Nicholas Vince has been an integral part of horror history since being buried under makeup as the iconic Chatterer in Clive Barker’s 1987 masterpiece, Hellraiser. Appearing in both Hellbound: Hellraiser II and Barker’s follow-up Nightbreed, Vince has also written for both the Hellraiser and Nightbreed comics, as well as becoming an accomplished author in his own right with books like What Monsters Do and Other Peoples’ Darkness. He directed his first short film, The Night Whispered, in 2015 and has also hosted a successful YouTube show/podcast, Chattering With Nicholas Vince.
We caught up with Vince to talk about his role in Book of Monsters, the latest from Epic Pictures’ Dread label, as well as horror comedies, the legacy of Chatterer, the upcoming Ultimate Cabal Cut of Nightbreed, Queer Eye and more.
Wicked Horror: What’s the most exciting thing for you about being a part of Book of Monsters?
Nicholas Vince: I think it was working with young up-and-coming horror film directors. But also a young cast, a young crew, I think that was what was really exciting and really interesting. I was really impressed with what Stewart Sparke and Paul Butler had done with their previous film, The Creature Below. It’s not a great film, but what they managed to do on the budget was incredible. It really showed their love and passion. I really just kind of wanted to work with them.
Wicked Horror: The film began with a unique kickstarter campaign back in 2017. When and how did you get involved with it?
Nicholas Vince: Well, I’d met Stewart and Paul, in fact I’d first interviewed them for my YouTube show. And then we met at Fright Fest Film Festival, where they screened Book of Monsters, and then a few months later they just asked me to get involved in the kickstarter. I thought it was such a cool idea that if you contributed to the kickstarter, you got to choose deaths, you got to choose… death by d*ldo was one of my favorite choices [laughs] I thought it was just such a cool idea. And I remember talking to them when I was interviewing them, and again because they came on the show a second time, and I’d had the idea that they had the plot line and they’d just drop in the different deaths.
But they explained to me that basically, depending on what was voted for, the plot would change. So it was kind of like “Build Your Own Adventure” for anyone who remembers those books, it’s just such a unique, original premise. So that’s really how I first got involved with it.
Wicked Horror: There’s been a kind of minor resurgence in horror comedy over the past few years. What do you think makes those two genres such a great pairing?
Nicholas Vince: Oh, that’s an interesting question. I often go back to Clive Barker, who says “You can’t have horror comedy, you either have horror, or you have comedy.” I’m not sure I agree with that. I do think… Vincent Price always said, about horror, “at least make it funny.” You should have some fun. Unrelenting torture style horror is really not my thing. Intelligent horror, something that asks me to think, and the best way to engage an audience is to have some humor. And having gory fun I think is just… fun, really. I mean, Scream is one of my favorite comedy/horrors. But that’s actually scary! The opening, “Do you like scary movies,” but it’s really quite funny as well.
I think you can have them both. Has there been a resurgence? Yeah, possibly because there’s so much wrong with the world in real life, people are just after escapism, perhaps. Perhaps that’s why there’s been a resurgence.
Wicked Horror: This is obviously a very effects-heavy, creature FX-heavy movie. You’ve of course acted under heavy makeup yourself. Has having played characters like Chatterer and Kinski changed the way you see these creatures in movies?
Nicholas Vince: Oh, that’s a great question. Yeah, often I will sympathize with the actor. Initially, you look at the makeup and think, “Oh my God, I wonder how many hours they had to spend to get into that makeup.” How comfortable was it to wear, and so on. Doug Jones is the master of wearing this kind of thing, he’s just amazing at it, and I remember talking to him about it at a convention and he was saying, “Yeah, it’s tough. It’s really draining to do these roles.” So yeah, I probably do kind of sympathize with the actor immediately, rather than with the creature itself, perhaps. But then after awhile you suspend your disbelief and you concentrate on what it is that the actor is trying to portray and the soul of the person that they’re trying to portray.
Wicked Horror: A couple years ago, I reviewed and was impressed with your debut short The Night Whispered, have you thought much about directing another short or possibly even a feature?
Nicholas Vince: Since then, I’ve directed a couple of shorts. I’ve written and directed two shorts, Necessary Evils is one and Your Appraisal, is another. They’re going to be coming out fairly soon. To the kickstarter backers first and then they’re going to be made available more generally. In fact, Necessary Evils is going to be an extra on the DVD/Blu-ray for the horror anthology film, For We Are Many. I’ve got other things I really can’t talk about, and I can’t talk about them because they don’t exist yet, and other stuff I’m working on. But yes, I’d love to direct a feature film.
Wicked Horror: Apart from Pinhead, Chatterer is the only character to really appear in nearly every Hellraiser installment in some form or another. What do you think it is about the character and that image that lends to that kind of longevity?
Nicholas Vince: I think one of the powerful things about Chatterer is that A, unlike the Female Cenobite and unlike Pinhead, you can’t negotiate with Chatterer. The character in the first two films, there’s no reasoning with him. And there’s just the sound of those chattering teeth. There’s something very primal about that chattering image, like a scared monkey. You can’t negotiate with him and he’s the only one that physically attacks people in the first two movies. Apart from the flying chains and the hooks, Chatterer is the only one in the first movie who actually lays his hands on Kirsty or physically threatens people. I think it’s just the look. There have been versions of him, a dog if you like, other versions which Gary Tunniclife did in the later films. I think it’s just one of those things, it’s a powerful image.
Wicked Horror: We’ve also got the new Ultimate Cabal Cut of Nightbreed on the way as well. Considering the reaction at the time, how does it feel to see the way this film has been embraced and restored over the past few years?
Nicholas Vince: I think it’s wonderful. I’m really glad for Clive, more than anything else. I think Clive was so delighted with the director’s cut of it. I was lucky enough to be in Los Angeles when it was screened there, with Clive present. It really teed him up and I think he was incredibly happy and delighted. I know absolutely nothing about the new three-hour version. I think that means that then there will be four versions of the film, and I think that really does speak to the fact that people have taken it on in so many different ways. There’s comics and there’s—well, I was going to say figures but of course there aren’t any figures—but there’s a mask, there’s definitely a Kinski mask, there’s a Peloquin mask as well, you see Decker masks as well. The film has had many forms, so I think it’s just extraordinary. And I’m really lucky to have been a part of all of Clive’s work.
Wicked Horror: Having been interviewed by horror nerds like me for so long, how has it been to be on the other side and get to interview so many of the genre’s best and rising talent on the YouTube show, Chattering With Nicholas Vince?
Nicholas Vince: That’s been a real delight! I think it’s kind of my way of paying forward some of the luck that I had in meeting Clive, in being involved with—I guess I said “all,” but some of his work I’ve been involved with—but I think it was just kind of my way of showing my gratitude and encouraging other people, I think Clive is one of the most intelligent and encouraging people you’re ever likely to meet. He always wants people to do very well, and I think that what I wanted to do when I started the show was just give people a wider audience in some cases, introduce people who are into Hellraiser and Nightbreed etc. to some of these really cool people I’ve had a chance to work with in the last few years.
Or up-and-coming people, because it’s a tough business and what I love about horror fans and horror filmmakers is that they are really, really encouraging. It was my way, as I say, of paying it forward. And all of the love that I’ve received, I wanted to be able to share that, and I just got to talk with some really, really interesting people. I love talking to people and finding out their stories. Over the years I was doing the show, I was really lucky to meet some incredible people.
Wicked Horror: And one of the things I’ve always admired about you is that your love and respect for the genre is kind of all-encompassing, in front of the camera, writing, directing and talking about horror, is there a particular form you enjoy best?
Nicholas Vince: It’s always the one that I’m either doing at the moment or the one I’m not doing at the moment, depending on how well it’s going. If it’s going really well, then I love whatever I’m doing at the moment. Or if it’s not I’m thinking, “Why am I acting? I should be writing” or something else. I kind of enjoy all forms. I’ve been concentrating on the acting for the last few weeks, in terms of technique. I’m doing something called a “Self Tape Challenge,” which is 21 days of getting a script at 7 o’clock in the evening and having to deliver a self tape by 7 o’clock the following day. I’ve got day 18 to do tomorrow. I’m finding it really, really interesting.
As far as I’m concerned, I mentioned earlier on that I’m really interested in intelligent horror. I watch an awful lot of other stuff as well, I watch an awful lot of crime shows, and so on. As long as horror, like any other art form, shows us something about the human condition, makes us feel something, helps us understand other people’s points of view.
I have to say, one of my guilty pleasures I’ve discovered in the last few days is watching Queer Eye on Netflix. And that’s absolutely fascinating as well, as far as I’m concerned. Because there’s these five gay guys down in Georgia, you’ve got five gay guys with a Trump supporter. And it’s really interesting, the dynamics were very interesting. And to me, it’s a reality TV show and normally I’m not interested in reality TV, but I find it fascinating just because it ticks all of the boxes in terms of showing us something about the human condition, showing us something about people from different crowds, and showing us how people who are on totally different ends of the political spectrum can actually find some common ground. I find that very interesting.
But I think what I like about horror particularly is that it’s people in extreme situations, and how do they deal with extreme situations? Now, obviously with horror it’s extreme fantasy situations. Mostly because that’s what I’m interested in, I like ghosts and the supernatural in my storytelling.
Book of Monsters is now available on VOD/Blu-ray.