Hellraiser (franchise)

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Hellraiser - franchise logo.png
Official franchise logo
Based onThe Hellbound Heart
by Clive Barker
Distributed by
Release date
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Hellraiser is a British-American horror media franchise that consists of eleven films, as well as various comic books, and additional merchandise and media. Based on the novella by English author Clive Barker titled The Hellbound Heart, the franchise centers around the Cenobites including the primary antagonist named Pinhead. The overall plot of the franchise focuses on a puzzle box, called the Lament Configuration, that opens a gateway to the Hell-like realm of the Cenobite lifeforms. The Cenobites are an order of former-humans turned-monsters, who harvest human souls to torture in their sadistic experiments. Barker, who created the franchise and served as writer/director of the original film, stated that he signed away the story and character rights to the production company prior to the release of the first film, not realizing the critical and financial success it would be.[1]

The franchise was rebooted with an eleventh film, which was released on Hulu in October 2022, as well as a television series continuation in development at HBO.[2][3]


Film U.S. release date Director Screenwriter(s) Story by Producer(s)
Hellraiser (1987) September 10, 1987 (1987-09-10) Clive Barker Clive Barker Christopher Figg
Hellbound: Hellraiser II December 23, 1988 (1988-12-23) Tony Randel Peter Atkins Clive Barker Christopher Figg and David Barron
Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth September 11, 1992 (1992-09-11) Anthony Hickox Peter Atkins & Tony Randel Lawrence Mortorff
Hellraiser: Bloodline March 8, 1996 (1996-03-08) Kevin Yagher Nancy Rae Stone
Hellraiser: Inferno October 3, 2000 (2000-10-03) Scott Derrickson Paul Harris Boardman & Scott Derrickson W. K. Border and Joel Soisson
Hellraiser: Hellseeker October 15, 2002 (2002-10-15) Rick Bota Carl V. Dupré & Tim Day Michael Leahy and Ron Schmidt
Hellraiser: Deader June 7, 2005 (2005-06-07) Neal Marshall Stevens & Tim Day David Greathouse and Ron Schmidt
Hellraiser: Hellworld September 6, 2005 (2005-09-06) Carl V. Dupré Joel Soisson Ron Schmidt
Hellraiser: Revelations March 18, 2011 (2011-03-18) Victor Garcia Gary J. Tunnicliffe Aaron Ockman and Joel Soisson
Hellraiser: Judgment February 13, 2018 (2018-02-13) Gary J. Tunnicliffe Michael Leahy
Hellraiser (2022) October 7, 2022 (2022-10-07) David Bruckner Ben Collins & Luke Piotrowski David S. Goyer, Ben Collins, and Luke Piotrowski David S. Goyer, Keith Levine, Clive Barker, and Marc Toberoff

Hellraiser (1987)[edit]

Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) escapes from the Cenobites when his brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) spills his own blood on the spot where Frank died after opening the 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's soul, the Cenobites still try to take Kirsty's soul as well, but solving the puzzle box, Kirsty sends the Cenobites back to Hell.[4]

Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)[edit]

Dr. Philip Channard (Kenneth Cranham) 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 earlier, 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 the 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.[5]

Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992)[edit]

The revelation of Pinhead's humanity has resulted in a schism, splitting him into two separate parts: 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 purchased 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.[6]

Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996)[edit]

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 1796, 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.[7]

Hellraiser: Inferno (2000)[edit]

Corrupt police Detective Joseph Thorne (Craig Sheffer) 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.[8]

Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002)[edit]

Kirsty Cotton and her husband, Trevor (Dean Winters), end up in a car accident that kills her. 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.[9]

Hellraiser: Deader (2005)[edit]

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.[10]

Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005)[edit]

Taking place in the "real-life 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.[11]

Hellraiser: Revelations (2011)[edit]

The ninth film in the franchise, Revelations is the first film not to feature Doug Bradley as Pinhead and was shot in two weeks for $300,000. In 2011 it was released to a single theater in California for a crew showing that was ostensibly open to the public. It was suggested by Bloody Disgusting that the film was only shot so that The Weinstein Company would not lose its filming rights before it could produce a remake of the original. The film was released on DVD on 18 October 2011.[12]

Hellraiser: Judgment (2018)[edit]

The tenth film in the franchise, it began filming in early 2016.[13] Like Revelations, it does not feature Doug Bradley as Pinhead. Bradley was offered the part but turned it down because the production company refused to let him read the script without signing a non-disclosure agreement regarding its contents.[14] This film was released on DVD in February 2018.

Hellraiser (2022)[edit]

In October 2006, Clive Barker announced on his official website that he would be writing the script for a forthcoming remake of the original Hellraiser film, which was to be produced by Dimension Films.[15][16] Pascal Laugier was hired as director,[17][18] before ultimately dropping out of the production due to creative differences.[19][20] Laugier reportedly wanted the film to have a dark and serious tone, while producers wanted the target audience to be teenagers.[21]

In October 2010, Patrick Lussier was hired to serve as director on a reboot of the Hellraiser franchise, with a script written by Todd Farmer. The film's story would have differed from the original film, as the creative team did not want to retell the same story. The story was intended to center on the world, and functions of the puzzle box. By 2011 however, the pair had dropped out of the project.[22][23] In October 2013, Clive Barker was once again attached to the next Hellraiser film. Barker was hired to serve as writer/director, while Doug Bradley was announced to reprise his role as Pinhead.[24] By 2014, Barker stated that he had completed a second draft for the script, stating that he may not serve as director on the project. The story was described as a "very loose" remake of the original film.[25] In March 2017, the filmmaker stated that the "script was written and delivered to Dimension years ago". He acknowledged that the franchise is now looking at adapting a sequel, instead.[26]

Inspired by the success of the Halloween (2018) from Universal Pictures, Miramax Films announced plans to adapt future installments in the Hellraiser franchise.[27] In May 2019, Gary Barber stated that Spyglass Media Group will develop the next film in the franchise, described as a reboot. David S. Goyer will serve as writer and producer.[28][29] By April 2020, David Bruckner was hired as director, from a script he co-wrote with Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski.[30] Later in October, Jamie Clayton was cast as Pinhead.[31] The film was released as a Hulu Original Film, exclusively via streaming on Hulu on October 7, 2022.[32][2]


In April 2020, a television series adaptation of the franchise was announced to be in development. Mark Verheiden and Michael Dougherty will serve as the main writers, while David Gordon Green will serve as director on several of the episodes. The series will serve as "an elevated continuation and expansion" of the film series. Verheiden, Dougherty, and Green will serve as executive producers, alongside Danny McBride, Jody Hill, Brandon James, and Roy Lee. The project will be a joint-venture production between HBO, Rough House Pictures and Vertigo Entertainment.[3] Later in October, Clive Barker joined the series as an executive producer.[33]

Prose works[edit]

Follow-up works by Clive Barker[edit]

The Scarlet Gospels, a novel-length sequel to The Hellbound Heart also featuring Barker's recurring Harry D'Amour character, was released in 2015. Hellraiser: The Toll, set before The Scarlet Gospels and after The Hellbound Heart, was written by Mark Alan Miller and published by Subterranean Press in February 2018.[34][35][36]

Works by other writers[edit]

Hellbound Hearts, an anthology coedited by Paul Kane and Marie O'Regan was released on 29 September 2009.[37] It had a cover painted by Barker and included a reprint of "Wordsworth", a short comic by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean originally printed in Epic Comics' Hellraiser comic book. Paul Kane alone authored Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell, a 2016 crossover with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.[38]


Epic Comics[edit]

Epic Comics, a more adult imprint of Marvel Comics, began publishing series of comic book spin-offs for the Hellraiser franchise in a prestige format. Epic's title, entitled simply Hellraiser, had Clive Barker acting as a consultant for the comics. These included "Wordsworth", written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Gaiman's frequent collaborator Dave McKean. 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.[39] 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:[40][41][42]

Name Years Published Issues
Hellraiser 1989–1992 #1–20
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 1993–1994 #1–6
Pinhead vs. Marshal Law: Law in Hell 1993 #1–2
Clive Barker's The Harrowers 1993–1994 #1–6
Clive Barker's Hellbreed 1994 #1–3
Hellraiser: Spring Slaughter 1994 #1

Boom! Studios[edit]

In March 2011 Boom! Studios commenced a new Hellraiser series, written by Clive Barker and Christopher Monfette. Separately, reprints of selected Epic Comics stories appeared under the title of Hellraiser Masterpieces.[43][44] The following series were released by Boom! Studios:[45]

Name Years Published Issues
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

Seraphim Inc.[edit]

Seraphim Incorporated, a graphic novel imprint headed by Clive Barker, began publishing a series of original graphic novels titled Hellraiser: Anthology in 2017. They are collections of stories taking place within the Hellraiser universe hailing from various creators, including Barker himself.

Name Years Published Issues
Hellraiser: Anthology – Volume 1[46] 2017 1 TPB
Hellraiser: Anthology – Volume 2[47] 2017 1 TPB

Non-fiction works[edit]

There have been two non-fiction books released that chronicle the Hellraiser films. 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.[48] 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.[49] 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.[50]

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.[51]

Cancelled projects[edit]


In an interview, Doug Bradley stated that in 2002 Dimension Films received two scripts for a crossover featuring both Pinhead and Michael Myers, the antagonist of the Halloween series. One of the pitches involved Michael Myers opening the Lament Configuration as a child and being possessed by Samhain fleeing from Hell, and the Cenobites pursuing him in the present day. Although Dimension Films initially turned the project down because it believed the upcoming film Freddy vs. Jason would fail, the studio reconsidered after it grossed $114 million on a $30 million budget. According to Bradley, Clive Barker intended to return to write a screenplay while John Carpenter was being considered to direct. The project ultimately ended when Halloween's producer Moustapha Akkad rejected the idea and due to a negative response from the fans of both franchises.[52][53][54][55]

Inspired by the success of the slasher film Freddy vs. Jason, Miramax contemplated a crossover between Hellraiser and Candyman. Barker, originator of both franchises, recommended against the idea.[56]

Separately in 2002, Hellboy co-writer Peter Briggs was approached by Dimension Films to pitch a continuation to the franchise, to be called Hellraiser: Lament. His treatment, judged by Dimension Films to be "too expensive", concerned the mining town of Lament and the creation of the original puzzle boxes. The story would then have flashed forward to the present day and an attempt for Leviathan to break through into our world.[57]

Video games[edit]

Super 3D Noah's Ark originated as a Hellraiser license for the Nintendo Entertainment System. During the course of its development, the game's abandoned the Hellraiser license and converted it into a simplified game based on the Bible.[58]

Prior to the release of Bloodline, Magnet Interactive Studios developed an unrelated and ultimately unreleased video game called Hellraiser: Virtual Hell. Bradley acted in the game during filming of Bloodline.[59] Miriam Van Scott, writing in the Encyclopedia of Hell, called it "a slick adventure" that "truly involves the player".[60] In 2011, The Weinstein Company announced video games based on several of their franchises, including Hellraiser.[61]


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External links[edit]