The Clive Barker Podcast Interviews Gary J. Tunnicliffe
The Clive Barker Podcast was lucky to chat with filmmaker and FX maestro Gary J. Tunnicliffe about his upcoming Hellraiser sequel, Hellraiser: Judgment. After talking with him, it’s quite obvious he has a deep love and affection for the franchise. He’s a fan like all of us and has tried to respect and add something fresh to the Hellraiser mythology with the new film. He’s lived and breathed this franchise for almost thirty years now! We’re in more than capable hands with someone who knows and understands this world.
So, without further delay, Gary J. Tunnicliffe everyone!
CBP: The Clive Barker Podcast would like to thank you for doing this interview. We hope you’re doing well today?
GT: Thank you very much, very kind of you to ask. Today has gone well. It’s 3.18 am here and I’m bright eyed and bushy tailed as any horror auteur should be!
CBP: It must finally be nice to see Hellraiser: Judgment released to the public?
GT: It’s a joy! Honestly, the film was finished quickly after the main shoot. We had a VERY restrictive budget and we simply did not have the luxury of lengthy edits. I had a total of about 3 weeks working with my editors and that was it. After that, it was off for color timing, sound, and music. I assumed it would come out last year, but of course that didn’t happen. Then with all the issues with Harvey and The Weinstein Co., I was fearful it might end up on a shelf somewhere.
CBP: Tell us about the origins for this sequel?
GT: Truthfully, I’ve probably been thinking about Hellraiser stories since I saw the first film. I think a good horror concept does that to everyone, right? Meeting fans at horror conventions, I must have heard the line ‘You know what would make a cool story……’ followed by that person’s idea a hundred or so times. So, I’m not alone. I’ve always been fascinated by the Hellraiser world within our world and its mythos. The story for Judgment came about a little bit more like the elements of a Cohen Brothers movie in that ideas for scenes kept popping up in my head and then I had a ‘What if’ idea (which in my opinion are the best story concepts) and it all started to fall in place. Truthfully, I never thought it would get made since some of the elements, some of those scenes are pretty….intense. Or just plain weird (depending on your tastes).
CBP: What impressed me the most about the film’s trailer is the movie looked bigger than the budget you had to work with. Was that one of the goals when you set out to make the movie?
GT: Oh absolutely! I had an extremely limited budget and so I wrote what was viable. No point writing car chases or legions of warring cenobites! I wrote sequences that I thought we could realistically shoot and then I tried to plan as much as possible before shooting so that every minute was utilized. We got as much coverage and as many set ups as possible, but still focusing on effective lighting and set dressing.
CBP: The film’s visual style is very striking! The yellowish color palette seems to belong to these new character’s hell? Was this a way to separate them from the regular cenobites?
GT: Yep, well spotted. The blue world of the Cenobites was saved just for them and the ‘piss’ yellow world was for this ‘new order.’ I wanted to differentiate them and color (as well as their look) was the way to do that.
CBP: The Order of the Gash celebrates the beauty of suffering, but these new characters like ‘the Butcher’ and ‘the Surgeon’ seem more about its destruction. Are they outcasts from the main order?
GT: No, they’re not outcasts. My idea is that Hell is a vast world with Auditor(s) processing souls of the guilty. The Order of the Gash are a different faction who heed the call of the Lament Configuration, but perhaps the two worlds have intersected for some reason.
CBP: Can fans expect some references to the earlier films of the franchise in Hellraiser: Judgment?
GT: Personally, I’d only ever reference the first or second film. They are the gold standard in my opinion and like so many other people (even though I have been involved with ALL the sequels) I’ve never been a great fan of any of them. Not that they haven’t had some great moments. I think they have, but overall, they always left me wanting. I chose to honor the first film in a simple, subtle way. The address of the house in the first movie ( 55 Ludovico St.) is referenced, but used in a different manner. Also, one very prominent line we did use from the first film wasn’t in the scene in the original Judgment script, but when we got there it fit beautifully and made SO much sense. I also honor the original Star Wars too. I hope you have fun spotting that one!
CBP: Paul Taylor seems to have a strong presence as Pinhead. Do you think he’s going to surprise a lot of fans with his portrayal of the character?
GT: Surprise? I hope so! I mean truthfully Paul (as I told him when we offered him the role) was damned from the very start. I, (like everyone else on planet earth) LOVE what Doug does! I wanted Doug, but that was not meant to be. So, what do you do?
I watched a LOT of auditions and early on Paul stuck out, both in terms of his physicality and his interpretation so he was the guy. He worked REALLY hard, had great excitement and enthusiasm and took every bit of direction I threw at him. But make no mistake he’s not doing a Bradley impersonation. This Pinhead is different, a little colder and more sarcastic perhaps. He really shows his nature in the finale. I hope that people just give Hell’s Sammy Hagar a shot!
CBP: Was he given carte blanche to add his on little touches to the role or were you set on having the character do things the way you wanted?
GT: No (LOL)…I was all over the Angel of Suffering like white on rice! I nailed him down (no pun intended). There wasn’t going to be any eye widening or crazy grimaces. We actually used Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin as a reference at times. And if Paul ever got a little lost we’d both repeat the line, ‘You’re far too trusting’, to help pull it back.
CBP: Did you consider changing the Pinhead makeup for the new movie?
GT: We DID change it. I sculpted it myself, obviously there was NO WAY I would not do the classic look. That design (courtesy of Clive and in no small measure Geoff Portass) is PERFECT! – “if it aint broke don’t fix it” and that’s an INDESTRUCTIBLE design – but I did do a few small things. The cuts are much deeper and more like blade slices. The pins are slightly longer and silver. There’s a square removed from the corner of the jaw on each side (to make it a little less pin heavy) and a floating square at the back of the head and we removed the wire pulls on the back. Pretty subtle stuff, but I wanted Paul to have his own make up, hence the reason we changed his costume a little. Also, we altered the box in this version. It’s bleached wood with a copper etching.
CBP: Some fans feel the film’s story is very similar to Hellraiser: Inferno. For me personally, it feels like Hellraiser with a twist of SE7EN thrown in. Would that be a better way of describing it?
GT: I can see why people would say that from only having seen the trailer, same as I can see why people might say it has a SAW vibe. Those people who HAVE seen it have said (as you noted) that it’s more like SE7EN meets HELLRAISER meets THE CELL.
CBP: Something that’s been missing since the first couple of films are the themes of pain and pleasure. Have you tried to inject some of that back into the series with this sequel?
GT: Honestly that is the stuff I love the most. Unfortunately, the people holding the pink slip on the movie really struggle with those elements, I was able to get some pretty STRANGE stuff past them on this one, but the heavy sadomasochistic stuff might have to wait until they have more faith in me. Let’s see how his one does and of I get invited back to play!
CPB: The film seems to go back to the strange images of the first two films (i.e. skinless Frank smoking a cigarette). Were you trying to recreate those kinds of moments here? Especially, with this strange character ‘the Auditor?’
GT: I was trying to (and I think we achieved it) go for something we haven’t seen for a while in horror. A very matter of fact approach to something very dark, horrific and bizarre. The process of the Auditor, the Jury, the Cleaners, the Butcher and the Surgeon are day to day occurrences for them, but we (and the Candidate) are seeing them for the first time. Hopefully, it’s jarring and startling, but for them….it’s another day at the office.
CBP: Who’s composed the score for the movie?
GT: The soundtrack was created by Deron Johnson who (on a shoe string budget) has done miracles. The music is very much inspired by Trent Reznor/Se7en vibe which is something Bob (Weinstein) really pushed for and I embraced. I adore Christopher Young’s music. My original cut was done to ALL Christopher’s cues, but we couldn’t afford him or those pieces. So rather than do a poor orchestral score, a more modern score was decided upon. Deron knocked it out of the park and it really suits the style of this film.
CBP: This could also be the most intense sequel yet when it comes to the violence since Hellbound: Hellraiser II. Can you give us a sneak peek to some of the more gruesome bits?
GT: I really don’t want to say too much. In fact I don’t want to say anything, but there are different levels of gruesome in this film. There is the gruesomeness of the Preceptor (the serial killer) kills which is a more ‘reality based’. The gruesomeness of the Auditor is a totally different world and really plays on the intimate. It was the nature of the Preceptor’s kills that caused one actor to almost pass out, but it was a scene with the Auditor that had some people ‘gagging.’ Then we have the Cenobite stuff which is your more traditional Hellraiser ‘hooks n chains’ violence. So, it’s a sort of gruesome smorgasbord, hopefully something for everyone!
CBP: Speaking of sequels, do you think we’ll see more continuing where Hellraiser: Judgment leaves off?
GT: I hope so! But that obviously is purely a question of fan reaction and economics. If it does well, who knows? But at one point the word ‘spin off’ was mentioned, but all of that is pillow talk as far as I’m concerned. It’s all about the numbers.
CBP: Are you happy that the home video release will preserve your original vision with it being unrated? Also, what can the fans expect as far as special features go?
GT: Oh, it’s not my original version. Are you kidding? I don’t think people could stomach my original version. The studio certainly couldn’t. I’ve been simulating killing people in movies for over twenty years. I think my tolerance is somewhat askew! I’m like the coroner eating his sandwich while he wanders the murder scene for god’s sake! David Fincher’s producer had to stop me and David once at lunch on Gone Girl when we were discussing the kill scene on Neil Patrick Harris as we were getting incredibly graphic as we munched away on our food.
I could have easily made the film ten to fifteen minutes longer with a more intense cut, but it would probably be TOO much. In the end, wiser heads prevailed. There is a slightly extended edit on the bluray/dvd, but I think the film has a pretty good balance. As far as special features go, there are a couple of extra scenes that were slowing things down a little and a very funny GAG reel.
CBP: Finally, do you think the franchise will return to the big screen one day?
GT: Fingers crossed, right? Whether I’m involved or not they’ll always have my money, whether it’s a reboot or re-imagining I’ll go along. I mean no one is going to come and steal my copy of Hellraiser or Hellbound away so what does it matter? Making another Hellraiser movie simply means some people get to work on it, Clive’s legacy continues and there is always the possibility it might just be good!
CBP: Gary, we want to thank you again for doing this interview. Everyone here at the Clive Barker Podcast wishes you the best of luck with the film and any new projects you are working on.
GT: Thank you!
Hellraiser: Judgment is out today! To order your copy following the link below:
Also, don’t forget to check out all of Gary’s work at his official site at http://www.twohoursinthedark.net/
Or you can visit his IMDB page as well at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0876683/?ref_=tt_ov_dr