Clive Barker & Ashley Laurence
at the Egyptian Theatre
Q. [TO ASHLEY LAURENCE] HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE PROJECT?
Laurence: There was an actors` workshop and there was someone there from New World and they were on their way back to London and I got a phone call saying ‘Go there now; read this now.’ I met Clive, and he said, "OK, your uncle`s wearing your father`s skin, and he wants to kill you and have sex with you, probably in that order." [Laughter from the audience.] And that was my initiation.
We were in the offices of New World, and New World is very button-down, very conservative. We were in this tiny
office, and I said toAshley, "If we`re going to do this, you have to be a screamer." Ashely has an amazing
scream, it's completely unenhanced, this was before the days of enhancement. And she screamed the fucking place
down! Completely without apology. It was realy great. Everything shook. I thought, this is the girl for us. It
was an accident; so many of the good things in life come along because fate wants them to, and I think Ashley was
perfect for this; I think Doug was perfect for this, and he came to embody the spirit of this monster. It just
happened; I think it`s kismet.
Q. I WAS AT THE FANGORIA CONVENTION AND SAW SOMETHING ABOUT THE NEW HELLRAISER MOVIE. WHY DIDN`T YOU DIRECT THAT ONE?
The new Hellraiser movie is not a movie I like. I have to be pretty frank it really hurts to say thhis about another filmmaker's work. It violated for me a lot I liked about the Hellraiser movies. I kept away from Candyman 3. I kept away from Hellraiser 5. Because in both cases I opted to be involved in the process. And in both cases they said we know how do this better than you. Go away. I mean they said it nicer than that, but that's naturally what you get. That was not from the director (Scott Derrickson) by the way who was extremely nice, but it was from some of the suits at Dimension’s who had absolutely no interest in Clive Barker's involvement in a Hellraiser movie. Why would you get Clive Barker involved in a Hellraiser movie?"
It's painful because I loved making this movie. I loved making the second movie. I had a good time with the third one and then it started to fall apart and the reason it falls apart is because there are certain people who are not creative and are pencil pushers who have absolutely nothing to do with the creative process who think they know better and can do better than I can.
The thing about a sequel or sequels is that everybody becomes an expert. Everybody who's seen the other movies all feel "We know how that's done." Actually making horror movies I think is still a relatively direguarded craft. That is to say we make horror movies a craft. Making good horror movies is actually kind of difficult. If it wasn't difficult there'd be more of them. If it wasn't difficult Bless the Child would be a good movie. [Laughter.]
Q. HOW DOES JULIA COME BACK IN THE SECOND MOVIE?
Barker: She comes back from hell. So she kind of gets resurrected through the mattress in which she is found lying at the end of the first one. I loved Clare in this picture. The great thing I think about the ladies in the picture is how strong they are. The thing that Clare does is she has a great time being evil! I mean, she just loves it. And I think one of the cool things about horror movies is that all of us are involved in the process. So each of us has a dark side, and has fun with it. I mean, I remembered while we were watching it at the time I remembered that I had a handful of maggots which was dropped on Ashley`s breast, and it was my hand in the movie that dropped them there.
Let's talk about how you introduced that. That wasn`t in the script! That was brought out on the day day there
were six or seven investors there to see where the money was going, and there was this sheepish little man who
was the maggot wrangler, and he walked up to me and said, "I need to talk to you about something," and
Clive said, "Watch me," and put his hand into this big box of maggots which really make the sound like
in the movie, like sandpaper, and you have to put sawdust in with them because they stick. Clive`s big sell to
me was that they wouldn`t hurt me because I was alive! [Laughter.] Yeah....
Barker: Another thing. This was shot in England. We had a maggot wrangler, and I presume we also had a roach wrangler. And the cockroaches in England are really small and uninteresting. He said "These are American cockroaches you have much much more interesting cockroaches!" The deal is that the British law would not alow us to bring in cockroaches of both sexes, incase they mated and then we had an infestation of the Houses of Parliament. So the wrangler, this is the honest truth, had to sex the roaches. They were all male. They were sort of gay roaches. It was fine, they could go out to all the leather bars together, but they couldn`t multiply. [Laughter.] And we had a fridge. They move very fast, so the only way to slow them down was to chill them. We chilled the maggots and the roaches. We'd open it up and it was all reasuring. It was fun.
Laurence: And no rats were hurt.
No rats were hurt. And no roaches were hurt, either. They opened their bars. [Laughs.]
Q. DO EITHER OF YOU HAVE SPIRITUAL BELIEFS?
Barker: Ashley first, perhaps?
Laurence: Yes, of course I have spiritual beliefs. And like Clive said, I do believe things happen unintentionally. For the most part I think that you can go about your life thinking a certain way planning for things, and other things that are completely unexpected show up and it makes sense somehow, when you stand back and look at it later.
I have room in my worldview, I suppose, for, well, the Hindus have 33 million gods. I always thought we were kind
of a little mean-spirited just having the one. I think we are surrounded by spirit and inhabited by spirit. I think
the issue is not trying to find a place that`s spiritual, but to find a place that isn`t. I think everything—like
William Blake, my hero, believes everything is holy, absolutely. and even in a minor way like in a movie. You can
play with ideas. Horror movies actually allows you to do this, science fiction allows you to do the same thing,
they allow you to play with ideas of good and evil. And I'm certainly not making making any great metaphysical
claims for my pictures, but it is an interesting place to play with a certain ambiguity. We have an interest in
evil, we have a kind of fascination with evil, and one of the great lessons for me was seeing the way the fans
and people worldwide responded to this movie was that it was the guy with the pins in his head, he had caused bloodshed,
and they just wanted to see him again. I went to Japan and they had painted an entire skyscraper with his image.
It was the most extraordinary thing. And that was the first time I realized that there was something of a cult
here. Every one was standing in reverence in front of this image. Now, in the twelve, thirteen, fourteen years
since we made that movie, modern primitives have pierced themselves. There are people probably here who have piercings
in places that some of us don`t have places! And that kind of thing, that piercing that tattoing, has become a
lot more common. Back then it was a lot more shocking. I mean the guy with the pins in his head was a lot more
shocking back in 1987. Now he could walk down Melrose...lucky guy.
Q. IF YOU WERE TO DO THIS MOVIE NOW, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
Barker: Oh, everything. An awful lot of the special effects. Inevitably in 14 years time you think god! The creature that attacks Ashley at the end. We had so little money! And we were just like flinging this thing at her.
And the monster that looks like a Gap ad.
Barker: Oh, yes, terrible. So the special effects. I think there are some things that I`m extremely proud of let's put it that way. And the rest of it, you know, I`m ashamed of! I think the performances are really solid in the picture. Watching it tonight, I`m thinking, ‘You know, this is a really well-acted movie.’ And that I`m very proud of. I think Chris Young's score is superb.I think it`s well-lit. I think that's important for a $900,000 movie; it doesn`t look like a TV movie. I think in places—in places, only—the script is fine. In other places, it plays along with hackneyed clichés. I could toughen up alot with it now. But you know, you make your mistakes. You can only learn by doing it, I think. I`m just pleased that everybody was engaged in the movie when they saw it this time, and the laughs were solid laughs—you know, Christ coming out of the closet is a good solid laugh—and there`s a sense of camp and kitschiness in the sheer excess of Frank, sitting in the suit and with the cigarette, looking like Bette Davis. [Laughter.] That`s great. And those were always intended to be funny, because he`s a skinned man, for God`s sake!
It`s a snappy suit, though.
Barker: [Amidst laughter.] Very snappy. I think I like that mixture. Actually, I`m kind of proud of the mixture of comedy and horror. It actually works pretty well. The rest of it, as I want to do with my writing, is fix and fix and fix it.
Q. NOW IT`S 14 YEARS LATER. DID YOU EVER IMAGINE YOU`D BE HERE AT THE EGYPTIAN IN HOLLYWOOD?
Barker: What`s great is that the movie has gotten a following. The movie makes sense as a narrative in a way, but even though the effects are not as great as one would like the narrative picks you up and carries you through the movie and you`re engaged in the movie. I suppose we're going to say about a film like Hollow Man that has amazing effects right now in five years or 14 years time we're going to look back at those effects and say, ‘They could be better.’ What dates the movie for me is hairstyles. Those are the two things that date a movie, right? And clothing. Those things you can do nothing about. I was particularly aware of Clare`s hairstyle.
Laurence: She looks like a Patrick Nagel.
Barker: She does. In grey and mauve.
Barker: There`s a shot where her hair is sticking out like this, and she looks like Simon LeBon. [Laughter.] I think one has to have a sense of humor because you can do nothing about that. You make a movie now with modern hairstyles, and in 15 years` time it looks old. Looking back, I think we pulled some stuff off, and there`s some stuff which I regret. There`s stuff I regret in everything I do, in writing, in moviemaking, in painting. The great thing about theater is that it`s gone! So you can lie about it: "It was perfect!" You can lie about that, but the books and the paintings are there for you to judge.
Q. HOW DO YOU RELATE TO THE CHARACTERS IN YOUR BOOKS AND IN YOUR FILMS?
Barker: I don`t relate to the characters in my films the way that I relate to the characters in my books. In my books I can really get into the characters. The characters in films belong to the actors. The actors will take the characters and do extraordinary things with them. Again, I was reminded watching the picture tonite how many of the great things in the show were concocted by actors in the moment or in one of the takes. In the scene at the end when Andrew Robinson says, "Jesus wept," for instance, was his addition. I don`t know what it means, but it`s right. And the moment when he fiddles with the corner of his eye, I said, "Oh, well we`ll need an effect for that," and he said, "No, I can just make that work," and he does. There are places where Ashley looks, and I just love this in the last reel of the movie, like the Holy Spirit has just inhabited her, like all Japanese-intense, looking like, "Fuck you, demons," and that intensity validates the drama. That makes a movie. You believe the movie because the actors give you that degree of feeling. One of the things I hate about horror movies is when they don`t take themselves seriously. Everybody on this movie had this drummed into them: "We`re gonna do this seriously."
Laurence: Oh, yes. This was a bone of contention with New World, I remember, and we were speaking about it like, "I don`t want to look like I`m in a douche commercial, saying, ‘Oh look there`s a monster, scampering away.’" Clive was like, "I want you to look really crummy," and I was like, "Yes!" Because it was more believable that when you fight off demons from hell you wouldn`t look your best. [Laughter.]
Barker: We had a series of problems with New World which have been echoed in my endeavors as a filmmaker every since. And they`re to do with intensity. There are things missing from this movie which are gone forever, which were to do with the intensity of the experience. For instance, the MPAA really hated the fact that Frank was enjoying his final crucifixion. They really hated that. We had this great shot where the skin was split in half and he was still licking his lips and smiling, and there was no way they would have that. And there was wonderful thing that happened. We had this sex scene, and I always said it needed to be erotic; it needed to be the most amazing sex ever.
Laurence: It`s transcendent. It changes her.
Barker: She`s gonna murder for this guy, so it has to be the best fuck of her life. [Laughter.] She`s gonna hammer people to death for him, so it`s got to be great sex. I`d never directed sex before, so I`m going to my actors saying, ‘Let`s talk about this. How are we going to do this? What can we do that will be really amazing?’ What was extraordinary was that Sean [Chapman] and Clare immediately took on the personas of their characters, and Sean said, "You know, I think Frank would be into spanking." [Laughter.] And Clare said, "I think Julia would like that." [Laughter.] It progressed and we eventually agreed that indeed Frank and Julia would enjoy spanking and it should turn into this piece of S&M. So, we shot a spanking scene, and it was smashing! Almost the best spanking I've had all week. We sent it over by envoy to New York. The people from New World called us up and said, "This material is hot! We can use one of it! Are you out of your mind, you British pervert? It`s full of spanking!" We need to shoot a new sex scene in which there is nothing perverted. So I said to them, "Before I waste your good time and mine,and time shooting another sex scene tell me what the rules are. Tell me what I can and can't do." This is the honest truth: The MPAA instructed me in the sex scenes I was allowed, while he was inserted, two consecutive buttock thrusts, that is to say he could thrust a first and a second time and then I have to cut away to something else. A third thrust, and it would be obscene. [Laughter.] So it was thrust, thrust, daffodils....[Laughter.] I swear. It was actually the first time and it was indicative of a relationship I have with the MPAA. It was ludicrous that they were counting buttock thrusts. And it`s something to do with what horror movies do, that they push at the envelope of what`s acceptable, and people like the MPAA will push back. But I`d love to know really, where that footage is. Someone probably has it in a private collection. Somebody from New World has a private collection of Frank from the apartment scene and is proud of it.