Every time I see a post about the new Hellraiser film on social media it's followed by comments seething with anger, people convinced without a shred of evidence that this will be the worst sequel of all. I ask myself, why, children, why are you so angry? Yes, Revelations sucked. It was a hack job to keep the Hellraiser rights within Dimension's control. And Hellworld was almost as bad, but to say the franchise hasn't been good since the first or second film is at best a matter of a opinion and at worst a lie.
Considering that about half of the sequels were based on non-Hellraiser scripts with Pinhead plugged in and they still wound up watchable, dare I say enjoyable, is somewhat miraculous. Story wise, everything post Bloodlines and up to Hellworld mostly suffered from low budgets. There were some story flaws, true, and the films did little to advance the actual story that began with the first film. Hellraiser is not the first franchise to be guilty of such sin though. Look at every Friday the 13th film after Jason Lives. As much as I love F13, most Hellraisers after Bloodlines are better than most Fridays after Jason Lives. Strangely though, a steaming pile of dung like Jason Takes Manhattan gets more love than Deader. Has Hellraiser simply become fandom's punching bag?
Let's compare Hellraiser with some other big franchises; Halloween lost it's way after part six and Texas Chainsaw after part three. A Nightmare On Elm Street reached it's peak with The Dream Warriors and while it kept the story intact for three more sequels it suffered from the law of diminishing returns. All five of the franchises have suffered from bad sequels and/or remakes of wildly varying quality. They all also suffer from a case of arrested development. None of them have ever really taken a chance with a major reinvention of the franchise or ever evolved the story. (Wes Craven's A New Nightmare took a stab at this, but didn't recharge the franchise so much as it gave fans a chance to see Nancy [Heather Langenkamp] take on Freddy one more time.)
Some of the comments that have been echoed the most have been "No Doug Bradley, no Hellraiser" or "No Clive Barker, no Hellraisr". That's as silly as "No Ian Fleming, no Bond", or "No Bob Kane, no Batman", or worse, "No Michael Keaton, no Batman". Sometimes a franchise outgrows it's creator and sometimes the creator has better things to do than churn out sequel after sequel. These childish temper tantrums at writers and directors are as unhealthy as cigarettes for horror as a genre. What is a director? An artist. A director creates. No director sets out to make a bad film (ok, most don't). Even if it's for a pay day more than a creative impetus, no director wants to be associated with a bad film.
I don't expect Judgement to outshine the first two Hellraisers, but I also don't expect it to suck. After everything I've read from or about Gary Tunnicliffe I believe he has embarked on a journey to create a really good Hellraiser film. He's not just a hired gun keeping the rights in Dimension's hands, he's a fan and has worked on the FX for more than half the films in the franchise. So instead of throwing Gary under the bus for attempting what none of us could get done, lets be supportive and send a message to Dimension that we care about Hellraiser and demand quality films from them.