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‘Hellraiser: Judgment’ Interview: Gary Tunnicliffe Talks Genesis, New Pinhead, and Sequels Being Rushed Into Development!

Hellraiser Judgment

Ever since A Nightmare On Elm Street‘s Heather Langenkamp revealed she was starring in a new Hellraiser, the questions have been mounting exponentially.

We’ve learned quite a bit over the past month, including that special effects artist Gary Tunnicliffe (who worked on several of the Hellraiser films) was behind the camera on Hellraiser: Judgment for Dimension Films, and that Paul T. Taylor is your new Pinhead. We’ve also discovered a heavy portion of the cast: Damon Carney, Randy Wayne, Alexandra Harris, John Gulagher, Mike Jay Regan, Diane Goldner, Andi Powers, Jeff Fenter, Helena Grace Donald, and Grace Montie (read about their roles).

The biggest question mark, however, was how Tunnicliffe’s Judgment screenplay fit into the world created by Clive Barker all of those years ago. I had originally thought that Judgment was a stand alone project, while Tunnicliffe tells us it was the other way around:

Judgment was always a Hellraiser project (concept), but I didn’t think I would have a shot at directing a Hellraiser movie,” he explained, “so I removed the Hellraiser elements and tried to get Judgment made independently. I met with several producers but they found the material SO outlandish and disturbing they always balked…and usually asked if I would instead be interested in directing a movie about some teens being chased by a masked killer (yawn).

“Some friends suggested I try Kickstarter…we put the site up and then I was told I had to contact everyone on my email list basically ‘begging’ for money…it didn’t sit well with me, so I decided to pull it,” he continues. “I only ever had a pitch, no script was ever written; Revelations was very much a traditional Hellraiser tale with a lot of ‘nods’ to the original and I got reamed for that, so I figured I would ‘swing for the fences’ and make Judgment.”

On how Judgment will fit into the Hellraiser universe:

“This is very much a Hellraiser movie connected at the very core. It wasn’t a script that was adapted in anyway; this script was conceived, written and re-written as a Hellraiser movie. It is different from Hellraiser movies before, since it involves a new mechanism in conjunction with the box for the gathering of souls, and that introduces us to these new characters. But it still very much operates within the mythos of a ‘world within our world’ that I have always felt is the mainstay of Clive’s (Barker) work.”

Speaking of new characters, not all of the cool new creations are Cenobites.

“Actually some of the characters aren’t really ‘Cenobites’ per se – they aren’t the members of the ‘order of the gash’ we are used to,” he explained, revealing some of the new plot. “I don’t want to say too much at this point but we discover that Hell actually has several factions and all have different looks. The Cenobites we have in the movie (Pinhead, Chatterer and the Stitch Twins) are the ‘sharp end of the spear,’ so to speak.”

We’ve been advocating that Pinhead isn’t necessary in making a good Hellraiser movie. Tunnicliffe compares him to the special sauce on a burger.

“I think Pinhead has undoubtedly become the face and centerpiece of the franchise, but I think it’s foolish to let him try to carry the franchise or a movie on his own. To me he’s the special sauce on a great burger; too much special sauce and it makes you sick, not enough and you’re left wanting more.

“What I can reveal is this is a very no nonsense Pinhead,” he continues, “no glib one-liners, he’s a little leaner and a little meaner. We especially tried to incorporate this into the make-up and costume; the cuts are deeper, the pins a little longer, his eyes are completely black and wardrobe is a little sleeker and more visceral. Someone on set described him as the ‘bad ass’ version of Pinhead. Paul (Taylor) certainly relished the role and gave him an icy demeanor.”

In regards to make-up and special effects, Tunnicliffe talks about balancing both directing and overseeing the FX work.

“It’s tricky. It’s even trickier when you write, direct, handle the make-up FX, key props and character costumes! The trick, I think, is to have a great team and amazing support. I had that from both the FX crew that I bought from LA (Mike Regan, Mike Measimer and Adrienne Lynn Booth) and from the incredible shooting crew in Oklahoma…they all worked above and beyond my expectations and were always understanding when I grabbed a brush and joined in or ‘tweaked’ stuff.

The make-up effects and gore were so much, at times, that one of the leads almost passed out.

“Our lead actress almost passed out during one particularly traumatic scene,” he revealed. “Three people left set during one sequence because they were going to throw up (my DP Sam made the strangest noise I have ever heard from a human being with an expression of panic/joy/revulsion) during one of the ‘Cleaner’ sequences.

“I don’t think it’s so much the quantity of blood (or whatever fluid you’re mimicking) but more the nature of the effects, the content and the context. I think some of our blood gags are actually quite beautiful; when you see blood raining down on a naked girl with a skinned face at 300 frames per second you can’t help but be mesmerized by the fluid dynamics.”

As cool as everything sounds, the hardest question to ask was about the perception of the Hellraiser franchise, which has become about rights issues and rushing sequels into production. Tunnicliffe was incredibly candid, talking to the internal dialogue at Dimension, and how Judgment is very different.

“I think there has been a huge gap since Dimension are actually trying to do their best by the franchise,” he stated when asked about the time between each Hellraiser film. “You know everyone sticks it to those guys for the poorer quality sequels but there isn’t any magic formula for making great horror films. If there were, everyone would be making amazing horror flicks, right?! I think [The Weinstein Company is] well aware that Hellworld was rushed into production and suffered for it, and Revelations suffered a similar set of problems (when the rights issue came up fast and furious without anyone knowing). [Revelations] was very much a ‘band-aid’ or field dressing.

Speaking frankly: “Judgment IS a rights issue movie, but has been made with the sensibilities and input given to a regular budgeted Dimension feature. The executives (all the way to the very TOP of Dimension) and producers involved didn’t just say, “Bang this out”; there was an intense development stage, several re-writes and amazing input and guidance on casting, etc. Initially I pitched two concepts: Hellraiser: Judgment and a second idea called Hellraiser: Enter Darkness (I still love that title!). The latter of which was a much more linear, ‘Hollywood’-style horror movie. [Dimension] was very cool and extremely supportive about going with the riskier ‘Gilliamesque, del Toro, Barker, Cronenberg, Fincher’ tone, instead of the more mainstream idea. I have to give them props for that!”

In Hellraiser: Judgment, Detectives Sean and David Carter are on the case to find a gruesome serial killer terrorizing the city. Joining forces with Detective Christine Egerton, they dig deeper into a spiraling maze of horror that may not be of this world.

“We tried to make the main story (the serial killer story) as compelling as the Hellraiser/Hell elements. If we can make a film that will horrify and shock without all the Hell stuff…then hopefully we’re on to a winner.

“Our mantra has become Se7en meets The Cell, whilst trying to innovate, not replicate.”

Here’s your exclusive look at Paul Taylor as the new Pinhead.

Hellraiser Judgment



  • Kyle Ord

    I’m scared but I’ll give it a shot

    • Bob B

      I recall Bradley saying he wouldn’t be involved because he hated the script and felt it wasn’t a Hellraiser film in his opinion. They’ve all been pretty bad lately.

      • Kyle Ord

        They sure have

        The last one I enjoyed was bloodline!

      • Rob Ridenour

        Doug never said that. He never even read the script because he wouldn’t sign a gag order that prevented him from talking about the movie. Here’s the actual quote:

        “Gary said he would send me a copy of the script when he had completed a second draft, but before I could be allowed to set eyes on the precious document, I was required to sign a gagging order. This was a three page document preventing me from talking about the script ‘in restrooms’, ‘on elevators’, ‘in restaurants’ or ‘in cellular telephone conversations which may be overheard’. There was also dark reference to ‘people talking out of turn at conventions’. I read this thing in disbelief, and informed Gary I would not be signing it.”

        • Bob B

          You are right, I read that…. my point was that he didn’t want to be involved which is a bad sign all around in my opinion. But yea….they have a new pinhead…just because they didn’t trust Doug Bradley…awesome.

          • Rob Ridenour

            I wouldn’t go as far saying it’s awesome but the new does look pretty similar than the last guy from Revelations. lol That guy looked completely lost.

          • Rob Ridenour

            I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s awesome but at least he looks better than the guy from Revelations. That was awkward.

          • Bob B

            I was being sarcastic though… :D. who really wants a new pinead? No one… The OG guy still around. I think Bloodline was the only “somewhat” decent Hellraiser film that I can recall other than the original lineup. I bet that if I saw it now though, I wouldn’t think it was good.

  • Graham

    Kind of into this now.

  • James

    Personally I’d rather see them lose the rights rather than rush yet another terrible entry, but I may just give it a shot.

  • Cappy Tally

    That poster is garbage. As for the movie, we’ll see.

    • Wes Draven

      That isn’t a poster, that’s some crudely altered picture from the director’s Instagram.

  • Francesco Falciani

    thanks God it didn’t happen to the Halloween franchise and they lost the rights before to rush a sequel…a rush halloween would have been a Tragedy!

    • Hero

      I think Halloween has already had some pretty tragic entries, and that’s without them being low budget or rushed like some of the more recent Hellraiser sequels.

      • Francesco Falciani

        well…nope…halloween franchise could have some bad entries but not as bad as the hellraiser ones …from part 4 to 9 are pretty bad!

  • wehoaks

    “The latter of which was a much more linear, ‘Hollywood’-style horror movie. [Dimension] was very cool and extremely supportive about going with the riskier ‘Gilliamesque, del Toro, Barker, Cronenberg, Fincher’ tone, instead of the more mainstream idea. I have to give them props for that!”

    Tunnicliffe is so cute!!

    • Khy

      Just adorbies!

  • sliceanddice

    In the words of that x files poster, “i want to believe”

    • Khy


  • I’m seriously rooting for this. I love that he acknowledges it’s a “rights issue production” but it’s obvious the film is much more to Tunnicliffe. Plus 300 fps raining blood is gonna look sweet in slow mo. 🙂

  • Hero

    It makes me feel a little bit better to hear that Judgement was basically a Hellraiser story all along, so at least the transition back to Hellraiser is more natural than, for example, Deader.

    • alwayswipetwice

      I haven’t read The Hellbound Heart, so I only know the mythos from the movie, but him talking about new non-Cenobite creatures makes me uneasy. Anyone know if this is a legit part of the Hellraiser mythos, or just something made up by a studio that doesn’t give a shit?

      • I just recently started reading Scarlet Gospels (the sequel to Hellbound Heart) and there’s certainly a more grand vision of Hell and its inhabitants. But in regards to only the movies, in Hellraiser 2 there were several nightmarish images of people/demons in hell who weren’t cenobites. Pinhead only ever became central to the film’s due to marketing. We’ll see how it all turns out though.

      • Hero

        Other than the obvious budget and short shooting schedule concerns, what still bothers me is Judgement sounds like a very morally-driven concept. Ultimately, the demonic bureaucrat characters are processing their victims to determine whether they’re innocent or guilty. The cenobites I know are indifferent to morality and aren’t punishing people for their sins. The cenobites of the Hellbound Heart never judge Frank for his evils or plan to punish him, they just want to subject him to sensual experiences not of this world.

      • Asty

        well since the third film we already had “pseudocenobites” and on the second ones some hints at other kinds of creatures existing in hell, so I wouldn’t be too bothered if they expand the Hell mythos.

      • Josh Nitsche

        What about this guy? He’s not a cenobite. Just chill.

  • alwayswipetwice

    They’re not really Cenobites “per se”? Great. Because who wants actual Cenobites in a Hellraiser movie anyway?…

    • Stitch_101

      He said not ALL the new featured characters/creature were Cenobites… No where did it even imply that there wouldn’t be any Cenobites. Reading comprehension man.

      • alwayswipetwice

        I’m only on book 2 of my Learn To Read set. Give me a break

  • THGrimm

    My gut instincts about this project have been confirmed. I think this movie has a serious shot with Tunnicliffe at the helm. He’s clearly passionate and the fact that this was originally a Hellraiser movie makes me more confident. Passion makes for better movies. I’m glad he said the Dimension producers were supportive too and they gave an ample development stage.

  • Khy

    Talk is cheap. Show me the receipts.

  • TH3J4CK4L

    this actually helps to quell some of my fear that I had about this movie. seems like tunnicliffe knows his stuff considering he referred to them as the order of the gash. at first I was skeptical when I heard about this considering how bad Revelations and Hell world was,butit really seems like tunnicliffe is actually doing his best to make a good Hellraiser movie. of course it still remains to be seen since there’s no trailer but it seems like he’s on to a similar idea to what I thought the series Direction Should go in

  • Peter Johnson

    This sounds awesome. Lets hope it’s as good as it sounds. And I like his passion. It gives me hope that this will be a legit movie.

  • Mr.Be.A.Dick

    Why is it, i have a feeling the director is trying to hard sell a project that was very much rushed, so he can have a chance to direct what je really wants too. Too many times directors or actors take what that can to get their foot in the door to make what they really wanted later. I have no hopes for this, i want to be wrong. The vauge sensuality of the first two has never been replicated in this series after those ones. This has in my opinion,with the books, the comics to a degree, been about the temptation of flesh and how far some have to go into pain to be pleased fully. Pinhead and the ceno’s wernt judgement, thry were the darkest side of sexuality. We will see, but all of us will be in the talk backs when its reviewed, and i can only believe we will be letting loose the mud flaps on it. Dont want to, but this series has lost its way along time ago.

    • Mehliens

      What always bothered me most about the Hellraiser movies that the Cenobites are never really portrayed as the sexual hedonist devils they are supposed to be. Also apart from the first film very little actual dark hedonism and depraved sexuality is going on. Plus the whole mythology / puzzle box / pact / rules / internal logic MAKES NO SENSE. Having said that I love the first film and think that Hellbound and (origin story part of) Bloodlines would have had immense potential if the script was better and made by a more qualified team and no studio fucking things up with stupid ass space stations and cutting the good stuff short to give cenobites more screen time which totally ruined the story.

  • Douglas Young

    He got “reamed” for Revelations because it sucked. It was badly shot, badly acted, and all around a bad film – and made without the Pinhead actor we know and love. I’m slightly excited for this purely because of the passion and the casting of Heather Langenkamp. But I’m cautious of the fact that he seems to be really trying to sell the idea of the movie without so much as a trailer, teaser, etc. The poster looks like an awful low-quality photoshop filtered piece of fan-art, and while the new pinhead – in that filtered, familiarly lit angle – looks promising, I’m not holding my breath. The Dimension logo is the most polished element on the whole poster – and unfortunately that’s all we have to go on.

  • wehoaks

    From the director who acts as if slasher movies are below him comes HELLRAISER 42: Retaining Rights

    • RidleyScott

      It must be so hard being Gary, always being offered those masked killer gigs. Ugh, such a misunderstood auteur.

      • wehoaks

        I went to a church and lit a candle for him.

  • silentevil77

    “starring”?? I thought she said she had a small part

  • PsychoMantis18

    I’m hopeful as the director sounds thoughtful and the pics so far look pretty good.
    Will remain excited.

    • NixEclips

      I’ve been there, man. Holding out hope that some old school fx guy could bring us back.
      I remember Ice Hole Down, or whatever it was called.
      They really proved their point.

  • Dave Copsey

    “This film is being treated just as seriously as a big budget release. Here’s our first official poster that somebody has blatantly knocked out in under 3 minutes. ”

  • Adam Clifton

    It sounds alright. They already have better actors than they did for the last one. Seems like better special fx too and a better-looking Pinhead. But there’s one sticking point in this… no Doug Bradley as Pinhead. That will forever be the sore thumb for this movie

  • Ned Michaels

    I have serious doubts about all of this, since these people generally say whatever they want to promote the movie and then hope everyone forgets that they just compared Hellraiser Part 9 to Gilliam, Del Toro, Barker, Fincher, and Cronenberg. I think I’ll keep pretending the series stopped after part 2

  • Sykes

    “…we put the site up and then I was told I had to contact everyone on my
    email list basically ‘begging’ for money…it didn’t sit well with me, so I
    decided to pull it,”

    aka: They only got $8,714 pledged of the $195,000 they were looking for. Which sucks for sure, but let’s be honest about why it never happened.

  • Vassago Gamori

    Go on…but trick us again child…and your suffering will be legendary even in Hell !

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