Pinhead is the kind of horror icon that is recognizable even to those who might not have seen a single Hellraiser movie. A head full of nails and an elegantly dark and leathery costume design that finds a sense of twisted beauty in pain and suffering proved the right combination to achieve this during Doug Bradley’s tenure as the Hell priest.
Now it’s actress Jamie Clayton’s turn to push the iconic role into new territory in the David Bruckner-directed Hellraiser reboot set to premier on October 6 on Hulu. It’s not an easy task, that which lies ahead of the movie, but the recent teaser and photo reveals show considerable promise.
Created by master of horror Clive Barker, and based on his 1986 novella The Hellbound Heart, Hellraiser is a story of power and pleasure and the horrors they create when absolute self-indulgence and sexual greed lead people to worship at the altar of terrible things. Pinhead is the head of the Cenobites, demons that reward those seeking to experience a higher form of physical gratification through delicately intricate sessions of pure suffering for all eternity.
The Cenobites have been portrayed as living tributes to sadomasochism that are terrifying pieces of art unto themselves. You can’t quite stop looking at them and the ways they embody pain. Of course, there’s an erotic energy coursing through them that makes their brand of suffering unique. So far, their designs combine flayed flesh wrapped over leather and plastic, making it seem as if the mere act of existing comes at the price of a chunk of flesh for even the smallest movement. Wrapped inside all that is the idea that pain equals pleasure, which turns Hell into a place of decadent torment.
Based on the new images published through Entertainment Weekly and Clayton’s social media, the new Hellraiser seems to be doubling-down on the flayed flesh aspect. Clayton’s Pinhead carries the classic full head grid cut with long thin nails sprouting from its cleanly segment sections, but her neck is peeled back and held in place via strips of flesh organized into gruesome patterns.
Like Doug Bradley’s Pinhead, Clayton’s has black eyes, but they hold a deeper stare that clearly unsettles given how much darker they are than the original’s. These changes, nuanced in parts but still clearly identifiable already add a considerable amount of character and presence to the new Pinhead, things that I believe must be present to guarantee the success of this reboot. So far, looks like we’re on the right track.
Another Cenobite was revealed called The Masque, a pale white being with a human face stretched over a metal frame with flaps of skin and carefully placed cuts adorning the body and creating their own violent patterns. If The Masque is indication of anything it’s of the care and thought that’s also gone into Pinhead’s band of deranged demons (or angels to others). The original movies featured this as well, with The Chatterer, Butterball, and Angelique among the most beloved by fans. That’s another box the reboot seems to be ticking as well.
The only teaser that’s been released reveals very little, but it does show a bit of Clayton’s Pinhead in the flesh (no pun intended). Will the Lament Configuration (the box that allows the Cenobites to crossover in search of whoever opened it) get its own redesign? Will the story journey into the Cenobites’ realm as it did in Hellraiser II or stay mostly within our reality as it did in the first movie?
These are all questions that a forthcoming trailer will surely shed more light on, but for now we have a genuinely unsettling and creepy new Pinhead to enjoy along with a glimpse of the other horrors that’ll accompany her. The sights provided do more than enough to peak anyone’s curiosity. We’ll soon know just how many nightmares they’ll inspire in an eager audience.