Before making Hellraiser: Judgment, filmmaker Gary J. Tunnicliffe had worked as a makeup designer on multiple Hellraiser movies and had a big part to play in the terrifying, otherworldly appearance of the demons that have appeared in the franchise. In an interview with Bloody-disgusting, Tunnifcliffe admitted to feeling hurt by the prospect of a reboot to the franchise happening without him after the years of love and dedication he has shown to the world of Hellraiser.
“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…”
Hellraiser: Judgment was a small-budget followup to its better-known predecessors in the Hellraiser franchise. The film was praised for its expansion of the lore of the Cenobites, and for introducing a new faction of Hell called The Stygian Inquisition, but was also criticized for focussing too much on a police-procedural sub-plot, and cheaper-looking setting. Gary J. Tunnicliffe had hoped that making Judgment on a small scale would open the door for him to make a follow-up with a bigger budget, and now fears the franchise is in the hands of people who do not understand that world as well as him.
“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 wakeup 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.”
While Tunnicliffe has struggled to come to peace with being excluded from future plans for the franchise, he still hopes for there to be some acknowledgment in future Hellraiser movies of the work he put into taking the series to the hallowed place it currently inhabits in horror pop culture.
“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.’ I mean, I kinda feel like how Kane Hodder felt when he got abandoned as Jason. 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.”