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There's Still One Major Hellraiser Story That Has Yet To Be Told On Film

It's been 35 years since Clive Barker unleashed "Hellraiser" on unsuspecting moviegoers. The horror classic, based on Barker's "The Hellbound Heart" novella, introduced horror fans to the Cenobites, the Lament Configuration, dysfunctional families, and a mythology that's complex, sophisticated, and terrifying. It's a movie that's stood the test of time, but there are more stories left to tell in this universe of debauchery and despair.

"Hellraiser" has spawned numerous sequels and a Hulu reboot that was arguably long overdue. However, while the franchise has prospered on the screen, Barker and other writers have also kept its mythos alive on the page. Some of the best "Hellraiser" tales can be found in comic books, short stories, and novels, with writers such as Neil Gaiman and the Wachowskis penning some of the better ones. But Barker is still the king, and one of his more recent "Hellraiser" stories deserves to be given the cinematic treatment.

In 2015, Barker released "The Scarlet Gospels," a novel that effectively served as a grand finale to the "Hellraiser" mythos. Now that "Hellraiser" fever is in the air once again thanks to David Bruckner's recent reimagining, the franchise has a fresh opportunity to give Pinhead's story a structured beginning, middle, and end. With that in mind, let's discuss why "The Scarlet Gospels" warrants its own adaptation down the line.

The Scarlet Gospels gave Pinhead a warrior's death

In the lead-up to "The Scarlet Gospels," Clive Barker made it clear that his plan was to kill off The Hell Priest aka Pinhead. Unhappy with the character's treatment in some of the movie sequels, the author decided that the spiky demon deserved to go out with a bang. "I want[ed] to give Pinhead a good send-off. I want[ed] to do it right. If we are going to get rid of the old guy, let's do it with some style," he told the Lost Souls Newsletter (per Clive Barker).

Indeed, Barker did give the Hell Priest an adventure for the ages in "The Scarlet Gospels." The novel sees the demon set out to destroy the world's magicians as part of a quest to obtain every known form of magic on Earth. Basically, the chief Cenobite has ambitions to become Hell's new ruler, and he isn't prepared to let anyone stand in his way.

As we'll discuss shortly, Pinhead is eventually stopped by Hell's final boss. That said, the Hell Priest's tyrannical objective and free-for-all killing spree are the elements that make "The Scarlet Gospels" interesting. Pinhead has always been restricted by rules and bureaucracy, with the exception of his slasher-style rampage in "Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth." While "The Scarlet Gospels" was envisioned as a farewell, the events that pave the way for the Hell Priest's downfall showcase him at his liveliest. This would make for one entertaining viewing experience.

The Scarlet Gospels goes all the way to Hell

The "Hellraiser" mythos presents a unique version of Hell. For example, "Hellbound: Hellraiser II" depicted the realm as a Labyrinth in which denizens are tortured by their own personal fears, all the while demons roam around dark corridors, waiting to slice. "The Scarlet Gospels" expands this vision, however, by incorporating some ideas from Judeo-Christian mythology. The novel introduces Lucifer as a character, and Barker portrays him as the fallen angel who fell from grace in biblical lore. 

In "The Scarlet Gospels," the Dark Lord never got over his exile from Heaven and proceeded to kill himself in Hell's most sacred cathedral. Upon finding Lucifer's corpse, the Hell Priest takes his armor only to unwittingly resurrect the deceased ruler. Lucifer isn't happy with Pinhead for trying to cop his swag and proceeds to put an end to the demon's reign of terror once and for all.

As noted by Gingernuts of Horror, "The Scarlet Gospels" attracted some criticism for undoing much of the mythology that was established in the "Hellraiser" movies. However, Hulu's "Hellraiser" reboot doesn't delve into the hierarchy of the Underworld, so a potential sequel could take cues from the version depicted in "The Scarlet Gospels." Alternatively, the filmmakers could take some liberties and retool Barker's novel to correspond with their own vision. The "Hellraiser" franchise is synonymous with experimentation and reinvention, after all.

The Scarlet Gospels makes the most of the Barkerverse

In an ideal world, Clive Barker's stories would be adapted as frequently as those of Stephen King. The good news, though, is that there are a couple of cinematic gems based on his nightmarish works just waiting to be rediscovered. "Lord of Illusions," released in 1995, brought the popular character Harry D'Amour to the screen. If a "Scarlet Gospels" adaptation ever materializes, D'Amour and the Hell Priest would be part of the same cinematic universe.

In "The Scarlet Gospels," the aforementioned occult detective crosses paths with Pinhead, and they don't exactly hit it off. D'Amour has a history of defeating supernatural foes, so the Hell Priest views him as a potential threat. The pair's inevitable showdown leads Harry into Hell, where he tries to put a stop to the lead Cenobite and save a friend in the process.

According to The Numbers, "Lord of Illusions" didn't fare well at the box office, dispelling any chances of a sequel ever happening. Still, D'Amour is one of Barker's most iconic creations, and enough time has passed to reintroduce him to the screen. An adaptation of "The Scarlet Gospels" could do just that, and potentially open the door to more movies about D'Amour's adventures.