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The Real Reason We Never Got To See Hellraiser: Origins

When Clive Barker wrote and directed the original Hellraiser in 1987, based on his own novella The Hellbound Heart, the movie's 1987 release instantly caught the attention of horror fans, turning it into a cult classic — and, many would argue, one of the scariest movies to date. In the eighties, when slasher flicks were being released left and right, the movie was a breath of fresh air.

Unfortunately, since then, nine sequels have spawned from the original film, and fans (for the most part) collectively agree that they haven't lived up to the first film. With every release, arguably, the Hellraiser legacy has become more tainted, with Hellraiser: Revelations being a particular low point. By then, it didn't really seem like anyone was interested in delving into the interesting themes that Hellraiser once had.

However, things (almost) changed in 2013, when Mike Le Han and Paul Gerrard took a stab at reviving the once-terrifying franchise. The two creators invested countless time and energy into a two-minute trailer, crafted as a pitch for a feature film — and when they released this trailer, titled Hellraiser: Origins, onto the internet, fan excitement was palpable.

Questions about the Hellraiser: Origins trailer were everywhere. Was this the shot in the arm the Hellraiser franchise needed? The start of a new era? Was Clive Barker involved? Were any of the original actors signed on? In reality, things didn't really get that far, and here's the real reason why Hellraiser: Origins never hit the big screen.

Hellraiser: Origins was a pitch that never got scooped up

Once the trailer hit YouTube, horror fans went into a frenzy of trying to figure out the details. While the storyline was unclear, the title hinted at a reboot or prequel of the franchise, and the visuals were unique and complex without betraying the feel of the original film. Horror sites praised Le Han and Gerrard's skills, with Jeffrey Lamar of MITNG writing, "I'd certainly hate to see this man's hard work or the work of the crew behind this trailer, go unnoticed."

Then Clive Baker Barker himself spoke up, and the project disappeared. In a since-deleted Facebook post by Barker, he claimed that he was working on a Hellraiser reboot – which really put a spin on things — but mentioned nothing about the trailer Le Han and Gerrard had released, as if it hadn't just caused a huge stir online. Barker did nothing to indicate that Le Han and Gerrard were involved with his reboot, and after this brief moment, it was as if the Hellraiser: Origins trailer never happened. Sadly enough, nearly a decade has passed, and Barker's proclamation on social media never blossomed into any new release either. So instead of either a Barker-led reboot or Hellraiser: Origins, fans have been left with zero, zilch, nada.

Will either Hellraiser reboot ever happen?

So what happened to Hellraiser: Origins? To be clear, as far as we know, it's not that Barker deliberately caused Hellraiser: Origins to be canceled — because the film itself never actually entered development, beyond the initial trailer. That video, detailed as it may have been, was just an independent pitch that the studio, sadly, chose not to pick up, for reasons that (for now) remain mysterious, but might've involved the fact that Barker was, at the time, doing his own version of a reboot — which also never materialized. 

Meanwhile, 2018 did see a new release in Hellraiser: Judgement, directed by special effects and makeup expert Gary J. Tunnicliffe, but ... well, it wasn't the worst of the bunch, but it definitely wasn't anything to write home about. 

In 2020, Variety wrote that Barker is working with HBO to develop a Hellraiser series, which allegedly will expand on the mythology rather than rebooting it.