For a few years now, the most notable stories revolving around several iconic 1980s horror movie franchises have been legal ones. Most prominent has been the protracted battle between writer Victor Miller and director Sean Cunningham for the fate of Friday the 13th, complicated by the fact that the rights to the first film wouldn’t actually include adult, hockey masked Jason Voorhees. But at the same time, author-director Clive Barker has been trying for years to reclaim the writes to his most famous creation, and now he appears to have succeeded—Hellraiser will be back in Barker’s hands in 2021.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Barker sent a notice of termination to producers in order to regain rights to his novella The Hellbound Heart and the original Hellraiser from 1987, which Barker wrote and directed himself. THR goes on to report that this effort was successful, as a settlement was made that will return the rights to Barker next year. Specifically they say the following: “On Monday, his attorney filed papers in California federal court confirming a settlement with Park Avenue Entertainment, the production company that’s currently enjoying rights to a film about a woman under the sway of a resurrected former lover.”
“A woman under the sway of a resurrected former lover” is an … interestingly concise way of summarizing Hellraiser, we’ll give them that. We’d more thoroughly describe the film as a saga of deeply unhealthy infatuation, lust, sex and possession, in which a young woman accidentally calls on the powers of hell in an effort to put a stop to her evil uncle’s resurrection. The demonic Cenobites, led by Pinhead (Doug Bradley), became the film’s most recognizable characters, and they’re central to a procession of increasingly terrible sequels that have continued unabated for the last few decades. Barker had no involvement in said sequels, although his more recent returns to the Cenobites in fiction weren’t particularly well received either.
Regardless, the court ruling will mean that future projects related to Hellraiser must be approved by Barker, and there are already a few coming down the pipe that he’s apparently given his blessing too—both with bigger budget and more prestigious filmmakers than the series has seen since its beginning.
Most prominently, there’s a Hellraiser series in the works at HBO, which Barker has recently signed onto as an executive producer. That series, which will presumably get a lavish treatment, will have a pilot directed by David Gordon Green of the last few Halloween sequels, along with episodes written by Michael Dougherty of Trick ‘r Treat and Krampus. Meanwhile, a Hellraiser feature film is also supposedly in the works, to be directed by David Bruckner of Southbound and The Ritual. It’s been a while since there’s been more information on that feature project, but perhaps with the issues of rights cleared up we’ll hear some more soon.
Regardless, it seems safe to say that Pinhead will be back, sooner rather than later. And he’ll have such sights to show you.