Director Gary J. Tunnicliffe Holds Scream Partly Responsible For Hellraiser’s Decline

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Even after 20 years and change, Scream‘s profound impact on the slasher genre cannot be overstated.

Wes Craven’s seminal horror flick inspired a generation, all the while producing nine kinds of sub-par knockoffs. But in the eyes of Gary J. Tunnicliffe, Scream‘s rise to prominence came at the expense of Hellraiser, the cult horror series of Cenobites and sadomasochism.

In a candid interview with ComicBook.com, the filmmaker, who just recently launched the direct-to-video Judgment, traced Hellraiser‘s journey thus far – one defined by delightful, blood-soaked highs and crippling lows.

This series has stumbled and faltered and struggled along the way because the reality is you can’t shoehorn this franchise into a commercially successful movie without stripping away the things from it that make it what it is. And this is where [producer] Bob [Weinstein] and the guys have had a problem because Bob really isn’t a fan of sadomasochistic sexual perversity, and hooks, and flesh, and that kind of stuff.

Going one step further, Tunnicliffe then pointed to Scream as a reason why Hellraiser struggled to gain much recognition throughout the 90s, as audiences flocked to a palatable slasher series that was practically designed for mass-market appeal.

That’s why I think in 1996 when Bloodline came, and we had the whole debacle of that. I got a call to go in and meet with Bob about a Hellraiser story I pitched called ‘Holy War,’ and I was maybe talking about directing that was that. That week Scream came out and did its business, and then Bob and the guys, rightly so, were like, ‘Oh, look, let’s try and figure out this guy with the nails in his head and this weird sexual stuff. Look, Scream, there it is. Ka-ching. It’s easy, it works. It’s a f-cking guy in a mask going around with a big knife chopping up teenagers.’

Pinhead in Hellraiser: Judgment

In closing, the director tipped his hat in the direction of Scream, a franchise he believes to be “brilliantly conceived.”

It’s brilliantly conceived by [screenwriter] Kevin Williamson turning it on its head. But it was so much easier for them to get their head around, and to work with because that’s the problem when you’re trying to, even as a writer, whether it be Revelations, or Judgment, or whatever I’ve been involved in when ever you’re trying to give these people … It’s literally like f-cking chopped.

Judgment, meanwhile, is now available on Blu-ray and DVD, and you can read our own verdict of Hellraiser‘s historic (and sadly underwhelming) 10th installment right here.

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