Director of Hellraiser and New Pinhead on What Makes the Hulu Movie Feel New—and Terrifying
In an interview with io9, David Bruckner and Jamie Clayton discuss the Clive Barker-produced horror reboot.
Next month, the new Hellraiser will be available on Hulu, and fans of Clive Barker’s horror series are excited to see how director David Bruckner will set his film apart from the previous entries in the series. Casting Jamie Clayton as the demon antagonist Pinhead is one significant change that sets apart the eleventh Hellraiser movie.
In advance of the movie’s release, Bruckner (The Night House) and Clayton (Sense8) spoke with io9 via video chat about what fans of the franchise and novices alike may anticipate.
io9’s Cheryl Eddy: There have been 35 iterations of the Hellraiser movies. How do you strike a balance between the appeal to devoted followers and those who might be seeing a Hellraiser movie for the first time?
Bruckner, David Being a fan of the Hellraiser franchise myself, it’s quite simple to want to recreate every aspect of the original films that you enjoyed, but you can’t fit everything into one movie. So it’s simple to sort of emulate those influences, but you also owe it to this story. This was always a brand-new story, and that sometimes takes you to new locations, so you have to pay attention to your inspirations in that regard. I believe the Hellraiser’s spirit encourages innovation and design advancement and is constantly eager to venture to some absurd locations. In order to discover something that would appeal to fans while also being able to try something new and serve as a gateway for viewers to earlier films, we looked for something that touched both of these themes. That’d be fantastic. That would give me great joy.
io9: Jamie, it’s clear how adored and recognisable Doug Bradley’s portrayal of Pinhead is. When deciding how to approach “the Priest,” did you take into account his performance?
Before I shot any of the larger sequences, David and I had numerous chats about the intended outcome, the Priest’s possible feelings and thoughts, and other related topics. Our little secret is that he did email me one specific clip to view, but I do recall him sending me his favourite scene from the original movie. It was basically simply a tonal suggestion, which is why it was so beneficial. You know, that was one of the many colours we used to create this lovely portrait. It was this abstract idea. And that is what happened. But I really wanted to just personalise it. That was our aim. Even by casting a woman, the intention was to relieve the spectator of the burden of even attempting to compare the two performances because, from the get-go, they are simply going to differ.
io9: How much of the makeup was CG and how much was actual, and how did you create the distinct speaking voice for your character?
Speaker 3: Depending on the day, how many other Cenobites would be working, and how many individuals were working on me, the makeup took four and a half to six hours. But if anyone is familiar with Hollywood jargon, “last looks” refers to the moment before you begin really filming a scene when the makeup artists come in. Any actor can look good with some lip gloss and a dab of powder on their forehead. But for me and the other Cenobites, it was like straightening a pin and all kinds of blood. All of those items were useful. There are certain parts that have seams removed by painting them, but I did everything else.
I had recorded my audition, and I was just having fun with stuff, so the voice was fascinating. In the callback, we experimented with volume, projection, and other things in some amusing ways. There was a point, too, when we spoke and I said, “Maybe I’m not even going to do as much as I’ve been doing,” until it came time to [shoot] in Serbia. The neck piece is so tight and constricting that I am essentially limited to what I am doing. It all kind of lived back here [in the back of the throat] once [the costume was] fully on because [I was] unable to expand [or take a complete breath]. We recently discovered it, and inside it we discovered levels, expression, tone, the disappointment, or the sensuality. These items were located there.
io9: David, how do you keep making Hellraiser scary in the face of all the existing, albeit sometimes corny, Hellraiser movies and similar works, such as the most recent Rick and Morty episode?
Bruckner: Making something frightful is never easy. Additionally, I believe that anything you do in a horror movie is a risk since you’re dealing with prosthetic monsters, the elements, and the possibility that nothing will work when you’re on location. However, Hellraiser covers a wide range of topics. It’s fiction. It’s horrifying. It has several bizarre elements. It reflects the characters’ internal conflict. I liked to say that we sort of went after the sick laugh, the part of us that thinks we’re getting away with something, and also allowed ourselves to feel some amazement in horror and to feel in some ways lesser than the material. So, in my opinion, you should just have faith in that. Hellraiser has an honesty that I respect. Of course, there will always be a humorous aspect to something that has achieved iconic status in popular culture. However, I don’t believe that does anything to challenge the experience that we can’t support.
io9: Do you have any involvement with the 2020 HBO series that was announced?
Bruckner: I’m not familiar with that, but I hope things work out well for them. I’m aware that Clive [Barker] is tackling it. And I believe I would be a fan if they can get it going. I’m interested to see how it turns out.
Clive Barker is named as a producer on your movie, according to io9. He was how involved?
Brucker: He was outstanding. He was deeply engaged. He’s a creative producer, so he was there to look into the material, to challenge me, and to urge me to look into different ideas. We spoke a lot while I was in prep and a lot after the fact throughout the cut. He sent me a tonne of artwork. We discussed the theme extensively. He wholeheartedly accepted the notion that this aimed to capture the core of Hellraiser while simultaneously marking a change. We need to find a new method to execute some of this because times have changed and the spirit of it needs to be revived, [he] told me even before he had seen the drawings. I thus hope that was something we managed to do. But he’s a marvel to work with and speak to, and I appreciate his time. He was also quite kind to us.
Hulu will debut Hellraiser on October 7.