This past weekend I traveled to Cincinnati for my annual pilgrimage to Horror Hound. I bought many things, met many people, stunned Mitch Pileggi into silence, and even got to email with the only Pinhead in my book, Doug Bradley.
Check out my exclusive interview with Bradley where he talks about his favorite Hellraiser films, while also being extremely passive-aggressive about the upcoming sequel, Hellraiser: Judgment.
You’ll also learn some of his favorite horror classics, old and new, and learn about his upcoming project, Death House.
[BD] Well, I suppose I have to ask lest the readers come after me. What are your thoughts on Hellraiser: Judgement? Do you think the series is still capable of bringing back the excitement that the first two did?
[DB] I’m not really in a position to comment on Judgement, having been prevented from reading the script. Like everyone else, for the moment I only have Gary [Tunnicliffe]’s comments to go by. He certainly talks a good game: let’s wait for the proof of the pudding. It’s depressing that, as with Revelations, this again seems to be happening to save Dimension from losing the franchise rights. As to your second question, no reason why this can’t be the equal of the early films. Again, we’ll see. It certainly can’t be worse than the last one.
[BD] Have you been called in at all as an adviser for Paul T. Taylor as Pinhead or for any other reason?
[DB] Can you hear me laughing? Nope and nope. If my input was required in any way, you’d think Gary might have talked to me way back when, rather than leave it until just about a month before the start of filming. And, according to Gary, Mr. Taylor has the screen presence of Peter Cushing and Ralph Fiennes, so he won’t need any help from me, will he?
[BD] Hellraiser: Hellworld was the last time you appeared as Pinhead. We know that some of the later sequels, including Hellworld, were originally written as other movies but were converted into Hellraiser sequels. Do you remember what the original movies were supposed to be?
[DB] Actually, Hellworld was an original script: the first in the series since Bloodline. Inferno, Hellseeker and Deader were the ‘tweaked’ screenplays. I never read the non-Hellraiser versions, so I can’t really comment, but I think you can fillet the Hellraiser elements out of them and see where they would have been going.
[BD] Personally, Hellworld is one of my favorite sequels and I actually just did a commentary on it with a podcast. Do you ever call Henry Cavill to remind him what got him into movies? (haha) Which Hellraiser sequels do you like most?
[DB] Ha. I haven’t crossed paths with Henry since we were shooting in Bucharest. Glad to have given him a leg-up. Mentioned in dispatches as the next 007, I see: perhaps I should play the villain if he is, bring us full circle. I can only respect a man with Dalglish as a middle name, even if it is wrongly spelled (football reference: he’ll understand, most of your readers won’t).
As for the sequels, I think most of them keep their head above water. The only one that doesn’t work for me is Inferno. Hell On Earth is probably my second favourite, closely followed by Hellbound and, if I was calling the horse race it would be those two hotly pursued by Bloodline which is well clear of Hellseeker, Deader and Hellworld with Inferno labouring in the distance. Revelations was pulled up lame in the first furlong.
[BD] So let’s get into the genre itself. What are some of your favorite classic & recent horror movies? Some say the genre is getting worse but I disagree completely. The indie scene has really been kicking ass these past few years with things like It Follows and The Witch. From what I’m hearing out of SXSW this year, it looks like that trend is continuing.
[DB] Many, many favourites among the classics. Bride Of Frankenstein is my favourite of all time. Frankenstein, The Mummy…many more from the Universal Golden Age. Anything with Chaney Snr in it. Peter Cushing is my personal god among horror actors: pretty much all of his work for Hammer and Amicus. His portrayal of Frankenstein is one of the great essays in evil on screen: he gets darker and more amoral as he goes on, yet at the flick of a switch he could turn to the white-hot purity of Van Helsing with apparent ease. A great, great actor. The Innocents. The Omen. Texas Chainsaw, which was a game-changer, I think. Many, many more.
Has the genre deteriorated? In some ways. I miss the genuine weirdness of the 70s and 80s. I lament the advent of the PG-13 horror film. I’m fed up of horror films all being shot in the same muddy brown palette and relying on jump-scares and thumping bass notes to pull off their effects. But there are still gems surfacing all the time. I loved Crimson Peak (devoted Guillermo fan). I haven’t seen It Follows, but I agree entirely about The Witch: an extraordinary film, and with Ted Cruz talking about God telling him to run for the White House and talking about awakening the body of Christ in America, a timely reminder of the horrors that ensue when religious mania swamps the rational mind. I just saw 10 Cloverfield Lane which was great and backs up the trend you’re identifying. Let’s hope it continues.
[BD] I see that you are currently working on a project called Death House with several horror icons like Robert Englund and Danny Trejo. Can you let us in on that? How much of the original script was finished by Gunnar Hansen before we tragically lost him?
[DB] I have a long history with Death House which goes all the way back to 2009 when Gunnar sent me the breakdown of the story and of the character he wanted me to play, one of the leads. It looked as though it was going ahead in 2013 but then I understand it ran into funding difficulties and new investment came in and the script was re-written. Gunnar told me ‘They’ve written a completely different film’. I never saw the new screenplay until just last week. Gunnar wasn’t wrong. It is unrecognisable from the story he wrote and my character has completely disappeared. They had no right to be attaching my name to it, to be honest, but there’s not much you can do about that. Anyway, I didn’t like the screenplay and they were offering me only a tiny bit part in it. I have said No.
[BD] Do you have anything to say to readers who are skeptical of Hellraiser: Judgement?
[DB] I am a subscriber to “The Skeptical Enquirer” magazine. I actively encourage skepticism in relation to all things.