Gay horror writer Clive Barker has been planning a trans remake of The Mummy since the Eighties: ‘We were ahead of the curve’

A still from The Mummy (2017) featuring the Mummy played by actress Sofia Boutella with her arms out and eyes closed while being covered in a mist

The initial remake of Universal Pictures’ 1932 film The Mummy could have had a transgender lead character if gay horror writer and director Clive Barker had got his way.

Barker, best known for being the brilliant writer behind Hellraiser and Candyman, has revealed that he and filmmaker Mick Garris pitched the idea of Universal way back in 1989, but the idea was rejected outright.

Speaking together on Garris’ podcast Post Mortem, the pair reminisced about their desire to incorporate a trans lead into their initial remake, suggesting that the idea could still happen today.

“It had the first gender change… transsexual… so we were ahead of the curve,” Barker said. 

“So there’s a boy born… a boy-child born at the beginning of the narrative, who is obviously significant in the narrative… but we cut 20 years and there’s no sign of this guy. Apparently.

“There is a wonderfully strange, mysterious woman who is part of the narrative, a very important part of the narrative – I don’t want to say too much because we’re gonna make this one day… I hope… we should talk to Netflix,” Barker continued.

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Clive Barker wearing a blue and red shirt and black mask at the Beyond Fest Special Screening Of "Hellraiser"
Clive Barker said he was “ahead of the curve” when pitching an idea for a remake of The Mummy in 1989. (Getty/Alberto E. Rodriguez)

He went on: “The little boy… who is born at the beginning of the narrative… has become this exquisite woman. And a major part of a modern-day narrative about The Mummy. But this is our naïvety, Mick. How could we ever have thought, in 1989, when we turned this in, that they would say, ‘Ah, great!'”

Garris responded by saying that he thought they would “never” make the movie they pitched, with Barker adding: “I think I’ve had a slightly naïve attitude [towards] the suits.”

Barker also revealed that his remake would have been more “sexual” and “dark”, focusing on the owner of a museum who is a cultist trying to revive the mummies. 

The Mummy went on to be successfully remade in 1999 starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, with several follow-up films and a spin-off series, The Scorpion King, following. A 2017 reboot featuring Tom Cruise, however, was a monstrous commercial flop.

While the TV and film industry continues to struggle to successfully portray trans stories and centring trans characters, the queer community’s close affiliation with the horror genre provides a bit of hope that a trans version of The Mummy could one day be on the cards. 

In fact, a remake of Barker’s 1987 horror classic Hellraiser featuring trans actress Jamie Clayton as Pinhead was released on Hulu back in October.

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