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It was in February of 2005 that my housemate Shanta heard me complaining about the shoddy quality of the latest horror film I had seen in the theaters. Often, I would complain about the lack of decent narratives and believable characters in what we currently call "horror,." In some cases I would also complain about the violence in these films: In PG-13 teenage camp, too little, and in R-rated films, too meaningless.
She then proferred, "Why not make your own?"
My immediate answer was that I obviously lacked the training and experience to be able to complete the task. She then countered that I had certainly seen enough films and listened to enough commentaries that I seemed to know what I was talking about.
Reasonably, I thought about what it would take to make a fan film, and then I realized that it was, at the very least, a possibility.
Then began my search for the right story. Hellraiser films have recently fallen into two categories: the "mind-fuck" films of late, where the protagonist is often unaware that they have been mucking about in their own personal hell, or the more conventional story, where a person finds the box, that person solves the box, and then antics ensue.
A common complaint of the hard-core fan base was that the stories had deviated so far from the original mythos that the concept of Leviathan and its background as given in HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II (1988) were all but forgotten.
I therefore set out to write a story that incorporated elements of the Leviathan mythos.
In the late 1990s, there were rumors that the fifth Hellraiser film would be an epic struggle between angels and cenobites. That vision was never realized, and the result was the modest HELLRAISER: INFERNO (2000). Generally, fans were relieved that the Hellraiser mythos remained unpolluted by Christian lore, but in truth, I found the evocative concept appealing, and it was one that I was eager to revisit.
Then came the PROPHECY films, starting in the mid-1990s. Certainly the darkly intense interpretation of angels offered by the film captivated my imagination, and it was upon these "angels" that I fell back as I started sketching out my story. I was determined to create a story that could preserve the identities and rules of both franchises while still having them intersect.
In the early hours of February 24th, 2005, with an emptied bottle of red wine, a laptop, a television and several HELLRAISER and PROPHECY DVDs in hand, the first draft of the script was completed.
...The Cast and Crew.
I, myself, am a student of biology, currently in graduate school on Long Island. I've never written a script, nor pursued filmmaking until now. It's been an incredible experience, and one that I will likely never forget, save the occasional brain disorder beyond what twisted wiring I already have.
My first call was to my sister, Christie Bialowas, who is a surgical resident in New Jersey. Her desire to enter medicine was prompted by her desire to "finally use power tools on people." She agreed to do the costumes and makeup design in what would prove to be a Herculean task that she accomplished beyond successfully given our limited budget and materials.
Casting the roles was mostly straightforward. For the lead role of Natasha, I asked Lori Pyzocha to star, whom I felt was the ideal scream queen for horror film. I then asked Allison Blum to play the role of Lydia, Natasha's sister. Both are absolutely lovely ladies, a necessity for any low-budget horror film. For the Cenobites, I had very specific people in mind for two of the four. In the end, Ivan Ho, Elaine Wang and Monica Dus agreed to join. For the cameo role of Alex, Dan Leong put in some time as well. All of the people mentioned above were, at the time of filming, employees or students at the institution I work at, with no prior experience in this field.
To fill the roles of Sasha and his mistress, I knew that I would need to find a couple, who could be physically intimate on camera; also, Sasha had to have a surly or threatening disposition when angered. For these roles, I asked an old friend from High School, Meagan Moir, and her then boyfriend, John Ruggiero.
The most difficult task was the casting of Lucifer, played in THE PROPHECY (1995) by Viggo Mortensen. As the character had been portrayed by three different actors throughout four of the five PROPHECY films, I felt more comfortable recasting a Lucifer, then I would have for, say, Gabriel. Inumerable thanks go to Jeremy Yost, who took this project very seriously, who drove six hours each way for two weekends to film, and who gave this role a gravitas that no others in my circle could have likewise done.
In the end, 10 graduate students in biology, 5 lab technicians.3 engineers, 3 undergrads, 2 medical doctors, 2 postdoctoral fellows, 1 high school English teacher and 1 registered nurse (ALL VOLUNTEERS) were among the people who helped to make this film possible.
It was just about the most motley and rewarding crew that a first-time filmmaker could have asked for.
With the final (June 13th) draft of the script in hand, Principal Photography began on June 27th in Cold Spring Harbor, NY. Principal Photography occurred as follows:
Throughout those five days, there were over twenty people who helped out on set, and many people, including the actors, did multiple jobs. It was an unforgettable experience.