Exclusive: Director and FX Artist Gary J. Tunnicliffe Weighs in on The Pinhead Experience

It’s been twelve years since Pinhead-originating actor Doug Bradley has worn the costume and makeup he made so cinematically famous (initially in Clive Barker’s groundbreaking 1987 film Hellraiser and later in no less than six sequels). That is set to change, however, this Friday and Saturday at Scottsdale, Arizona’s Mad Monster Party, as FX legend Tom Savini has paired with the actor in order to provide convention goers the opportunity to get up close and personal with the Cenobite.

Tickets which will allow the purchaser a quick photo op with Bradley in his hellish regalia (Kyle Roberts and Steve Tolin of Tolin FX handled the makeup, with costume recreation by Allison and Sean Boyle) are $260.00 and have already sold out for the actor’s Saturday appearance.

Of the experience, “When fans and show organizers started to ask about the possibility of a Pinhead photo op with Doug a few years back,” states an official announcement made on Bradley’s Facebook page, “we dismissed it as an impossibility. Almost nothing relating to Pinhead existed anymore. No makeup. No costume. Not even a life cast. Besides, shaking hands and “posing” for a picture with Pinhead seemed like a silly idea. The more time went on, the more the questions persisted and the more we talked about it. An idea evolved. If Pinhead can’t enter the fans’ world, how can we bring you into his? We wanted to present an experience and not just a photograph, as close to stepping on set with Doug as Pinhead as we could make it.”

An exciting moment in fandom history, to be sure, as Bradley hasn’t appeared on screen as the character since the 2005 entry Hellraiser: Hellworld, for which FX artist-turned-director Gary J. Tunnicliffe provided the makeup (Tunnicliffe began his extensive Hellraiser effects journey in 1992 on Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth and continued throughout all of the subsequent sequels, the last two of which found Bradley’s character essayed by other actors, and the final, Hellraiser: Judgement, also directed by Tunnicliffe and currently awaiting release).

Related Story: Doug Bradley as Pinhead – More Details and Exclusive Pics!

So, what are Tunnicliffe’s thoughts on the Mad Monster Party return of Pinhead? He emailed us last night to convey them.

Several years ago, before Doug and I ‘fell out’ he bounced the idea of a ‘Pinhead makeup at Conventions scenario’ to me (inspired by Robert Englund, etc., doing similar ventures) and I thought then as I do now – that it was sure fire money maker and a wonderful opportunity for fans. So, I wasn’t surprised when I heard it was going ahead and obviously (since we are no longer on speaking terms) I wasn’t surprised he reached out to another makeup team to facilitate it. I’ve seen pictures and video, etc., and fielded hundreds of texts from people asking what I think of the makeup and costume, I’ve even been told some people have commented it’s the best he’s ever looked (since the original films) and it’s better than the various sequels… and so feel I have to throw my ‘two cents’ in on that.

Personally, whilst I am thrilled to see Doug wear the makeup again, I’m not impressed with the look of it nor the costume, and this is a 100% unbiased critique as an ex-makeup FX artist who created and applied this character over many years.

Post Hellseeker, we used lifts (small pieces of tape) to ‘pull up’ any sagging skin to essentially ‘youth’ Doug, and (to) take away the ‘tired’ or ‘aged’ look… looking at the life cast – that was not done – and I don’t think it’s being done in the application now… so you tend to get a ‘heavy’ look to the face.

The color seems VERY pale, we always painted the makeup a yellowy, autopsy tone and then let the lighting department add the blue color or pale him out… if you don’t do this he tends to wash out 100% which loses the depth of the cuts, etc., and we definitely strayed away from the eye shadow blue ‘racoon’ eyes. I always found a little of that goes a LONG way and you don’t want him looking like Captain Spaulding.

Doug bradley Pinhead

Regarding the costume, I’m assuming the images so far are unfinished. It looks very clean and in need of ‘age’ing down’ Ironically people always think the costume is black, (although) it’s actually a very dark brown-dark umber that reads black on camera… the arms do seem bulky (I’ve seen comments saying that) and the chest piece seems unfinished.

It’s been interesting to read some of the posts by the team involved, and I was interested to see SO many people working on the application… 99% of the time I always did it alone.

Regarding The Pinhead Experience itself, I am curious what the fans will get for their $260 (I know they get a photo and an encounter with him) – I know Doug was keen for this to NOT be just a photo op and wanted to give the people an ‘experience’ and I think that’s awesome. I mean, how cool to visit with Pinhead in his environment!?! Kudos to Doug, Steph and the team for producing that.

But if their estimate of four hours to deal with 100 ticket holders is legitimate, then (without any breaks) that’s 240 minutes – that’s 2.4 mins per ticket holder (1-4 people) and $1.62 per second?

Even a five-minute experience with him would break down as 86 cents per second – BUT that would take 8.33 hours (with NO breaks).

I’m not trying to belittle what they are doing, but ‘load in/load out’ times and ‘logistics’ are something I have had to deal with more and more designing attractions at Fright Dome in Las Vegas and it’s problematic… but I’m sure they’ll have it covered.

A note on budget, people might be quick dismiss my comments and comparisons based on our ‘huge film’ FX budgets….well, I would laugh heartily and say this:

We had $50,000.00 for ALL the effects and on set labor on Hellraiser: Inferno (that’s Pinhead, Wire Twins, Torso Chatterer, costumes, boxes and EVERYTHING else) … on HELLWORLD AND DEADER we had about $150,000.00 again for EVERYTHING – the entire FX build (labor, materials etc) and ON SET costs.

For Revelations, the FX budget was $20,000.00 to create all the effects (Pinhead, Cenobites, Boxes, Skinned FX and on set crew) …. at $260 per ticket X 100 over two days that’s $52,000.00 (total), so even just using a quarter of that is MORE than enough to deliver a movie quality character and costume.

No matter what, I’m sure it will be exciting for all involved and something new to talk about, and anything that gives the fans of this awesome film series a chance to meet with an ICON is cool! And I have no doubts it is something we will see MORE and MORE of in the coming years, and the fans are the ones who will benefit (as long as the prices and experiences are good value for money).

… so does that mean David Naughton with a werewolf body???

…Tony Todd with a mouth full of bees??

… or how about half a Joe Pilato??? (Get your photo holding his intestines??) Where do I buy my ticket?????

For more info on Bradley’s appearance, visit Mad Monster Party online.

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Sean Decker

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