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.