'Hellraiser' redo in Laugier's hands

Writer-director to help realize Dimension's relaunch

Pascal Laugier, whose horror film "Martyrs" stirred controversy in his native France, is in final negotiations to write and direct Dimension's re-imagining of "Hellraiser," one of horrormeister Clive Barker's best-known creations.

Released in 1987, "Hellraiser" told the story of an unfaithful wife who attempts to assist her dead lover in his escape from hell. The movie introduced viewers to a race of demons called Cenobites, most notably one nicknamed Pinhead -- who became one of the most enduring horror characters of the decade -- who was summoned using an antique puzzle box.

Dimension has been hoping to relaunch the franchise for the past couple of years, first hiring Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo to write and direct a remake then tapping Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton to write a new draft.

ICM-repped Laugier at least seems to have thematic sympathies with the material, with his "Martyrs" beginning as a revenge movie then entering the grounds of spiritual horror, with torture figuring as a focal point. Torture -- though not the so-called horror subgenre of torture porn -- also is a key point in "Hellraiser."

"This is a dream project for me," Laugier said. "I know Clive Barker's work very well, and I would never betray what he has done. Fans are expecting a definitive 'Hellraiser,' and I don't want to take that away from them."

"Martyrs" has been dividing audiences since appearing at the Festival de Cannes because of its unrelenting violent nature. The movie was hit with a 18+ rating -- a rarity in France and an equivalent of NC-17 in the U.S. -- sparking a protest by the country's Society of Film Directors.

At the Toronto International Film Festival, several people reportedly fainted during its midnight screenings. The Weinstein Co. is the domestic distributor, but no dates have been announced.

The remake is part of Dimension chief Bob Weinstein's master plan.

"If I could make all my films from franchises, I would," the Weinstein Co. co-chairman said at the recent Media and Money conference in New York. At the event, presented by Dow Jones and the Nielsen Co., parent company of The Hollywood Reporter, he rattled off a list of other films that he hopes to continue sequelizing, including "Scream" and "Scary Movie."

Borys Kit reported from Los Angeles; Gregg Goldstein reported from New York.