We've often discussed the idea of legacy sequels, property revivals, and the power of nostalgia in storytelling — and one that's currently a hot topic is Clive Barker's Hellraiser. The franchise has delivered 10 movies (with a few questionable sequels in the later years) and is now being revived as a series for HBO, but was not-so-long-ago rumored to be getting another film from Spyglass Media Group.
The plot details for the HBO series are fairly unknown as of now, but Barker's involvement has been confirmed, which gives us hope that Hellraiser could see a major property resurgence in the near future. One crucial piece of the puzzle that hasn't been discussed is the possibility of seeing Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence) make a comeback for the next iteration of the mysterious Hellraiser film. So why is the idea of a Kirsty return so important?
Kirsty Cotton is an underrated Scream Queen.
When you think of the phrase Scream Queen, a lot of people think of Halloween's Laurie Strode or Scream's Sidney Prescott, but Kirsty Cotton is easily a top tier character who deserves respect. In the first Hellraiser, Kirsty is able to trick Pinhead to save her soul and survived being targeted by Frank and Julia — so her introduction came with three threats to overcome. Not only did Kirsty survive, but she essentially has some strange, unexplainable connection to Pinhead that helps her survive the next two films she appears in.
In the Hellraiser sequel, she even wears a Julia skin-suit to survive the film's unpredictable climax because she's clearly the best kind of crazy you can ask for from a Scream Queen. Hellraiser: Hellseeker brings Kirsty back again, this time a married woman. Her husband is the main focus for a majority of the film, where you slowly begin to learn that he was basically the worst guy she could be around since Uncle Frank.
The film then begins to reveal that Kirsty remains the most calculated person in the Hellraiser lore, sentencing her unfaithful husband and his mistresses to hell. Kirsty is a true horror queen. Case closed.
Her comic storylines are fascinating.
Something that has become a nice gift to genre fans is the ability to expand a title after a film/tv franchise has simmered. We've seen it done through five comic seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the return of Dan in Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Star Wars, and the list goes on for the transition from film or television to comics.
The Hellraiser series lived on for a long time, with Kirsty eventually becoming the new Pinhead. The 20 issue title by Boom! Studios involved Barker himself and are set decades after the original when a failed attempt at taking down the cenobites lands Kirsty in hell. Kirsty hopes to reunite with her loved ones, and Pinhead seeks humanity, so the two swap spots, once again showing yet another brilliant dynamic that her character can potentially provide.
Ashley Laurence gave such a memorable performance in the 1987 Hellraiser that it really played a role in the fans' interest in expanding the lore. The combination of Barker's work, the character of Pinhead, and Laurence as Kirsty was a brilliant blend that helped the film establish itself as a cult classic. Laurence can transition between being charming, witty, intelligent, and cunning without missing a beat, and that kind of magic is one of the best qualities of horror.
The actor has played a youthful, naive Kirsty and a scorned, hardened-by-life version of the character that it only makes sense to see what she brings to the table next. Part of the buzz around these legacy sequels concepts is seeing an actor return to a role because it evokes an emotional reaction from moviegoers, and Hellraiser is no different.
For those who grew up appreciating Laurence's portrayal of the character, or those who recently (or have yet to) discover Hellraiser, it's hard to imagine revisiting the franchise without the woman who helped create some of the best horror titles in decades.
What was your favorite Kirsty moment in Hellraiser?