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Clive Barker's Dark Worlds Authors On The Enduring Appeal Of Hellraiser - Exclusive

Just over 35 years after the release of horror icon Clive Barker's original "Hellraiser" film, Pinhead and his fellow Cenobites are back in a reimagined version of Barker's tale in a new movie on Hulu. Based on Barker's classic 1986 novella "The Hellbound Heart," the original 1987 big-screen adaptation of the story, renamed "Hellraiser," was scripted and directed by the best-selling author, marking the beginning of one of modern horror's most enduring tales.

Among the countless fans mesmerized by Barker's novella and subsequent film — among his other works — were Phil and Sarah Stokes, who created the website Revelations in the late 1990s and eventually became Barker's archivists. Now, perfectly timed around the 35th anniversary of the original "Hellraiser," its new reimagining, and Barker's 70th birthday on October 5, is the upcoming release of "Clive Barker's Dark Worlds" (Abrams Books). In the 352-page chronicle authored by the Stokes, the tome looks back in meticulous detail on multiple areas of Barker's illustrious career, including his books, short stories, personal notes, and poetry, as well as his film and stage work, sketches, painting, photography, and Marvel comic book line.

At the center of 1987's "Hellraiser" is a mystical puzzle box, also known as the Lament Configuration. When a person solves it, the puzzle box is supposed to open a gateway to sensual pleasure — but instead, they land in a dimension inhabited by hellish beings known as the Cenobites, who are incapable of distinguishing the difference between pleasure and pain. Starring Andrew Robinson, Claire Higgins, Ashley Laurence, and Doug Bradley (who plays the Cenobite leader known as Pinhead), "Hellraiser" spawned nine sequels since its big screen inception. In the new version of "Hellraiser," Barker serves as a producer.

The Stokes reflected on the enduring appeal of Barker's original "Hellraiser" in an exclusive interview with Looper.

Hellraiser's success is all rooted in Clive Barker's powerful story, Phil and Sarah Stokes say

Reflecting on why the original "Hellraiser" still holds audiences spellbound to this day, Phil and Sarah Stokes said it simply comes down to Barker's power over the written word. "You can't beat a good story. The best films, the films that we remember, [and] the films that endure in our minds always have a great story," Sarah Stokes told Looper. "If you layer on top of that, the striking visuals bring such a totally different looking character onto our screens and put [them] in there quietly."

Phil Stokes agreed with Sarah about the importance of subtlety in "Hellraiser" and also noted how the film cleverly left the narrative open for interpretation. "The first film left you with more questions than answers and it didn't feel a need to tie it up in a neat ribbon," he said. "Therefore, it gave other people the jumping off point to say, 'This is a great story, but there's clearly something behind the story' ... It was a story that had multiple layers that other people could interpret, and clearly, a lot of people have interpreted it over the years."

Ultimately, Phil Stokes added, "Hellraiser" was a film that "hit a global nerve for saying, 'There are some things which might disturb and terrify you, but they are also somehow glamorous.' You want to know a little bit more, even if it's a bit dangerous. That's why it's endured."

"Clive Barker's Dark Worlds," written and compiled by Phil and Sarah Stokes, is new in stores and online October 18 from Abrams Books.