HELLRAISER MOVIES HISTORY
Back in 1952, in an ordinary suburb of the city of Liverpool, a child named Clive Barker was born. His mother
was a school welfare officer and his father a personnel director for a local firm. They had a very normal
upbringing planned for their child. However, when he was three years old they took young Clive to an airshow,
where he witnessed a daring French skydiver named Léo Valentin plunge to his death before his eyes. It was at
that point, Barker has said, he first realized that horrific things were fascinating.
Over the course of a public career that began when he was but a teenager, Barker has published 16 full novels,
a number of short story anthologies and collections of his artwork, has directed, written and/or produced 17,
soon to be 18 movies and is one of a small, elite group of horror novelists whose works endure from decade to
decade. But one novel, a novella in reality, published in 1986, The Hellbound Heart, would be the beginning of
the movie and pop culture phenomena that he is associated with by most; the Hellraiser movie series.
The Hellbound Heart
The original novella that sowed the seeds for the Hellraiser franchise does indeed mirror the plot of the first
movie fairly closely. It wasn't Barker's first work, he had already published the first of what would become (to
date) six horror anthologies called The Books of Blood as well as a full novel, The Damnation Game. These
works had drawn him high praise from the reigning King of Horror, Stephen King, and he had by then won both
the British and World Fantasy Awards. He was being hailed as 'the future of horror'.
Unlike many of King's works, Clive Barker's tales of horror have as many fantasy elements in them as they do
traditional horror. The worlds he creates, although technically based in reality, are desperately dark, fabulous
places that are unlike any other. And in Hellbound Heart, he decided that he had created such a horrifically
entertaining world that it deserved to be translated into a cinematic work as well.
The Origins of the First Hellraiser Movie
Prior to Hellraiser, Barker had written screenplays before, for Underworld and Rawhead Rex. And in both cases
he despised - and was very vocal about that fact - the way his work was translated by the director of both
films, George Pavlou. Therefore he felt that he had no choice but to slip into the director's chair himself to bring
The Hellbound Heart to life as a film.
Working with a laughably small budget, Barker and his crew made Hellraiser in just seven weeks. And, as Barker
has since discussed at length, he wasn't any easy director to work with, as when it came to cinematic
technologies, he didn't really have a clue. He once stated "The cast treated my ineptitudes kindly, and the crew
were no less forgiving. I didn't even know the difference between a 10-millimeter lens and a 35-millimeter lens.
If you'd shown me a plate of spaghetti and said that was a lens, I might have believed you."
Despite the many problems, somehow the film did get made, did find a distributor, was debuted in London's
West End at The Prince Charles Cinema on 10 September 1987 and sent out for a limited theatrical release in
the US eight days later.
Considering it was essentially a horror movie, a genre that is rarely thought of as high art, UK praise for the film
came from rather lofty sources. The much respected Daily Telegraph newspaper stated that stated that "Barker
has achieved a fine degree of menace" and the Daily Mail praised it as "a pinnacle of the genre" and Melody
Maker magazine proclaimed it was "the best horror film ever to be made in Britain".
American critics were less enthusiastic. The New York Times declared that the cast was "singularly uninteresting"
and the special effects "aren't bad, just wet." The Washington Post felt that Barker had not translated his own
work as well as he could have done, while uber movie critic of the day, Roger Ebert, hated it and simply ripped it
No matter what the critics thought though, the movie caught the imagination of horror fans and has held it for
nearly 25 years. A reboot is on the horizon for 2017 (more about that later) and so with Hellraiser fever
rebuilding, it's as good a time as any to take a look at the movies that have come before, the characters that
have populated them and the creatives who have driven the legend.
After a flurry of box office biggies in the early 80's - The Evil Dead, The Shining, Poltergeist and more - the
genre had slowed by 1987 somewhat and horror fans were ready for something a little different, which is, in
many ways, just what they got with Hellraiser. But it's not a movie that was designed for the casual
Freddy/Jason fan. It's a movie for the hardcore horror buffs, the ones who read Fangoria feverishly and who
prefer to rise above the run of the mill slasher fare. Which was Barker's intention, as his books are really not for
the casual horror fan either.
Although working on his seriously limited budget, and with his own admitted lack of expertise, Barker
succeeded in many ways in capturing a dark, slightly Goth vibe that fit the late eighties very well. Or did the
Eighties just fit Barker? It's hard to tell but the soft focus shots, the slightly dreamy, sensual elements
interspersed with hard core gore created a 'vibe' that even years later many consider "classic Clive'.
Barker also succeeded in persuading one or two actors to emerge from their Shakespearean roots and join him
in his frightful fantasy, to give the production a little more gravitas than a standard horror flick. Claire Higgins,
for example, was at the time a young thespian gaining a name for herself in serious British theatre when she
took a detour into Pinhead's world. The move did not affect her career however, as she's a respected and
awarded actress to this day. It's just strange now to watch this aging grand dame of British TV and theatre
onscreen as a sex obsessed, monster aiding acolyte.
Andrew Robinson, on the other hand, the actor who played Frank, did have something of a Hollywood profile.
He had played the serial killer in the immortal 'Dirty Harry' and so was already a face filmgoers associated with
evil. Most of the rest of the cast were unknowns and have, for the most part, other than their roles in the
Hellraiser legend, remained that way.
Then there was of course Doug Bradley. Pinhead himself. His participation in Hellraiser was not as extensive as
it was in later Hellraiser films but it was of critical importance, thanks to Bradley's ability, right from the start, to
make the character his own. When he walked away from the role (which we'll get to later) it really did seem like
the end of an era. Bradley is a fellow Liverpudlian, a longtime friend of Barkers, dating back to the Seventies,
who Barker felt would fit the role very well, and he was right.
Moving on to the story, most people don't need too much of a recap. You have crazy - and rather perverted as
it turns out - Uncle Frank who is dismembered rater brutally (to say the least) by a hook filled box that he had
apparently hoped was a gateway to the ultimate carnal pleasure. Then, when his much staider brother Larry
moves into the disappeared man's home his accidentally spilled blood semi rejuvenates his now skinless corpse
and puts him back into the arms of his former lover, Larry's wife Julia. As unassuming as she looks, Julia is
besotted with Frank, to the point where she seems to see few problems with the proposition that she take up
luring and then killing local businessmen with a hammer to provide her blobby lover with the blood he needs to
You can't keep doing that sort of thing unnoticed however, and in the spirit of Scooby Doo, there is a meddling
kid on the horizon. Kirsty is Larry's daughter from a previous marriage and a teen who, like many, has no love
for her stepmother. Convinced she's having an affair again Kirsty sets out to follow Julia only to discover that
her beau is not quite what she'd expected. And that really is when everything goes to Hell, literally, as Kirsty
finds herself sent there, to meet the strange race of oddly Gothic creatures known as the Cenobites and their
prickly headed leader Pinhead.
By the end of the film Kristy is well acquainted with Pinhead, a strange man creature she will meet again, Larry is
dead, Julia appears to be, the Cenobites succeed in their mission to drag Frank back to their Hell and for her
assistance in that endeavor Kristy is spared a grisly fate and sent on her not so merry way. The box that
caused all of the trouble is apparently gone as well, tossed onto a pyre by the retreating Kirsty. However it's
retrieved by a vagrant who it was obvious was following her, who then promptly turns into a winged creature
and flies away. The box, now long revealed to be called the Lament Configuration, is then seen being sold on to
a new victim, leaving a door open for a sequel....
Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
For the sequel, Barker chose to relinquish directorial duties but remain on board as script supervisor and
Executive Producer. The new director, Tony Randel, was also a first timer as a director. Many of the original
crew returned however and for this second film they remained true to the rather baroque, Gothic atmosphere
Barker had created in the first. Back too were some of the cast. This included Ashley Lawrence as Kristy, Claire
Higgins as Julia and, of course, Doug Bradley as Pinhead.
In fine old movie style the events of the first film are quickly recapped via the old 'patient in a mental hospital
reminisces' vehicle, with that patient being Kirsty. And although it seems at first that no one believes her
incredible tale, as it turns out one of her doctors, the sleazy Dr Channard, does know all about the Lament
Configuration and he's been looking for it for years. Channard was played by Kenneth Cranham, an actor
previously well known in the UK for his role on TV as a likable chap in the hugely popular comedy drama 'Shine
On, Harvey Moon', so to see him onscreen in this role was a shock for many, something he later said he liked as
it helped him break the stereotype the comedy had created of him.
Getting back to the story, Dr Channard then has the mattress from the attic stolen and brought to hospital,
where he convinces one of his more deranged patients to cut themselves while lying upon it. This, as he had
hoped, returns Julia to the real world. Julia's in better shape than Frank had been on his return from Cenobite
Land, but she's still in need of some fresh blood. Good job then that Channard is instantly smitten and ready
and willing to do her bidding.
At the same time Kirsty is, she is convinced, visited by her father who implores her to come and free him from
Hell. This she resolves to do, aided by a sympathetic young ward assistant named Kyle and a mute mental
patient named Tiffany, a girl who has a real knack for puzzles..
What then transpires is a descent into a hellish world that is almost beautiful in its horrific savagery. Kirsty and
her little crew return to her home, only to run into her much hated and now reanimated stepmother and her
new beau. Julia kills Kyle, completing her rejuvenation and then, along with Channard, uses Tiffany's aptitude
for puzzles to gain them entry, via the Lament Configuration, to the Cenobite realm. Here they meet Pinhead
again, who, in a rather eloquent speech, explains that it is not the opening of the Lament Configuration but the
desire for what it holds that marks an individual for Cenobite victimization. This means he says, that poor
Tiffany is not the target, Channard is. His gruesome death is then not too far away. As is the reappearance of a
hugely tormented Frank.
Frank, tied to a bed and teased by nubile women who will never touch him, is found by Kirsty, who has also
entered the realm. It was he, pf course, who lured her there, pretending to be her father. By the end of what is
a stomach churning montage of body horror and gore Julia kills Frank is a vengeful rage and then the newly
Cenobite Dr Channard kills Pinhead and minions. Kirsty escapes again, using Julia's skin as a disguise and
buying enough time for Tiffany to solve the Lament Configuration again, killing Channard and catapulting the
pair back into their world again, free to leave the now unoccupied hospital together. In the scene that then sets
up the next sequel, a man is seen moving the bloodstained mattress, before arms drag him down into it. From
the mattress emerges a pillar, decorated with Cenobite heads, including Pinhead's, while a voice asks a second
workman entering the room 'What's your pleasure sir’?
Before moving on, it's interesting to note that an alternate script was written, prior to filming, by screenwriter
Peter Atkin and Barker, that presents a different story. In that version Larry really is still alive, but as actor
Andrew Robinson had no interest in returning to the role, it was scrapped in favor of the version filmed.
Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth (1992)
A brand new decade brought a new chapter in what was becoming known as the Pinhead story and with it a
new director, Anthony Hickox. Since the last movie had been released Clive Barker's Film Futures production
company had run into trouble, an attempt to adapt another of his works, Nightbreed, into a film had failed
rather miserably and the intent for a third installment of the Hellraiser series to focus on the character of Julia
had been shelved after Claire Higgins declined an offer to reprise her role for a third time. With the movie in
'development hell' the rights were sold and Barker withdrew from all involvement up until the final editing
stages, saying years later that the studio had balked at his fee as they were only interested in making a "cheap
and nasty" film.
With Barker gone the filming was moved outside Britain for the first time and Hickox brought in a number of
new crew members. The cast, Doug Bradley aside, was largely completely new. Ashley Lawrence had a very brief
cameo as Kirsty, simply to tie the film to the others in a neater way.
In Hell on Earth much of the darkness and drama of the previous films was stripped away, and it took on a
lighter, often humorous tone. Some of the mythologies from the previous movies were continued, but major
liberties were taken with others. The story also contained an element of analysis of the devastating effects of
war, as some of its major characters have obviously been adversely affected by it.
Hell on Earth actually begins, unusually, with Pinhead, who, despite the character's now legendary status, was
not a huge part of either of the previous films. Thanks to the events at end of Hellbound, he has been split into
two different entities; Captain Elliot Spencer, a World War 1 soldier and a manifestation of Spencer's id, in the
form of Pinhead. Spencer is trapped in limbo, while Pinhead, along with the Lament Configuration, is still affixed
to the pole that was seen at the end of Hellbound, an artifact that is revealed to be the Pillar of Souls.
The Pillar of Souls has been bought up by a New York nightclub owner, J. P. Monroe. He thinks it'll make a 'cool'
addition to his decidedly 'gothy' nightclub, The Boiler Room. Sort of creepy, funky, you know. Nice idea, but it's
also rather deadly, as his poor patrons quickly discover.
In the meantime, an ambitious reporter looking for her 'big break' has stumbled onto fragments of the story of
the recent havoc caused by the Lament Configuration and Pinhead and his Cenobite pals. She discovers
videotape of Kristy's sessions at the Channard Institute ( Ashley Lawrence's previously mentioned cameo) She
also witnesses the power of the box first hand, observing a teenage nightclub patron who fell victim to it in a
hospital emergency room. She is then surprised by contact from Captain Spencer, who shares with her the
story of his id, Pinhead, and the importance of reuniting him with him, as, according to Spencer, the new
Pinhead has no humanity left, no sense of order and is merely a blind killing machine.
This encounter leads her to the club, a young woman named Terri and to the box. It also leads her to a
reawakening Pinhead, who, keen to be freed, has enlisted club owner Monroe to help him lure as many victims
to his killing pillar as possible. Once he is freed, Pinhead proceeds to go on the hellish killing spree Spencer had
predicted he would, massacring club patrons in the most gruesome - although also somewhat amusing - ways.
Now in possession of the box, Joey confronts Pinhead once he seems to be done with his violent fun. Marking
what will now become a common event for the character he waxes lyrical about how it is his mission to "force
humanity to recognize the darkness in their heart" and convince them that his freedom is the only way to
enable it. at the same time he is also resurrecting some of the dead as Cenobites, and they are some of the
most amusing to date and include a fire breathing bartender, a man with a camera embedded in his head and a
DJ with CDs protruding from his head and other orifices. The camp, comedic nature of these new monsters is at
odds with the concept of the original Cenobites as serious, lost and deluded souls, but somehow they still work.
Joey runs from this new army, taking refuge in a church. There a priest hears her story but disbelieves her,
right up until the point he is confronted - and maimed - by Pinhead, who then delivers another long and serious
speech. This gives our heroine the chance to run again, but the new Cenobites corner her on a construction
site. She however manages to figure out the Lament Configuration just in time and send them all back to Hell,
before appearing to be sent to Heaven herself. There she meets her log dead father, who tells her she can stop
all of this chaos by handing him the box.
Obviously though, this is not Heaven and that's not her long last Dad. It's Pinhead. However, just as he is
preparing to drag Joey to hi realm he is confronted by Spencer who succeeds in reintegrating himself. With his
tacit consent, Joey stabs the reformed Pinhead in the heart, killing him once again, before burying the box at
the site. The movie ends with a glimpse of the building that is now finished there, a building that has an interior
that is identical to the Lament Configuration...
Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)
Even the most fervent Hellrasier fan will admit that Bloodline is a mess, pure and simple. Which is a huge
shame, as it has, at its heart, what should have been an illuminating and satisfying glimpse into how the
Cenobites and their nightmarish world began. However, it really wasn't even the film's fault, rather the
development nightmare behind it.
It was originally intended to be an anthology film consisting of three separate storylines, However, after the
original director, Kevin Yagher, fell out with Miramax and left before editing was completed, many of the scenes,
and subplots, were cut by his successor, Joe Chappelle. Officially the director ended up being listed as Alan
Smithee, an official pseudonym which was then used by film directors who wished to disown a project, sparing
both men some degree of notoriety for a while.
Through all of the chaos Clive Barker was still on board as Executive Producer, but this would be the last time,
just as this would be the last time a Hellraiser movie received a theatrical release.
In terms of the storyline of the finished product, elements of all three still existed, but were hugely chopped
and disjointed. In one arc we have a space station in 2127 and a crew member, Dr. Paul Merchant, who has
barricaded himself away while waiting for a ship's robot to solve the Lament Configuration for him. Captured, he
agrees to explain all of his actions to his commanding officer, Rimmer.
In the meantime it is also 1796, and in Paris Dr Merchant's distant ancestor Phillip Lemarchand, a toymaker by
trade, is working on a special commission, a puzzle box for a man named the Duc de L'Isle. He has no idea what
the specifications he was given have led him to create until he delivers the box to his patron, who, along with an
assistant named Jacques, offers to demonstrate. Conveniently in 'possession' of a nubile local peasant girl the
pair sacrifice her to summon a demon named Angelique from the box. Terrified Lemarchand runs, but later,
back in workshop, begins trying the reengineer the blueprints for the first box to create another than will
neutralize the effects of the first. This complete, he returns to try to steal back the original box, only to find
that the duke is dead and Jacques and Angelique are enjoying a heady new Master/slave relationship. Jacques
kills Phillip, but before dispatching him gleefully informs him that his bloodline is now forever cursed, as a
punishment for being the architect of a gateway to hell.
Finally, it is also 1996. It is revealed that the man behind that odd building seen at the end of Hell on Earth is
another Lemarchand relative, John Merchant. His work has been attracting a lot of publicity - as it is rather
stunning looking - and that has attracted the attention and ire of the still very much alive and kicking Angelique.
Annoyed and distressed, she tells Jacques she wants to find Merchant and confront him. Jacques however
won't travel, so she kills him and makes her way to America by herself.
Much to her shock though, her attempts to seduce Merchant when she finds him fail. She does however find
the original box, in the foundations where Joey left it. With the help of a hapless security guard she solves it,
only to find that in doing so she summons Pinhead. Pinhead is not impressed with her either, mainly because
her 'kill by seduction' preference is so at odds with his own 'kill with as much pain and suffering as possible'
doctrine. However, as it seems that John Merchant is close to completing his ancestor's last work, The Elysium
Configuration, which will be an anti-Lament Configuration that exudes perpetual light and will permanently close
all gateways to Hell, they have to join forces, reluctantly, to try and him before he can.
This results in a bit of a comedy act. Angelique tries the seduction route again, and fails again. Pinhead takes
over, threatening Merchant's much loved wife and kid. This works far better, but Merchant's wife has a bit more
fight in her than he expected. In addition, Angelique is pulling a bluff. She hates Pinhead's nasty, austere new
Hell and wants it destroyed so that she can be free of its constraints. Therefore she's all for John's new box
and tries to help him activate it. He's a pretty shoddy engineer though, and it fails. Pinhead, rather riled by now,
kills him, but wifey pulls a surprise, activating the Lament Configuration and sending both Pinhead and
Angelique back to hell.
Cutting back to 2127, no one believes Paul Merchant's crazy tale and Rimmer, his commander, has him locked
up for his own safety and that of her crew. What she does not know however is that the robot got the box
open and now Pinhead and Angelique have joined her crew, the rest of whom they quickly dispatch. Paul
however, who it is revealed has the now perfected Elysium Configuration as well, helps Rimmer escape. They
distract Pinhead with holograms, giving him time to set it in motion. This time it works, Pinhead and Angie are
killed and this time, it looks like it’s for good...
It's worth mentioning here how hard actor Bruce Ramsay worked in this one, as he played all three of the
Merchant characters. And yet he doesn't list any of the roles in his official bios, a mark of how far some people
wanted to distance themselves from this film.
Hellraiser: Inferno (2000)
OK. So at the end of Hell on Earth Pinhead was vanquished, Hell was closed for good and everything was pretty
much over. So what should come next? That's right, a gritty reboot. And a pretty bad one at that.
The director, Scott Derrickson, got nothing but disdain from Clive Barker, whose characters were only used as
he had no choice, having sold the rights years ago. There was to be no theatrical release either, this would be a
straight to video budget flick.
The biggest problem most fans have with Inferno is its total disregard for the franchise legend, although some
fans do feel that the switch to a more physiological approach to story was a refreshing change from the blood,
guts and gore the series was by then noted for.
The plot revolves around a corrupt police detective, Joseph Thorne, who is called upon to investigate what
appears to be a murder, although it is in fact merely just another victim of the resurfaced from who knows
where Lament Configuration. Thorne discovers the box, along with the severed finger of a child but chooses to
hold onto it rather than hand it over as evidence.
The story makes clear that Thorne is a scumbag. Before heading home to his lovely wife he stops by a local
motel to avail himself of the services of a hooker named Daphne. Once done with her he decides to give solving
the puzzle box a chance. He manages it (a little too easily) and is plunged into the Cenobite world where, after
being teased and taunted by a few he encounters Pinhead who promptly rips his face off without so much as a
proper hello. Fortunately for Thorne though, this all seems to have been a dream, as he wakes up intact in the
Having decided to head back to his office, Thorne receives a desperate call from Daphne claiming she is being
attacked. Thorne enlists the aid of his partner Tony Nenonen , played by Nicholas Turturro in a cop role very
different than the one people were used to him playing NYPD Blue. The pair find that Daphne is indeed dead,
killed by piercing hooks, and Thorne notes that another child's finger is also present.
Thorne eventually begins to link the crimes to a serial killer known as The Engineer. But as he pursues him what
he now believes to be hallucinations featuring the Cenobites continue. From fingerprints at Daphne's crime
scene he tracks down a man named Leon, a man who claims he is working for The Engineer, a man who may or
may not be a prominent psychiatrist named Paul Gregory.
After a convoluted scene in which Thorne visits his ailing parents - something he hasn't done for years - to find
them under attack by The Engineer, followed by his partner Tony, it is revealed that Gregory is indeed The
Engineer, but he is also someone a little more familiar to audiences; Pinhead.
However, after his wife and child are also murdered something even more complicated and slightly ridiculous is
revealed; Thorn is also the Engineer AND the child who was being tortured. Pinhead explains that The Engineer
is the embodiment of Thorne's evil, the child of his remaining humanity and innocence, with the former having
been killing the latter slowly with his unacceptable behavior. Pinhead uses the box to rip Joseph apart, but does
his torment does not end, he wakes up to find himself back in office receiving the phone call from Daphne.
Realizing the whole thing is starting again he attempts to shoot himself, but wakes up in the motel again. And
he slowly realizes that he is now damned to repeat the cycle for eternity..
Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002)
In Hellseeker, yet another new director, Rick Bota, attempted to make at least tenuous reconnections with the
original stories, primarily by bringing back Ashley Lawrence as Kirsty Cotton and persuading Clive Barker to take
on a somewhat informal consultant’s role. Once again no theatrical release was planned - this was another
straight to video, or rather straight to DVD, production, but Bota was determined to make it worthier of the
franchise name than its immediate predecessor.
Once again however, the story takes on an element of 'bad guy gets his comeuppance', the new idea
introduced in Inferno. Trevor Gooden, as played by Dean Winters, who may have been in need of work as Oz
was coming to an end, is the husband of Kirsty Cotton Gooden, a woman who is now no longer a precocious
teen but is now a woman approaching middle age. The pair are involved in a car accident which Trevor survives
but apparently Kirsty does not.
Once he wakes in the hospital a confused Trevor can remember little of the events leading up to the crash and
is also experiencing what he believes are nightmares and hallucinations. He 'dreams' he is undergoing painful
surgery, and that the three other women he was 'in love' with are being tortured by nightmarish creatures -
Cenobites obviously, but he doesn't know that yet. However it appears that Gwen, his boss, is in fact dead and
he is being investigated for her murder.
After watching a video in which he apparently gave The Lament Configuration to Kirsty as an anniversary
present Trevor is even more confused and begins unburdening himself on a woman named Dr. Allison. He also
receives a very brief (and very out of place) visit from Pinhead who simply hands him a note that says 'all of
your problems are solved'.
Eventually, as things get weirder and weirder, - Dr. Allison for example, is not real, she's a hallucination - Trevor
is revealed to have been a rather nasty man. He had been plotting to kill Kirsty, primarily for the inheritance that
the apparently wealthy Larry - and for some reason Frank as well - had left to her. It is revealed that Kirsty got
wind of this and, via the Lament Configuration - got back in touch with her old pal Pinhead. She offered Pinhead
a deal - let her go, she'll bring him five souls in return. He agreed, and one by one she kills off Trevor's three
girlfriends as well as Bret, a friend of Trevor's who was in on the murder plot. And the fifth? Well that was
Trevor himself. Pinhead reappears to take him to a morgue where he sees his own body. That's the 'kicker',
he's been in Hell the whole time, and that's where he's going to stay. And Kirsty? After making sure that Trevor
will be blamed for everything she simply walks away with the box.
Hellraiser: Deader (2003)
Rick Bota stayed on board for the next in the Hellraiser, a movie that is sometimes referred to as 'Euro
Hellraiser'. Clive Barker, however, did not, distancing himself once again from what was becoming something of
an 'industry joke' to many. Once again the plot pays little homage to the earlier Hellraisers and to a great
extent even the Cenobites become little more than odd extras here.
The story once again revolves around an intrepid journalist. Amy Klein finds herself dispatched to the wilds of
Bucharest to investigate a cult nicknamed 'The Deaders'. Her boss had received a video tape - and an odd
puzzle box - from one of the members and sends Amy to find her. Which she does, except the girl is dead. In
possession of the box Amy returns to her hotel room and, you guessed it, solves it easily and summons
Pinhead. However, she dismisses him as dream.
Investigating the 'Deaders' further Amy finds that they are led by a man names Winter Lemarchand, who, as
everyone with any knowledge of the franchise at this point knows is a descendant of the Lament
Configuration's creator, Philip Lemarchand . He is also apparently aware of this fact to, and feels it his
'birthright' to be able to take control of the Cenobites and Hell. However, he has been unable to solve the
puzzle, believing that that can only be done by 'damaged souls'.
Tracking the Deaders to their ‘lair’ Amy discovers that they are all young people, lured and murdered by Winter
and then reanimated via necromancy and tasked with trying to solve the puzzle box, which thus far they have
failed to do. Realizing she has the box Winter kills, and then resurrects, Amy. She in the meantime has been
reliving terrible memories of abuse at the hands of her father as a child, a man she eventually killed in self-
Amy then of course solves the box and Pinhead and a number of his acolytes appear. After sneering at Winter,
his ambitions and his family Pinhead kills him. Pinhead then informs Amy that she must come with him back to
Hell too, where her father is waiting to greet her. Unable to bear that thought Amy kills herself (again) but this
time that triggers a reaction that sends Pinhead and the Cenobites back to Hell alone and explodes the house
where the Deaders had been hiding.
The movie ends with Amy's boss, seemingly not too worried where Amy went, assigning a new reporter to the
case and handing her the Lament Configuration.
Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005)
Now in control of the franchise, Rick Bota decided to base his next film not even vaguely on a work of Clive
Barker's but on a short story by Joel Soisson, a screenwriter known for his work with the Elm Street franchise.
The only real nod to Hellraisers past (except Doug Bradley's Pinhead) is the fact that the teenagers who are
central to the plot are fond of playing a video game called Hellworld, which is apparently based on the Hellraiser
franchise. The opening scenes are at one of the teen's funerals, as he apparently committed suicide after
become a little too fond of the game. His friends blame themselves for not realizing the depths of his addiction,
but don't stop playing the game.
Cut to two years later and the now young adults are attending a Hellworld themed party. At a home, that it
owner claims, was built by Phillip LeMerchand, the creator of the Lament Configuration. As the party progresses
the young men encounter various Cenobites, including Pinhead, and are gruesomely dispatched by them one by
one. Only one boy Jake, survives, along with a girl named Chelsea he came to the party to hook up with.
Through another rather ridiculous sequence it is revealed that this is Jake's dead friend's home, the party host
is his father and that the whole thing was staged as revenge on those who failed to help his son. The Cenobites
and Pinhead were not the real thing, merely hired killers in costume. However, conveniently, Chelsea has been
rummaging through a box of Adam's things, has found the real Lament Configuration and uses it to summon
the real Pinhead. Who kills everyone, bar the 'meddling kids'.
The pair drive off into the sunset, only to be joined by the 'Host', who appears in the backseat. The film ends
with the police entering Adam's home and removing the puzzle box.
Hellraiser: Revelations (2011)
In danger of losing the rights to the franchise should they not make use of the Hellraiser name in some way,
Dimension Films commissioned Hellraiser: Revelations to be made in just nine weeks, and by a young Spanish
director, Víctor García, a young man who did have the distinction of having worked as a costume and special
effects designer for the great Guillermo del Toro on Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy, which should have boded well
for the film's visuals but in the end did not.
However, Garcia was at a disadvantage from the start as Pinhead himself, Doug Bradley, had declined an offer
to return to the role that he had been playing for over 20 years. Garcia cast an American actor, Steven Smith
Collins, in his place. It has to be said that Collins is not a bad actor, in fact he has won a number of awards and
accolades for both his horror and his dramatic work. But, as far as Hellraiser fans were concerned, as he was
not Doug Bradley, the movie was doomed from the start. And the fact that after seeing a rush of the finished
product Clive Barker tweeted the following didn't really help either; "I want to put on record that the flic [sic]
out there using the word Hellraiser IS NO FUCKIN' CHILD OF MINE! I have NOTHING to do with the fuckin' thing.
They claim its from the mind of Clive Barker, it's a lie. It's not even from my butt-hole."
The plot is as disjointed and unsatisfying as you'd expect from a script that was written in a month and filmed
in nine weeks. Two teenage boys go to Mexico on Spring Break and are later reported missing. The authorities
recover their belongings and return them to their families, but the boys are nowhere to be found.
A year later, at a gathering of both boys’ families to discuss their disappearance, the frustrated sister of one of
the boys, Emma, demands that her parents watch a videotape that was among the belongings, a tape she has
been watching obsessively for some time. The tape shows one of them, Nico, murdering a girl after having sex
with her in a restroom and then threatening Emma's brother, Steven, about what he'll do if he tells.
The movie now moves into flashback mode, revealing that Nico had found, solved and opened the puzzle box.
The box attempts to draw both boys in but Steven escapes. Nico however is drawn into the world of the
Cenobites and is subjected to the usual tortures and torments. Desperate to escape he finds a way to contact
Steven and demands he kill more women to gain the blood needed to restore him to flesh. After complying for a
while Steven balks, so Nico kills him.
Things then become even more muddled. Nico 'steals' Steven's skin and returns to hold both families hostage.
He intends to send Emma to Pinhead in his place and forces her to begin trying to solve the puzzle box. When
she does Pinhead, his pals and Steven all return. A fight ensues, Emma's mother is dragged back to hell, her
father kills Nico and then promptly dies himself, leaving Emma to toy with the box...
Pinhead, the Lament Configuration and the Impact of Hellraiser
Although, as we have no recapped, the films in the Hellraiser series are all, for the most part, very different,
there are two common threads running through them all, Pinhead and the Lament Configuration puzzle box.
These elements serve to tie all of the disjointed tales together and are at the heart of the Hellraiser universe.
But what are they really all about?
According to Clive Barker and Doug Bradley, the character who would become Pinhead first appeared in an
experimental play the two staged in 1973 called 'Hunters in the Snow', in which Bradley played The Dutchman,
an undead inquisitor fond of torture. A later short film, crudely done in black and white 16mm film, featured a
block of wood with nails in it that threw of odd dimensions and effects in shadow and it was some of these that
were recreated on the face of Pinhead in his first film appearance.
Over the years, Pinhead has been many things. In the 1987 movie that is considered closest to Barker's vision
because he directed it, he is a nameless, barely glimpsed figure whose participation in the stories grew as the
franchise went on. Barker - and Bradley - intended him to be different to other horror icons of the day, who
tended either to be mute killers or slightly comic characters who minced their way glibly through their crimes.
Pinhead on the other hand was to be cerebral, intelligent and even slightly thoughtful over his actions.
Bradley says he initially based the Pinhead character on a combination of Oscar Wilde and classic cinema
interpretations of Dracula, while Barker says he asked Doug to create a portrayal that was one of "an
administrator and a surgeon who’s responsible for running a hospital where there are no wards, only operating
theatres. As well as being the man who wields the knife, he’s the man who has to keep the timetable going."
And the pair decided early on that Pinhead was no strange dark deity, he was a former human scarred by his
battles in life. To create the characters appearance, Barker drew inspiration from the denizens of the New York
S&M clubs he had been fond of visiting as well as from African fetish sculptures. For years the imagery remained
fairly intact, even if the personality traits did not.
Although his powers and motives changed over time - he went from obeying the 'laws' of the box, to take only
those with the 'desire' to be drawn in to killing for kicks - even in the films considered to be the worst in the
franchise by most he retains an air that casts him as a cerebral, thinking person's horror icon, even when finally
recast in Revelations. And even after 25 years - and a series of disavowals as the character became less and
less like the one he created - Pinhead remains the biggest reason people know who Clive Barker is and continue
to follow his work.
The Pesky Puzzle Box
Despite all of his many powers the one thing that Pinhead cannot do is leave Hell without being summoned via
the puzzle box aka The Lemarchand Configuration. The Lemarchand box that became known in the film series
as the Lament Configuration was described as follows in the novella the The Hellbound Heart: " The interior
surfaces were brilliantly polished. Frank's reflection — distorted, fragmented — skated across the lacquer....
Lemarchand, who had been in his time a maker of singing birds, had constructed the box so that opening it
tripped a musical mechanism, which began to tinkle a short rondo of sublime banality." The musical element of
the box is lost in the movies however, as is its delicacy and the fact that as the puzzle is finally solved a lone
church bell tools to signal the impending arrival of the Cenobites. It was, in many ways, supposed to be a quasi-
religious relic, inspired by Barker's tenuous relationship with his Catholic upbringing.
The movie version is far nastier, as it constructed from flesh and bone and not by an aging master toymaker
but by an ambitious younger man although both are called Philip Lemarchand. There are, as later movies reveal,
other boxes in existence, but they seem to be, for the most part, failed prototypes that are given very short
shift. At one point Kirsty Cotton does wonder if somewhere out there there might be a box that leads to
Heaven rather than Hell, although that rather interesting concept has never been explored further, either in the
films or by Barker himself.
The real 'meaning' behind the box has been oft discussed across fan forums for years. But Clive Barker himself
may have had the simplest answer, in that as the Cenobites feed off the deepest of dark desires that even the
least likely people hide the box finds of a much simpler, and widespread human emotion; sheer curiosity.
The Future of Hellraiser
2017 marks the 30th anniversary of the release of the first Hellraiser movie. Clive Barker is now a far more
reclusive figure who, after several years of illness, is currently living quietly in Beverley Hills with his partner.
Doug Bradley is making a good living voicing video games and making occasional Comic Con appearances. And
yet a new Hellraiser is planned for 2017, simply without, once again, the cooperation of either, but is currently
stuck in 'limbo'. There is also still talk of a planned reboot by Barker and Bradley themselves, although it has
been several years since it was mentioned by either seriously and Doug Bradley actively campaigns against
remakes during his Comic Con appearances these days.
In the end, whether or not it ever resurfaces on celluloid again, the Hellraiser franchise legend - the good, the
bad and the mediocre - lives on, and in so many ways that can only be a good thing.