Exclusive: Gary Tunnicliffe Talks Hellraiser: Judgment (Part 2); New Image from the Set


Yesterday we brought you Part 1 of our chat with filmmaker Gary Tunnicliffe on his currently in post-production flick Hellraiser: Judgment, and today we dig into the film’s all new Cenobites, the inclusion of A Nightmare on Elm Street actress Heather Langenkamp, and more.

With the role of the series’ iconic “Pinhead” being essayed in Hellraiser: Judgment by actor Paul T. Taylor (taking over the reins from originator Doug Bradley with an updated makeup design; read about that in Part 1 here), we also queried Tunnicliffe in regards to what we may expect from the series’ new demonic creations.

No stranger to the world, Tunnicliffe has provided makeups for six of the previous installments of the Hellraiser franchise (beginning in 1992 with director Anthony Hickox’s Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth), although it would appear that in both look and character he’s hell-bent (sorry) on delivering something a bit more sinister than Part III’s “CD Head.”

“I can’t say too much without giving away all the goods,” teased Tunnicliffe of Judgment’s scripted and evidently expanded mythology (he remained coy as well regarding the subject in the below photo from set), “[but] what I will say is that it involves the introduction of a new ‘mechanism’ to process souls, and we discover Hell isn’t just the realm of the Cenobites. The Cenobites are the ‘sharks in the water,’ but there is another group we meet… that’s where we meet [new characters] ‘The Auditor,’ ‘The Assessor,’ ‘The Butcher,’ ‘The Surgeon,’ ‘The Jury,’ etc., but there is interaction and common ground [among them].”

As for their look (created by Tunnicliffe and his FX house and production company, Two Hours in the Dark, Inc.), he offered, “I’ve tried to deliver something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue… literally! We tried to update without betraying the roots of the familiar characters, and regarding the newer characters I tried to get away from the bondage look, which can look a little dated now without lots of money, and create a look that was a little more organic and hopefully timeless. We spent a lot of time aging and layering fabrics and adding detailing using ‘Gilliam-esque’ principals.”

Speaking to the characters of “The Jury,” “They were based on the idea of a visual dichotomy,” illuminated the filmmaker. “You take [three] beautiful naked girls so that every male’s initial response is, ‘Wow,’ and then you skin their faces and have them performing what is a very bizarre yet mundane act. The idea is to create that ‘beautiful disgusting’ that I always felt was the Clive Barker trademark. Clive has always been the author who could describe the most intense, awful visual in the most poetic way that made you just read on and on. I’ve tried to emulate that visually [in that] what you are watching is disgusting, but it’s presented in such a way that makes it pleasing to the eye. Hopefully.”


Joining the characters of “The Jury” are “The Assessor” (portrayed by Feast and Piranha 3DD director John Gulager) and “The Cleaner,” a role purported to be that of a aging, naked woman who cleans bodies for punishment by licking them head to toe (played by Halloween 2, The Collector, and Feast actress Diane Goldner). Tunnicliffe is no stranger to the duo, having provided the FX for both Piranha 3DD and Feast.

Of their casting, Tunnicliffe stated, “I originally wanted Tom Gulager, John’s brother, to play a role in the movie, [though] he couldn’t unfortunately, and I’d always thought of John for [the role of] ‘The Assessor.’ Diane as the lead ‘Cleaner’ was just a bonus, and she added a performance level that was very cool. But don’t misunderstand; we’re not buddies who hang out all the time. I hadn’t seen those guys in years. I just wanted eclectic characters with realism, and both John and Diane have always demonstrated that, and they are always willing to go the extra mile. And trust me… they did in this!”

The conversation turned to what in my opinion is the very essence of Hellraiser: the psychosexual (and highly disturbing) relationship between the original’s very human leads, “Frank” (actor Sean Chapman) and “Julia” (actress Claire Higgins). I hypothesized that the strength of the film itself is rooted in that very psychological co-dependency, and not necessarily in the Cenobites themselves, who exist primarily as perceived and inescapable religious punishment for libidinous transgression.

Reflected Tunnicliffe, “I’ve always felt that [both] Hellraiser and Hellbound were about the concept that ‘men are the monsters,’ and the Cenobites were really ‘the debt collectors’ or ‘facilitators.’ Those taboo psychosexual elements lifted it all to a place far beyond the ‘slasher’ genre. I’ve been asked to direct and write those kinds of movies, and honestly, it just never interested me. There was always something about Hellraiser that touched a nerve with me and obviously with many other people. I think perhaps it’s Clive’s intellect that informs those two movies and sets them apart. I’m not nearly the mind he is, but I definitely tried to emulate that way of thinking and [to] approach Judgment with it. The influences were always Barker, Fincher, Cronenberg, and Lynch, with a little del Toro and Gilliam sprinkled on for good measure. Now you tell me… doesn’t that sound like the greatest and yet most intimidating dinner party you’d ever want to be a guest at?”

As for A Nightmare on Elm Street actress Langenkamp’s turn in Hellraiser: Judgment, “What I can tell you is her character isn’t called ‘Nancy’; she doesn’t wear a red and green striped dress or work at the Elm Street Motel. Heather, who I had never met before this film, just read the script and said – incredibly generously – that she thought it was unlike anything she had read before, and she wanted to be a part of it. She plays a pretty grungy character, and she plays it straight. We’re trying very much to play the whole thing intense and unflinching, and Heather came on board and did just that. My only regret was [that] she didn’t bring along her husband, [FX artist] David Anderson, whom I am as much a fan of as I am her, to do her makeup!”

Inquiring as to whether the completed film would be rated R, Tunnicliffe guffawed, “I’m only laughing because I know what we shot; yep, R, with hopefully an unrated version too, although don’t expect lots of gratuitous gore. It’s the nature and context of what we shot that made it intense. But yes, no PG-13 horror films from me, I’m happy to say. I’ve never seen the point personally! I like my horror like I like my coffee: no sugar and very strong!”

Currently in post-production on the film, Tunnicliffe concluded by discussing the release plans for Hellraiser: Judgment, “We’re putting it all together. We’ll keep tinkering until they tell us to tinker no more. There hasn’t been any talk of a release [date] yet, [but] my suspicion is that they will wait to see the final product to formulate a game plan.”

Hellraiser Judgment



Sign up for The Harbinger a Dread Central Newsletter