Daily Archives: February 10, 2018
The Hellraiser franchise has had a rough go the last…well, really, since the second instalment back in 1988, I’d say. Following upon the commercially succesful introductions to the series, we’ve seen poor stories, Alan Smithee-directed movies, straight to VOD and DVD movies, and one film made for all intents and purposes strictly to keep the franchise in the hands of a studio. And yet, with all these stumbles, there’s always interest when a new Hellraiser movie is on the way. Credit that to the mind of Clive Barker, who created us the pain-loving Cenobites and their leader, Pinhead.
One could make the argument that Hellraiser: Judgement, out this Tuesday is simply more of the same – a low-budget film with a no-name cast, with Doug Bradley not even involved as the iconic Pinhead. One could make the argument, especially knowing Tunnicliffe was stuck working with a minuscule budget, except the thing is, if you’re open-minded, Hellraiser: Judgement is really a solid achievement.
In this film, director/writer Gary J. Tunnicliffe gives us the story of two cops on the trail of a serial killer using the Bible as his guidebook, bringing the duo face to face with the Hell Priest along with some new, horrific characters, including The Assessor and The Auditor. While the main story is fairly di rigueur serial killer stuff, the way it’s meshed with the Hellraiser mythos both old and new worked extremely well for me. The acting is fine (not great) from all the leads, while Paul T. Taylor does an exceptional job stepping into the role of Pinhead. His interpretation honours Doug Bradley’s version without aping him. Director Tunnicliffe himself plays The Auditor, and he’s compellingly horrific in the role.
Visually, the film shines when dealing with the creatures of hell – if you want blood, you’ve got it, and then some. The sexiness of early Hellraiser films is on display here, melded to with the horror. I can see fans of American Horror Story enjoying what’s on display.
Is Hellraiser: Judgement perfect? Hell, no. How could it be, with the limitations it faced? As I said, the acting is fine and watchable, but the work of the leads is less than compelling when compared to the monsters. There’s a moment where the lack of budget shines through for me, though overall I think Tunnicliffe does admirably well with what he had to work with.
A lot of fans and critics have been slamming the film, which led me to reach out and let Gary know how much I genuinely enjoyed Hellraiser: Judgment. In our email exchange, he was kind enough to agree to an interview, which you can read below and which hopefully gives you insight into the minor miracle he was able to pull off bringing Hellraiser: Judgement to life.