Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #877: Raise A Little TV Hell

Sonar Entertainment (formerly RHI Productions) has announced that they have begun development of a TV series based on the Hellraiser franchise.

Now if you're not familiar with the Hellraiser movies it all started out as a short story by Clive Barker called The Hellbound Heart.  Barker wrote and directed the movie version and it was a simple story of a puzzle box that opens doors to other dimensions, pretty much all of them unpleasant.  One door lets in the Cenobites, horribly scarred denizens of an S&M themed hell dimension, led by a being the fans quickly dubbed Pinhead.  

When the Cenobites show up, the real fun begins.

The film became a cult hit, spawning 3 theatrically released sequels and 5 direct to video sequels that creator Barker had nothing to do with.  The theatrical releases earned somewhere around $48,526,609 at the box office all together, no one outside the companies know exactly what the direct to video sequels earned.

The question that faces us now is: Will this franchise work as a television series?

To answer that question we need to look at the PROS & CONS!


1. FAMILIARITY:  The franchise does have a small but dedicated cult of fans, and Pinhead is a member of the lower ranks of the pantheon of instantly recognizable movie monsters.  So there is something to work with there.


1. FAMILIARITY:  That small but dedicated cult of fans have become familiar with the Hellraiser related projects getting worse and worse as they go along.  When the Weinstein's Dimension Films controlled the franchise they became notorious for just slapping Pinhead into pre-existing movies just so they could call it a Hellraiser movie.  Their last attempt was such a creative abortion that author Clive Barker posted these tweets about it:

In fact, the last sequel was done by the Weinsteins pretty much as a way to hold onto the rights to the franchise and keep Clive Barker and his allies from doing a long planned remake of the first film.

So a lot of the fans of the original movie, actively resent the franchise, and assume that any continuation will be its own kind of hell.

2. STORY:  The key to a successful franchise is a premise that is open to multiple stories, and characters that are interesting enough to maintain the audience's affection.

The one character at the center of the franchise is Pinhead.  In the beginning he was terrifying because he was extremely enigmatic.  As the franchise went on, they felt that they needed to bring up more back story for him, and the more they made him a "character" the less scary he became.  Another factor was that since there was no central creative voice behind the franchise, and the people producing it didn't give a tinker's cuss about its quality, the nature of that character went in different directions in every film.

That leaves them with two potential premises:
A) Making Pinhead some sort of supernatural super-villain that has to be foiled by the show's heroes each and every week. 

B) Making the show some sort of semi-anthology format that follows different characters and their encounters with Pinhead and the magic puzzle box.

Both premises have the potential for extreme repetition.  The first looks like it would always end with Pinhead's apparent defeat, but knowing full well he'll be back in the next episode.  The second would always have the "surprise, you're in hell" ending as if it was some sort of twist.

Neither look like they have legs for any sort of long running series.

So if you want my opinion, when someone asks about Hellraiser, I'd have to say "Hell no."


  1. Are the Weinsteins involved with this and the just announced Platinum Dunes Halloween?

  2. They're not mentioned in the Hellraiser press material. I assume they probably sold the rights to Sonar & Panacea productions. As for the Halloween, I don't know.