Was Hellraiser 2 the best Hellraiser movie?
Back in 1987, New World Pictures was looking for their own version of Elm Street or Friday the 13th to capitalize on a strong but dwindling slasher market. When they saw the dailies of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, they immediately began thinking sequels and thought that Pinhead would rival Freddy, Jason and Michael as horror movie icons. They also hoped Clive Barker’s films would grow as a brand in the same way as his horror writing career as he was rising fast to challenge Stephen King.
But Pinhead’s inspiration was a far cry from the suburban Elm Street or the teen summer camps. In an interview with The Guardian, Barker admitted that the characters/story were inspired by his own life as a sex hustler and forays into S&M clubs.
“The look of the Cenobites, such as the pins in their leader’s head, was inspired by S&M clubs,” Barker said. “But I was emotionally inspired by them, too. On S&M’s sliding scale, I’m probably a 6. There was an underground club called Cellblock 28 in New York that had a very hard S&M night. No drink, no drugs, they played it very straight. It was the first time I ever saw people pierced for fun. It was the first time I saw blood spilt. The austere atmosphere definitely informed Pinhead: ‘No tears, please. It’s a waste of good suffering!’”
Clive Barker Books trumps Clive Barker Films
Barker could not commit to the sequel and New World wanted to go into production right away. In a little over two weeks, Barker’s friend Peter Atkins wrote the screenplay for the follow-up to Hellraiser…Hellbound.
Hellbound was actually the original title that Barker wanted for Hellraiser. New World Pictures thought that the title was too violently suggestive at the time so Barker settled for Hellraiser.
The sequel would mark the return of Ashley Laurence starring as “Kirsty” as well as Clare Higgins as “Julia” who would be coming back to life via a blood rite (very Hammer-esque, eh?)
The total budget for the script would be $3 million ($6.5 million in today’s dollars) with an eight week production schedule.
Tony Randel was a production executive at New World and after some discussion it was decided that he would direct the film. So now the sequel had two rookies at the him in first-time screenwriter Atkins and first-time director Randel.
Barker gave his blessing to both and the production began. Ironically, it was this sequel that really gave birth to the character of Pinhead as he received a back story and the official title of “Pinhead.” In the original movie, Pinhead was only on scene for eight minutes. In the sequel, his character would be at the forefront of the Hellraiser figures.
In an interview with Fangoria in 1989, Doug Bradley said that Pinhead “was an English army officer in an unspecified place and time, though roughly in the Far East in the late 20’s or early 30’s. He was a very pucker Englishman, a public school type who went straight into the army. He felt terribly out of place and unfulfilled because he was only there through family tradition. So from his sterile viewpoint, what he hears of the Lament box is very appealing. I see him alone in his Nissan hut trying to solve the puzzle – which he obviously does, and is transformed into Pinhead. I don’t see him as the first Cenobite. Of the four we know about, he is the leader, but the Cenobites have been around for centuries. To me, Pinhead is the chief Cenobite of the 20th Century.”
Ultimately, Hellbound would get mixed reviews upon release. The majority of the mainstream press gave it a thumbs down calling it too violent and confusing. Fans of the series, however, remain steadfast in their appreciation for it as it arguably the most polished of all Hellraiser movies.
Next up, Hellraiser iii.