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SYFY WIRE Hellraiser

WIRE Buzz: Clive Barker exec producing Hellraiser series; Scott Derrickson answers Black Phone; more

By Josh Weiss & James Comtois
Hellraiser (1987)

Clive Barker is coming back to hell. The author and filmmaker who helped kickstart the surprisingly venerable Hellraiser franchise with his 1986 novel, The Hellbound Heart, and 1987 film adaptation, Hellraiser, is joining the executive producing team of the upcoming HBO series adaptation, Deadline is reporting. 

Barker, who was not involved in the project when it was originally announced in April, is quoted in the report as being “delighted the Hellraiser mythology is seeing a new life,” adding “it’s time the stories went back to their roots. I’m eager to bring to a new audience the most powerful and ancient elements of horror: the darkest evil invading our human lives and how we must find in ourselves the power to resist it.”

Although the first film was written and directed by Barker, his involvement in later installments in the film franchise waned. Hell, even according to the author and filmmaker himself, literally no part of him was involved in the ninth installment (Hellraiser: Revelations). So, clearly, he’s had a change of heart with this project. That, or HBO has enticed Barker to taste their pleasures and he just couldn't resist.

Barker is also clearly a busy, busy bee these days. Not only is he now serving as EP for this series, he’s also working on Nightbreed, another series adapted from a novella he wrote (1988’s Cabal) that he later adapted into a film (1990’s Nightbreed).

Described as “an elevated continuation of the existing Hellraiser mythology,” the Hellraiser series will be written by Ash vs. Evil Dead EP Mark Verheiden and Trick r’ Treat director Michael Dougherty, with Verheiden serving as showrunner. Halloween Kills director David Gordon Green is attached to helm the first few episodes.

Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson has locked in his next genre project: a film adaptation of Joe Hill's short story "The Black Phone." The Universal/Blumhouse production — which is set to star Mason Thames (For All Mankind) and Madeleine McGraw (Toy Story 4) — was penned by Derrickson and his frequent creative collaborator, Robert Cargill (Sinister).

Originally published in Hill's short story collection, 20th Century Ghosts, "Black Phone" is about John Finney, who finds himself a hostage of the Galesburg Grabber, a notorious child killer. John is thrust into a dark and empty basement, whose only furnishings are a toilet and an old school telephone mounted on the wall. His situation seems dire, but then the phone rings. Is it John's imagination or is someone actually on the line?

Scott Derrickson 20th Century Ghosts

Derrickson, Cargill, Hill, and Jason Blum are all attached as producers. In late May, it was announced that Derrickson would helm a sequel to Jim Henson's Labyrinth.

(Story plot synopsis via Jim's review on Goodreads)

Speaking of hell... Hellboy has enjoyed a comic book run for the last 26 years, so it's only natural that potential readers might be scared off by the sheer amount of stories in the sprawling "Mignolaverse." Don't worry, though, because Dark Horse is here to help. Today, the publisher announced an upcoming collection of Hellboy Universe Essentials hand-picked by series creator Mike Mignola himself.

"In some cases — B.P.R.D. and Witchfinder — it was pretty easy to select the one 'essential” book,' Mignola said in a statement. “Hellboy was more complicated, as there is so much ground to cover. In the end we chose to go with a collection of short stories rather than a single graphic novel, to give more of an overview of the character. We chose certain stories that say important things about his background, but also some that just show what he does and how he does it. A couple of stories are in there just because they are my favorites."

Hellboy Universe Essentials

The collection, which features all-new covers drawn by Mignola and Dave Stewart, goes on sale next July in the form of a trade paperback costing $14.99. It will feature iconic storylines such as The Chained Coffin, The Third Wish, Pancakes, The Nature of the Beast, The Corpse, The Baba Yaga, A Christmas Underground, The Ghoul, and The Troll Witch.

"From ‘The Corpse’ to ‘Pancakes,’ these standalone stories are the perfect way for new readers to get a feel for Hellboy and his world,” said Hellboy editor Katii O’Brien.

Hellboy Universe Essentials: Hellboy will be followed by several more omnibuses: Hellboy Universe Essentials: B.P.R.D. in November 2021, Hellboy Universe Essentials: Lobster Johnson in March 2022, and Hellboy Universe Essentials: Witchfinder in July 2022.