When original Hellraiser FX artist Gary Tunnicliffe heard that Hellraiser was being remade, he took it upon himself to redesign Pinhead even though nobody had approached him about working on the new film. Fangoria has an exclusive look at Tunnicliffe’s Project Angel: Recreating an Icon, which includes test footage and photos of what the FX artist would like to do if given the opportunity to redesign everyone’s second favorite cenobite (everyone knows Xipe Totec is second fiddle to Butterball!).
Now that just about every major horror icon from Jason to Leatherface has been re-imagined without changing their basic look too much, one might assume that a post-9/11 Pinhead shouldn’t be too hard to fuck up as long as director Pascal Laugier finds the right man for the job.
After replacing Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo as the writer and director of Dimension’s Hellraiser remake, Pascal Laugier vowed that he would not betray Clive Barker’s work. While Laugier seems to understand that the Hellraiser franchise met its demise at the hands of low-budget direct-to-video sequels, the fact that his version of Hellraiser will have a larger budget than Barker’s original masterpiece doesn’t mean much if he can’t bring something new to the table or if he bows to the wishes of studio execs that don’t really get why the original film worked. These are the typical fears fans experience when they hear their favorite film is being remade and, as he explains to Fangoria, it was those fears that made Gary Tunnicliffe try to come up with an updated look for Pinhead in hopes that he could prevent somebody else from fucking up our beloved cenobites.
I then started getting worried when I heard of varying story ideas and grandiose pitches from an assortment of writers and potential directors. What worried me the most was when I heard that a new Pinhead would be required—a reimagining, something more “now,” more “hardcore.”
I have always had strong beliefs that the design for Pinhead (courtesy of creator Clive Barker and also Geoff Portass, the first Pinhead makeup artist) is a brilliantly conceived and executed piece of character prosthetic work, brought to life like no one else could by actor Doug Bradley. I hung my head and sighed, “They just don’t get it, do they?” I looked up at the full-size figure of Doug in the makeup in my studio and said to my guys, “Look, it’s perfect, how and why would you want to ‘reimagine’ that?”
People sometimes forget that the original Hellraiser was not a Pinhead movie in the sense that Nightmare on Elm Street is a Freddy movie or Halloween is a Michael Myers movie. And yet, something tells me that the focus of the new Hellraiser film will be on Pinhead, which makes finding the right FX artist crucial.
For more images and video footage of Project Angel, be sure to visit Fangoria.