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Paul T. Taylor on Pinhead, Upcoming Films, and Horror Favorites

Hellraiser has been a beloved horror franchise for decades, and Pinhead a beloved monster. Like most horror icons, the character is associated with one face, but sometimes someone new will take on the mantle. In Hellraiser: Judgement, Paul T. Taylor did just that. At Carolina Fear Fest this past Memorial Day weekend, I had the opportunity to chat with him about his experience taking on Pinhead, what he’s up to now, and some of his favorite horror titles.

The Auditor (Gary J. Tunnicliffe), a man with slash scars all across his head and face wearing a pair of round, dark sunglasses which are reflecting a blue light in front of him. He is kneeling in front of Pinhead (Paul T. Taylor), a ghostly pale man with pins sticking out of almost every angle of his face. He is sitting in some sort of throne-like chair, and is partially illuminated by that soft blue light behind him.
The Auditor (Gary J. Tunnicliffe) and Pinhead (Paul T. Taylor).

Emma Gilbert: I assume taking on the role of Pinhead from Doug Bradley was quite a daunting feat. How did you feel about that?

Paul T. Taylor: Well, yeah, I was challenged from the beginning by the director who sat me down and reminded me of the rabid fanbase, of which I was a member as well—well, maybe I’m not rabidly a fan, but I was always a huge fan of Pinhead. And I had to get over that, y’know, and just take the script as written, and just do the script while still honoring what came before me, of course. Because, in essence, I’m playing the same character, but at the same time, I’m not; the costume design is different…But, y’know, there are still people who are such rabid Doug Bradley [fans], you know the types who say “there can only be one Pinhead,” and I respect their opinion, I respect what they have to say, [but] I can disagree. It’s like Dracula or Frankenstein’s Monster; many different actors can play the character. You can have your favorite, whatever, but it was just such a freakin’ honor just to get the part, and to get to play this classic horror monster. To be made to look into that was a dream come true. It was the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me. And I’ve met Doug Bradley, and we’re friends, and it’s all great.

EG: That’s awesome! Would you play Pinhead again if you had the opportunity?

Taylor: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, I just don’t know what’s going on with the franchise at this point.

EG: Yeah, it seems like a lot of the big names are in limbo right now.

Taylor: Yeah, they absolutely are. I can’t wait by the phone; I just go on. Hellraiser: Judgement elevated my stature as an actor, [it] has presented me with more opportunities, and I couldn’t ask for more than that. And I get to do these conventions now, which is really, really wonderful.

EG: I noticed on your IMDb you have a few things cookin’. Are there any new roles you’re excited about?

Taylor: Yeah, there’s a movie called Whitetail that’s coming out soon. It’s a drama, it’s very emotionally raw, and it’s not the typical kind of role for me. It’s a very large role, and I’m sorta the heartbeat of the movie—that’s someone else’s words, not mine. But I’m very vulnerable in the film and I’m thrilled about it because it’s like nothing I’ve ever done on screen before, and it’s a huge role so that’s great. There’s a movie called Butcher’s Bluff that’s still being finished up, it’s coming out soon. It’s gonna be an 80’s-style slasher film where I’m playing a Texas sheriff, that’s gonna be a lot of fun. I think it’s gonna make a lot of horror people very happy, [those who] are into the 80’s slasher stuff. A movie called Road Head is actually being released June 4th—I have a cameo in that that’s a lot of fun. It’s a horror-comedy.

EG: It sounds like one!

Taylor: And then we’re workin’ on doing a movie called Coulrophobia, which means “fear of clowns.” And Gary Tunnicliffe, who wrote, directed, and did the costume and makeup designs for Hellraiser: Judgement, is going to be directing that, so I’m very excited about that as well. I’m cast as one of the head clowns.

EG: Aw, nice!

Taylor: Yeah, it’s gonna be a lot of fun. So, stuff’s happening, definitely. Thank god the pandemic is on its way somewhere else? Or, we don’t know what’s goin’ on with that. It was a bad year, and hopefully, we’re getting back to things. I’m just really excited to be doing theater again and stuff like that.

EG: That’s awesome. I have just one more question for ya’; can you tell us one of your favorite horror movies?

Taylor: Yes. The Exorcist is my favorite horror movie of all time. I think it’s such a classic. There’s only one moment in it that doesn’t scare me, and that’s when the head twists around because it’s physically impossible, but, y’know, what do we know? It’s demonic possession.

EG: Yeah, you never know; we could all be owls, we’re just not trying hard enough.

Taylor: It’s true. But it’s a terrifying movie, and I really love it, it’s so, so good. It’s kind of a classic answer, I mean, I think a lot of people might say the same thing. For me, it’s a toss-up between The Exorcist and The Shining, but there are so many…there are SO many great horror films, I just…y’know. And those are old, oldies but goodies. 80’s horror is kinda my jam.

EG: 100% agree. Freddy Krueger is, like, my favorite horror character of all time—no offense!

Taylor: No, none taken. Freddy Krueger is fantastic, I’d like to play him as well, but y’know, we can’t do everything we wanna do.

EG: Who says, y’know?

[He responds with a chuckle, and we exchange thank-yous before I go on my way.]

Paul T. Taylor as Frank Hughes in Whitetail, an older pale man wearing glasses and a cap covering his ears. He is in the woods, dressed warmly and aiming a shotgun at something in front of him. He looks a bit apprehensive.
Paul T. Taylor in Whitetail as Frank Hughes.

On Sunday, I saw Mr. Taylor again in Fear Fest’s “The Future of Horror” panel. The topic of favorite modern horrors came up, and he changed his answer to what his favorite movie was.

[Someone in the audience asked about the panelists’ favorite films.]

Paul T. Taylor: Y’know, my typical answer would be The Shining, The Exorcist, but really thinking about it, [Corin Hardy’s The Hallow]. I really love fairytales, and I love parables, and that kind of thing, and [things that] really make a point about what is happening in the earth and what the human species is doing to [it]. “Revenge of the earth, to take care of itself,” that’s what this movie, in essence, is sort of about, and it’s so cool. [It’s] just one of my favorite movies. It’s the first time I [had ever] heard of Corin Hardy […] Y’know, his work with puppets that he’s made since he was a kid, and these puppets that [have been] in the woods, related to the trees, and this lead character becoming, like, infested with a tree inside him—I’m not telling this exactly, but it’s so beautiful because it […] could be in a book of children’s stories, and yet it is really horrifying. I would recommend it. And it’s completely supernatural, but it’s also related to [the] real natural [world], and I really dig that.

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Written by Emma Gilbert

Emma Gilbert is a 23-year-old from North Carolina who has had a special interest in horror films since she was 14. She's been writing since she was 10 years old, encouraged by her family and friends all the way. Here, she hopes to entertain and enthrall you with trainwreck analyses and lame humor!

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