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This has been submitted to De Montfort University.

 

Motive

Sam Raimi’s reimagining of Evil Dead (2013) has grossed $62,520,140 in its third week whereas The Evil Dead (1981) only made an estimated $2,400,000 at the box office worldwide, in comparison, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser (1981) made a domestic total gross of $14,564,027. These figures, according to ‘Box Office Mojo’ suggest that the 2013 Evil Dead remake has made more money in its opening weekend than both its predecessor The Evil Dead and Hellraiser put together, regardless of inflation. Sam Raimi has suggested that a sequel to his rebooted franchise is in the pipeline, hopefully rejuvenating the marketing for new and old in two respects: fans of the original franchise and of the remakes, and both old and new merchandising such as DVD releases, comics, etc.

Clive Barker and Dimension films have had several failed attempts to reboot Hellraiser including a cross over between John Carpenters Halloween (1978). There are rumours that Dimension plans to convert Hellraiser and Barker’s popular novels into a television series, plus the films have a loyal fan base and cult following, as does The Evil Dead, these facts and figures have lead to the inspiration of an Evil Dead/Hellraiser crossover.

The success of the 2013 release of Evil Dead and promise of sequels in the new franchise suggests that despite the cult fan base and loyalty of the original 1981 franchise, a new audience has also taken an interest and invested in the new concept. The combination of new and old is crucial because it will impact on DVD sales, merchandise, and memorabilia; these potential profits are the foundation to the financial success of any film. When considering Hellraiser it is worthy to note that regardless of its cult following, loyal fans and the straight to DVD releases later in the franchise, much like Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees; Pinhead is the face of the franchise and is a recognisable figure, regardless of audience knowledge of the films themselves or any loyalties to the franchise, so the prospect of a new audience/ fan base is easily achievable.

Evil Dead and Hellraiser have maximized their DVD earning potential by releasing box sets and special edition box sets, alongside releasing each film separately on Blu-Ray and as the franchises progress there have been anniversary releases. The merchandising for both franchises includes: action figures, games, props, comics, books etc. All of which would see a significant boost in figures and the ability to create different variations if a crossover was achieved, especially in the comic book industry where such crossovers have been imagined such as Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash created by Wildstorm, Dynamite Entertainment and DC Comics as a six part limited edition series.

Clive Barker has developed toys with the McFarlane line, called Tortured Souls. Barker sent the toys to the New York Toy fair and pitched a script involving the Tortured Souls characters and mythologies that he created, Universal Studios bought the rights with the intention of creating a franchise (Kane, 2006, pp.225). This is another possibility for merchandising and branching out into action figures and memorabilia which Barker fans are already invested in.

Rights and Ownership

At present, Sam Raimi and his production company, Ghost House Pictures own the rights to the Evil Dead franchise and all the merchandise. Whereas Dimension films own the rights to the Hellraiser films and characters, but Clive Barker owns rights to the original literature (such as Hellbound Heart) as he sold the film rights after the first film was released.  Drawing inspiration from the documentary, Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010), Jeff Katz (New Line Cinema Executive) elaborates on how New Line Cinema and Paramount had been arguing over rights for Freddy vs. Jason (2003) since 1987, he also highlights the script writing issues they faced when trying to combine two separate mythologies together in a way that would please the fans and make sense.

Screenwriter, Dave Parker tried to convince Dimension films to produce Helloween; A Halloween vs. Hellraiser crossover.  Parker argued that Dimension already owned rights to both films and created a plotline that complimented both mythologies which was as follows: “People try to destroy the Myers house but find the box hidden between the walls. Of course, they open it and Pinhead shows up, and it’s Halloween and it’s the Myer’s house, so Michael shows up.”  (Kane, 2006, pp.224).  Dimension accepted the idea but the movie didn’t make it to the theatres, much like other attempts to remake, reboot and reimagine the franchise.

Clive Barker announced in 2006 that Bob Weinstein had invited him to re-write a Hellraiser remake due to be released in 2008. However, over the subsequent years, every aspect of the team has changed thus pushing the project back further and the finalised. In 2007, Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury were scripting and directing, while Clive Barker was producing. By October 2008 that team had changed to, Pascal Laugier, who was set to script and direct the project and Clive announced it would be a re-configuring rather than a remake.  In 2010 Todd Farmer and Patrick Lussier were announced to be directing and scripting but by 2011, they had dropped out of the project because Dimension wanted the film to be PG-13. Whereas,  Evil Dead 2013 is steaming ahead under Sam Raimi’s involvement and supervision and is doing extremely well in the box office while satisfying the fans.

Considering these continuing problems of a Hellraiser and Clive Barkers regrets of selling the rights compared with the financial success of Evil Dead it may be possible to convince Dimension to relinquish ownership or compromise with Ghost House Pictures to create a cross over, if Sam Raimi would want to attempt such a venture.

To try and convince both directors that collaboration would be in their best interests, I created a forum thread and a results poll on horror.com to gauge how fans would react to the given storyline and if they would pay to see the film. Since the thread was posted in April of this year, 11 people have voted to say they would watch the film while only 2 have said they wouldn’t, also the majority of comments have been supportive and promising, for example: “If Raimi and Barker actually got together and made an Evil Dead vs. Hellraiser film…yeah, I would go see it”. Some other interesting concepts have come from this small audience research such as: “Can’t you just have Ash fighting the Cenobites?”

As a conclusion, the potential profit and merchandising to be made from this collaboration would be extremely beneficial and there is a gap in the mainstream market as although these products such as comic books are available they are not widely known or readily available to the general public. This crossover would be a success if it stuck to what original fans wanted to see but was still accessible to a new audience, meeting fan expectations is where Freddy vs. Jason failed.

The potential problems with this concept are the issues with rights and trying to find a way for Ghost House and Dimension to come to an agreement, however the failed attempts made by Dimension to remake Hellraiser may prompt them to relinquish some rights but the possibility of a television series could hinder this.  The second and most important is whether Barker and Raimi would work together and not clash over ideas and styles of horror, as they are both extremely different, and Clive Barker already has a set of novels which he may want to stay true to, as he no longer holds the rights to the film or the characters.

Plot Summary

The plot follows, Lydia Levy who is trying to track down her old lover, Frank Cotton. When she visits an old Moroccan seller to enquire about Frank’s purchase from him, she is tricked into buying the Necronomicon, many years down the line; Lydia is living in Frank’s old London house with her daughter Laila, who is moving out with her friends. Whilst sorting through her boxes, Laila and her friends discover the Necronomicon and summon the Deadites who begin to take hold of the group. Blood is spilled and Frank escapes the Cenobites once again, but the blood is part human part Candarian demon. The Cenobites are determined to return Frank back to hell, but the Deadites want to keep his soul and Laila is caught in the crossfire. Laila must convince her mother that Frank isn’t what he seems, save her friends, appease the Cenobites, stop the Deadites, and send them all back to hell.

Cenobites vs. Deadites

Screenplay

Elizabeth Howlett

1 TITLE SEQUENCE

In the golden hue of the streets of Morocco: A heavily pregnant woman dressed in a simple linen robe and a scarf covering her face, exits her apartment. She is clutching onto a photograph, she glances at it and holds onto it tightly. The sound of traffic is deafening as she attempts to walk through a sea of people in a bustling market street. As the camera pans upwards into birds eye view, the woman is lost within the crowd. The white washed walls and gleaming light of the sun reflecting off them is uncomfortable to focus on. The sound of the vendors shouting and the traffic makes it hard to hear. The busy street is both blinding and deafening.

A dark alley: She holds her scarf to her face as people loitering on corners stare at her, rats run down the street and women sit on the curb smoking while their naked children play amongst the rats. The street vendors do not approach her; they seem weary and glare at her. In comparison to the main street, the silence is unnerving; the faint din of the busy streets fades as she heads further down the alley. The walls get closer and the sun grows darker, so the entrance behind her seems like a beacon of white light. She reaches a rundown bar, looks at the photo and enters. The titles end.

FADE OUT

CUT TO SCENE 2

2 FADE IN:

MARRAKESCH, MOROCCO.

INT BAR DAY

CANTED LONG SHOT of a SMALL TABLE, the upper torso and legs of a man are visible. A HEAVILY PREGNANT woman STRUGGLES to sit opposite him

SELLER

(face unseen, he has a DISTINCTIVE ACCENT)

What’s your pleasure?

PAN UP TO LYDIA’S FACE. LYDIA removes her scarf; she is of Moroccan decent, around 20 years old with mid length dark hair, she looks tired and desperate. It is clear she has seen the SELLER before. She slides the photo across the table to the SELLERS hands.

LYDIA

Tell me where he is

(SHOT REVERSE SHOT)

SELLER

(does not look at the photo, he knows who it is)

He is beyond your reach

LYDIA

What did you give him?

SELLER

I gave him his pleasure, Miss. Levy

It is what he wanted

LYDIA

(commanding tone)

Give me mine

He needs to answer for this

(looking at pregnant stomach)

CUT to CU of SELLERS HANDS, his nails are long and pitted; from UNDER the TABLE, he produces the NECRONOMICON.

CUT to CU of LYDIAS HANDS as they slide money across the table.

SELLER

(unseen)

Take it, it’s yours

LONGSHOT of TABLE, LYDIA stands and takes the NECRONOMICON and exits BAR.

ZOOM into EXTREME CU of the picture on the table. The man is FRANK COTTON.

SELLER

(unseen)

It always was

FADE OUT

FADE IN

CUT TO SCENE 3

3 EXT LONDON STREET DAY

SUBTITLES: 24 YEARS LATER

LONG SHOT of a YELLOW 1973 OLDSMOBILE DELTA 88 (see THE EVIL DEAD 1981) driving down a SLEEPY LONDON STREET, it has been RAINING and the streets are WET, typical English weather.

CUT TO POV TRACKING of the CAR with DIEGETIC DEMONIC noises, something is FOLLOWING the CAR, the camera WEAVES around HOUSES, over FENCES and over DUSTBINS. DEMONIC NOISES get LOUDER the closer the CAMERA gets to the CAR.

CUT TO PHANTOM RIDE OF CAR

DEMONIC NOISES are extremely loud

JUMP CUT MID SHOT

DEMONIC NOISES suddenly turn into a SCREAM as a CAT runs in front of the CAR

JUMP CUT TO CU OF WHEELS and DIEGETIC SCREECH of BRAKES, SMOKE is billowing off the WHEELS.

CUT

4 INT CAR DAY

MID SHOT LAILA LEVY

LAILA is a 24 year old with LONG DARK HAIR which she is wearing DOWN and is MIXED RACE (MOROCCAN). She is wearing a HOODY and SWEATPANTS and looks PETRIFIED.

LAILA’s head is flung FOREWARD onto the STEERING WHEEL as the car struggles to BRAKE on the WET road.

CUT TO PASSENGER SEAT

On the seat is an OLD DUSTY BOX marked ‘OLD STUFF’ it is not TAPED shut but CLOSED, as the CAR BRAKES the BOX falls on its SIDE and the contents CASCADE into the FOOTWELL.

CUT EXTREME CU

The NECRONOMICON and MAPS with notes scribbled all over FALL into the FOOTWELL.

CUT TO MID SHOT of LAILA aspect of PASSENGER WINDOW

LAILA releases her DEATH GRIP on the STEERING WHEEL and moves her HAIR out of her face, she notices the BOX has FALLEN and SIGHS.

LAILA

Fucking cat! Jesus Christ!

OVER THE SHOULDER SHOT OF PASSENGER SEAT

LAILA unbuckles her SEATBELT and starts to put things back into the BOX, she GROANS

CUT TO CU OF NECRONOMICON as LAILA picks it up

CUT TO MID SHOT OF LAILA FROM THE WINDSHIELD

LAILA inspects the NERCONOMICON; she GINGERLY traces her FINGERS over the COVER and SPINE

CUT TO CU OF LAILA’S HANDS ON NECRONOMICON, NON DIEGETIC DEMON SOUNDS FAINTLY RETURN

LAILA opens the NECRONOMICON and FLICKS through the PAGES

GRADUAL ZOOM TO LAILAS FACE and MOUTH

LAILA looks CONFUSED and INTREGUED as she attempts to READ from the NECRONOMICON

LAILA

(unsure of what she’s saying)

Klaatu…?

DIEGETIC SOUND of a CAR HORN BEEPING LOUDLY, DEMON noises STOP

LAILA acts like she’s SNAPPED out of a TRANCE

CUT TO POV SHOT of the REAR VIEW MIRROR

A large RANGE ROVER is waiting to pass and the driver is GESTURING ANGRILY

CUT to OVER THE SHOULDER SHOT of LAILA

LAILA

Alright already, I’m moving.

CUT

4 EXT CAR DAY

LONG SHOT of CAR driving away DIEGETIC DEMON NOISES return

FADE OUT

Filmography

Halloween (1978)

The Evil Dead (1981)

The Evil Dead II (1987)

Hellraiser (1987)

Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)

Army of Darkness (1992)

Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

Never Sleep Again:  The Elm Street Legacy (2010)

Hellraiser: Revelations (2011)

Evil Dead (2013)

Bibliography

BOX OFFICE MOJO (2013) Evil Dead [WWW] Box Office Mojo. Available from:  http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=intl&country=UK&id=evildead2013.htm [24/05/2013]

BOX OFFICE MOJO (2013) Hellraiser [WWW] Box Office Mojo. Available from:  http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=hellraiser.htm  [24/05/2013]

BOX OFFICE MOJO (2013) The Evil Dead [WWW] Box Office Mojo. Available from:  http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=evildead.htm [24/05/2013]

CLIVE BARKER (2006) Current Film Projects [WWW] Clive Barker Info. Available from: http://www.clivebarker.info/filmswip.html#hellraiser [20/04/2013]

EGAN ,K. (2011) The Evil Dead. London and New York: Wallflower Press.

DUNCAN, S. (2008) Genre Screenwriting: How to Write Popular Screenplays That Sell. New York and London: Continuum.

HORROR  FORUM(2013) Evil Dead vs. Hellraiser [WWW] Horror Forum. Available from: http://www.horror.com/forum/showthread.php?t=62837 [24/04/2013]

KANE, P. (2006) The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy. Jefferson, North Carolina and London: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers.

MORTIZ, C. (2001) Scriptwriting for the Screen. London: Routledge.

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