Interview: Director Gary J. Tunnicliffe Discusses Hellraiser: Judgment
Jack-of-all-trades Gary J. Tunnicliffe has certainly made his way around the movie sets in his cinematic career, cranking out projects in the special FX department, along with multiple writing, producing and even stunt work credits to his impressive resume. He’s certainly no stranger to the Hellraiser franchise, having been a part of 6 separate entries to different degrees, and his latest task led him into the director’s chair for Hellraiser: Judgment.
If you think he’d just be satisfied with lensing this latest chapter straight from the bowels of Hell, boy are you mistaken! He even took on the role in the film of The Auditor, and he managed to sandwich a little time into his busy schedule to discuss the film with us, along with a few other topics – read on and enjoy!
DC: Can you tell us how you felt when you first found out that you were tabbed to direct the new Hellraiser film?
GT: It was pretty much a bolt from the blue, I assumed after the letdown of Revelations the next Hellraiser film would be a bigger budgeted remake/reboot or sequel with me out of the picture, so when I got the call asking if I was interested in writing and directing a Hellraiser film (albeit with pretty low budget) I was still utterly thrilled!
DC: What was your creative vision to bring to this franchise?
GT: My creative vision?…well if you’ve seen the film I think it’s stamped all over the first 12 minutes, my creative visions is a potpourri of influences from Cronenberg, Lynch, Barker (obviously), del Toro, Gilliam, Goya, Bacon, etc. etc. I wanted to make something that was compelling and interesting but that could still be made with a high quality level in a short production period. 350k and a 15-day shoot is pretty restrictive; and so it meant I had to fashion a script that was viable in every sense from actors, locations, special effects, costumes, props, etc. It sounds a little silly; but I really did try to bring something old (the cenobites, Pinhead, the mythology), something new (the auditor and the new characters and the process), something borrowed (the Se7en/Fincher aesthetic and color palette), something blue? (Pinhead’s lighting!)
DC: Were you worried about how fans of Doug Bradley and his portrayal of Pinhead would react to this latest film and the work of Paul Taylor?
GT: Terrified! Especially after the whole (very public) debacle, as I told Paul early on ‘you’re damned from the beginning’! Doug created this brilliant character, he owns that performance – I have been fortunate enough to sit mere feet from him and watch him in full effect and it was an honor and have no doubt or misunderstanding I wanted Doug in this movie, but a series of things occurred, Doug was pretty uncompromising and honestly he hadn’t exactly done himself any favors (publicly) with the people who pay the bills on these films, so when I faced a wall I made the decision to move on and find someone new (and it’s cost me a friendship that spanned many years and many great experiences). Paul had a great physicality and a good face for the prosthetic make up (something that is SO important as we can see from Stephen Smith Collins in Revelations) he was enthusiastic (big Hellraiser fan) and came to work ready to listen, take direction, input his ideas and thoughts and be a team player and I am SO glad that people have given him a chance and seem to be applauding his work .
DC: Your portrayal of “The Auditor” was pretty creepy stuff – what goes into literally directing yourself on film?
GT: 1) Time and budget – me playing The Auditor allowed me to come in early (off the clock) and get into makeup two hours before anyone else so that the makeup FX team (and we only had two people) could then do Paul when he came in at call. It also meant we could prepare the prosthetics and costume, etc., in advance. It also meant I could body double and shoot inserts with a mask at ANY time during production.
2) I wanted to play him! I’ve been acting for many years, I love the franchise and I wanted to play the character. I thought in the very worst case scenario if I suck, then I can dub myself later!
3) I had a lot of help from the other actors too, Damon Carney especially. We had a great rapport and he was very kind in the scenes with him. Also behind the camera Mike Leahy (producer) and Pepper (my script supervisor) were my ‘director eyes’ watching me and giving me pointers when I needed them.
DC: You’ve held many roles behind the camera (directing, writing, producing, stunts and makeup) – which one of these is a true passion for you?
GT: Directing, then acting, then writing. I never want to do another prosthetic make up as long as I live and I’m too old and my knees hurt too much to do stunts (it’s a young person’s game!) I would love to direct a horror film with a little more money and time so I can REALLY bring the bizarre images in my head to the screen.
DC: Lastly, after the release of Hellraiser: Judgment, what’s coming up next on the work slate for you?
GT: Honestly I’m just watching to see how things go and how the film is received and what (if any) opportunities arise. I have a couple of scripts sitting around and an idea for a twisted take on Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ – but truthfully I just want to make horror films. Not action adventure movies or love stories. Just weird, creepy, strange and scary horror films.