Clive Barker's Nightbreed disappeared in a storm of studio interference in 1990, and Hellraiser recently limped to an eighth DTV sequel in the absence of Dimension's all-but-abandoned remake. But both may now find new life on the small screen, with a sudden flurry of news stories suggesting that Hellraiser and Nightbreed are both now in development as TV series.
Let's deal with Nightbreed first. An extremely ambitious adaptation by Barker of his own novel Cabal, the film version was envisioned as a a spectacular cavalcade of mad creatures and monster action. Weirdly, it starred David Cronenberg as serial killing psychiatrist Dekker, and Craig Sheffer as his patient Boon, framed for his murders. Shot down by the cops, Boon is resurrected in the secret mythical city of Midian, where the monsters live, and joins them as they defend the gates of the city against the "real monsters" from the normal world.
A massive pantheon of creatures - both make-up effects and puppets - was assembled for the production, but only about a third of them made the studio Morgan Creek's final cut, which barely ran to 90 minutes. Barker's rough cut was an hour longer, and horror bible Rue Morgue recently ran an exciting story about the continuing prospect of the full version's re-assembly.
"I don't wish to be immodest, but our culture has sort of caught up with Nightbreed," Barker says, "and we're actively in conversation about doing a Nightbreed television series. The general sense is that the movie failed because people didn't want to associate with the monster. I think our culture is now more ready to embrace that ambiguity. I'm not a fan, but you've only got to look at Twilight, where obviously the monsters are the good guys and being celebrated..."
No need to worry about watered-down, sparkly Midianites though: "It will be for cable, so it will have a chance to be as sexy or as graphic in terms of the violence as we need it to be. Have you seen Spartacus? Oh my god, it redefines gruesome..."
Plans for the Hellraiser series don't currently seem to include Barker, and are coming together via Sonar Entertainment, whose CV on IMDb seems overwhelmingly to involve Bam Margera and Jackass. Larry Kupin, a honcho at New World, which in a different form was the company behind the first two Hellraiser films, will act as executive producer.
Details are scarce, and the mooted series doesn't have a home yet, but Sonar's press release promises to "thrill audiences worldwide". The statement is much concerned with Pinhead ("He will seduce you with power and tempt you with fear...") which is troubling: less is more with that guy, and the idea of him introducing each episode a la Freddy's Nightmares is also ridiculous. But, as the Hellraiser comics always proved, an anthology series could work rather well...