Clive Barker Film Adaptations, Ranked | Pretty Reel

In recent years, with the exception of David Bruckner’s 2022 reboot Hellraiser and Nia DaCosta’s Candyman, there has been little to no mainstream interest in adapting Clive Barker’s work. News of Nightbreed to be adapted for SyFy and a rumor that the TV show Hellraiser would support Clive Barker died out last year.

The last substantial book to tackle the Hellraiser mythos was The Scarlet Gospels and Boom! Released from the studios, chronicling a hellish war between old adversaries Kirsty Cotton and Pinhead. Either property could make for an interesting transition to the big or small screen. In the meantime, here are some of the bad, good, and great adaptations of his writing. Warning, there will be spoilers.

10/10 Rawhead Rex (1986)

Empire Table

Rawhead Rex is an Irish production of a lesser-known Barker story with mediocre production values, poor acting and a plot that leaves a lot to be desired. Made on location in County Wicklow, Ireland, the film featured a pagan hellish beast feasting on cattle and locals. George Pavlou’s adaptation of the short story from Barker’s Books of Blood is ridiculously bad, the plot is nonsensical and the monster design is, uh, not very good.

9/10 Gods and Monsters

Lionsgate Movies

A surreal reimagining of the life of filmmaker and gay icon James Whales, Gods and Monsters adopts a non-linear narrative trajectory that isn’t outright horror, but a well-constructed and sympathetic homage to a doomed artist in which the One man’s memory, his dreams, and the timeline overlap for mind-bending nightmarish effect. The Clive Barker-produced film examines the final stages of the filmmaker’s life, his struggle with degenerative mental illness, and the developing relationship with troubled and stubbornly heterosexual Clayton Boone, played by Brendan Fraser.

The whale as depicted here is something of an eccentric, grumpy recluse, occasionally granting interviews to pompous queens and subsequently shredding them with her sharp-tongued vulturine wit and sporadic, disease-induced lapses. in terror and confusion. A burst of light arrives in the darkness of Whale and comes in the buff form of Clayton Boone, a sulky idiot with a divine physique and a short lock. Whale’s attempts at flirtation are met with brutal homophobia from the initially reluctant Boone, but when he decides to pose for a series of paintings, the pair form an unlikely friendship despite their differences.

The reason it ranks so low is that it’s not really a Clive Barker movie, because he didn’t write or direct it, and it’s based on someone else’s book; he only produced it. It’s also not technically a horror movie, but it’s a good one.

8/10 Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh

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Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh is the universally maligned sequel to Bernard Rose’s minor masterpiece. This time the action is moved to New Orleans and revolves around teacher Annie Tarrant (Kelly Rowan), whose family has a dark connection to The Candyman (Tony Todd).

The plot is nearly identical to its predecessor, with The Hook-Handed Demon slaughtering various members of Annie’s family and pursuing her due to a shared bloodline. Veronica Cartwright comes across as a embittered alcoholic who knows far more than she lets on and suffers the consequences in this retread of the original plot with only minor edits.

7/10 Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth

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The villain shower in Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth is JP Monroe (Kevin Bernhardt) in an action-packed episode with Pinhead (Doug Bradley) impersonating sneaky killers like Freddy and Chucky. Joey Summerskill (Terry Farrell) is an ambitious journalist who begins to investigate the supernatural death of a young man, via Lament Configuration Puzzle Box and those pesky chains.

Her investigation leads her to The Boiler Room, JP’s estate, where he hid The Pillar of Souls, which contains The Hell Priest. Joey teams up with Terri (Paula Marshall), JP’s despised ex-girlfriend, and they delve deeper into the mystery of the box. Little do they know, JP nurtured young women in Pinhead, so he could enter our world and wreak havoc.

6/10 Candyman (2021)

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Nia DaCosta’s 2021 iteration of Candyman has been called a “spiritual sequel” to Bernard Rose’s 1992 original, though there are thematic and narrative overlaps between the two films. DaCosta is entirely his own movie, and Anthony McCoy’s (Yahya Abdul Mateen II) return is both endearing and terrifyingly tragic. Tony Todd briefly reprises his Candyman role as the angel of deliverance, not the mindless killer we all remember, and Abdul Mateen is a revelation as Anthony in a legitimately heartbreaking role.

5/10 Hellraiser (2022)


Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that the recent Hellraiser reboot had some shining moments. The casting of Jamie Clayton as Pinhead was ingenious, and the glimpses (flesh windmill?) of hell were terrifyingly grotesque. Finely drawn characters, a convoluted plot, and unimaginative violence were major disappointments, however; they were only promises and no gain. The only reason it ranks so high is for Jamie Clayton and his innovative art direction.

4/10 Hellbound: Hellraiser 2

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In Hellbound: Hellraiser 2, Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence) has been institutionalized at the Channard Institute following the horrific events of the previous film. Doctor Cranham (Kenneth Branagh) is a collector, sadist and obsessive and has been searching for years to find someone who can unlock the secrets of the Lament configuration.

A bloodstained mattress resurrects Julia (Claire Higgins), now skinless and with an ulterior motive of returning to the land of the living. A mute girl, Tiffany (Imogen Boorman), at Channard’s and Julia’s request, opens the gates of hell. They are all drawn into the kingdom of the Cenobites and the Labyrinth of Leviathan for an epic battle.

3/10 Candyman

Tri Star Pictures

Bernard Rose’s violent Candyman followed Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen), a woman writing a thesis on urban legends. Not content with regurgitating academic material for her paper, she visits Chicago’s notorious Cabrini Green, or “Candyman Country,” and is drawn into the surreal world of the hook-handed killer when framed for multiple murders and kidnappings. It boasts an exquisite score by Philip Glass, genuinely shocking violence, and two excellent central performances by Virginia Madsen and Tony Todd.

2/10 Nightbreed (1990)

20th century fox

Clive Barker’s most ambitious film, Nightbreed was based on his short story Cabal and features an underground lair of fantastical monstrosities that were largely misunderstood by the natives. The naturals are human in Nightbreed, and they serve as the main antagonists in Barker’s tale.

Boone (Craig Scheffer) has nightmares and visions of mass murder he mistakenly believes he committed. It doesn’t help that her psychiatrist, Decker (played by director David Cronenberg) has an alter-ego called Buttonhead and a penchant for dividing families. Pursued by his girlfriend, Lori (Anne Bobby), and the psychotic Decker, Boone’s journey leads him to Midian, where the monsters live, but his mere presence puts all Nightbreeds in danger.

1/10 Hellraiser

Entertainment film distributors

In 1987, Clive Barker had such curiosities to show you. Stephen King dubbed it “The Future of Horror,” and Hellraiser is one of the most unique horror films of the 1980s. Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) is a sleazy guy looking for his next fix – this which is the ultimate pleasure. It doesn’t rely on The Order of the Gash and that their definition of fun might be somewhat different.

His brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) and his frustrated wife Julia (Claire Higgins) move into the house where Frank was skinned by the Cenobites. A drop of blood brings him back to life as a walking corpse and his former lover, Julia, agrees to bring him people to kill. Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence) and The Cenobites threaten to derail their murderous plans and thwart their escape.

Clive Barker Film Adaptations, Ranked | Pretty Reel