candy man is officially a horror hit, nearly doubling its budget at the box office after its first two weekends in theaters. That’s certainly good news for director Our DaCosta and producer Jordan Peele, whose names were both front and center in the film’s marketing. But it also could be good news for horror writer Clive Barker and his fanbase.
Barker, of course, was the original creator of the Candyman character, having first written about him in the short story “The Forbidden” way back in the mid-’80s. He then executive produced the original 1992 candy man film, which had writer/director Bernard rose transplanting Barker’s story from Liverpool to Chicago. With candy man now back in the public eye and earning rave reviews, could more Barker properties — some of which have been stuck in development hell for years — find their way to the big or small screen sometime soon? Let’s look at all the various Barker adaptations in various stages of development — including one or two stories without any official adaptation plans that we just want to see for ourselves.
A New ‘Hellraiser’ Movie
If Candyman is a hit with the public again, there’s no reason Pinhead couldn’t be, too. So it shouldn’t come as a shock that the most obvious Barker project is the one that’s already underway. A Hellraiser reboot directed by David Bruckner, who helmed The Ritual and this summer’s The Night House, has reportedly begun shooting in Belgrade, Serbia for an eventual Hulu release. Bruckner has called it a “small re-imagining” of The Hellbound Heart, Barker’s 1986 novella that he himself adapted into the original Hellraiser film one year later. Rumors abound that Pinhead, a hell priest summoned by a mystical puzzle box, will be played by Odessa A’zion in the new film, a gender swap that makes a lot of sense considering that Barker’s lead Cenobite was a more feminine figure in the original text. It also could help Bruckner’s version of the character stand apart from the iconic version played by Doug Bradley through eight films. Expect to see Bruckner’s take on Hellraiser sometime in 2022.
A New ‘Hellraiser’ TV Show
But wait, Hellraiser might not just be coming back as a movie — there’s also an unconnected Hellraiser TV show in development for HBO with some heavy-hitter names behind it. Director David Gordon Green, who three years ago made Michael Myers cool again, will be executive producing alongside his usual partners-in-crime Danny McBride and Jody Hill. Green is also planning to direct several episodes of the series, including the pilot. Writing the show are Mark Verheiden, who worked on Battlestar Galactica and Heroes, and Michael Dougherty, who’s probably still most known by genre fans for writing and directing 2007’s well-regarded horror anthology Trick ‘r Treat. Best of all, Barker himself is reportedly involved in the HBO series, having been brought on board as an executive producer. After so many years of schlock DTV sequels, it’s a bit strange having two high-profile Hellraiser reboots underway at the same time. The question is, with Bruckner’s movie now in production, will HBO continue moving forward with their own hell-raising unabated?
More ‘Books of Blood’ Movies
candy man isn’t the only recent release adapted from Barker’s works. Just last year, Hulu premiered Books of Blood, a new anthology film based on the six-book collection of short stories that first made Barker a household name in the horror community. Directed by Brannon Braga, Books of Blood intertwines direct adaptations of two of Barker’s stories with a third that was more loosely inspired by the author’s writing. Braga, who worked with Barker himself on the film, has indicated that he’d like to adapt more of the original stories in future sequels (however, the movie wasn’t terribly well-received). A straight sequel seems unlikely, but there are plenty of tales from the book collection still ripe for adaptation (don’t forget that Candyman himself was originally birthed in Books of Blood Volume 5).
A ‘Nightbreed’ TV Show
After Hellraiser and candy man, the biggest Clive Barker IP out there is likely Nightbreed. Though Barker’s original 1990 film was butchered by studio meddling, the monster-laden dark fantasy is still fondly remembered by horror fans who were eager to scoop up the long-lost director’s cut on blu-ray in 2014. In addition to working on the Hellraiser show, Dougherty is currently attached to a small-screen take on Nightbreed as well. With no film reboot to compete against, a Nightbreed show could potentially find a smoother path to our televisions.
‘The Thief of Always’ Movie
Of all of Barker’s full-length novels, The Thief of Always seemed to be the one most destined for adaptation. A family-friendly fable about an 11-year-boy who discovers a mysterious mansion inside which time moves at vastly increased speed, an adaptation has been in the works at least twice before, including an animated, musical version that Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall were going to produce in the 1990s. Barker told Collider last year that a live-action adaptation was set to shoot this year with Oliver Parker directing, though there has been no news of the project since. Still, if any of his books are going to get the big-screen adaptation they deserve, The Thief of Always continues to be the likeliest candidate.
Adaptations of ‘Weaveworld’ and ‘Imajica’
Then, on the other hand, we have Weaveworld and The mistress — two massive, Barker-penned fantasy epics that are weird, wild, and some might say unadaptable (but that hasn’t stopped folks from trying, dammit). The mistress features a large cast of fascinating characters (including the androgynous shapeshifting assassin Pie’oh’pah) and spans multiple worlds, each one more fantastically bizarre than the last. Weaveworld involves a race of magical creatures whose entire universe is hidden inside of an antique rug and their battle to protect it. News of efforts to adapt both books, either as a movie or a TV series, have percolated on and off over the years. The most recent filmmaker attached to The mistress was Josh Boone, who was responsible for the 2020 miniseries version of The Stand and seemed keen to do The mistress next. There hasn’t really been any hard news on Weaveworld since it was being developed as a TV show by The CW (really!). In that same Collider interview from last year, Barker mentioned that both of them were “coming,” although we have to wonder if he was just being optimistic. Still, with candy man thriving again, it makes sense to strike while the iron is hot. And unlike Barker’s two still-unfinished literary series, The Books of the Art and Abarat, at least The mistress and Weaveworld would give a filmmaking team a completed story to work with.
A Harry D’Amour TV Show
Okay, I’ll confess, this one is just me spit-balling. As far as I know, there has never been an attempt to take Harry D’Amour, Barker’s hard-boiled detective with a nose for the supernatural, and place him in the center of an ongoing television series. But there definitely should be. D’Amour is one of Barker’s most enduring creations, having appeared in several of his novels and being brought to the screen once before courtesy of Scott Bakula in 1995’s Lord of Illusions (the last film Barker has directed himself thus far). It would be so easy to take the character and place him in the center of an ongoing TV series, as D’Amour could face off against a new monstrous and horrifying threat every week (perhaps with seasonal big bads lurking in the background). Such a project would offer up a nice, simplified version of the Barker-verse that could still get as gnarly and outlandish as a production company wanted. What puzzle box do I have to open to make this one happen?
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