A fascinating piece of horror history, unearthed by the iconic actor.
Pinhead, the “Hell Priest” played by Doug Bradley throughout most of the Hellraiser films, originally appeared in Clive Barker’s The Hellbound Heart, a 1986 novella that Barker adapted into the original Hellraiser. Hardcore Barker fans may know this through stories Bradley has told, but Pinhead’s origins actually date back much further.
According to Wiki, “the earliest incarnation of Pinhead appeared in Hunters in the Snow, an original 1973 play with Doug Bradley in the role of the Dutchman, an undead inquisitor and torturer. A later film titled The Forbidden, which was shot in 16 millimeter and in black and white, included a prop in the form of a wooden block with six nails in it, which gave distorted shadow formations under different lighting angles.”
Of course, Barker eventually ended up using that prop as the general basis for the look of a brand new inquisitor and torturer: Pinhead, played by his pal Doug Bradley.
Over on Facebook, Bradley just shared a vintage photo of he and Barker that was taken on the Liverpool set of The Forbidden back in ’76. And wouldn’t ya know it, that wooden block with nails in it is present in the photo, sitting right next to the man who would ten years later have those nails placed into his own head for the original Hellraiser!
“Look closely at the lower left-hand edge of the frame just across from my arm, and you’ll see a bunch of nails protruding into frame,” Bradley writes. “Clive had taken a block of wood, painted it white and (if I’m remembering this right) added a black grid-iron pattern. At each intersection, he’d hammered a 6” nail into the block. The idea was to film it with a light swinging backwards and forwards in front of it. In negative, this now appeared as a black background with a white grid-iron and white shadows from the nails swinging to and fro.”
Bradley continues, “Nails in a grid-iron pattern hovering next to me. Waiting, waiting. Little did I know. Entirely typical of Clive’s genius that he would come up with this idea and ten years later, first in The Hellbound Heart and then in Hellraiser, want to anthropomorphise and animate that image. And the rest is history.”
Check out the photo, and full story, below!