Hellraiser III - Unfilmed Versions


FEAVER : I'm not sure I understand.
PINHEAD : I'm sure you don't. Good and Evil, Feaver. You may have changed camps but you still believe in a two-party system.
Pinhead walks slowly to the vat and stares down at its contents.
PINHEAD : Look at this soup, father. Is it Good? Evil? Does it acknowledge the hierarchies of either?
Pinhead turns around and walks back towards Feaver, who begins almost unconsciously to back away. The shadows in the room seem stronger now and almost mobile, the blue light more intense. Faintly, we can hear metallic dragging noises, like huge chains shifting and sliding in some faraway darkness.
Pinhead stops walking, standing still and fixing his eyes on Feaver, who continues moving backward, approaching the mass of black shadow that the far end of the basement has become. Feaver's hands are rising out slowly on either side of him, palms upward in an instinctive gesture of surrender or denial.
PINHEAD : There is no Good.
Suddenly, a chain flies out of the darkness behind Feaver and hooks its way cruelly into the back of his hand, the hook emerging through the palm. Feaver screams, but Pinhead keeps talking with the same smooth, implacable rhythm.
PINHEAD : There is no Evil.
Another chain whistles out and hooks Feaver's other hand.
PINHEAD : There is only the flesh...
The chains jerk tight, pulling Feaver's arms out to full-stretch and to head-height on either side of him.
PINHEAD : ...and its transformations.
Something else flies out at the screaming Feaver, but this time, instead of chain-links, it is made of barbed wire. It wraps itself around Feaver's forehead, biting in tight, drawing blood.
PINHEAD : There is only pain, pleasure and their mutual transcendence.
Feaver's anguished eyes find Pinhead as he is lifted off his feet and another barbed wire chain wraps itself around his ankles.
FEAVER : No! Please! It isn't fair!
Feaver is pulled taut by the chains and wires, suspended in mid-air like a free-floating crucifixion. Pinhead's cold laughter echoes through the basement.
PINHEAD : Keep telling yourself that. It will season your suffering.
FEAVER : But I brought you back!
Pinhead smiles, even inclines his head in mock-acknowledgement,
PINHEAD : You gave me Genesis, Father. Now I give you Revelation!

Third draft (of unfilmed version) - by Peter Atkins (from a story by Clive Barker) - February 1989

One of the things that has always intrigued us is the way that the Hellraiser series might have progressed had two even more powerful forces than Leviathan (namely money and politics) not intervened. When Pete Atkins was kind enough to contact us back in 1999 with his comments and praise about the Revelations site, we decided to see if we could prove the truth of the old adage that, if you don't ask, you don't get. Well, what they say about old adages is that, the reason they've survived to get old is that every now and again they do the job they promise...
In this case, it resulted in permission to publish, for the first time anywhere, an article which Pete wrote back in 1993, chronicling the painful birth of the beast that, quite appropriately, we know as Hell On Earth... Originally slated for a second volume of Shadows In Eden that never happened, the article finally found a life in print within the pages of Travellers In Darkness, the souvenir book of the 2007 World Horror Convention, edited in a karmic full circle by Stephen Jones. In an online exclusive presentation though, ladies and gentlemen, Peter Atkins...

Building The Beast (In Stages)

The Long Making of Hell On Earth

By Peter Atkins

Hellraiser III : Hell On Earth opened in American movie theatres in the fall of 1992. By the time most features open theatrically (not that most features do open theatrically these days, but that's another story) they are already old things in the minds and hearts of their creators; it could well be the best part of two years since the screenplay was finished and, often, more than a year since the last camera turned on the last set-up. The actors have, if they're lucky, finished another set of performances for another set of lenses or, if they're unlucky, have had three or four months of waiting tables and dwelling nostalgically on the days when they had a trailer with their name on it and a harassed assistant director trying to get them out of it and on to the set. The crew, too, have either completed work on another feature or have been drawing unemployment. It's true that the producer, the director, the editor, the composer and, occasionally (very occasionally), the writer may have worked until the last days on the delivery of the child they have collectively parented but, for most people who work on a movie, there is a long silent gap between their final call and the day they take their friends or family to see the result of their work.

Even in an industry used to the long haul between conception and delivery however, Hell On Earth was a child remarkably hesitant to be born. And very unsure about the flesh in which it was to clothe itself to greet the world.

It was late in 1987 and my script for Hellbound was yet to be shot when Clive Barker and Chris Figg (at that time partners in Film Futures - the production company that had made Hellraiser, that was in the process of making Hellbound, and that intended to make Hell On Earth) first approached me to write Hell On Earth for them. It would be nice to claim that right there and then in that first meeting I (Or Clive. Or Chris. Or anybody!) came up with the story that five years later was to reach the screens of the world. No. The story that ticket-buying customers saw and heard in late 1992 is, at a conservative estimate, the sixth story to bear the name Hell On Earth. And I've probably forgotten two or three others.

This doesn't mean that the previous five stories were bad. Nor does it mean that the previous five stories were good. In fact, it doesn't even mean that the previous five stories were previous; the one that ended up making it to celluloid was actually the fifth story, not the sixth. And nor was it the only one to make it all the way to full-length screenplay; the fourth story got as far as a third-draft screenplay and was indeed at one stage a week into pre-production before being cancelled. One other story survived long enough to become an officially-commissioned treatment (a treatment is a kind of embryonic screenplay, a document ranging in size from five to thirty pages which tells the story of the movie without the use of dialogue and with much less detail than a screenplay) and the remaining three were barely written down, existing mainly in the heads of the creators apart from a few gestural notes.

For good or bad, the Hell On Earth that was actually produced is of course the 'official' third chapter in the Hellraiser saga but, for those who are interested, here are some alternate histories. Here's what you didn't see.


How about a Hellraiser movie set partly in Ancient Egypt in which it is revealed that the very first Cenobite was an overly-curious Pharaoh? And how about the fun we could have had when his mummified remains are dug up in the 1990s and brought to an American museum and some clown, in the process of making a diorama display of the discovered treasures, realigns the objects found in the tomb into a certain pyramidic pattern. A pattern that predated the Lament Configuration as a means of access from this reality to that other we all know and love? That was Clive's first take on an idea for the sequel.

I liked it. Chris Figg liked it. But, despite it being his idea, Clive decided that he didn't like it. Or rather, he didn't like it as the basis for a Hellraiser movie. My guess is he saw the potential for a whole new Barkerian mythology in there and wanted to keep it clean. There was much talk in the genre press a couple of years later about something called The Egyptian Project, a working title for a movie Clive was developing with Mick Garris for Universal Pictures. I never read Mick's screenplay so I don't know if it has anything in common with those earlier ideas of Clive's but I'm sure you Barker-completists out there will be happy to learn about that particular strand of potential cross-fertilisation between his works.

But back to Hell On Earth. Clive's story having been rejected by its own creator, it was now my turn at bat. I came up with a story, prepared a two or three page outline, and presented it to Chris and Clive. My opening was, I felt, suitably disgusting: A woman sits at a vanity table painting her nails while the camera carefully avoids showing us the reflection of her face in her mirror. Leaning elegantly down, she opens one of her drawers as if to select a perfume or a piece of lingerie. Lying on beds of silk within the drawer are three or four human faces, eyeless masks of real human skin. Selecting one, the woman draws it up, ready to fit in place as the camera finally reveals her hideous, flayed face.

The story that followed involved Ronson, my detective character from Hellbound, investigating a particularly nasty killing some years after the events of the previous film. The corpse of a woman had been washed up from a river with the skin of her face completely removed. Simultaneous to Ronson's enquiries, we were to see the growth in the city of a new religious sect, The Church Of The Sacred Wound, a mysterious cult under the sway of a charismatic female leader called Lillian Waugh, known to her followers as Lilith. Imagine Ronson's surprise when, on running a check on the dead woman's fingerprints, he finds the corpse to be that of Lillian Waugh. Imagine his even greater surprise when, on checking fingerprints surreptitiously obtained from Lilith, he discovers them to be those of Julia Cotton - a name he remembers from his still unresolved case of a few years back.

What followed was the revelation of Julia's plot and an attempt by Ronson and the reluctantly-recruited Kirsty to thwart it. Returned to earth from her exalted position as the Bride of Leviathan, Julia was to open the doors of Hell wider than ever before by an act of consensual mass-sacrifice performed by her deluded cultists in suitably veil-rending geometric formation. The third act of the film would have been open conflict between unleashed Cenobitic warriors and beleaguered humans while, in contrapuntal microcosm, Kirsty and Julia squared off for the third and presumably final time.

Once again, smiles all round. Chris liked it. Clive liked it. It had always been their desire to make Julia into the central and continuing character of the series. They were pleased with what I'd come up with. We were all set. I'd be starting a screenplay very soon. Then that well-known random factor, The Public, intervened. The first movie had just opened and already audience reaction to Doug Bradley was making it pretty clear that the character he played, Pinhead, was the one people were paying to see and would pay to see again. Further - Claire Higgins (the actress who played Julia) made it clear to us during the filming of Hellbound that her ambitions lay somewhere other than in being our female Boris Karloff or Robert Englund. So that was it for that story. Strike two.

Clive and I had had a single shot each. Now we figured we'd try a collaboration. We got together with pens, paper, alcohol and enthusiasm and brainstormed. Well, how can I put this? The muse wasn't kind that night. We came up with a story of two rival academics, one a professor, the other a graduate student. One of them (and I can't even remember which) was a bad guy. The other wasn't. One of them opened a Box. The other didn't. The Cenobites came. People died. Somehow the Box got closed. The End.

Hey, we're professionals. We dressed it up. We structured it. We probably even came up with one or two good scenes along the way. But a turd in a tuxedo is just a turd in a tuxedo and unless you're a John Waters movie there's only one thing to do with a turd. So we flushed it.

Another night, another bottle, another attempt. This time things went better. Asking ourselves what had gone wrong with the last one, we joked about Pinhead on a campus not being appropriate - a battlefield or a whorehouse was more like it. Then our eyes locked. A whorehouse? Pinhead running a bordello? Now that had the ring of poetry!

We started jamming and a few hours later had our fourth story. This one I feel I needn't summarise; bootlegged copies of the screenplay I eventually wrote based on that night's session have been circulating widely in fandom for more than three years now. In fact, I sometimes feel I should have gone into the piracy business myself - so many copies of that thing were (illegally) sold that I reckon I'd have made more money distributing copies than I made for writing it! It involved a fallen priest turned whoremonger using a particularly elaborate (and terminal) brothel to resurrect Pinhead who of course destroyed his saviour and took over the business. Also in there was the two-hundred year old undead creator of the Box, Phillip Lemarchand, getting his jollies from orchestrating long-distance deaths by means of a mystical link between a Box and the bordello itself.

This one was the charm. Chris and I flew to Los Angeles to pitch the story to New World, the distributors of the first two movies. They liked it. They bought it. They commissioned me to write the script.

Several months and three drafts later, the script was green-lighted for pre-production. Bob Keen and Image Animation began working on the effects. Mike Ploog - famous comic-book artist turned Production Designer - started on a series of wonderful concept drawings and set designs. For a week, things were really cooking. Then somebody turned the stove off. New World had gone broke. Or been sold. Or both. Whatever. The money had dried-up. The project was dead.

It was sad, but not heartbreaking. We all had other projects going on. I was working on a science-fiction movie with Tony Randel (the director of Hellbound) and was also beginning work on my first novel Morningstar. Clive and Chris were involved in setting up Nightbreed with Morgan Creek and Clive was writing The Great And Secret Show. Life went on.

Time passed. Quite a lot of time, in fact. Then one day early in 1990 I got a call from Tony Randel. He had been approached by the new owner of the Hellraiser franchise, Trans-Atlantic Entertainment, to direct (can you guess?) Hellraiser III. For whatever legal or financial reason, Clive and Trans-Atlantic couldn't come to terms and Clive was not going to be involved with the project. Nevertheless, Tony said, he very much wanted me to write it, had pitched me as the writer to Trans-Atlantic, and they had approved. All they wanted was a story. Did I want to talk ideas with him?

Sixteen years of friendship demanded my first call was to Clive. I needed to know if he would have a problem with my participation. Gracefully and pragmatically, he said no. He would much rather I wrote it than some other writer Trans-Atlantic might hire. Morally green-lighted, I set to work with Tony.

Now, this story is the one you all know. At least, I'm assuming that if you're reading this then you were probably interested enough to have seen Hell On Earth. The story you saw on the screen was - with some modifications - the story Tony and I invented over three phone calls and several faxes. Tony had come up with the notion of a decadent young club-owner buying the torture-pillar that contained the trapped Pinhead. I had an idea about a young woman haunted by dreams of war and dead fathers whose dreams became a conduit for the tortured spirit of Elliott Spenser, the English soldier who had, having survived the First world War, become Pinhead in the 1920's. With a simultaneous rush of pleasure, Tony and I realised that these weren't separate stories. We didn't have to make a choice between them. They were parallel strands of the same tale. So we married them to each other, hoping they would give birth to a celluloid offspring.

Hell On Earth, like its dark anti-hero, had risen from the dead. But it wasn't quite ready to walk yet. The god of interesting anecdotes had one more surprise to pull.

Fangoria Films, a then newly-formed production wing of the Starlog magazine empire, entered the picture as a sub-contractee of Trans-Atlantic. They were now in charge of making the film and they wanted Clive involved. Tony and I could hardly complain. The whole shebang had been started by Clive four years earlier with Hellraiser. If he was back, so much the better. The only wrinkle, though, was that Fangoria wanted to be able to claim the movie was based on a story by Clive himself. Plainly they couldn't do that with the story that Tony and I created so once again we had to start from scratch.

Clive, Tony and I got together at Clive's house and started throwing ideas around. What emerged - very much Clive's story with some small input from Tony and I - was the sixth take on Hell On Earth. This was the story of a small-time mafia hood, a barely connected wannabe who, by the time-honoured route of sexual obsession, is drawn into an underworld even crueller and more dangerous than that of the Casa Nostra. He is irresistibly drawn to a mysterious new-girl-in-town, not knowing that she is the descendant of the man who had been Pinhead. Her father, an alcoholic loser, becomes the opener of the way for Pinhead - who enters into a power-struggle with the local Godfather and emerges (of course) as the winner. Though not before involving our hero and heroine with perils both physical and spiritual.

Despite wanting Clive's initial input, Fangoria still wanted the writer-director team of Tony and I to actually make the movie. Consequently, having approved Clive's story as a brief pitch, they commissioned me to prepare a treatment based on it. I did so. They liked it. Yet again, we were ready to go. Yet again, we were stopped.

I don't even know what happened this time. More legal and financial nonsense. When the dust settled, Clive was yet again off the project. And so were Fangoria. Trans-Atlantic were going to make the picture themselves and hired producer Larry Mortorff to supervise it. Once again, they asked Tony to direct. Once again, they asked me to write. Once again, I spoke to Clive about his feelings regarding m involvement. Once again, I got his blessing. And once again, Tony and I set to work.

Except that we discovered that one stage of that work was already done; Larry Mortorff and Larry Kuppin (the head of Trans-Atlantic) had 'rediscovered' the outline I'd prepared of the story Tony and I had invented several months before. What were we working on a new story for? That was the picture they wanted to make.

And - eventually - that was the picture that was made. Almost. But the story of the seven drafts and two directors that that particular version of Hell On Earth then went through is a story for another time.

Is there a moral to this long examination of the hellish path some movies have to take on their way to celluloid life? I don't think so. Unless you're one of those naïve souls who, lost in the romance of the auteur theory, believes films are made when some boy-genius wakes from an inspirational sleep, grabs his camera and a few weeks later delivers a masterpiece to the waiting world. Only in the movies, my friend. Life ain't that simple.

© Peter Atkins 1993

POST-SCRIPT : The above was written back in 1993. Since then, not only has Hell On Earth come and gone, but so has the fourth movie in the series, Hellraiser: Bloodline. Tony Randel was fired by Trans-Atlantic during the development process of Hell On Earth and my screenplay was eventually filmed by Anthony Hickox, another ex-patriate Englishman. Miramax picked the film up for US distribution after filming was completed in North Carolina. At Miramax's invitation, Clive came back on board as executive producer while the movie was being edited. This new relationship led to Miramax actually producing the fourth movie on which, as with Hellbound, Clive and I beat out a story together and I then wrote the screenplay. Kevin Yagher directed that one but, as with Tony Randel before him, he was fired by the producers during post-production and Joe Chappelle was brought in to shoot additional scenes. I was offered the chance by Miramax to write these new sequences but other commitments meant I had to say no and the new scenes were written by Rand Ravich. The movie that finally resulted had its direction credited to Alan Smithee, a DGA-approved pseudonym. I received sole writing credit but, in retrospect, should probably have followed Kevin's example and taken refuge behind an invented name.

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