Clive Barker may have created Hellraiser, but he hasn’t retained the rights to his creation since 1986. A new lawsuit is looking to change that.
For fans of Clive Barker’s novella, “The Hell-Bound Heart,” or the Hellraiser film series that used it as a jumping-off point, the last three decades have been pretty rough.
The author’s prose spawned two iconic horror films (1987’s Hellraiser and 1988’s Hellbound: Hellraiser II), but the series descended into a dubious purgatory of its own, with Dimension Films (among others) affixing Barker’s Cenobites (led by Doug Bradley’s “Pinhead”) to one unrelated script after another.
The most recent entries could charitably be called “watchable trash,” but lacking any input from Barker, are also far cries from the series’ ambitious metaphysical origins and character-driven chills.
Now, as if to underline the collective fan and franchise exhaustion, Barker has filed a lawsuit to re-acquire the rights to the Hellraiser name.
Larry Zerner (the onetime Friday the 13th Part III actor who now practices entertainment law) tweeted on June 15 about the suit:
"“…[Barker] has sued for a declaratory judgment that he can terminate his 1986 transfer and get back his rights to the “Hellraiser” [sic] franchise. Interesting note: Barker’s termination (if effective) would not take place until December 19, 2021. If the producers can get a new movie out before then, they would be legally in the clear. Just nothing new after that date.“"
Like many horror fans who’ve become jaded to the persistence of mediocrity that leads to generic franchise cash-grabs, it’s actually somewhat refreshing to see Clive Barker take matters into his own hands.
This news coincides with some interesting wrinkles in the Hellraiser universe, as a remake was recently announced.
While I would become a literal manifestation of the “Michael Jackson Popcorn” gif if the remake and TV series were rushed through the creative pipeline just to earn some quick notoriety and a few bucks, I’m just as weary at the prospect of Barker venturing back into Pinhead’s domain. Authors and filmmakers alike have created wild and vibrant worlds steeped in grotesque imagery in the Barker mold, yet those efforts remain sidelined in favor of the Hollywood recycling bin.
While we wait to see how the lawsuit pans out, you can read the full legal document here.
Are you a fan of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser? Do you want to see future adventures of Pinhead? Let us know in the comments.