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Exclusive: Director Gary J. Tunnicliffe discusses ‘Hellraiser: Judgement’

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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.

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31 Days of Horror: ‘Hellraiser’ at 30


Author, artist, and playwright Clive Barker made his directorial debut on September 18, 1987. He was adapting his own novel The Hellbound Heart, which would become the seminal work of horror cinematic art known as Hellraiser. Barker had no experience as a film director, but after two disappointing adaptations of his work (Transmutations and Rawhead Rex) he was determined to direct his own work and get it right.

In 1987 there was still room for innovation in horror cinema and though the slashers that ruled the day were already beginning to be a bit repetitious, there were still high points. 1987 alone had plenty of iconic films: Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark, Michele Soavi’s Stage Fright, John Carpenter’s Prince Of Darkness, and Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2, just to name a few. No film, though, came out of left field and blew them all off the road like Hellraiser.
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31 Days of Horror: Heroes and Villains – Reviewing Recent Comics 10-4-2017

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On this special 31 Days of Horror edition of Heroes and Villains, we’ll be looking at a variety of comics out this week and last, from a variety of genres and companies. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on Clive Barker’s Hellraiser Omnibus, Volume One, Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens: Splice and Dice, Eugenic #1, Slots #1, Cannibal #8, and more… be warned, there may be spoilers…

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Avengers: Ultron Revolution S03 E20: “U-Foes”

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In the face of the new super-villain team, the U-Foes, the animated Avengers also must contend with a new government liaison, who seems to have it in for the Hulk. Trouble and terror abound in this new episode of Avengers: Ultron Revolution, meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “U-Foes.”

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Doctor Who S09 E01: The Magician’s Apprentice

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It’s been ten months since The Doctor and The Master/Missy/Mistress crossed swords last, and other than a few minutes last night, and a holiday adventure with Santa Claus, we “Doctor Who” fans have been waiting for the new season, series nine, to begin. Finally here, meet me after the time and space jump for my thoughts on “The Magician’s Apprentice.”

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Guardians of the Galaxy S01 E01: Road to Knowhere

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We’ve talked about this before, and finally it’s happened, the “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” animated series is finally here. With the success of the movie, Marvel has done what is only natural and produced this animated series. So meet me after the jump and we’ll talk about the first episode about Marvel’s favorite renegade space heroes. Spoilers ahead!

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David Sandford Ward travels to Hell in Clive Barker’s The Scarlet Gospels

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The Cenobite bites it. The Order of the Gash lays smashed and shattered upon a mound of bones and blood, confined forever to a sea of dust and ash. This is the worst-kept secret about this novel, which has been under discussion and hinted about for decades: Pinhead dies. I can understand Barker’s choice to do this; he’s quite literally killing his darlings.

Touted as Barker’s “much-anticipated return to horror” (a comment, by the way, that also found its way on to the jacket of his last novel for adults, Mister B. Gone – perhaps it was due to a change in publisher?), The Scarlet Gospels is the closing chapter in the lives of two of Barker’s longest-lasting creations: Pinhead and Harry D’Amour. Admittedly, Harry doesn’t have quite the same cultural resonance as the BDSM angel of death from Hellraiser, but he’s a contemporary of, if not older than, Pinhead. D’Amour first made an appearance in Barker’s novella The Last Illusion (found at the end of The Books of Blood VI and later adapted by Barker for the screen as The Lord of Illusions, starring Scott Bakula as D’Amour), and then he crops up again in Everville, the Second Book of the Art. Pinhead, on the other hand, and despite the innumerable excrescences that comprise the Hellraiser sequels, only appears in one Barker story: The Hellbound Heart and its film, Hellraiser. Read the rest of this entry

12 Monkeys S01 E06: The Red Forest

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Time travel, we have learned, is not an exact science. There are paradoxes within paradoxes that can throw a monkey wrench, no pun intended, into the works. On last week’s episode of “12 Monkeys,” Cassie was kidnapped by Pallid Man and Cole was splintered to an alternate universe where West 7 had control of the facility. We may need to slow our time travel dance routine tonight. Try not to be erased. Read the rest of this entry

31 Days of Horror 2013: Guest-Blogger Jim Knipp’s Zombie Love

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Guest-Blogger Jim Knipp has a love-hate relationship with Zombies. After all, what is there to love or hate, heck, what is there to fear? Like Mummies, even Frankenstein can outrun them. Check out his thought process on zombies for our 31 Days of Horror, after the jump.

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Doctor Who S07 E10: Hide

doc1Four stories into the post-Pond seventh season of “Doctor Who,” and it’s been quite a ride so far. We’ve had a companion who may not be what she appears to be, the return of two old school villains, a dozen new aliens, an anti-grav motorcycle, and a possible Bad Wolf reference. Can it get better than that?

There’ve also been movie homages to Hellraiser, Star Wars, and The Hunt for Red October. What’s next? Would you believe… The Haunting? That’s what the preview implies… Check me after the jump for my review of episode ten – “Hide.”

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