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EXCL: Gary Tunnicliffe Speaks Out About Hellraiser: Revelations

Screenwriter, FX artist on story, Pinhead & more

If you’ve got questions about Hellraiser: Revelations – the Dimension Films sequel that seemingly came out of nowhere and is making its way to DVD under the direction of Victor Garcia – then, we’ve got answers. Shock Till You Drop recently caught up to FX artist Gary Tunnicliffe who has toiled in the Hellraiser trenches for years and has finally offered up a feature-length Pinhead tale of his own. Tunnicliffe penned the script for this ninth Hellraiser film, which appears to be the last direct-to-DVD entry fans are going to get until Dimension moves forward on their Hellraiser remake.

Shock Till You Drop: What can we expect here story-wise? A stand-alone tale similar to past Hellraiser sequels or something that might tie in story-wise to the first three or four (which had a bit of a connection to one another)?

Gary Tunnicliffe: This is very much a “stand alone” tale, however, unlike a lot of the previous Hellraiser sequels this was written purely as a Hellraiser movie, this wasn’t another screenplay that was shoe-horned into a Hellraiser movie by adding a couple of scenes with Pinhead.

The story was actually originally conceived as a potential “remake” idea, I pitched it after a dream I had. It’s a much smaller story, more akin to the first movie, more intimate, more about “desire” and playing more with the idea that maybe it’s humans who are the real monsters and not the cenobites. The only connections to the first movie really are Pinhead, the Box, the Vagrant and the mythology surrounding them.

Shock: Clarify what the story is about because we haven’t received anything “official”?

Tunnicliffe: Well, obviously I don’t want to give too much away but the story centers around a dinner party held by one of the families of two late teenage boys who ran away and went missing in Mexico. Strange video footage and items were found at their last known location, but nothing has been heard from them for over a year. The dinner party is filled with tension and strange revelations. But the evening takes an even more bizarre turn when one of the boys – beaten, bloodied, exhausted and terrified – turns up. Relief and joy are mixed with a myriad of questions and concerns and soon a mass of secrets, hidden agendas and evil truths take us on a journey into the bizarre and terrifying world of Pinhead and the Cenobites.

Shock: Compared to the sequels in the latter half of the franchise, how “true” of a Hellraiser film is this going to be and how big a part does Pinhead play in it?

Tunnicliffe: Again, I think this is much more of a Hellraiser movie than some of the other sequels because it was written solely as Hellraiser movie. In regard to Pinhead and the Cenobites I’ve always held a strong belief that they are the “frosting on the cake.” Those brief moments with him – and the other Cenobites – in the first films were so strong that they captivated you, but the story itself was what drove the movie. In some of the later movies they tried to do too much with the Cenobites and just like a cake with too much frosting…the balance wasn’t right and it was a bit sickly. I think it’s difficult, because as the writer of a Hellraiser film you have to have Pinhead and you want him to talk – so you can write some if that delicious Pinhead dialogue that Mr. Barker and Mr. Atkins started in the first two films. But I think he also has to be pro-active, he has to do something to get his hands dirty or he runs the risk of becoming a monologing James Bond Villain. It’s a very difficult balancing act and at this stage you’re also battling “the law of diminishing returns.” The audience knows him, are familiar with him, have him on their t-shirt so how scary is he? Hopefully we got the balance right, not too much, not too little… a little talking and lot of, well, you know!

Shock: You’ve done Pinhead make-up on yourself, but was it a bit surreal to lay it over someone’s face other than Doug Bradley’s?

Tunnicliffe: I was actually saved from that surreal experience as I was busy working for Wes Craven on Scream 4 during the shoot of Hellraiser:Revelations. I was able to supervise the majority of FX over the Internet and over the phone and Mike Regan and my crew took care of everything. For the actual application of the Pinhead make-up I turned the duties over to a good friend and excellent make up artist Richard Redlefsen. Truthfully, I don’t know if I could have applied it anyway, it might have been just too weird and I would have simply missed Doug too much!

Shock: What can we expect cenobite-wise and make-up wise?

Tunnicliffe: Hopefully, the biggest thing we achieved and you can expect is consistency, the budget was incredibly low, I put all of my screenwriting fee into the FX and I had to ask my crew to work for reduced rates just to create what was needed and maintain a look that was as good as the other films in the franchise. Cenobites are inherently expensive, they are multiple-pieced, complex, detailed make-ups and the costumes are very expensive – luckily I had some items in my own personal collection that really helped cut costs and keep the quality high. But you can expect at least three full Cenobites – including Pinhead – a skinned character and host of make-up FX.

For a look at a few FX pics from the set that were passed our way earlier this month follow this link.

Source: Ryan Turek, Managing Editor