PG-13-ifying adult-centric horror classics doesn’t necessarily mean debasing what made the original so great. Given the MPAA’s weird post-millennial bloodlust, releasing John Carpenter’s original “Halloween” today could probably earn the film a PG-13, provided those damaging bare breasts were concealed. And it’s more exciting to consider scares without an explicit focus on blood and gore, so a hypothetical PG-13 remake of something like “Friday the 13th” would sound both incredibly dumb and slightly interesting, given that the restrictive rating might promise a new emphasis on ideas, concepts, and scares that last beyond opening night.
“Hellraiser” is not one of those concepts. Adapted by Clive Barker from his own series of short stories “The Hellbound Heart,” the original film saw release in 1987. It dealt with a lead character, unfulfilled by his ritualistic S&M practices, who then finds an ancient puzzle box that tears his soul apart. When a former lover moves into his abandoned house with his brother, he returns to the flesh, desperate for victims to feed upon to regain his humanity. However, a council of leather-clad elders for all things debauched and disturbed, the Cenobites, are aware of this disturbance in the natural order. His suffering, they promise, will become legendary.
So yeah, freaky sex, bloodletting, supernatural monsters. Everything about the blood-soaked original (and the underrated second film) screams R-rated. Not to The Weinstein Company though, who now view this long-in-development property as appropriate for a teen audience. They have hired director Christian E. Christiansen to helm a PG-13 take, despite previously flirting with Pascal Laugier and the team of Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, the French filmmakers behind grisly Gallic bloodbaths “Martyrs” and “Inside,” respectively. Christiansen is about to make his American debut with “The Roommate,” the Minka Kelly/Leighton Meester thriller that looks like eight hundred other PG-13 teen-horror permutations starring pretty people with hateable faces. We actually saw the trailer basically get booed off the screen at New York Comic Con.
The “Hellraiser” series is an unusual case, in that it’s receiving the big screen treatment as it continues to have a strong shelf life on the, well, shelf. The Weinsteins purchased the property, which has spawned eight sequels (the last four direct-to-DVD), but their remake hopes were dashed by a poor development period, resulting in the need to make a new film, or to lose the property. The Weinsteins being stingy as always, have commissioned “Hellraiser: Revelations” to hit disc sometime in 2011, keeping their remake hopes alive, though it wouldn’t be a surprise if that were more watchable than seeing Baby Pinhead bludgeon his victims with pool noodles.