Over two years ago, some interesting concept art began to circulate online for a proposed remake of Hellraiser. For the past two decades, the Hellraiser series has garnered a fervent set of fans even as the films themselves degenerated in quality. After the first two outstanding entries in the series (the third and fourth films have some arguably solid ideas questionably executed), the slippery slope into hell began.
In an effort to retain the rights to the name Hellraiser, Miramax continued to churn out sub-par sequels direct to video throughout the late 90s and 2000s, in some cases blatantly shoehorning Cenobites in to an existing script in order to call it “Hellraiser”. The final insult to fans of the once-loved franchise was released as “Hellraiser : Revelations” in 2011, for the first time recasting the iconic Lead Cenobite, now well-known as “Pinhead”.
It was around this time that some incredibly dedicated and talented fans attempted to take back the beloved mythology of the Cenobites, working selflessly to redesign and re-imagine the entire franchise as the epic tale of moral and physical ambiguity it originally hinted at. The themes at work in Clive Barker’s original tales were heavy looks at the sins of the flesh, notions of self-created hells, and the basic animal instincts of humans. These concepts that made the originals so powerful were lost in the sea of uninteresting sequels from uninterested filmmakers.
That is when unique artist and designer Paul Gerrard and his talented team took it upon themselves to bring to the table a new vision of Hellraiser, circulating some intriguing artwork and finally producing a 2 minute trailer with director Mike Le Han for a proposed project titled “Hellraiser : Origins”.
Mr. Gerrard and his Company worked hard to produce this interesting new spin on the franchise, introducing us all to a unique new version of Hellraiser, with roots coming closer to the true origin of the story than any of the later sequels had even attempted. They spent over a year working on designs and ideas for the unsolicited story, with only the hope that their project would catch the eye of the studio, which was reportedly considering a new direction for the series.
According to Paul Gerrard, “Myself and a band of merry men came together to create an absolutely epic take on the Hellraiser world. I designed a new High Priest, one that is inspired by but pre-dates Pinhead by 4000 years. We spent a year constructing this biblical world, all the inhabitants and locations. You could literally plug in many stories into this, and we did. We wrote a number of scripts to fully explore this macabre playground. I pushed to make a teaser, to showcase the new High Priest and to act as a proof of concept to the studios for this new re-imagining.”
However, just as the ambitious teaser was finally released last October, Clive Barker himself announced that he had decided to participate in a newly re-imagined version of his own original work, effectively killing the “Hellraiser : Origins” project. According to a recent interview with Horror Homework, Mr. Gerrard lamented that the universes couldn’t coexist.
“I think it purely comes down to money. I know for a fact that Dimension has no further plans to make any Hellraiser movie. But the plans they had initially, it would’ve had to have been a pretty low budget affair. So they would’ve wanted to do the same thing as they did with Evil Dead, contain it within a small house. But it’s been done, I don’t see why you would want to sit through that again. It’s such a massive franchise. And who’s going to argue with Clive Barker and the Weinsteins?”
Which brings us to now, nearly another year later. Rather than curling up into a defeated ball, Mr. Gerrard has evolved the hard work and passion for the previous project with a new endeavor, in the form of a one-of-a-kind art book collecting many of the intriguing concept designs along with new original art. An art book that fully explores the esoteric overtones, the subliminal messages, and the images within images that are involved in his complex artwork. The book collects many short stories revolving around the characters created from the mind of Mr. Gerrard, and will hopefully be used in the future for original shorts and feature films from Beyond Darkness. The book will exist as a sort of prequel to future films from Mr. Gerrard and his Company Of Shadows, and the audience will be able to look back at the evolution of this artwork from the very beginning. Supporting this book is the truest way to support real independent film-making.
Mr. Gerrard currently has a crowd-funding campaign to help with the production costs of this ambitious project, and he is offering some great incentives for anyone who is interested in helping get this book made. Of course prints and original sketches from the artist are available for various packages, along with original paintings and an actual bust for those supporters of independent art with deep pockets.
Donations in all sizes can be made at the Company Of Shadows project here, and will certainly be appreciated and put to good use!
Be sure and check out the Art Of Paul Gerrard and Hellraiser : Origins on Facebook to stay updated with the progress of this unique project.
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