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Like a demonic Stephen Hawking: Cenobites scene from ‘Hellraiser’ performed by speech synthesizers

DECtalk was a text-to-voice speech synthesizer popular in the 1980s. This nifty little piece of technology came with a variety of built-in voices which enabled people who had lost the power of speech to communicate. Its best known user is Stephen Hawking who communicated with the voice “Perfect Paul” (DTC 01).

The DECtalk was also famously the voice of the US National Weather Service on radio and supplied the message to many a telephone answer machine.

In 1939 the Voder was the first attempt at synthesizing human speech by breaking down words into acoustic components. It was the “first device that could generate continuous human speech.”

All well and good, but the one that tickles my fancy was the first time a speech synthesizer was successfully used over a phone to order pizza. This happened at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Michigan State University in 1974, when Donald Sherman who suffered from Möbius syndrome—a facial paralysis—made his order using a Votrax voice synthesizer and a mainframe computer.

Now you may have seen the recent clip of Monty Python’s argument sketch recreated with speech synthesizers by Per Kristian Risvik. Well here’s another little film he’s made using speech synthesizers to recreate a classic scene from Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. It’s a perfect fit and far, far more creepier.

Here’s the dialog as performed:

Lead Cenobite: The box… you opened it, we came.
Kirsty Cotton: It’s just a puzzle box!
Lead Cenobite: Oh no, it is a means to summon us.
Kirsty Cotton: Who are you?
Lead Cenobite: Explorers… in the further regions of experience. Demons to some, angels to others.
Kirsty Cotton: It was a mistake! I didn’t… I didn’t mean to open it! It was a mistake! You can… GO TO HELL!
Female Cenobite: We can’t. Not alone.
Lead Cenobite: You solved the box, we came. Now you must come with us, taste our pleasures.
Kirsty Cotton: Please! Go away and leave me alone!
Lead Cenobite: Oh, no tears please. It’s a waste of good suffering!
Kirsty Cotton: Wait! Wait! Please, please wait!
Lead Cenobite: No time for argument.
Kirsty Cotton: You’ve done this before, right?
Lead Cenobite: Many, many times.
Kirsty Cotton: To… to a man called Frank Cotton?
Female Cenobite: Oh, yes.
Kirsty Cotton: He escaped you!
Lead Cenobite: Nobody escapes us!
Kirsty Cotton: He did! I’ve seen him, I’ve seen him!
Female Cenobite: Impossible.
Kirsty Cotton: He’s alive!
Lead Cenobite: Supposing he had escaped us, what has that to do with you?
Kirsty Cotton: I… I can… I can lead you to him and you… you can take him back instead of me!
Female Cenobite: Perhaps we prefer YOU!
Lead Cenobite: I want to hear him confess, himself. Then maybe… maybe…
Female Cenobite: But if you cheat us…
Lead Cenobite: We’ll tear your soul apart!
Asian Merchant: What is your pleasure, sir?
Lead Cenobite: We have such sights to show you.

Risvik used a DECtalk Express for the central character Kirsty (“Rough Rita modified for higher stress level”). A Dolphin Apollo 2 for the voices of Pinhead and the female Cenobite (“Heavily altered versions of voice 2/3”). And an Intex Talker (Votrax SC-01A) for the Asian Merchant.
Listen to eerie sound of the Cenobites via a speech synthesizer, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Hell on Earth: Behind the scenes of ‘Hellraiser’ and its sequels

Author and director Clive Barker with Doug Bradley as the Cenobite nicknamed ‘Pinhead’.
Clive Barker didn’t know much about directing when he made his debut feature Hellraiser. He thought it best to clue-in on the subject. He decided to borrow a book on filmmaking from his local library. Unfortunately both copies were out on loan. Barker worried that his cinematic career was over before it had even started.

When he pitched the idea for the movie to Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, Barker avoided too much emphasis on his lack of experience. He presented a brief synopsis of his novel Hellbound Heart, a few storyboard sketches and some catchy taglines. It got him the gig.

Barker wanted direct movies because of the abortion made of his last screenplay Rawhead Rex in 1985. He didn’t want the same thing to happen to Hellbound Heart. He also hoped the film would be his calling card to Hollywood.

But he didn’t have a copy of Directing for Dummies or whatever it was called and New World were quibbling over the title Hellbound Heart. They said it sounded like a bad romance.

Thankfully, Barker’s cast and crew were professional and very patient. Together they helped him realize his dark and gory vision on screen.

The film was shot over ten weeks. It cost around a million dollars.

As for Hellbound Heart.—Barker gave his movie the working title Sadomasochists From Beyond The Grave. One female crew member suggested it should be called What A Woman Will Do For A Good Fuck. Hellraiser was chosen as the title—and a legendary franchise was born.

According to writer Neil Gaiman the infamous Cenobites—those dark, mutilated figures from another dimension—were loosely inspired by a group of likeminded writers (called the Peace and Love Corporation) who gathered one night in a rooming house during a party being held in the building. As Gaiman recounts in an introduction to Kim Newman‘s short stories:

The Peace and Love Corporation, which was never a corporation, although it was a bank account, and had not really to do with either Peace or Love, although I think on the whole we were pretty much in favour of both of them, formed, more or less, during a party. We weren’t at the party—it was being held in Kim [Newman}‘s Crouch End flat by his landlord. But we—Kim, Stefan Jaworzyn, Eugene Byrne and myself—were on sleeping bags in Kim’s room, listening to the party going on down the hall. Kim had the bed.

The party was long and loud and the partygoers (old hippies to a man) were playing old hippy music.

We started talking about hippies, lying in the darkness. And we began to rant about commune life and going to San Francisco and putting flour in our hair. It was a kind of free-form improvised stand-up routine, only we were lying on the floor.

The next day we wrote down what we could remember of the rant, added a plot of sorts, called it ‘Peace and Love and All That Stuff’ and sent it off to a magazine, and became the Peace and Love Corporation.

Clive Barker was fascinated by the Peace and Love Corporation. At one point he announced that he was going to write a story called ‘Threshold’, in which Kim, Stefan and I would be creatures from a far-future world beyond the boundaries of pleasure and pain, come to the here and now to hunt down a fugitive. When he finally wrote it it was called The Hellbound Heart, and was later filmed as Hellraiser. Which may mean that Kim Newman was the original inspiration for Pinhead. They are, after all, both snappy dressers.

A new film Hellraiser: Judgment will be released next year.
More images of Hell on earth, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Wunderkammer’: A new exhibition of Clive Barker’s weird and disturbing paintings

‘Death’s Womb.’
A new exhibition of artwork by writer, artist and filmmaker Clive Barker opens at the Copro Gallery in Santa Monica this month.

Entitled Wunderkammer the show brings together Barker’s more recent oil paintings depicting the “unseen world of fantasy co-existing with our own reality.” Wunderkammer means “a place where a collection of curiosities and rarities is exhibited.”

Barker is of course best known for his superlative work as a writer and producer of fantasy-horror fiction and film. His novels include The Hellbound Heart, Weaveworld, Imajica, Abarat and The Scarlet Gospels.  While as producer or director he has made the movies Hellraiser, Nightbreed, Candyman and Lord of Illusion.

Barker divides his day between writing, filmmaking and painting. The painting he usually does in the evening around seven when he dons his “painting clothes” and goes into his studio. His artwork has been exhibited across the world and included in books and magazines.

Wunderkammer opens at the Copro on August 6th-27th. All of the paintings are for sale—details here.
‘Demons of Night and Day.’
‘3 Beasts Devouring Each Other.’
More of Clive Barker’s paintings after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Why are these ‘Hellraiser’ VHS tapes being left at bus stop on London’s Old Kent Road?
06:16 pm


Clive Barker
Tom Wateracre

Three years ago, a VHS cassette copy of Clive Barker’s 1980’s horror film Hellraiser appeared on the top of a bus shelter on London’s Old Kent Road. When it was first spotted by Tom Wateracre, it led to his speculation that perhaps the film’s “antique puzzle box” (as discovered by Frank Cotton in Morocco) actually looked like this:
Was it possible?

Had Tom really uncovered the portal to the world of the Cenobites, a hell where pain and pleasure is indivisible?

It’s a ghoulish thought, right?

But Tom wasn’t the only one to notice the Hellraiser video cassette…or its significance…






Some suggested it was a calling card for drug dealers, while others asked had anyone dared to retrieve the box, open it and view its contents?

If anyone had…they never replied…

The tape was becoming bleached and weather worn, but then one day…






But no, for Tom had uncovered a secret community…
Strangely…that twitter account no longer exists…

And so the legend of Hellraiser on the Old Kent Road continues…

Read the Tom’s story here.

Via Time Out London

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Hellraiser: The Macabre Art of Horror Master Clive Barker
09:40 pm


Clive Barker


“I think of myself as somebody who is reporting from a world of dreams.”
-Clive Barker

Although primarily known as an author of dark fantasy, and as the creator of the “Hellraiser” and “Candyman” horror movie franchises, Clive Barker is also a prolific visual artist. Barker will often paint a character into existence before fleshing it out on the page:

“I’m painting these pictures in the expectation that… interesting, strange characters and landscapes will come into my mind and into my mind’s eye and appear on the canvas through the brush. There is something willfully strange about this process—that you stand back at the end of a night’s work and you look at something and you say, ‘Where did that come from?’ I mean, I’m not the only artist who does that - lots of artists do that, I know. And it’s been wonderful because if I had created Abarat from words—if I’d written Abarat and then illustrated it… it would not be anything like as rich or as complex or as contradictory a world as it is. Because this is a world which has been created from dream visions…  What I’m doing is finding stories that match the shape of my dreams.”

This weekend you can see the art of Clive Barker at LA Art at the Century Guild booth #1216 . You can pre-order the upcoming hardcover Clive Barker art book here.








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Shade Rupe’s excellent short film ‘T is for Trick’
06:13 pm


Clive Barker
Shade Rupe
T is for Trick

It’s getting near Halloween, and what better to celebrate than watching writer and film-maker, Shade Rupe‘s excellent short film T is for Trick.

So impressive is Shade’s film that the legendary horror writer and director, Clive Barker sent Shade a note of his approval:

Hey there Shade,

That was an elegantly shot, sharply edited and strongly conceived and directed four minutes of film-making. Colour me impressed. You managed to imply a whole range of character options for us, from which entirely plausible narrative solutions spilled. Very fine, courageous work from you and your actors. I hit the heart to say I’d been there. I hope it helps and i will certainly make sure my guys do the same.

Bloody good work, my friend.


Who could disagree with Mr Barker? But judge for yourself, and if you like, then you might like to vote for Mr Rupe’s success, by ‘hitting the Heart Vote button’. You will not be disappointed.

Check here to vote for Shade’s film T is for Trick to be included in the ABCs of Death.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment