video, follows corrupt police Detective Joseph Thorne (Craig Sheffer) as he discovers the puzzle box while investigating a series of ritualistic murders. As time goes on he begins to uncover clues that suggest that he is the killer. Eventually, Pinhead appears and informs Thorne that the events of the movie have been transpiring in Thorne's own personal Hell, and that he will be reliving the same series of events for eternity.
In Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002), Ashley Laurence returns to play Kirsty Cotton. In the opening moments, she and her husband, Trevor (Dean Winters), end up in a car accident that kills Kirsty. One month later, Trevor wakes up in a hospital, but because of a head injury, his memory is uncertain and he cannot distinguish between fantasy and reality. As he begins to uncover evidence that he was having a series of affairs, he also comes under suspicion for orchestrating the crash that killed his wife. Pinhead appears in the end, and informs Trevor that he was the one that died in the car crash: his own plot to murder Kirsty for her inheritance backfired when Kirsty offered the Cenobites the lives of Trevor, his mistresses and his co-conspirators in exchange for her own.
In Hellraiser: Deader (2005), reporter Amy Klein (Kari Wuhrer) is sent to Bucharest to investigate an underground suicide cult founded by a descendant of Philip Lemarchand, who claims to be able to bring back the dead and who believes that it is his birthright to open the puzzle box and control the Cenobites. She is gradually drawn into their world and eventually sees no way out other than to join them. In the end she opens the puzzle box, summoning up Pinhead and the Cenobites, who kill everyone for attempting to invade their world. To prevent Pinhead from taking her soul, Amy kills herself.
Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005) is set in the "real world," in which the Hellraiser franchise has spawned a successful MMORPG. Five friends mourning the death of one of their fellow players—who committed suicide after becoming obsessed with the game—receive in-game invitations to a party at the Leviathan House. At the house, the host of the party (Lance Henriksen) takes them on a tour of the many layers of the home, after which they are picked off one-by-one by the host or Pinhead. The final two victims ultimately realize that most of the events of the movie have been a hallucination, after the host—the father of their deceased friend, who blames his son's fellow players for not breaking his addiction to the game—drugged them and buried them alive. The police rescue the surviving teenagers, Chelsea (Katheryn Winnick) and Jake (Christopher Jacot), while the host escapes to a decrepit motel with a suitcase of his son's belongings. The host discovers a real puzzle box inside, and upon opening it is killed by Pinhead and a pair of Cenobites.
In 2011, a ninth film was released to a single theater in California for a crew showing that was ostensibly open to the public. Hellraiser: Revelations is the first film not to feature Doug Bradley as Pinhead and was shot in two weeks for $300,000. It was suggested by Bloody Disgusting that the film was only shot so that The Weinstein Company would not lose its rights to the franchise before it could produce a more profitable remake of the original. The film was released on DVD on 18 October 2011.
|Hellraiser (1987)||Clive Barker||Christopher Figg|
|Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)||Tony Randel||Peter Atkins|
|Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992)||Anthony Hickox||Christopher Figg & Lawrence Mortorff|
|Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)||Kevin Yagher / Alan Smithee||Nancy Rae Stone|
|Hellraiser: Inferno (2000)||Scott Derrickson||Paul Harris Boardman & Scott Derrickson||W.K. Border & Joel Soisson|
|Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002)||Rick Bota||Carl Dupre & Tim Day||Mike Leahy & Ron Schmidt|
|Hellraiser: Deader (2005)||Neal Marshall Stevens & Tim Day||David Greathouse & Ron Schmidt|
|Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005)||Carl Dupre||Ron Schmidt|
|Hellraiser: Revelations (2011)||Victor García||Gary J. Tunnicliffe||Aaron Ockman & Joel Soisson|
|Hellraiser: Judgment (2017)||Gary J. Tunnicliffe|
When comparing the Hellraiser film series with the other top-grossing horror franchises—A Nightmare on Elm Street, Child's Play, Friday the 13th, Halloween, Saw, Scream, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre—and adjusting for the 2008 inflation, Hellraiser is the lowest grossing horror franchise in the United States, at approximately $84 million. The Hellraiser series is surpassed by Friday the 13th, which tops the list at $614 million. The Hannibal Lecter film series follows closely with $573 million, A Nightmare on Elm Street with $522 million, Halloween with $517 million, Scream with $400 million, Saw with $378 million, Psycho with $371 million, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with $315 million, and the Child's Play film series rounding out the list with approximately $200 million. It should be noted that only four of the nine Hellraiser films were released theatrically, with the remaining sequels going direct-to-video.
|Film||Release date||Budget||Box office revenue||Reference|
|Hellraiser||18 September 1987||$1,000,000||$14,564,027|||
|Hellbound: Hellraiser II||23 December 1988||$12,090,735|||
|Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth||11 September 1992||$12,534,961|||
|Hellraiser: Bloodline||8 March 1996||$4,000,000||$16,675,000|||
|Hellraiser: Inferno||3 October 2000|
|Hellraiser: Hellseeker||15 October 2002|
|Hellraiser: Deader||7 June 2005|
|Hellraiser: Hellworld||6 September 2005|
|Hellraiser: Revelations||18 March 2011|
|Hellraiser film series||$55,864,723|
- A dark grey cell indicates the information isn't available for the film.
A tenth film, Hellraiser: Judgment, began filming in early 2016. Like Revelations, it will not feature Doug Bradley as Pinhead, the actor having turned the role down due to the production company's refusal to allow him to read the film's script unless he signed a non-disclosure agreement regarding its contents.
Dimension Films' remake of Hellraiser was originally announced in November 2006. In October 2006, Barker announced through his official website that he will be writing the script to a forthcoming remake of the original Hellraiser film. French director Pascal Laugier was set to direct the film but was later taken off the project due to creative differences with the producers; Laugier wanted his film to be a very serious take whereas the producers wanted the film to be more commercial and appeal to a teen audience.
On 20 October 2010, it was officially announced that Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer were to direct and write, respectively, the reboot of the Hellraiser franchise. The film's story would differ from the original film, as Lussier and Farmer did not want to retell the original story out of respect for Clive Barker's work. The film was to instead focus on the world and function of the puzzle box. However, in 2011, Farmer confirmed that both he and Lussier were no longer attached to the project. In October 2013, Clive Barker announced that he will be directing and writing the reboot with actor Doug Bradley attached to play Pinhead yet again. In October 2014, Barker stated that a second draft of the script was completed and described the reboot as a “very loose” remake of his original film and stated that he may not direct the film. On 18 March 2017, Clive Barker elaborated on the status of the film: "The script was written and delivered to Dimension years ago. That was the last anyone heard until news of a sequel surfaced."
The Hellraiser Saga
On 28 January 2010, Camelot Entertainment Group, Inc. announced that the distributor was working on Unearthed: The Hellraiser Saga, a documentary on the franchise. It will be directed by Stefan Hutchinson and written by Ryan Rotten.
An anthology book consisting of twenty-one stories and entitled Hellbound Hearts was released on 29 September 2009. The Scarlet Gospels - a sequel to Barker's previous novella The Hellbound Heart and his canon of Harry D'Amour stories - was released in 2015.
Immediately following the success of the 1987 movie Hellraiser several comics series began to be released.
Epic Comics, an imprint of Marvel Comics, began publishing series of comic book spin-offs for the Hellraiser franchise. The comics contained a set of short stories, with Clive Barker acting as a consultant on all of the comics. Between 1989 and 1992, Epic published twenty regular series comics. They also published three special issues from 1992 to 1994, one being a holiday special, in addition to an adaptation of Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth and a collection of the first two issues. Other releases included the limited series Clive Barker's Book of the Damned and Pinhead, as well as the crossovers Hellraiser vs. Nightbreed: Jihad and Pinhead vs. Marshal Law: Law in Hell. The following series were released by Epic Comics:
|Clive Barker's Book of the Damned: A Hellraiser Companion||1991-1993||#1-4|
|Hellraiser vs. Nightbreed - Jihad||1991||#1-2|
|Epic Book One||1992||#1|
|Hellraiser (collected book)||1992||#1|
|Hellraiser III (film adaptation)||1992||#1|
|Hellraiser: Summer Special||1992||#1|
|Hellraiser: Holiday Special||1992||#1|
|Pinhead vs. Marshal Law||1993||#1-2|
|Clive Barker's The Harrowers||1993-1994||#1-6|
|Clive Barker's Hellbreed||1994||#1-3|
|Hellraiser: Spring Slaughter||1994||#1|
In December, 2010, Boom! Studios announced they would be publishing a new Hellraiser miniseries, written by Clive Barker and Christopher Monfette, beginning March 2011, and would also be reprinting select Epic Comics under the title Hellraiser: Masterworks. The following series were released by Boom! Studios:
|Hellraiser||2011-2012||#1-20, 5 TPBs|
|Hellraiser: Masterpieces||2011||#1-12, 2 TPBs|
|Hellraiser: The Road Below||2012||#1-4, 1 TPB|
|Hellraiser: The Dark Watch||2013-2014||#1-12, 3 TPBs|
|Hellraiser: Bestiary||2014-2015||#1-6, 1 TPB|
There have been two non-fiction books released that chronicle the Hellraiser franchise. The first, released on 21 May 2004, was published by Titan Books and titled The Hellraiser Chronicles. Written by Peter Atkins and Stephen Jones, with a foreword by Clive Barker, The Hellraiser Chronicles is a collection of production photographs, design sketches, excerpts from the scripts, and interviews with the cast and crew. The next book, The Hellraiser Films And Their Legacy, was released by McFarland & Company on 27 November 2006; it was written by Paul Kane, and features foreword by Pinhead actor Doug Bradley. Hellraiser Films collects the production history of all eight films, their spin-offs, as well as how the series relates to popular culture. The book provides an in-depth look at the film characters, and interpretations of the choices those characters make in the film. Hellraiser Films also provides a brief look at the fan short film No More Souls.
A feature-length documentary, Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II, was originally due for release in 2015, and comprises interviews with the cast and crew. It is being directed by K. John McDonagh and produced by Cult Film Screenings, based in Birmingham, who used Kickstarter to raise the funds necessary to conduct further interviews in the United States, although Clive Barker pulled out at the last minute due to ill health.
Super 3D Noah's Ark began as a Hellraiser license for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The team eventually abandoned the Hellraiser license and converted it into a simplistic Bible-based game. Prior to the release of Bloodline, Magnet Interactive Studios developed an unrelated video game called Hellraiser: Virtual Hell. Bradley acted in the game during filming of Bloodline. Miriam Van Scott, writing in the Encyclopedia of Hell, called it "a slick adventure" that "truly involves the player". In 2011, The Weinstein Company announced video games based on several of their franchises, including Hellraiser.
Katie Rife of The A.V. Club wrote that the Hellraiser films intentionally alienate casual viewers and instead appeal to the type of fan she compares to a "humorless art student" who prefers dark poetry to the more fraternity-oriented slasher films. Continuing the metaphor, Rife wrote, "Even when its ambition exceeds its budget—which is often—it's trying to say something with its occult art projects."
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