Evil Dead proved that not all remakes are created equal. 's gooey cesspool of a movie filled with demonic possession, self-mutilation, and a woman violated by a tree pleased diehard enthusiasts of 's beloved original and newcomers unaware of 's previous exploits as Ash, raking in $25.7 million it's opening weekend. If it continues down this path, it could make between $50 to 60 million in North America alone. Not bad. The obvious outcome? Sequels.
Instead of speculating when Evil Dead 2 will happen, how it could tie into Sam Raimi's long rumored Army of Darkness 2, or simply bring back into the mix, I've been thinking a lot about another classic getting a new coat of paint. That film is Clive Barker's Hellraiser Reboot, a project that feels piping hot, but has always found itself on The Weinstein Company's back burner. The success of Evil Dead could prospectively change that.
Since 2006, diverse filmmakers have come and gone. First, Julien Maury and Alexander Bustillo, the French directors of Inside, a demented film about a pregnant woman tormented by another woman who tries to take her unborn baby, were attached. Then Pascal Lugier, director of the haunting Martyrs, and Patrick Lussier, the pop artist behind My Bloody Valentine 3D and (the obscenely enjoyable) Drive Angry, abandoned the project due to creative differences. Even Concept art was leaked. Lugier told this to AICN:
You know, what happened is I had this feeling that the producers behind the new Hellraiser didn't really want to do a solid serious movie, so for me a new Hellraiser is all about S&M gay culture, because it comes from a homosexual desire and Hellraiser is about dealing with these very questions and I don't want to betray Clive's vision. I'm a huge fan and I love Hellraiser and maybe I was wrong, but I had the feeling I was wanted to do something much more for a teenage audience. One of the biggest problems in Hollywood when you love horror is that Hollywood doesn't.
Whereas Patrick Lussier told CinemaBlend this:
I think the biggest thing is, and we talked about this a lot recently, is that we have no intention of remaking Clive's movie. Clive's movie is obviously not like remaking My Bloody Valentine, or Happy Birthday To Me, or Terror Train or Prom Night – those are all very specific movies at a specific time with a specific purpose. As fun as they are, and that's not to take away from them, they were clearly business ventures. Hellraiser, obviously, was not. It was a personal story for Clive and Clive is a true artist. It didn't feel right to us to retell Clive's story. That's Clive's story. At the same time, there have been a variety of Hellraiser movies and movies that play within the world that he created. And none of them have really gone behind the curtain of what that world is. So that was basically what we offered up to Dimension Films as something unique and different that stays true to Clive's originality, but, at the same time, pays no disrespect to it."
The universe Clive Barker created with his novella, The Hellbound Heart, and adapted into Hellraiser in 1987 never had the box office heft of horror icons like Jason Voorhies or Michael Myers. Taking inflation into account, each theatrically released Hellraiser has only made an average of about $23 million each. But we're also quick to forget that Hellraiser isn't a slasher featuring Pinhead. It's about hedonists in search of ultimate pleasure. It's about betrayal in relationships. It also exists in a world where dimensional schisms follow dream logic. Clive Barker's world alienates people, which was probably true when Lugier was pitching a story about S&M culture to the Weinsteins for a broad audience. Describing Barker's world can make as much sense to some people as a painting by Hieronymus Bosch or an evil Salvador Dali.
Still, Evil Dead exists with a similar set of rules as Hellraiser's puzzle box. The idea of demonic possessions or "being infected" isn't as cut and dry in Evil Dead as an old school zombie flick, just like the Cenobites don't follow the rules of Camp Crystal Lake. When enters a room in Evil Dead and says, "You're all going to die tonight," you believe it because the Book of the Dead (or Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, if you're a purist) will find a way to get you. The same goes for the Cenobites' metallic ebb and flow of pain and pleasure.
The main criticism for Evil Dead's Alvarez, a YouTube director turned full-fledged feature auteur, is that his film is just gross. Like, really gross. Watching someone slip on a severed cheek like a banana peel, watching someone burn in the shower, or witnessing a puss-filled hand take on a disgusting life of its own is not exactly a pleasant experience. But, it's also the visceral, boundary pushing escapism that's precisely what the movies are about, especially to the devoted group that helped make this a success. More importantly, the idea of boundaries, and pushing them beyond the realm of human understanding, is what Hellraiser is about. The fact that Alvarez was able to slap on a half-assed, but welcome story about drug addiction and the perils of detox demonstrate that Dimension could do more than we anticipate if they listen to what the departed directors wanted.
The initial vitriol that fans initially spit out when a movie like this is announced is as important to the Internet as cats (very). It's the barometer that measures a unified love and attachment to a franchise. It lets people know of the approaching storm. When the rotting flesh in a remake like Evil Dead hemorrhages enough guts and brains -- bravado and intelligence -- to make the experience worthwhile, it shuts most people up. They're either too disgusted or in awe of what they've seen. I hope that's precisely what Dimension decides to do with the Hellraiser reboot.