My Personal Feelings on Hellraiser: Judgment – Part One
Hellraiser: Judgment is in the early stages of post-production as I type this. This sequel has everything going against it. The fan support is non-existent. Clive Barker isn’t involved in any way shape or form. Doug Bradley has once again decided not to return as Pinhead. And last but not least the film‘s budget is a super low $500,000! It seems doomed to fail for sure.
But maybe not.
With the recent interviews conducted by the horror websites Bloody Disgusting and Dread Central, an enthusiastic writer/director Gary Tunnicliffe seems adamant to make a film that will not only satisfy the fans, but also stay true to the established mythology of Hellraiser and Hellbound. He also wants to bring something fresh to the table that will hopefully let the mythology grow in a positive way.
If it’s done well, I don’t have a problem with that at all because none of the direct to video sequels even attempted to do so. If anything they went against it which made the films feel more like A Nightmare on Elm Street meets Jacob’s Ladder than anything that ever resembled Hellraiser.
It’s very obvious that Gary has always wanted to direct a Hellraiser film which I can understand since he’s lived and breathed this franchise for close to twenty-five years. I think he’s paid more than enough dues to be given the chance. I’m sure a lot fans know that he wrote the series most reviled entry Hellraiser: Revelations which is obviously a sore spot for him.
He lobbied to direct that film as well, but wasn’t given the opportunity to do so. He also wasn’t present on the set of Revelations because he was working on other films at the time, but I think looking back I‘m sure he would’ve liked to have been more involved considering some of the choices that were made regarding his script. So it’s no surprise that the final version didn’t sit well with him judging by this partial quote he said to Fangoria Magazine:
I was devastated to not be able to direct REVELATIONS and to see the script whittled down and shot in a way that I would not have done. I respect Victor [Garcia] and I know he was under great pressure (in all aspects) and unfortunately, I think he made some choices that didn’t work out for him… so overall it was tough to see something I created altered and served up in a way that I was not a fan of in the end…
(source: Fangoria Magazine)
So I’m sure when this project came up he fought tooth and nails (no pun intended) to make sure he got into the director’s chair so the film would be done properly.
And this isn’t the first time Gary has directed a movie. He’s been behind the camera many times. He directed the very entertaining creature feature WithIn the Rock which was an obvious Alien clone and a good one at that. It boosted some very impressive special effects for the small budget that it had to work with and the creature itself looked very good. He also got some decent performances out of his actors.
He also directed the cool Hellraiser inspired short film No More Souls which featured an old and tired Pinhead who decides to end his life by solving the Lament Configuration. Once again for the small budget they had Gary pulled off some very cool visuals. And I loved the last shot which was a great nod to the opening of Hellraiser.
The point is I think Gary is more than capable to pull off movie on a shoestring budget. I’m sure working on low budget horror films over the years has taught him how to work with what you’ve got. That’s the nature of the business.
I’ll say this to put it into perspective: He’s no Clive Barker, but he’s no Uwe Boll either.
Another aspect of the film that intrigues me is the visual approach to the world he’s trying to create. I watched the Kickstarter trailer and thought it looked great when it was a non-Hellraiser film called Judgment. His inspirations are drawn from classic painters such Hieronymus Bosch and Francis Bacon and visionary filmmakers such as David Lynch, David Fincher, David Croenberg, Terry Gilliam, and of course the one and only Clive Barker. If he uses all of these minds to create a horrifying vision for a Hellraiser film then I’m behind him one hundred percent. I confident that Gary and his director of photography Samuel Calvin will deliver something very special on this part of the film. I really think the filmmakers want to disturb us.
The new group of cenobites he’s created for Judgment didn’t sound very appealing to me at first, but the more he’s revealed about them the more I’ve come to accept them. First up is ‘The Auditor’ who’s described as Hell’s accountant who learns of your sins, your transgressions, your evils, and takes careful note of them before passing them on to the ‘Assessor’ for judgment. Next up is ‘The Jury’ which is a group of three women who’s faces are heavily scarred with blood, bone, muscle, sinew, and teeth exposed. They pass down the horrific verdicts onto all offending mortals. Then you have ‘The Cleaners’ who are a group of older women who lick the bodies of their victims from head to toe. There’s also ‘The Butcher’ and ‘The Surgeon’ but not much is known about them. I’d also like to learn more about ‘The Assessor’ who I believe could possibly be the Engineer or Leviathan in some shape or form. But that’s just me speculating.
Something else to take notice of is that these new creatures aren’t members of ‘The Order of the Gash’ like Pinhead, Chatterer, and the Female Cenobite. Judgment will also reveal that hell has different factions and all have different looks. Director Gary Tunnicliffe had this to say:
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.
(source: Bloody Disgusting)
I think Gary and his team also went out and did a good job casting some great talent for the movie. Of course most of these actors and actresses are unknowns except for the lovely Heather Langenkamp from A Nightmare on Elmstreet. But I’ve watched a lot of the acting reels from most of the main leads and I was impressed with what I saw. I’m not sure we’re going to get Oscar worthy performances here, but I believe they’ll be good enough and hopefully won’t feel awkward like the performances in Revelations.
So far these are the aspects that I’ve found most interesting about Hellraiser: Judgment. My next blog will focus more on aspects that I either don’t like or that concern me.
To be continued…