Hellraiser 5: What The Abandoned Movie Sequel Would Have Been About

1 year ago

Michael Lent's original pitch for Hellraiser 5 told a very different story by drawing from Clive Barker's source material, and would surely have affected the future of the movie franchise, but the project was wholly abandoned.

Clive Barker is a master of horror, and while he’s responsible for dozens of iconic stories, his name has practically become synonymous with the Hellraiser franchise. These movies differ from more standard horror offerings due to their stark, disturbing imagery and complicated relationship with pain, pleasure, and obsession. Arguably Clive Barker’s masterpiece, the Hellraiser franchise has spawned into ten films; the quality of the sequels suffer from diminishing returns that dilute the atmospheric dread of the initial movies.

Hellraiser 5 was the first direct-to-video effort in the franchise. At the time, Miramax was having difficulty figuring out the best angle for Pinhead and his gluttonous Cenobites. Many pitches were considered, with Sinister director Scott Derrickson ultimately going on to create the fifth installment, Inferno. Hellraiser: Hellseeker—the sixth movie—was helmed by Rick Bota. However, per Bloody Disgusting, Michael Lent also crafted a Hellraiser screenplay that could have helped bring the horror series back to its roots.https://i0.wp.com/storage.waploaded.com/images/b4c3f86682e555ae68bf2a24f5a9f49d.jpg

Screenwriter Michael Lent’s approach for his sequel, Hellraiser: The Hellseeker, went back to Barker’s source material, The Hellbound Heart for inspiration. Lent wanted to explore the themes that made the premise so powerful, such as the relationships between the characters and the fact that Hellraiser is really a twisted love story at its core. Lent’s sequel idea began with a fire that claims dozens of lives, but leaves a sole survivor. This John Doe (later named Miller Rix) doesn’t remember who he is or anything from the incident. Miller’s recovery reveals various connections to Pinhead and the Cenobites, including a fragment from a Cenobite slaw that’s found in his body. Miller and his doctor slowly fall in love, and he progressively regains his memories. This is a double-edged sword for Miller since his past both helps him and literally condemns him—the Cenobites cannot claim his soul until after he remembers who he is. Lent’s script ultimately hinges on a high-tech video game that operates as a portal to Hell and claims its users as sacrifices to bring about Hell on Earth.

This sequel got weeks away from production, but fell apart. The project’s director, Doug Aarniokoski, got busy with another film, and there was a change of guard at Miramax. This resulted in Lent’s The Hellseeker shifting from Hellraiser 5 to Hellraiser 6. Then, it didn't happen at all. This saw Derrickson’s sequel move up to become the next film in the franchise, which was a blessing in disguise. Hellraiser: Inferno is a surprisingly adept Hellraiser sequel that helped keep interest in the franchise and Pinhead going. The psychologically rich ideas that Derrickson played around with tell a deeper story than what Lent would have accomplished. It's more appropriate to compare Lent’s sequel idea to Hellraiser 6, which features the same basic premise of an injured man in search of his memories, but explores it in a very different way.

Hellseeker doesn’t just bring back Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) from the original movies, but it goes for an unexpected twist ending that riffs on Jacob’s Ladder. Inferno also blurs the lines between fantasy and reality, but it’s a much headier story about corruption and redemption that feels more within the wheelhouse of someone like David Lynch or a Silent Hill video game. Lent’s angle poses some interesting ideas, but the released Hellraiser: Hellseeker still feels like a deeper pitch. Lent’s take definitely prioritizes the human relationships and emotions involved with Barker's universe, but his fixation on technology and the video game industry feel deeply entrenched in the early 2000s. Despite how Lent’s Hellraiser sequel didn’t come together, he’s vocalized his interest in returning to the series. Now that Hellraiser has both a movie reboot and a TV show on the way, it’s very possible that this desire could not only become a

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