Hellraiser: Judgement Director Isn’t Happy About The New Reboot

Pinhead, villain of the Hellraiser franchise
Image via New World Pictures

As the recent resurgence of the Halloween franchise has shown, long-running horror brands are more than capable of returning to their former glories with both critics and at the box office, provided that the material is treated with care and respect as opposed to simply trying to wring every last penny out of a recognizable property.

HBO were clearly paying attention, because they’ve signed up Halloween duo David Gordon Green and Danny McBride to spearhead their Hellraiser series, which is set to exist independently from the big screen reboot that’s currently in the works from David Bruckner. The franchise spans ten movies from Clive Barker’s cult classic 1987 original to 2018’s Judgement, but the series hasn’t seen a theatrical release since fourth outing Hellraiser: Bloodline in 1996.

As is the case with any horror franchise that’s been around for decades, the frequent sequels eventually succumbed to the law of diminishing returns, although director Gary J. Tunnicliffe ‘s Judgement was lauded as one of the better entries. The filmmaker was originally set to helm another Hellraiser as well before production company Dimension Films went under, and in a recent interview, he revealed that he’s far from happy about the current situation.

“It’s very depressing to sit around and see what’s happening now with Hellraiser. People are going, ‘Oh, there’s a TV show, and they’re really excited about doing it. Oh, there’s going to be a reboot’. And I get no reaching out at all. You think, ‘Wow, man. I bust my gut on that thing.’. And yeah, you could say, ‘Aw, the films weren’t very good’. My genuine fear is, they’re all going to turn out, these new people, they’re going to make this new movie, and go, ‘Yeah, those guys just wrecked the movies and they destroyed the franchise, and now we’re rebuilding it’. It’s like, I feel like I slummed it in the minor leagues, and all I wanted to do was make my team the best team it could be. Every time we did one, I put my heart and soul into it. I really did. And it was hard and depressing at times, to see where they went. When I came off Hellworld, which I hated, I was utterly depressed. They’ve just ruined it. I’d just sat in a room where Pinhead was saying, ‘How’s that for a wake-up call?’. I just felt that this franchise that I adore has lost all sense of respect, because people are just banging it out and I’m trying to do good, solid work.”

Tunnicliffe’s comments sound like a mix of professional pride, a clear love for the material and more than a little bit of sour grapes that he won’t be involved in either the reboot or the TV show, but he certainly made it clear that he’d be happy to return if he was asked to contribute in some fashion.

“I was just miserable. I was like, ‘I’m never going to get to direct a Hellraiser film. It’ll never happen’. So it is upsetting. I kinda feel like it would be nice if somebody reached out to me and said, ‘Oh, we’re going to do a TV series of Hellraiser. Do you want to direct an episode?’. Or, at least even, ‘We’d like to pick your brains a little bit’. It’s like, no one even picks up the phone and reaches out to you. And yet, I feel like I really put the effort in and showed that I adored it.”

Of course, there’ve been recent reports that the Hellraiser reboot might not even move forward after Clive Barker filed a lawsuit in an attempt to regain the rights to the source material, and if that’s what ends up happening, then you can imagine Gary J. Tunnicliffe would have a pretty big smile on his face.