Despite being one of the more original and imaginative splatterpunk authors, and despite moving away from that field to concentrate more on ornate fantasy works, and despite being involved with a number of cinematic oddities (including cult favourite Candyman), Clive Barker is doomed to be known mostly for being the creative mind behind Hellraiser, one of the more unusual horror franchises to emerge from the 1980s. Although the iconic images of the movies tend to revolve around Pinhead, the pan-dimensional BDSM enthusiast who knows of no boundaries and doesn’t give two shits about your safeword, the better movies in the series don’t revolve around Pinhead as a character – instead, like Pyramid Head in Silent Hill, he’s more of a symbol and a plot element, something that pops up mostly to motivate more relatable human characters in what they get up to.
Barker walked away from the franchise long ago, and wasn’t afraid to express his distaste for the more recent entries in the series. (Of the most recent one, Hellraiser: Revelations, he said it was “NO FUCKIN’ CHILD OF MINE!” and that “If they claim it’s from the mind of Clive Barker, it’s a lie. It’s not even from my butt-hole.”) However, more recently there were reports that Barker had had some productive meetings with the head of Dimension and a Barker-helmed reboot of the series may be on the cards. Now, then, is a good time to look at the first three films of the sequence and see what there is that’s worth bringing back from them – and what we can say about Barker’s contribution to horror from their distinguishing features.