Way back in 2006 came the announcement that Clive Barker, Hellraiser's original director (and author of the novella, The Hellbound Heart, on which it was based) had agreed to write the screenplay for a remake for the Weinsteins. Little more was heard on that score, and the new Hellraiser then went through various iterations at Dimension before seemingly dying a death. Now however, we're back to square one, with Barker once again announcing on that he's re-opening the puzzle box. He promises the story will be re-told "with fresh intensity, honouring the first incarnation but hopefully creating an even darker and richer film".
That first incarnation, we should remember, was not all about Doug Bradley's iconic Pinhead. Hellraiser is the story of Kirsty Cotton, her father Larry, wicked stepmother Julia and psychonaut Uncle Frank. Frank comes into posession of a mysterious puzzle box that opens up a world of pain when solved, but eventually manages to escape from Hell. Long story short, he takes over Larry's body, but runs into difficulties when Kirsty finds and opens the box herself, accidentally summoning Barker's demented S&M "Cenobite" demons and making a deal with them to take Frank back with them instead of her. Pinhead is the Cenobite's leader, making an indelible impression but taking only minutes of screentime.
Pinhead isn't even in the novella, but he's nevertheless so important to the franchise as it now exists that Barker is already reassuring fans that he'll still be present onscreen, and that he'll be played, as (almost) always, by Doug Bradley. "I told the Dimension team that there could never be a Pinhead without Doug, and much to my delight Bob Weinstein agreed," he says. He also insists the new Hellraiser "will not be a film awash with CGI: I remain as passionate about the power of practical make-up effects as ever".
In between Barker in 2006 and Barker now, this remake has been in the hands of Inside directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury; Saw sequel writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton; Martyrs mentalist Pascal Laugier; The Roommate's Christian E Christiansen; and the Drive Angry / My Bloody Valentine team of Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer.
It seemed to get the most traction in that last period, but Lussier and Farmer then walked, seemingly over the notion that Dimension were aiming for a PG-13 certificate.
Barker promises now that "Dimension are purely interested in an R-rated picture", so the flaying and the skin-hooking can go ahead at full strength. As for why Barker has agreed to the project at all, it seems possible that he may have made a one-for-you-one-for-me deal of his own with the Dimension demons. He says his next film, which he intends to write and direct, will be "completely new, mingling graphic horror and eroticism to create an unrated film which will push the envelope of extreme content further than ever". Cor blimey.