Clive on Hellraiser

Page 2

The sound of laughter is considerably dimmed in here; it's barely audible. But there is another sound, a shifting sound in the corner of the room.
She reaches for the light switch, and turns it on. The bulb's been broken however. She stares around the room, trying to make sense of the shadows.
Nervously, she approaches the wall, on which four streaks of light from the window fall. Now she looks towards the window and realizes that the newspaper has been torn, as if by four fingers. Her breath catches. Suddenly, she's afraid.
She stands absolutely still, eyes wide in the gloom.

JULIA : Who's there?
On the far side of the room, a movement in the shadows.
Julia almost retreats, but something keeps her staring into the murk, as something - the remnants of a human form made of twisted, blistered strands of flesh, raises its head. It's squatting against the wall, unable to lift itself into a standing position. Its eyes, however, have life in them: and hunger. This, though he's unrecognizable, is Frank.

Shooting draft - 28 July 1987

"When we started talking about the forms that Frank would take, I said, 'Let's go to Andreas Vesalius, let's get to the prints.' They're very meticulous, neoclassical... that represent the studies of Vesalius, who was an anatomist. And these are very beautiful etchings in which you get flayed men and women standing in classical poses or leaning against pillars. The whole atmosphere of these images is cool and elegant and beautiful, but at the same time these are pictures of guys who've got their liver and lights hanging over their arms. So when we came to do Frank's makeup, I said, 'Let's do body suits for Frank which will make him look wonderful. So that when Julia first faces him... it will be weirdly, perversely beautiful.'
Early poster design "The images are both beautiful and repulsive simultaneously. Some of the Cenobites, for example, are very beautiful in a bizarre sort of way - the guy with the nails in his face has an elegance about him. Also there's an element of humanity about them - like the point at which Frank lights up a cigarette. It's a nice moment because it's pure, and it works as an image... I get a charge out of it because it's dislocating.
"In a movie, it's much more difficult to [disorientate the audience's sympathies], so we tried to present the forces of destruction and darkness and negativism in ways which were imagistically attractive, or interesting, or paradoxical. Julia gets more beautiful the more villainous she gets, which is an absolute paradox.
[re. dubbing negating film's Englishness] "Actually, that's something I actively wouldn't have wanted it to be. It has the speed of an American picture... I like American pacing, I always have. But I think there's also a sort of European sensibility where the fantastique is concerned, and we do have the ability to lend a kind of undertow to this imagery - something which the Americans are not so good at."

Slime Time

By Nigel Floyd, Time Out, 2-9 September 1987

"[The box] worked in lots of ways. We had an electrical version; we had one that was operated with poles and rods; we had quite a large number of box props but none that did everything. There was one version that you could pull up, turn round and push down so that it went from a square to a sort of star shape. I love puzzle boxes and we studied a lot of them at the British Museum to help us design one for the film. It is quite an elaborate piece.
"We lost 20 seconds which is not really very much at all. We lost some from the hammer murders. We lost some shots of hooks going into flesh from the end. We also lost Frank's final moment which was originally three times longer. What happened was that Frank's face tore down the middle and then the body followed because he was under tension from the chains and hooks that were pulling him apart. In our original cut this Early poster design was more obvious as we had about a second and a half of material but now it's just seven or so frames - that's what censors do to you.
"What I wanted to do was make the best looking picture I could within the budget, and, yes, I am pleased with the result. The only thing we had to change along the way was the sex scene during Julia's flashback near the start of the film. In place of the scene that is there now, we had another which was much more explicit and fleshy but unfortunately detailed activities which are illegal in several states around America! I thought it worked very well, and New World had raised no objections but we had to re-shoot the material".


By David J Howe, Starburst, No 110, October 1987

"There was a key moment in the script which never made it into the film. I wanted very much to have a scene in which Frank and Julia fucked - not just in flashback but when she's got him back, when she brought him back from the grave. She'd been through all this, she'd committed all those murders, and I felt it was very important that they should consummate their perverse affair. New World in L.A. said they didn't really see why, and I said, 'They may be villains, but we've got to give them a moment, we've got to give them their moment of epiphany.'
"When I met with Chris Young, who scored the picture, I said let's score this scene [when Julia first sees Frank] as a romantic encounter. So pick up the themes, pick up the leit motif from the flashback stuff, so we've got a sense of the romantic potential - she's looking at this creature and she knows that he's on his way back to the man she fell in love with. It also seemed to elevate the scene so that this confrontation - which in a conventional horror film would be ghastly and disgusting - to a point where the audience might be saying, 'My God , she's got a point, it was worth the experiment.' I like that because again it generates the same ambiguity of response.
"[The Engineer] wasn't included at New World's insistence, though it wasn't in the first draft of the screenplay. But it was to do with their desire for a more commercial picture that certain elements of the first draft of the script got changed, sometimes very constructively. For example, the father/daughter relationship was changed from the story The Hellbound Heart at their suggestion. But I have no bad word to say about New World. They took on a first-time director and a first-time producer, they gave an adequate amount of money and, when they saw we were producing good work, they gave us a bit more. I had no bad times with them, they were very supportive of my vision, if you like... Well, we did have a slight problem with the eroticism. I shot a much hotter flashback sequence than they would allow us to cut in.... Mine was more explicit and less violent. They wanted to substitute one kind of undertow for another. I had a much more explicit sexual encounter between Frank and Julia, but they said no, let's take out the sodomy and put in the flick knife."

Clive Barker

By Nigel Floyd, Samhain, No 4, July 1987

"Well, I know it sounds silly but I had no comprehension of the importance of [the opening weekend]. I was in England, I was writing Cabal - was it? I was certainly writing. I got a call on Monday from Chris Figg who said - Chris is a delightful man, a very English man, a very Oxford Englishman - he said, 'You know the movie was number one over the weekend!' And then of course once the LA Times came round then we started to get the calls: I got calls, Chris got more calls, obviously, being the movie's producer, 'God almighty, the picture made all this money and you're number one and boom-boom-boom' and you know what? It didn't signify anything to me - I wish I could tell you I was dancing in the street naked with a bottle of champagne in my bottom, but I wasn't! The world has changed radically since that time. I think now we know each weekend what's number one, we know what's happened to the picture that was number one and how much it fell off by. Now whether I could have had access to that information and just didn't know how to get to it, I don't know. My guess is that it was just not something that appeared twenty years ago, before the internet..."

Hellfire And The Demonation

By Phil and Sarah Stokes, 7 September 2007 (note - full text here)

...other comments

Standing across the room from her, lit by a strange phosphorescence that has no visible source, are four extraordinary figures.
They are Cenobites. Each of them is horribly mutilated by a system of hooks and pins. The garments they wear are elaborately constructed to marry with their flesh, laced through skin in places, hooked through bone.
The leader of this quartet has pins driven into his head at inch intervals. At his side, a woman whose neck is pinned open like a vivisection specimen. Accompanying them is a creature whose mouth is wired into a gaping rectangle - the exposed teeth sharpened to points, and a fat sweating monster whose eyes are covered by dark glasses.
When the lead Cenobite speaks, we recognise the voice as that of the creature from the beginning of the film.
Kirsty stares in amazement.

KIRSTY : Where the hell did you come from?
The Cenobite gestures. The box is lying on the bed.
CENOBITE : The box... you opened it. We came.
KIRSTY : It's just a puzzle box.
CENOBITE : It's a means to summon us - it's called the Lament Configuration.
KIRSTY : Who are you?
CENOBITE : Cenobites. Explorers in the further regions of experience. Demons to some. Angels to others.

Shooting draft - 28 July 1987

Christopher Figg : "The major anxiety was that there would be some extraordinary effects shots set up - all those people waiting - and that Barker couldn't make up his mind about how he wanted to photograph it. Each night he would draw storyboards of each and every shot in the picture."

Raising Hell With Clive Barker

By Douglas E. Winter, Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine, Vol 7, No 5, December 1987

Nigel Floyd : "It was at New World's suggestion that the familial relationships between Larry, his second wife, Julia and the stepdaughter/'teenage screamer' Kirsty were changed from the original novella and moved center-screen... The Engineer was not in the first-draft screenplay either... The only other substantial change was the dubbing of virtually all the characters' voices into American, something that tends to undermine the film's Englishness."

Slime Time

By Nigel Floyd, Time Out, 2-9 September 1987

Early poster design

Geoff Portass : "[Pinhead] was basically Clive's design, as seen on the Hellbound T-shirts. There was a lot of discussion with Clive, then I did a few drawings. First we just had spikes coming out of his head. I wanted it to be more geometrical. Originally he had pins all over the head, but Clive and I thought it would be nice to make it look more like a mask with pins around his chin, over his ears and at the back of his head. We modelled it about six times and did loads of drawings. If you look at the first test pictures that came out of Hellraiser there are actually pins in there rather than nails and the pins got lost - you couldn't see them. So we clipped the ends of the pins off and made our own hollow brass nails that inserted over the top and they were much more visible."

Games Without Frontiers

By Brian J. Robb, Fear, No.6, May/June 1989

Alexander Walker : "They used to take care in the horror films to frighten you and to give some kind of plausibility to the horror. Nowadays, in films like Clive Barker's 'Hellraiser', they can't wait to pull the corpses apart - to deconstruct them in front of your eyes, to reconstruct them in ever more horrible and slimy forms."


By [Walker / Barry Norman ], Film '88, BBC TV, 1988

Andrew Robinson : "Larry's too much of a nice guy. That's why his wife, Julia, goes passionately back into the arms of Larry's Early poster design brother, Frank, despite the fact that he's no longer really alive. But Larry's character is interesting. The way I'm approaching this is to also play the evil brother, in a manner of speaking. For me they are one character and the way I'm playing the role is that there are seeds of Frank in Larry, even if Larry is a decent man. It's not that clear dichotomy between black and white. The two bleed into each other. And that's what I really love about this movie."

Scorpio Goes To Hell

By Philip Nutman, Fangoria, No 67, September 1987

Neil Gaiman : "Barker... is directing a major horror movie, from his own script. Entitled 'Hellraiser - A Love Story', the film takes us from a haunted house in Dollis Hill to that Harrow pet shop and on to the very gates of Hell itself."

King Of The Gory Tellers

By Neil Gaiman, Today, 19 October 1986

Christopher Figg : "Clive's a natural born director, and already he's proven himself to be better than several household name directors I've worked with. Clive has a great grasp of the components of a scene, and he knows how to get these components into shots as economically as possible. One thing I particularly like about his working methods is the way he deals with actors. He'll say, 'Don't worry about the words as scripted, use the words the scene needs, and the less words the better.'
"The whole reason why 'Hellraiser' was made in the first place was as a show reel. There were two of Clive's stories that we wanted to do, but they were technically complicated and the budgets would have been too much for a first time director and producer. I told him we needed a show reel, preferably a story with just three people and a house: that will keep our costs down, and even if we have to make it in 16mm and shoot on weekends, we'll be able to make this because logistically it makes sense. Starting from those constraints, we had a first draft script that was much simpler than the shooting script, and because we were able to get together a decent budget with the help of New World, we've managed to build up on this and get production money on the screen."

Hammering Out Hellraiser

By Philip Nutman, Fangoria, No 65, July 1987

Ashley Laurence : "Clive tried to explain the scene to me, 'Your uncle is in your father's skin... ' It seemed really weird but I just went with it. I always wanted to play a part that would allow me to explore raw emotions, not just being pretty or witty. The end scene took three weeks to film. It was unbelievably demanding to be in that heightened state of hysteria. All my senses were exposed. It was impossible to calm down on the weekends."

Hellbound Heartthrob

By Philip Nutman, Fangoria, No 80, February 1989

John Balance [Coil] : "Well, we pulled out about 10 minutes before [the backers] said we were going to pull out, anyway. The thing is we were in right at the very beginning of the project. Clive Barker was writing a screenplay and he came to our house and took away a load of piercing magazines and things - which is where they got all the Pinhead stuff from. We saw some original footage which we unfortunately didn't keep but it was really heavy and good, like a sort of twisted English horror film. And then when the Americans saw this footage they thought it was too extreme and they also gave Clive ten times the original money. So then Clive sort of felt, because it was his first film and with Hollywood being involved it was his gateway to the stars. So they changed the location to America, dubbed all the actors over and took out a lot of the explicit sex.
"It would have been brilliant but we wouldn't have carried on, because they were changing everything and they weren't being very nice to us, the actual film people. They were keeping us in the dark a lot. We said we'd had enough just at the same time they decided they wanted to use Howard Shore. They just wanted normal film music. They didn't want anything too scary which is sad and ridiculous for a horror film."

An Interview With John Balance

By[ ], Compulsion (note : online at

Clare Higgins : "I saw about half of Hellraiser - the rest of the time I just covered my eyes. It terrified me, and I was in it, so I think we must have accomplished what we set out to do. After Hellraiser, people would nervously come up to me and ask, 'Are you...' and when I said 'Yes' they would tell me how much they enjoyed the film. It was great."


By [ ], Hellbound UK Press Kit, 1988

Bob Keen : "We really hit with Hellraiser, it was out of the blue. Clive just phoned up and said, 'I've been talking to a few people who say you're very good, would you like to do a film with us?' We met, got on well and have been doing his films ever since. From there the whole thing has grown. From a staff of 15 on Hellraiser, we now have fifty people; with model, stop-motion and costume departments."

Games Without Frontiers

By Brian J. Robb, Fear, No.6, May/June 1989

Analysis of a classic scene from Hellraiser
Analysis of the character of Pinhead

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