Grimmfest 2015 ‘Hellraiser’ Q&A

After watching the wonderful Hellraiser we all took a seat and chatted with the following guys all involved in Hellraiser and it’s legacy:

Chris Griffiths- Co Director and editor of Leviathan (documentary about Hellraiser).

Cliff Wallace – Make up effects technician for Hellraiser 1 and 2.

Gary Smart – Leviathan writer and producer.

Paul Kane – Wrote ‘Hellraiser Films and their Legacy”.

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I had a terrible realization today which is that Hellraiser is now as old as Hammer horror was when Hellraiser came out. So we are still watching it, why is that?

Cliff Wallace: We must have done something right. Watching that though (Hellraiser) I don’t know what that was. (Laugh) I think it’s the mythology of the Cenobites which is really the key to the longevity of it. Also the fact that at the time it was quite different to the horror movies that were around.

Gary Smart: Yeah, it’s more than just a horror film. You’ve got the love story and triangle which was completely different from the Freddy’s and Jason’s. Thanks to Cliff here the effects still hold up today. The effects which still can scare people and the images of the Cenobites. Obviously that’s testament to the guys like Cliff who created those images and creations.

Paul Kane: Yeah there was nothing like it at the time. You got your Freddy’s, you got your Michael Myers and along came Pinhead. I think he just blew everyone away. He’s not on that long really. He’s on for about five minutes. It was just that look and it was unique.

How many times have you all seen it at this point?

Cliff Wallace: I haven’t seen it for two years and before that was about twenty years ago.

What about you guys who made the documentary?

CG: A couple of times. I’m glad we had some time between editing and watching it now. I haven’t really seen Hellraiser that many times before doing the documentary. If I can be absolutely candid about the film which really is a testament to it is that growing up with horror (I mean I saw Texas Chainsaw Massacre when I was five). I remember finding Hellraiser when it came out on DVD and I was about 12 at the time. I remember being so disappointed when seeing the film. I mean the cover was a bit misleading. I had seen Pinhead next to Jason and Freddy and when Pinhead is only in it for five minutes you are like “wow I got short changed”.

If you weren’t a Hellraiser fan how do you come to making a documentary about it?

CG: Gary’s fault. I hadn’t seen it for years and when I picked up the boxset and watched it, I think being older and wiser I realised “Shit it’s actually a really good film”. With such a strong story. Also I know number two has lovers and haters but I really enjoyed number two. They all flow well as a story, they all are really lavish in their visuals and music.

I think less is definitely more with Pinhead, only in the third one is it the Pinhead show. What are your thoughts about how the franchise carried on?

PK: Well it carried on and on and on. (Laugh) What is it nine now? I just think there is so much scope in Hellraiser. Clive kick started it off with the original. With such a broad scope you could go anywhere with it. With so many puzzle boxes its just a massive mythology.

There is a lot of contention for the sequels, how do you feel the later films fit in with the canon?

Gary Smart: I think any film in a series is vital as it keeps the original alive. You know nine films in a franchise it means we are doing something right. Films 5 to 8 weren’t Hellraiser films but more of the slasher kind. I haven’t got an issue with 9 because it was written as a Hellraiser film.

CW: I think testament to the first two films people still like them. I think the later ones kind of buggered them up. I think of them as bad cover versions.

Was there a difference between working on the 1st and 2nd one?

CW: Yeah the second one had a lot more money and a bit more time. My thing about the second one is that it kind of overreaches itself and tries to make everything bigger. For me the second one is not as great. The second one to me looked like Father Christmas’s grotto, lots of lights.

Could you run through the Coil story, about how their music was going to be used in the Hellraiser film but wasn’t?

CG: I spoke to one of the members of Coil, in a nutshell Clive hung around Forbidden Planet on Tottenham Court Road a fair bit and met Coil. They liked each other and thought to make a soundtrack. Problem was it never came to fruition and then basically the film company thought after seeing a screen test of Hellraiser that they could pump some more money in and with that it meant changing the music and using Chris Young instead. They just didn’t have enough faith in Coil.

When you were working on the original Hellraiser did you know how big of an impact it was to have? What was it like doing the effects?

CW: We had no idea it was going to be a success. There was about 12 of us working on the effects and it was all our first or second film doing it. Bob Keen who was running it was about 25, everyone else was about 16-23 years old. We were all a bunch of kids, didn’t really know what we were doing. Bob had seen in each of us a germ of a make up effect artist. We were pretty much left to try stuff. We didn’t have a lot of money. A lot of it looking at it now isn’t that great but some of it is still pretty good.

You were specifically working on Uncle Frank?

CW: That was the first job I had. It was a full suit and I had never done anything like that. We didn’t actually have the facilities to have a full suit, so everything was made in small pieces and glued on to the guy who was playing Frank. For two days I just glued this stuff onto a spandex suit with him just standing there. It was supposed to shoot for two days but we ended up shooting for two weeks. It was just slime holding it together. It was just a great learning experience, Clive really loved the make up effects too.

Did you have a problem with classification when it came out?

CW : Yes, there were a few cuts. Clive was expecting that, the sex scene was virtually every position you could imagine. There were a lot of time with the hammer scene that got cut. Anything more than two blows.

You mean the sex?

CW: (Laugh) Well that was anything over two thrusts. The biggest problem were the rats that were nailed to the wall. Bob Keen had to show them that they weren’t actually real rats. They were real rats! But they were dead. They had a bit of wire up them.

How did the Cenobites come about?

Yeah we use to go over to Clive’s house and just draw what we thought Cenobites would look like. Clive had the biggest library of perverse books. You got to remember at the time there weren’t people walking around with body piercings or tattoos. There were S&M clubs but if you were 20 you didn’t really know about them. But Clive did and he took great delight in taking some of us to them.



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