Pinhead: Lord of The Cenobites

By AL J. Vermette

    You just found what seems to be nothing more than just a toy.  A puzzle box
is all it is and so you start to turn the little parts that seem to move.  The box
seems to hold a secret and you are compelled to find it. Then without warning
the box starts to move on its own as if alive.  It changes itself from that of a cube
to multiple shapes with moving combinations.  As you watch the thing work its
combinations it then stops on an oddly shape but before you can look over the
toy the room starts to grow suddenly cold.  The light in the room goes dim and
strange shapes seem to appear.  Large wooden racks come from nowhere
followed by endless amount of hanging steel chains.

    Your blood grows cold and before you can figure out what the Hell is going
on they come…. as if from nowhere.  She is the first to appear, a female form
clad in black.  Her skin torn from the top of her head and stretched taunt by
hooks attached to the shoulders of her leather garment.  She is nothing less…
than a true vision of horror…and she is not alone.  Stepping into view is a portly
gruesome looking creature with big round glass eye monocles jammed into his
eye sockets.  He too wrapped in black leather with cuts and open wounds.  
Following this horror is the most frightening beast of all, he is silent, tall and his
face is horribly misshapen.  He speaks not a word but only the chilling sound of
his teeth chattering from his lip torn mouth can you hear.  You stand in horror,
they are the creatures of all nightmares and yet this terror is about to get
worse.  The three stand there as you shreik in horror and then….. he comes
forth.  Making his nightmarish entrance is the most terrible one of all.  Like the
members of his clan, he is draped all in black, his skin an ash white and row
after row of painful nails protrude from his skull.  He speaks in an almost echo
tone of voice that sends chills down your spine.  You stand face to face with The
Cenobites and they are about to rip your soul apart.

    In 1987, a new kind of horror movie hit the theaters.  Unlike the horror films
that came before it in the 80's, this had no wise cracking villain or a silent
masked killer hunting horny teenagers.  At last a true grown-ups horror movie
was unleashed upon the world and it came from one of the rising stars just
making his mark on the horror book scene.  Clive Barker’s novel about
creatures from a Hell Dimension who are called forth from that of a mere child’s
toy puzzle box.  The novel “The Hellbound Heart” by Clive Barker would become
the young authors springboard into the horror genre.

    The late 70's and 1980's were at the time dominated by one author who
stood atop the horror world.  He was Stephen King, the Lord and Master of the
modern horror novel and he ruled over his dark kingdom.  He was then as he is
now the most well known author of dark fiction but even he said once in a public
statement that Clive Barker was the future of horror.  The young author, artist
and budding filmmaker had his novel about creatures called Cenobites just
screaming to be made into a movie.  With little budget and some friends help
the horror author turned horror filmmaker took his novel “The Hellbound Heart”
and turned it into the movie “Hellraiser.”

    In a decade of Freddy and Jason movies where there was only one menace
to deal with, here Barker amped it up by adding four evil creatures to his film
making it a true gem in the horror film world.  Looking like creatures from some
twisted S&M sex party, Barker’s Cenobites had no names, only three spoke and
their demonic leader was a well spoken, highly intelligent creature so unlike the
silent Michael Myers and Jason Voohees and even though he talked….Freddy
was no intellect.  You could tell without a doubt that this creature was not stupid
and not there to make jokes, fool around or play games.  He and his clan of
demons were only there to reap souls and bring them to Hell itself, sometimes
even bring other misfortunate souls into his fold and turn them into Cenobites
too.  A fate even far worse then even death itself.

    Although there were four creatures in all, one did take center stage.  The
leader of The Cenobites who bore no name but sometimes referred to as
Pinhead due to the creatures appearance on and off screen.  From early on,
fans took to this character and although he was just one member of a team of
demons, he would soon carry on and bring “Hellraiser” into the realm of horror
movie franchise.  In a badly made deal, filmmaker Clive Barker sold off his
control rights to the sequels never thinking that his one movie would go on and
become a horror franchise icon.  When Pinhead and company went on to do
“Hellbound: Hellraiser II”, their creator didn’t go along for the ride and though
Barker wrote and directed the first movie, he was cut out of anything that
followed.  In the sequel, Pinhead and his fellow Cenobites are killed before the
films end by a new and more terrible Cenobite but fans wanted the nail headed
demon back for more and Pinhead returned for eight more films in that become
one of the genres biggest franchises.

    Under the pins was British actor Doug Bradley, a good friend of Barker who
took on the role of the leader of the Cenobites.  Bradley would go on and play
the character for eight of the nine films that featured Pinhead and friends with
another actor taking his place for what may be the last entry into the series
“Hellraiser: Revelations.”  With each new sequel new, Cenobites joined Pinhead
as the original demonic clan still remained dead from the events in the first
sequel.  Each film may have featured the pinheaded monster but each was with
a fresh storyline.  There were some better than others….and one movie like with
Jason and Lepacon…. Pinhead too went into space.  Not one of the better
ideas….. if not different from the first movie or the others.

    The only thing this writer could complain about was somewhere along the
way with most of the film sequels, what Pinhead stood for was lost in the
storylines.  Other filmmakers wanted to turn him into just another killing machine
like Jason Voohees and Michael Myers who hunted teenager’s as if for sport.  
That’s not what Pinhead and his fellow demons were about in the original Clive
Barker film.  Still the character although better than most of the films he
appeared in went on and has become one of the best known horror figures in
the genre.

    Although other Cenobites did come and go, it was the first group of demons
that everyone thinks of when they think of these creatures.  Like Pinhead they
were never really named in the film but they like their leader gained nicknames
such as Butterball for the portly demon and Chatterer for the creature with the
teeth.  (See Interview with the actor who played Chatterer in this issue of Blood
Moon Rising) Oddly enough the female Cenobite was only referred to as The
Woman or The Female Cenobite.  She never really had even a nickname…..I
don’t know why.

    Today as of this writing Pinhead and his Demon clan rest and await there
next calling. There has been talk for years about a “Hellraiser” remake but it has
still yet to come to pass.  So if you find a box and you want to open it up…..don’
t!  It may just open a gateway into the world of The Cenobites……and your soul
will be theirs.
Creature Feature
Pinhead: Lord of The Cenobites