The first article I wrote for horrorhomework.com was a feature on the film, Hellraiser. I find it to be a film that is very dear to me as a fan. The universe and mythology it’s created is very different than anything I’ve ever seen before. Around 2 years ago, I had read on the internet about an idea to reboot the Hellraiser franchise. This is something I have felt strongly about for quite some time. Each film after the first two tended to get farther and farther away from what Hellraiser actually was. So I followed the idea on the internet and Facebook to see what kind of progress was being made. On October 31, 2013 the official pitch trailer was released on the website and Facebook. I had been waiting for this for quite some time and the time to see what Hellraiser : Origins was all about, was finally here.
See for yourself in the video below :
After watching the trailer, I was not disappointed.
The world they are creating is very impressive. You can tell they are well read up in the mythology of the Hellraiser universe. I enjoyed the trailer and am excited about the possibilities where this can take the franchise. Along with the trailer, they have also released more than a handful of conceptual designs. Things such as ideas on Cenobites, the redesigning of The Engineer, and Leviathan, etc. Judging from what I have seen, I believe that the franchise would be entrusted into good hands. People who actually care about the universe that Clive Barker has created, versus only making much less than par films, just to keep the rights to the Hellraiser name.
I had the chance to chat with Paul Gerrard (Wrath of the Titans, Battle LA, TMNT) about the ambitious project to re-imagine the Hellraiser world. Paul designed the new look for Pinhead and was production designer on the shoot and Mike Le Han pulled in all of his film resources and directed the pitch trailer on the new Alex 4:3 camera with anamorphic lenses.
Death by Stereo: First of all I would just like to say thank you both for taking the time to chat with me about your ambitious project, Hellraiser: Origins.
So I guess first things first. Is this a remake of Hellraiser or a reboot of the franchise of sorts? Do you intend your film to be considered a prequel or sequel to any of the other Hellraiser films? And what made you guys decide that was the route you wanted to take?
Paul: This is a reboot of the franchise , a complete re-imagining of the Hellraiser world. It would be a stand alone movie but also act somewhat as a prequel. A true Origins story that would set the franchise up to continue in all manner of ways, no longer confined to the restraints of the current franchised formula.
Death by Stereo: Why Hellraiser? How did the idea of Origins come about?
Paul: It all started over an email rant between myself and long time friend and artist John Gallagher of the state of the franchise two years ago. My partner also turned to me and said, look if you had the chance to re-imagine any iconic character in cinema history who would it be? The answer of course was Pinhead. The two trains of thought merged and the path to create Hellraiser Origins was set.
Death by Stereo: Hellraiser has many devout, loyal fans across the globe. Have either of you found it difficult to try and stay true to the source material to please the fans, yet take that material in a new original direction to make this your own?
Paul: We have kept as true to the source material as possible. Our goal was to expand and explore the mythology, to create an epic vibe while retaining the mystery of the Cenobite order. Its about keeping that balance between the mystery of the unknown and need to see more, to experience more.
The original movie was indeed a masterpiece of imagination and iconic horror. The world we live in so saturated with the tones and taboos explored in those early movies that in order to truly capture the imagination of today’s audience a new direction was needed. I wanted the design, particularly of Pinhead to firstly be stripped of the current franchised restraints and second to be driven by esoteric lines, shapes, and concepts.
Death by Stereo: What was the thought behind re-imagining “Pinhead?” He’s different, yet familiar. Will we see this with the other Cenobites?
Paul: He is familiar because certain elements of the design are drawn from ancient symbolism, already etched into our culture and indeed in our minds. The Cenobites will indeed follow similar structures/design and concepts. Including the re-imaging of THE ENGINEER and the Leviathan.
Death by Stereo: Speaking of the Cenobites, that seems to be a very popular topic when it comes to speaking about Hellraiser. Do you find it difficult to design them?
Paul: Not at all. I intend to keep designing them, they are a lot of fun to work on because they can come in all manner of shapes and sizes. All manner of species. From the subtle to the extreme. You can really let your imagination go wild, as long as your have a code in place so they are added to a coherent world.
Death by Stereo: Your vision of hell in the pitch trailer seems very dark and grandiose. Where have these inspirations come from?
Paul: It is literally a visual representation of a symbol. That of a flower blooming, a garden of sin, its crop and its harvest. Albeit within a very deep corner of hell, playing with religious iconography and dare I say mainstream ideologies of Hell, again its all about balance. What your subconscious interprets and what your learned visual mind already knows.
Death by Stereo: Many fans have said, if it doesn’t have Doug Bradley or Clive Barker involvement, it’s not going to be a true Hellraiser film. This of course, after the outpouring of rage after Hellraiser Revelations came out and the general decline of the series as a whole with each subsequent entry. Has any of this hindered what you guys wanted to accomplish with this project? And has there been any Doug or Clive involvement?
Paul: We almost had the possibility of Doug Bradley doing the voice but technical restraints and time were against us. So it was a path we couldn’t pursue. We literately put the finishing touches to the grade days before we released the teaser. We sent Clive information on what we where doing at the very start, unfortunately it was around the time he was going through an extremely bad time with his health. We have had no contact from Clive and would love to know what he thinks. We started this to add to the world he created, to keep it alive and push it forward. We saw the awful decline of the franchise, as fans and industry veterans, we said NO MORE.
Death by Stereo: I thought the Pinhead character looked great. Will John Roberts be cast as Pinhead if the pitch is picked up? Any talks with Doug Bradley if that’s not the case?
Paul: Thanks. Unfortunately who would play Pinhead would be completely out of our hands. It would be down to the studio and Director.
Death by Stereo: How long have things taken from the genesis of the idea to get to the point you’re at now?
Paul: Approximately two years, we had a lot of down time due to VFX problems. We had to shut down for about 6 months as we fixed certain VFX elements and redesigned things that didn’t work for various reasons. Considering it was all fan made for free, we are really pleased with the outcome and the awesome work people did.
Death by Stereo: Is there any kind of script right now? If not, do you have an idea of the story you two would like to tell?
Paul: We have a number of stories that plug into the world created. That’s all I can say at this point.
Death by Stereo: Assuming that origins is picked up and a success, could there be more films planned within this universe?
Paul: Absolutely, we have created a world which allows many stories to exist and thrive. Modern and ancient.