The Hellraiser films are a tragic franchise. While Friday the 13th made sure the kills kept climbing and A Nightmare on Elm Street returned to its roots (a lá Wes Craven’s New Nightmare), the Hellraiser series descended into direct-to-video sequel oblivion, each one becoming progressively worse. Hell, with the news that Halloween is no longer at Dimension, that means we’ll even get to see possible new approaches to Michael Myers.
But when it comes to our friendly neighborhood Cenobites, we’ve been languishing in pits of despair so great that not even Pinhead would subject his victims to such suffering. And there’s a problem there. These movies have a rich mythology behind them thanks to esteemed author/creator Clive Barker and we deserve films that honor the amount of work that went into creating that world.
Now, I have an idea on how we can bring the franchise back from the dead, back into a state of grace where imaginations can flow as freely as a freshly severed artery. But as with any such radical idea, there must be a sacrifice and I have a feeling that many of you aren’t going to like my suggestion. Jesus wept, remember?
In order to create a new series of Hellraiser films, ones that will challenge audiences as well as filmmakers; the series needs to let go of Pinhead. No, I’m not joking here. Pinhead is the biggest crutch that the series continues to rely on and he’s also entirely unnecessary in terms of continuing the story.
Let’s think about this, okay? The Lemarchand Box was created in the late 18th century, as shown in Hellraiser: Bloodline. Upon its first use, it summoned Angelique, who’s a rather unpleasant character in and of herself. However, her techniques are quite different from Pinhead’s. Instead of embracing pain and suffering as her tenets, she prefers the methods of temptation. It’s obviously effective and she still isn’t afraid to get to the heart of the matter, quite literally.
So, we’ve had the box as a gateway to Hell for over 200 years. It’s only in 1921 that Captain Elliot Spenser opens the box and becomes the latest human-turned-Cenobite. That means that there’s still 150-ish years of possible Cenobites that have caused suffering and carnage. And that’s not even taking into account that Hell has been around for a very, very long time, which means there are other demonic entities that are all about feasting on souls.
To further this point, Doug Bradley himself told Fangoria in the May 1989 issue, “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…”
In fact, never have we been told that Pinhead is the ultimate Cenobite. In Hellbound: Hellraiser 2, Dr. Channard as a Cenobite not only defeated Pinhead but the other three lieutenants as well, Chatterer, Butterball, and Female Cenobite (I wish Barbie Wilde had an actual Cenobite name but this is apparently canon).
What this tells me is that there are other Cenobites that are just as powerful, if not more so, than Pinhead. And that fascinates me. That intrigues me. That makes me want to know more about them. So why not use them as the foundations for future Hellraiser films? Just look at the teaser for Hellraiser: Origins and tell me you’re not pumped about that world being fleshed out (pun absolutely intended).
Look, Pinhead has never been the central character in these films. Sure, he’s an interesting one but other Cenobites could be, if given the same screen time and attention as he receives. Plus, when they replaced Doug Bradley, the horror community rioted. It was nearly the same as when the Nightmare on Elm Street remake came along and they said Robert Englund wasn’t going to reprise Freddy. So why even bother? Get away from Pinhead altogether and show us what other sights Hell has to offer!
What are your thoughts? Am I onto something here or should I open the Lament Configuration and rid myself of this world? Tell me in the comments!