The Historical past of Hellraiser’s Mismanaged Cenobite

When author and director Clive Barker got down to adapt his novel The Hellbound Coronary heart for the silver display, he had a really outlined characterization for his enigmatic characters, referred to as the Cenobites. In his notes, Barker remarked that the Cenobites have been demonic in look, utilizing the time period “repulsive glamour” to explain the aesthetic. Regardless of this alien and tortured look, the Cenobites within the authentic Hellraiser movie have been refined of their angle and weren’t outwardly violent with out trigger. The talking member of the unique movie’s Cenobites, named “The Hell Priest” by Barker and “Pinhead” by the rising fandom, would go on to be essentially the most recognizable face within the Hellraiser franchise.

Pinhead’s characterization in Hellraiser started as considered one of thoughtfulness. Regardless of his look, Pinhead was not malicious, and his violence is focused with goal. Nevertheless, over the course of 9 sequential movies, Barker’s characterization of the enigmatic sadomasochist was misplaced in a tangle of mismanagement by varied rights holders’ push for sequels and the conflicting views of many administrators and writers. A personality that started with a singular and mysterious persona devolved into yet one more evil villain who merely seeks to trigger struggling.

The place did issues take a heel flip? To reply this query, it’s price wanting into the historical past of Hellraiser and Pinhead’s relationship to the franchise.

Pinhead’s Authentic Character: Hellraiser (1987)


Summoned by way of the depraved puzzle field referred to as the Lament Configuration, Pinhead (Doug Bradley) is tasked alongside his fellow Cenobites Chatterer (Nicholas Vince), Open (Grace Kirby), and Butterball (Simon Bamford) with capturing the protagonist Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence) and taking her to Hell. Nevertheless, Kirsty strikes a cope with the Cenobites, providing to help them within the seize of her uncle Frank (Sean Chapman/Oliver Smith) who had escaped Hell and had develop into a cannibalistic creature bent on restoring his physique. Weighing their choices, Pinhead agreed to the deal and the group of otherworldly masochists succeeded in tearing Frank limb from limb with hooks and chains.

Nonetheless obligated to their unknown responsibility, Pinhead reneged on his settlement with Kirsty, however was banished alongside his fellow Cenobites as she reversed the puzzle field’s resolution. Regardless of going again on his phrase, Pinhead within the authentic Hellraiser was tactful, calm, and killed solely the place his obligations warranted it, albeit in horrific vogue. The character’s air of secrecy was finest summed up by one line uttered by Pinhead within the last act. When Kirsty asks the Cenobites who they’re, Pinhead replies:

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“Explorers within the additional areas of expertise. Demons to some, angels to others.”

Barker’s authentic depiction of Pinhead and the Cenobites portrays them as otherworldly pursuers as a substitute of relentless murderers. Sadly, Barker’s lack of involvement within the movie’s sequels can be telling, because the characterization of Pinhead and the Cenobites rapidly departed from their curious and distinctive roots.

The Murderous Megalomaniac: Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992) and Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)


With Clive Barker’s involvement within the rearview mirror after Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988), Pinhead’s character took a menacing flip. Having been reverted to his authentic human kind Elliott Spencer, Pinhead was killed in fight and trapped inside a McGuffin referred to as the “Pillar of Souls,” giving director Anthony Hickox (Waxwork) and writers Peter Atkins and Tony Randel (who additionally directed Hellraiser II) free license to play with Pinhead’s character. Free of his human aspect by some type of Soul Pillar sorcery in Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, Pinhead begins to gorge on victims to flee his rectangular jail, resulting in a nightclub rampage the place he indiscriminately massacres the membership’s clients and turns a lot of them into Cenobites.

Even after merging along with his human facet once more, Pinhead’s habits adjustments little in Hellraiser: Bloodline, which inexplicably takes the Hellraiser setting into the long run and into house (beating Jason X to the punch by 5 years). Partnered with the demon princess of Hell Angelique (Valentina Vargas), Pinhead seeks to open an everlasting portal from Hell to Earth as a way to conquer it and kill any obstacles in the way in which. If this motivation sounds extremely performed out, that’s as a result of it’s. In predictable vogue, Pinhead makes an attempt to control and homicide his strategy to world domination, leaving little room for any form of creativeness or character constructing.

After being left on an exploding house station and assembly his demise (once more), audiences had determined that they’d seen sufficient. Hellraiser: Bloodline would mark the tip of the Hellraiser franchise’s theatrical releases. Director and particular results phenom Kevin Yagher eliminated his credit score from the movie, exhibiting simply how far the sequence had fallen. Critics lambasted each Hellraiser III and Bloodline, with Washington Submit employees author Richard Harrington remarking “If (Doug Bradley) had the identical writers as Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, he could possibly be Punhead.”

This period of Pinhead’s character opened the floodgates to extra fumbled interpretations. Future iterations would do little to hearken again to Clive Barker’s authentic imaginative and prescient, if something in any respect. It’s a great factor that future Hellraiser sequels didn’t attain theaters as a result of its flagship character turned unrecognizable when in comparison with his first portrayal.

The Direct-to-Video Period and Current Day: Hellraiser: Inferno (2000) to Hellraiser: Judgement (2018) and Past


As one would possibly count on, the brand new millennium hasn’t given the warmest reception to the Hellraiser franchise. Doug Bradley would depart his function as Pinhead by 2011’s Hellraiser: Revelations, leaving even longtime followers with a bitter style of their mouths. Even Bradley’s on-screen veteran presence because the notorious Cenobite wouldn’t be sufficient to spare the 2000s Hellraiser movies from the ire of critics and viewers. Hellraiser: Inferno (2000) lacked substantial Pinhead screentime and any thematic worth, Matthew Foster bemoaned. Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002) sought to convey again Ashley Laurence as Kirsty, however the ambiguous dream-state of each Inferno and Hellseeker relegated Pinhead’s violence to ambiguity, inserting the character in an virtually rudimentary function. Pinhead exhibits up, rips some individuals up with chains, espouses a obscure one-liner, after which the viewers waits to see if the violence was real or imagined.

Later iterations did a lot to enhance Pinhead’s notion from audiences. Though an iconic face in horror at this level, Pinhead’s inclusions in Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005), Revelations and Hellraiser: Judgement (2018), noticed him bouncing between personalities, serving solely to convolute his picture. Actually, Clive Barker even wrote a sequel to The Hellbound Coronary heart, titled The Scarlet Gospels as a way to give followers of his work a bonafide and genuine continuation for Pinhead, who Barker had formally named “The Hell Priest,” having disliked the Pinhead moniker for years. Whereas this happy followers of Barker’s authentic imaginative and prescient, many horror cinema followers have been left wanting.

Going the way in which of many long-running horror franchises, director David Bruckner (The Evening Home) is now helming a remake of Hellraiser for Hulu’s streaming platform. As well as, Barker has returned to the Hellraiser franchise to supply a brand new sequence for HBO, initially being directed by David Gordon Inexperienced (Halloween (2018), Halloween Kills) earlier than handing off future episodes to others. Though Barker is again, it’s unclear how concerned he might be within the HBO challenge. Moreover, Doug Bradley has been mum on returning as his most well-known character.

Will these new entries within the Hellraiser mythos serve to proper the ship and return Pinhead/The Hell Priest to his unwonted and complicated roots? For the second, it’s unclear, but it surely wouldn’t take a lot to steer issues for Clive Barker’s iconic character in the fitting course. For the reason that starting of this decade-spanning horror sequence, all that was ever requested for was some consistency for its most central character.

Pinhead was a satan to some, and an angel to others, and hopefully viewers can return to that ambiguity.

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