Leviathan Is On Its Way: Interview with Writer & Producer of The Upcoming Hellraiser Documentary

Interview by Keri O’Shea

It’s no secret round these parts that I’m a bit of a Hellraiser fan…

Regular readers might remember my love letter to the film on its twenty-fifth anniversary (or if not, by all means take a look now). You may be amazed to discover that I also have a soft spot in my heart for the in-many-ways equally warped sequel, Hellbound: Hellraiser II. Picking up with the same bleak, fantastical aesthetic which the first film used to such great effect, Hellbound saw several key characters return, offering intriguing developments in how they interacted – not least in the interplay between Frank, Kirsty, and arguably one of the finest daemonic females ever committed to celluloid – Julia Cotton.

There were new characters too, operating at opposite poles – Tiffany, the mute, innocent puzzle-solver, and her doctor, Channard, intent on solving the mysteries of the Lament Configuration box by using her skills – come what may. In many ways the most dangerous Cenobite, Channard is not governed by the regulations which control the actions of the four ‘classic’ Cenobites, who also re-emerge in this movie, albeit with the first Female Cenobite Grace Kirby being replaced here by the disarmingly baby-faced Barbie Wilde. As an extension of the Hellraiser universe, it is a superb piece of work, and (to my mind) the last of the sequels to really feel like a Hellraiser film.

If you have ever wondered about the background to both of these highly-original films, as I have then a project by the name of Leviathan may well be of interest. The project has been making good use of social media in recent weeks alongside its own Kickstarter campaign, which has – six days ahead of schedule, at the time of writing – been successful. (If you still wanted to be a part of this campaign then by all means, you can still visit and pledge). Whilst the iron was hot, though, I was keen to talk to the folk behind this intriguing documentary film, so I spoke to Gary Smart, writer and producer of the film, about the Leviathan team’s work to date, plus of course what happens next…

BAH: first up, congratulations on hitting your modest Kickstarter target almost a week ahead of schedule – you must be incredibly pleased. Were there ever any doubts in your mind about using a crowdsourcing model like the Kickstarter route to fund the film? And how have you found the experience?

GS: The initial start of the production was self-funded and funded by our executive producer; as this is an independent project, we then decided to look for support from Kickstarter and the fans themselves – and we really didn’t have any doubts about Kickstarter. We knew we had an exciting project and some amazing footage from the 30 interviews already completed.

BAH: How long has the idea for this film been in the pipeline, then?

GS: We originally started looking at making the doc about eighteen months ago, but it wasn’t until we did a screening of Hellraiser and Hellbound in Birmingham UK with Ken Cranham, Geoff Portass, Nicholas Vince and Simon Bamford, that we realised that there was a wealth of untold stories from the making of Hellraiser that were just waiting to be told.

BAH: Hellraiser – and Hellbound, the sequel – are two films which have shown a resounding fan appeal – certainly for this fan writer, and many thousands more. You obviously agree – but what, in your opinion, is behind this appeal? Why are fans still so ready to hear more about the films?

GS: The success of the first two Hellraiser films are purely down to the genius that is Clive Barker. The first two movies are really one film, one story that explore the visceral world of the Cenobites and the Lament Configuration perfectly. Most importantly, Hellraiser is a tragic love story that is a kin to Shakespeare – and this is something that we are exploring in Leviathan.

BAH: How has fan response been so far? You’ve been active on Facebook, Twitter et al…

One word – amazing. The fans have been fantastic, as well as the big and small movie and horror sites. We can’t thank the fans enough for their kind words and support so far.

BAH: Were the people now involved in Leviathan keen to talk about their experiences on both films? I’d imagine working on a project or projects as game-changing as these films would have a lasting impact. Have there been revelations along the way?

GS: The one thing that really amazed us was the love for these films from those who helped to create them – their stories are in-depth and from the heart, and of course there are a few fun, interesting stories that have been shared.

BAH: You have a wealth of footage already in the bag for this film; what’s next for you, now that you have raised the necessary funds?

GS: The first thing is booking time in LA. We have four confirmed interviews for August currently, so we will get there and interview who we can. We will then fund post-production to ensure we can get a release – we hope for November 2014. Also, legendary UK poster artist Graham Humphreys will be working on our final poster, so watch this space.

Our plans for the documentary so far? It’ll be a four-hour feature altogether, packed with bonus materials. As ever, updates will be on out Facebook, Twitter and our main site.

BAH: Thanks, Gary, and we look forward to the end result!

Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II will be reviewed on Brutal as Hell on its release. Thanks to all at the Leviathan project for their time.