With seemingly every week seeing the announcement of a new Stephen King adaptation, it’s clear we’re living in something of a Kingaissance (that’s a working title). If we could push a candidate for the next author to have their back-catalogue hooked up to Hollywood’s greasy milking machine, however, it would absolutely be Clive Barker.
Barker’s influence on the horror and urban fantasy genres has been profound, and his work has an icky yet alluring edge to it that has made his competition feel like Goosebumps novels. How could we possibly fail to be excited by news from Dark Side Magazine of a Clive Barker adaptation, then?
It’s a Rawhead Rex reboot – that’s how.
Even though the screenplay was written by Barker himself, the 1986 original was famously so poor that Barker felt compelled to direct his own adaptation in order to protect his reputation (thus was Hellraiser born). Regardless of recent attempts to reclaim the film, and a fantastic Blu-ray release from Arrow Video, even the most forgiving reviewer can struggle to award it that third star. As a result, the news that the original director, George Pavlou, is considering rebooting his film does not spark joy.
Despite some moments of Barker weirdness (the priest being baptised in urine is a nice touch), the original film is too straight-laced, and both the performances and the rubber-masked monster belong in a ’50s creature feature. Here’s hoping that, if the reboot ever does get off the ground, they follow Barker’s advice:
“Rawhead Rex as an idea, if you’re going to do it, you go for broke. You kill little children in it. That’s what you put on screen because that’s what’s in the book. The whole thing should have been visceral. But the interesting thing for me was that when I actually started to think about it I thought, ‘Okay, at least I know why this doesn’t work.’ So when we came to do Hellraiser, I was determined to compensate for that. And maybe the visceral qualities of Hellraiser are exacerbated…”