As a filmmaker, Clive Barker seemed to come out of nowhere. Struggling with the cinematic adaptations of his stories/scripts (TRANSMUTATIONS  and RAWHEAD REX , both from screenplays by Barker), he decided to take more control and direct the third feature film based on his writing. Adapting his own novella “The Hellbound Heart,” Barker would soon unleash HELLRAISER (1987) on audiences worldwide. New World released the film in September 1987 and it racked up $14.5 million in the U.S. box office alone; not bad for a non-franchise horror entry.
Original announcement circa October 1988
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Behind the scenes, things were a bit more chaotic. Barker’s second feature lived up to his ambitions and clocked in at nearly three hours, much to the dismay of studio execs. Major re-editing was done with industry vet Mark Goldblatt being brought in to bring the film down to a 102 minute running time. (For much more detail on this, see the bonus materials on the recent release of NIGHTBREED: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT.) To add insult to injury, the film entered into what can only be described as a revolving door process of submission to the M.P.A.A. (Motion Picture Association of America). The ratings board demanded cut after cut (for material that was, as always, generally innocuous and safe for cable TV nowadays). Finally, on January 22, 1990, it was announced in Variety that the film had secured an R-rating, just in time for its February 1990 nationwide bow.
Unfortunately, 20th Century Fox seemed to have little faith in the project and had downright no clue how to market it. Seriously, look at the generic poster below that some marketing genius came up. Not only is it the vaguest thing imaginable, it also is almost a complete rip off of Fox’s earlier release BAD DREAMS (1988). Look familiar?