In yesterday's Last Horror Blog I lamented the news that Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer were no longer the ones working on a remake of Hellraiser. Oddly enough my sadness comes not because I think Lussier and Farmer were the only two people on the planet who could usher in a new return to glory for Clive Barker's most influential contribution to cinema, but because I would much rather see two stalwart champions of R-rated horror moves be Pinhead's ward than, well, anyone who is going to deliver exactly what Dimension wants: a PG-13-rated Hellraiser.*
Anyways, unless Bob Weinstein has a change of heart, we'll never see what Lussier and Farmer had planned for the franchise. However, we can get a small, conceptual glimpse into the direction they were headed thanks to character designs from Gary J. Tunnicliffe. Shock Till You Drop has the exclusive on the artwork, so do head over there to see all three characters in full, but, as a big, big fan of Cliver Barker's Hellraiser, I do want to offer up some thoughts on what could have been.
I quite like the design for Pinhead for two reasons. First, it gives some practicality to why the leader of the Cenobites actually has pins in his head. No longer are they just there, the inexplicable remnants of some tribal pain-endurance ritual, but they're now a part of an outfit that looks like a walking Iron Maiden suit, ready to inflict pain (or pleasure) every time he moves. It makes Pinhead look stoic and reserved, which is what he should be. And the other reason I like it is because he actually looks like a personality who slipped in from another dimension. I wish I could say the same for the other two designs.
Both the other female and male Cenobites look like Mortal Kombat characters. Specifically, they look like futuristic versions of Sindel and Kabal. But the problem with those two designs isn't that they look vaguely familiar, it's that they look... casual. Less so for the male, considering he has skinning tools for hands, but they lack that darkly regal, from-a-higher-plane-of-consciousness aesthetic. Cenobites, at least if they're going to stick to the motives Barker outlined in the first Hellraiser film, shouldn't look loose; they should look meticulously put together, like every inch of them is the result of eons of sadomasochistic odyssey. Pinhead has that look, but the other two don't.
Of course, it's not fair to judge the character designs without knowing exactly how Lussier and Farmer were actually going to frame their world, but I do always find it fascinating to see the planning stages for movies that almost were. I'd have loved to see how all these puzzle pieces fit together (and I'd really love to see if there were any designs for The Lament Configuration puzzle box), but this hypothetical chapter of Hellraiser has been, for better or worse, closed shut. I just hope that Bob Weinstein doesn't turn around and ask someone else to open it. If this is what the Cenobites for a reimagined, R-rated Hellraiser look like, imagine what the PG-13 variants will devolve into. The mind boggles.
But what say you about these abandoned Cenobites? Are you sad to see them never be born?
*Hopefully some day Farmer writes up a whole post showing us exactly what could have been, like he did for his versions of Fright Night and Cowboys & Aliens.