Hellraiser Series Coming to HBO and new movie in the works
While the Hellraiser film franchise began more than thirty years ago, they are still near and dear to the heart of horror fans everywhere; Pinhead and his group of nasty Cenobites have captured the imaginations of lovers of the macabre for decades and that love doesn’t seem to be fading away. Actors of the films and Mr. Barker himself are often mobbed at conventions with fans clamoring for any news of a return to their tortuous underworld.
Thankfully, we’ve had some news on those fronts here in 2020 – Clive Barker is returning to his Hellraiser universe in a new series/continuation based on his “Hellbound Heart” works that is heading to HBO to be directed by Halloween’s David Gordon Green. In other Hellraiser news, Horror News Network was lucky enough to chat with original Cenobite Chatterer, Nicholas Vince.
The History of Hellraiser
Based on a 1986 novella by Clive Barker titled “The Hellbound Heart”, Hellraiser was released in 1987 and was written and directed by Clive Barker. Minor differences from the novella are the name of Frank’s brother changing from Rory to Larry and Kirsty changing from a co-worker to Larry’s daughter. Another change is the puzzle box: in the novella it was referred to as the Lemarchand Configuration whereas in the film, it is called the Lament Configuration; the Lemarchand/Lament Configuration is used to summon the Cenobites. The Cenobites are a group of four hellish looking characters that live in another realm and can only enter our world through use of the box by someone seeking to experience more pleasure and pain than they’d ever dreamed. One who is perhaps bored with the mundane ways of run-of-the-mill sadomasochism, would use the box to open a portal which would summon the Cenobites – self described in the film by the Lead Cenobite as “explorers in the further regions of experience. Demons to some. Angels to others.”
That “Lead Cenobite”, as he was credited in the first Hellraiser film, was played by longtime Clive Barker friend Doug Bradley. The role of “Lead Cenobite”, originally titled “the Priest” in early drafts, eventually became crowned “Pinhead” due to the FX folks on set who had to spend countless hours getting the nails to show properly on camera. In the novels, he is sometimes called “the Hell Priest”, “the Cold Man” and “the Pontifex”. Other cast members are Sean Chapman as Frank Cotton, Andrew Robinson as Larry Cotton, Ashley Laurence as Kirsty Cotton, Clare Higgins as Julia Cotton, and the other three Cenobites are Nicholas Vince as Chattering Cenobite, Simon Bamford as Butterball Cenobite and Grace Kirby as Female Cenobite.
Although the MPAA made Clive Barker cut far more gore and erotica out of the film than he would have liked, he was very happy with his first experience directing a film. One odd bit was that after filming was complete, studio New World made them change the story location from England to the United States which led to overdubbing the British accents of the actors. The success of the film (14 million on a budget of 1 million) led to New World greenlighting a sequel.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1987): A direct sequel to Hellraiser which opens with a flashback to a military officer named Elliot Spencer opening the Lament Configuration and becoming Pinhead. Then we directly focus on Kirsty in a mental hospital after the events of the first film. Hellbound brings back Doug Bradley as Elliot Spencer/Pinhead as well as Ashley Laurence as Kirsty Cotton, Sean Chapman as Frank Cotton and Clare Higgins as Julia Cotton. Along with Bradley, the Cenobites are Nicholas Vince as Chattering Cenobite, Simon Bamford as Butterball Cenobite and Barbie Wilde replaced Grace Kirby as Female Cenobite. New to the cast are Kenneth Cranham as Dr. Phillip Channard, Imogen Boorman as Tiffany and William Hope as Kyle MacRae. Tony Randel directed on a script by Peter Atkins while Clive Barker executive produced.
Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992): Hell on Earth picks up a few years later where Pinhead is now trapped inside of the Pillar of Souls which has been purchased by a sleazy club owner. Directed by Anthony Hickox on a story by Tony Randel and Peter Atkins, Hellraiser III brings back Doug Bradley as Elliot Spencer/Pinhead with an all new cast of characters, and Cenobites. Kevin Bernhardt as J. P. Monroe / Pistonhead Cenobite, Paula Marshall as Terri / Dreamer Cenobite / Skinless Sandy, Terry Farrell as Joanne ‘’Joey’’ Summerskill, Ken Carpenter as Daniel “Doc” Fisher / Camerahead Cenobite, Brent Bolthouse as “The DJ” Cenobite, Eric Willhelm as CD Cenobite and Clayton Hill as The Priest. Metal band Armored Saint played their song ‘Hanging Judge’ in the bar scene and there was also a cameo by NY Yankee Danny Tartabull. Motorhead had a bit of a hit with the song ‘Hellraiser’.
Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996): The last of the Hellraiser franchise to have a theatrical release, Bloodline takes place partly in space and dips back into the novella to include the LeMarchand character. Again, we feature a new cast with the exception of Doug Bradley as Pinhead and a small roll for original ‘Chatterer Cenobite’ Nicholas Vince as the Siamese Twins. Joining the cast for Bloodline are Bruce Ramsay in a multi-role as Philippe Lemarchand / John Merchant / Doctor Paul Merchant, Valentina Vargas as Angelique, Kim Myers as Bobbi Merchant, Christine Harnos as Rimmer, Adam Scott as Jacques, Charlotte Chatton as Genevieve Lemarchand, Mickey Cottrell as Duc de L’Isle and Jody St. Michael as Chatterer Beast. Bloodline was directed by SFX great Kevin Yagher.
Hellraiser: Inferno (2000): The first of the direct-to-video Hellraisers, Inferno follows a corrupt police officer who finds, and solves, the puzzlebox. Stars Doug Bradley as Pinhead alongside Craig Sheffer as Detective Joseph Thorne, James Remar as Dr. Paul Gregory, Nicholas Turturro as Detective Tony Nenonen, Nicholas Sadler as Bernie, Sasha Barrese as Daphne Sharp and Kathryn Joosten as Mary Thorne. Clive Barker was in line to executive produced but was dropped and banned from the film after creative disagreements arose.
Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002): The first of three Hellraiser films to be directed by Rick Bota and the final to have any involvement from creator Clive Barker. Hellseeker brings back Ashley Laurence as Kristy Cotton whose husband survives a car wreck in which he thinks that his wife died. The remainder of the cast contains Doug Bradley as Pinhead, Dean Winters as Kristy’s husband Trevor Gooden, Michael Rogers as Detective Givens, William S. Taylor as Det. Mike Lange, Rachel Hayward as Dr. Allison Dormer and Dale Wilson as Chief Surgeon Cenobite.
Hellraiser: Deader (2005): Starring Kari Wuhrer of MTV’s Remote Control fame as Amy Klein, Deader focuses on a reporter looking into a cult called “The Deaders” who appear to be murderers. Doug Bradley is back as Pinhead along with Paul Rhys as Winter LeMarchand, Simon Kunz as Charles Richmond, Georgina Rylance as Marla and Marc Warren as Joey.
Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005): Filmed at the same time as Deader, Hellworld is the last of the Hellraiser films to feature Doug Bradley as Pinhead. As was popular in 2005, Hellworld revolves around characters who are obsessed with an online game. The venerable Lance Henriksen leads the cast as The Host. Other cast are Henry Cavill as Mike, Khary Payton as Derrick, Katheryn Winnick as Chelsea and Christopher Jacot as Jake.
Hellraiser: Revelations (2011): Directed by Victor Garcia from a script by Gary J. Tunnicliffe, Revelations is popular mainly because Doug Bradley declined to return to the role of Pinhead because Dimension Films demanded that the film be shot over just three weeks. Stephan Smith Collins is Pinhead (voiced by voice-actor Fred Tatasciore). Also features Steven Brand as Ross Craven, Nick Eversman as Steven Craven, Tracey Fairaway as Emma Craven, Devon Sorvari as Sarah Craven, Sebastien Roberts as Peter Bradley, Sanny van Heteren as Kate Bradley and Jolene Andersen as the Female Cenobite.
Hellraiser: Judgement (2018): Written and directed by Gary J. Tunnicliffe, Judgement brings us more into the Hell of the Cenobites and adds a new division called the Stygian Inquisition. Following three detectives as the search for a serial killer who kills people who break any of the Ten Commandments, Judgement casts a new actor as Pinhead this time around in Paul T. Taylor. Also in the cast are Damon Carney as Detective Sean Carter, Randy Wayne as Detective David Carter, Alexandra Harris as Detective Christine Egerton, Gary J. Tunnicliffe as the Auditor, John Gulager as the Assessor, Mike Jay Regan as the Chatterer and Heather Langenkamp as the Landlady.
Central to the Hellraiser franchise are the Cenobites, or “Order of the Gash”. Once human, the Cenobites now exist only in their realm in Hell until summoned by someone solving the Lemarchand/Lament Configuration. Below is a list of Cenobites that have appeared in the films:
Pinhead/Lead Cenobite/The Hell Priest: All films
The Female Cenobite/Deep Throat: Hellraiser, Hellbound
Chatterer: Hellraiser, Hellbound
Butterball: Hellraiser, Hellbound
The Engineer: Hellraiser
Dr. Channard: Hellbound
Chatterer II: Hellbound
Pistonhead: Hell on Earth
Dreamer: Hell on Earth
Camerahead: Hell on Earth
CD Cenobite: Hell on Earth
Barbie: Hell on Earth
The Siamese Twins: Bloodline
Chatter Beast: Bloodline
The Wire Twins: Inferno
Faceless Engineer: Inferno
Chatterer III: Hellseeker
Little Sister: Deader
Bound II: Hellworld
Chatterer IV: Revelations
Stitch Twins: Judgement