Although the Hellraiser series of horror films has never really gone away, at least when you count terrible, VOD releases—most recently in 2018 with Hellraiser: Judgment—the series is now primed for a major comeback in the public eye. David S. Goyer was already working on a new, bigger budget Hellraiser movie for Spyglass Media Group as of last fall, but it turns out he’s not alone. HBO is also jumping into the game with a Hellraiser series from Halloween reboot director David Gordon Green, and Trick ‘r Treat/Godzilla: King of the Monsters director Michael Dougherty. You’re not going to know what to do with all the Pinhead that is coming your way.
The original Hellraiser was released in 1987 and directed by author Clive Barker, who was adapting his own short novella The Hellbound Heart. Since then, the series has slogged through no fewer than 9 sequels, largely of the direct-to-video variety, as it continues to overcomplicate the mythology of Pinhead and his group of pale-faced Cenobites—essentially demonic entities that are called to the earthly plane by the puzzle box known as the Lament Configuration, where they tend to torture whoever summoned them. According to Deadline, “the idea is to create an elevated continuation and expansion of the well-established mythology,” because no horror pitch these days can avoid using the phrase “elevated.”
We should probably be expecting a show set within the Hellraiser universe, then, but bringing new characters into the fray, except for the Cenobites, who will surely appear in updated versions of their familiar forms. Expect a lot of hand-wringing from the horror fans in the audience, who will vociferously demand the presence of 65-year-old British character actor Doug Bradley in the role of Pinhead, regardless of whether he still wishes to play the role.
Still, there’s some undeniable talent attached to this HBO project. Green will bring a lot of attention to the series, especially after Halloween grossed more than $255 million worldwide. Green is currently directing further sequels Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends, as John Carpenter’s original creation is turned ever more into an ouroboros. Perhaps more exciting is the writing team of Mark Verheiden (Battlestar Galactica, Daredevil) and Michael Dougherty, with the latter having produced one of the greatest Halloween films of all time in the form of 2007’s Trick ‘r Treat. Can they do justice to Hellraiser, a series that has been languishing in low-budget hell for the last 30 years? May they receive a little visit from the Cenobites if they fail.