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A Chat with the Chatterer, Nicholas Vince, On “PAINTBALL MASSACRE”

Wednesday, December 16, 2020 | Interviews


Some titles of films are meant to be ironic, mysterious, or even misleading. That is not the case with PAINTBALL MASSACRE from Uncork’d Entertainment. Nope, with this title, you already know what to expect. (Spoiler alert: It’s a paintball massacre.) Based around a high school reunion gone terribly wrong, to say the least, the film gives off an old school slasher flick vibe. I recently had the chance to chat with Nicholas Vince (Hellraiser, Nightbreed) about his role in the film and his work with Clive Barker.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today! You have a new film about to come out, PAINTBALL MASSACRE! What can you tell us, without spoiling too much?

It’s a school reunion, and they all meet up at the pub, to begin with. All the types are very quickly established. All the types that you have in school. I play Somerset, the barman. I get into a chat with all these school friends and I’m standing there behind the bar just talking to one of them and he tells this really strange story that kind of sets him up to be – you see, the whole thing is that they go to a paintball thing, obviously, and then people start dying. The sort of thing that the title, promises you, that the trailer promises you, basically. It’s not really clear exactly who the killer is, you’ll have to watch. I can’t really tell you much more than that.

From what I can gather so far, it seems to be like a homage to old school slasher flicks.

Yeah, absolutely! I think that homage idea is very true because you’ve kind of got – it’s like the teenagers are now middle-aged. In slasher flicks, it was always the teenagers that were getting killed. Well, these are the teenagers but grown-up. There are lots of practical effects, and it’s pretty funny as well. There are some cracking one-liners in it. I think people are going to enjoy it. There are some gory and horrible, horrible deaths.

Always a bonus. Would you say that feel was intentional? That old school slasher feel?

Absolutely! For my YouTube show, I watched Silent Night, Deadly Night for the first time.

I love that movie.

I had never seen it before! I’m not sure if it was actually banned in the UK. It certainly had a reputation. Softcore porn, with horror basically. Having said that: it’s a very interesting piece.

Yeah, my mother wasn’t too happy when I came home with that one…

I can imagine that. I can definitely imagine that! Not the sort of a thing a child would be encouraged to watch.

I mean, it is a Christmas movie…

Another one I just watched is Black Christmas.

What did you think?

I loved it! The reason I watched it was because Lynne Griffin was on my show, The Chattering Hour. I saw it when it first came out. Lynne Griffin’s death, the suffocation, really, really disturbed me at the time.

Super unsettling…

Very unsettling. I was going to say that PAINTBALL MASSACRE is a lot closer to Black Christmas than it is to Silent Night, Deadly Night. Especially in the fact that you don’t know who the killer is. Nobody knows. They know they’re being killed off, and they know they have little chance of survival, and their true characters come to the front – love them or hate them. Half of the fun is trying to figure out who the killer is.

Now, you play the bartender at the beginning of PAINTBALL MASSACRE, and you talk to the kids before they go to their school reunion.

Right. I chat with one of them actually. He sets up the fact that the quarry where the paintball takes place is a bad place to go. He kind of sets the tone for the film. A) Why would you want to do a school reunion, to begin with, and B) Don’t go up to the quarry! Really. Honestly, he’s a little like the old guy at the beginning of the Scooby-Doo cartoons. “Don’t go into that house!”

The one that they should always listen to, but never do?

Precisely! Because if they did, it would be a really short film.

If the characters in our favorite movies made good decisions, we wouldn’t have a genre.

Which is why I find that when you do come across what I call intelligent horror films – and what I mean is people make intelligent decisions – they don’t do the stupid things. Who really believed you get protection from pulling the covers over your head?

There’s a killer inside, let’s go upstairs!

Exactly! Just be sensible, really. Run! Just get the hell out of there as fast as you can! That’s one of the things I like, and you’ll see it when you watch the movie. Once they’re in the situation, it’s really hard to get out.

I’ve known your name since I was a kid, and Hellraiser is still one of my favorite movies. 

Thank you! I’m so pleased I did! It was fun to do. I mean, it was tough. It was physically challenging to do, but the whole experience of making the film was fun. We had a lot of good laughs on Hellraiser.

When you were filming it, did you ever think that it would become what it is today, and be so iconic?

No, I had no idea. It was my first film. It was Clive Barker’s first film. It was the first for many of us. We had some really experienced actors in there, though. Andrew Robinson, Claire Higgins, and the crew that Clive and the producer, Christopher Fig, had assembled, like Robin Vidgeon [Cinematography], and John Mitchel who did the sound. They were very experienced people.

A lot of the guys who were doing the make-up at Image Animation were fairly fresh out of college, or school. Back in the mid-1980s, we didn’t have internet. We had no mobile phones. There were no conventions that I was aware of. So, there was nothing to compare it with. The closest things we had [in the U.K.] in terms of horror movies were the Hammer Pictures or the old Universal horror films.

Chatterer is probably one of the most grotesque and frightening abominations to ever grace the silver screen. My girlfriend is absolutely terrified of you, by the way.

I have to say, she’s not alone. I remember about two or three years after Hellraiser came out, I was sitting in a pub with a whole load of comic artists working for Marvel in London. A guy and his girlfriend came in and he said, “Hey, this is Nick. He played the Chatterer Cenobite in Hellraiser.” She literally just looked at me, staring, then physically ran from the bar. For twenty minutes, we literally did not see her.

Whenever thereafter, she couldn’t look at me properly. It’s not like I was wearing the make-up or anything. Your girlfriend’s not alone. Probably just means she’s a really nice person. That’s one of the great things about the Chatterer, he’s such a disturbing image. Pinhead looks cool. There’s something very elegant about the pins. The Female Cenobite has a nasty throat wound, but a human face. Butterball is a very, very obese person, but Chatterer is just completely out there.

With the talk of a Hellraiser reboot, and the series coming to HBO down the line, would you consider going back to the role? Have you been approached?

I have not been approached. If they asked me, yes. Basically, if Clive’s involved, I would be involved, if asked. Would I be able to play the Chatterer? Only if lost a lot of weight after lock-down. It was a long time ago that we made this movie!

But yeah, I’d love to be involved in anything with Hellraiser, because it’s not just the films. I went on to write Hellraiser comics for Marvel, and Nightbreed comics, as well. I’ve written short stories about the Chatterer, so it’s a huge part of my life.

Speaking of Nightbreed, what was that experience like, and how did it differ from Hellraiser? Because tonally, they are completely different.

Yeah! Funny enough, they did do a cross-over between Hellraiser, and Nightbreed in the comics. They were on a different scale. We filmed Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 and Nightbreed at Pinewood Studios, but the scale was vast in comparison in terms of make-up and the number of monsters and things. It was just phenomenal. Personally, the make-up was very different as well.

Chatterer was difficult to wear because I had minimal vision and couldn’t really speak. I had to be led everywhere by hand. Kinski, in Nightbreed, with the half-moon face for those not familiar, I could see alright… but it took five hours to put the make-up on. So, I got to understand what Doug Bradley went through when he played Pinhead. Not as bad as Oliver Smith when he played skinned Frank [in Hellraiser], because I think that was eight hours.

Nightbreed was fun. I had lines; he was a character who was part of the action. Again, vastly different in scale. Clive Barker films are always fun to be on, in my experience. I think Clive’s vision of “being different is ok, there are other people who are different, too” is important. That’s the great thing about Nightbreed, is that it’s a celebration of difference. You have to learn to celebrate difference.

That elevated it beyond the average ‘90s horror movie tropes. It had that stuff, sure, but it was something more.

Clive has been quoted as describing it as “Gone with the Wind with Monsters.” It’s a love story. Also, who are the monsters in that movie? Decker with his insistence on killing off families, or the Sherrif, you know, the Sons of the Free: if you disagree with me, you’re dead. It’s clear who the real monsters are in my opinion.

I’ve had this burning question in my head since I was a kid. Who would win? The Cenobites, or the Nightbreed?

I’ve never been asked that one before! That’s a very interesting question. I think in my mind, in Hellraiser, they talk about manipulating and taking pleasure to the absolute limits. But when you get into Hell in Hellbound, it’s very stark. It’s very dead.

Whereas the Nightbreed very much represents chaos, and humanity, and creativity, and weirdness, and so on. I’d like to think the Nightbreed would win. That’s the ultimate question, isn’t it? What wins? Life, or death? The Cenobites are death. For all their promise of pleasure, essentially, they are death. Whereas the Nightbreed is life. Their essence is life. I’d want the Nightbreed to win.

What do you have coming up next, Nicholas?

Well, I’ve got my YouTube show, The Chattering Hour, that I’ve been working on since July. We launched that on October 8th. That’s been taking up a lot of my time. There’s PAINTBALL MASSACRE, and there’s a film called Heckle, which stars Steve Guttenberg. That was screened as part of the virtual Fright Fest this year. They’re looking for a distribution deal for that. There’s another film called They’re Outside, from the same production company. Then I have just literally received the script for something I’ll be shooting in January. I have my shop on, that I set up. There are a few Chatterer designs on there, but mostly silly cartoons featuring the dog. There will be an audiobook, an audio podcast that’s going to be coming out, but hasn’t been officially announced yet. So, quite a lot really, considering what’s been going on in the world!

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Nicholas. Pun fully intended. Stay safe out there!

It was my pleasure. Thank you!

PAINTBALL MASSACRE is available now on DVD and digital from Uncork’d Entertainment.


Joshua "Prometheus" Scafidi