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.
If you’re like me, then you treat Halloween as a year-long affair, a way of life, that requires a special read or movie to open the best month of the year: October. Some people have a kind of ritual, something they repeat year in and year out to mark the occasion. For some it’s watching John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978), others might prefer a candlelit reading session composed of classic horror short stories from authors that are synonymous with the season (be it Poe, Stephen King, or Lovecraft).
I start October by reading something I’ve never read before, be it a comic or a short story. Last year it was a short story written by Scott Derickson and C.Robert Cargill called “A Clean White Room,” about an Iraq war veteran that becomes a sin-eater in a building that lays atop a crack in the world that has a straight line to Hell. It’s included in The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares: The Haunted City (2015) anthology, a great option for those who prefer their horror to have been published more recently.
This year, Halloween begins with a crossover horror comic that features two uniquely terrifying worlds created by legendary author Clive Barker and it’s called Hellraiser/Nightbreed Jihad. It was published in 1991 by Epic Comics but those interested in it can find it in the Clive Barker’s Nightbreed Archive published by BOOM! Studios, along with a comics adaptation of the movie by Alan Grant, John Wagner, and Jim Baikie.
Hellraiser/Nightbreed Jihad is written by D.G. Chichester and illustrated by Paul Johnson and it centers on a war Hellraiser’s cenobites want to wage on the Nightbreed given the latter’s existence threatens Hell’s eternal mission of bringing agony and suffering to the souls of the damned.
The Nightbreed, a race of magical creatures that live in an underground city called Midian away from humans, are apparently disrupting the balance of chaos in the world by merely existing. A purging seems the only sensible way forward for the tortured lords of Hell, although there are different schools of thought as to how to deal with the problem.
At a glance, the story carries the look and feel of a Clive Barker tale. It’s ambitious in its worldbuilding and it fuses dark fantasy elements with dangerous magic to dive into taboo topics and subvert them. As is characteristic of Barker’s work, sex factors into the story and is presented as a kind of transcendental experience that courts pain to repurpose pleasure as a ritual that both punishes and rewards.
Paul Johnson’s art is exquisite, leaning heavy on the fantasy elements of its already dream-like worlds to establish a sense of danger and wonder that’s unique to these licenses. This carries over in the new creatures and monsters accompany the already well-established characters seen in the film adaptations of Barker’s books. They expand upon the possibilities of the horrors they embody in each world and give Johnson ample space to experiment with design.
Chichister’s writing is finely tuned to the sights, sounds, and voices of both sides of the war, relying on the complex vernacular of each world’s reality to provide a very lived-in sense of story early on. It captures the constant state of violence that governs the two groups quite well and it sets up some wonderfully macabre moments that show no intention of holding back on the bloodletting.
Based on what I’ve already read and seen throughout the pages (I couldn’t help myself), Hellraiser/Nightbreed Jihad looks like it will set quite the tone for this year’s Halloween season. The challenge, then, will lie in trying to find something that compares or surpasses this horror comic. It’s a hard one, but there are 31 days-worth of opportunities to indulge in the search.
If you, like the rest of the internet, have been celebrating Halloween since before Labor Day, or have gotten swept up in the pumpkin spice frenzy, or are riding the high of those spooky seasonal vibes, hey. You’re not alone.
Though this year has been widely deemed a dumpster fire, 2017 has provided some excellent seasonal reads for readers who like their comics with a side of horror and mystery. Here are ten comics perfect for setting the Halloween mood.
Babyteeth Donny Cates, Garry Brown, and Mark Englert (AfterShock Comics)
Being a teenager can feel like hell. For pregnant sixteen year old Sadie, it might literally be hell. The first volume explores the strength of familial relationships, navigating the world as a teen mom, and how to deal when a powerful underground group of assassins tries to kill your baby, who is the antichrist.
Goldie Vance is a teenage detective story appropriate for all ages. Join Goldie as she takes on the mysteries at the Florida resort where she and her dad work. The series is no longer published as single issues and will instead be published in the future in a series of graphic novels, and each arc is an excellent jumping-on point for the series.
Goosebumps: Monsters at Midnight Jeremy Lambert and Chris Fenoglio (IDW Publishing)
Goosebumps: Monsters at Midnight was released by IDW earlier this month. While it’s definitely geared toward a younger demographic, the first issue is full of references to the original books and stays true to their voice.
Hellraiser Omnibus Volume 1 Clive Barker, Tom Garcia, various (BOOM! Studios)
The Hellraiser Omnibus isn’t for the squeamish. The book collects issues 1-20 of Clive Barker’s 2011-2012 Hellraiser series, as well as Hellraiser Annual #1. As part of Hellraiser canon, the comic explores the fate of Kirsty Cotton and the Cenobite realm–and changes them forever.
InferNoct Mina Elwell, Eli Powell, and Tristan Elwell (Scout Comics)
The first issue of this Lovecraft-inspired horror comic from Scout Comics was released earlier this month. The story follows Sam, who is trying to save her town (and the people in it) from vicious monster attacks while keeping her grip on sanity.
Insexts Marguerite Bennett, Ariela Kristantina, and Jessica Kholine (AfterShock Comics)
The second collected volume of Insexts will be released in late November, but this comic is well worth reading. The first volume followed Lady Bertram and her lover Mariah as they come to grips with their insect powers and go up against the monsters terrorizing Victorian England. The second volume deals with the aftermath in the same beautiful, erotic, and horrific style as the first volume.
Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: The Big Lie Anthony Del Col, Werther Dell’Edera (Dynamite Entertainment)
Fans of the original series or previous Drew-Hardy team-ups will likely appreciate this series, which brings the gang back together to figure out who killed Fenton Hardy. This is something of a dark departure from the original series (which never featured murder) but is an interesting update appropriate for teens and adults alike.
Monstress Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda (Image Comics)
Though Monstress is currently on hiatus, this comic remains one of the most visually and narratively interesting comics published this year. The second volume, released in July, develops each character as they process the consequences of the Monstrum living inside main character Maika.
My Favorite Thing is Monsters Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics)
My Favorite Thing is Monsters is a gorgeous book with an incredible amount of narrative depth. Though the fact that the main character, Karen Reyes, believes herself a monster makes this read Halloween-appropriate, readers will likely find plenty to relate to in Karen’s interests and search for identity.
My Pretty Vampire Katie Skelly (Fantagraphics)
Katie Skelly’s My Pretty Vampire combines comics with vintage horror in a gorgeous and compelling color palette. The book follows vampire Clover, who escapes from an oppressive ruled by her brother. Clover’s newfound freedom leads her on a town-wide murder spree, with a shadowy organization not far behind.
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writers: Clive Barker with Mark Miller, Christopher Monfette, Robb Humphreys, Anthony Diblasi, and Brandon Seifert
Artist: Leonardo Manco, Jesús Hervás, Stephen Thompson, Janusz Odon, Michael Montenat, Ibrahim Roberson, André Stahl Schmidt, Giovanni P. Timpano, Marcio Henrique, Tom Garcia
Cover Artist: Tim Bradstreet
Clive Barker returns to tell a new chapter in the official continuity—a trajectory that will forever change the Cenobites… and Pinhead!
The Living Dead Dolls have crossed over to the underworld of Hellraiser! Standing 10-inches tall, this Entertainment Earth exclusive Pinhead doll arrives in a specialized die-cut window box based on the divine mathematics of Lemarchand and including the dangerous yet mysterious Lament Configuration. Randomly packaged throughout the run is an extremely limited blood-splattered version to really drive the nightmares home! Pre-order today, the figure comes out December 2016!
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Fans know it by many names: the puzzle cube, Lemarchand’s box,the Lament Configuration. Whatever the name, it is still the key to the gates of Hell itself. But who says the key to Hell can’t be soft and fuzzy ? Recreated for the first time ever as squeezable plush items, the cubes feature artwork based on the designs of Philip Lemarchand.
The pair of 3inch cubes are permanent affixed to each other with a sturdy black cord and come complete with an informative hangtag. The film accurate designs are carefully imprinted on the velvety fabric using a silkscreen process that captures the detail of the unearthly designs.
The Hellraiser Lament Configuration Fuzzy Dice can be summoned into collections in September -October or can be pre-ordered.
Deep from within the dimension of eternal torments comes the High Priest of Hell himself: Pinhead.
Mezco brings the leader of the Cenobites into our realm with an exquisite 12inch figure and the cries of the damned rage loudly with anticipation.
Pinhead’s detailed portrait sculpture captures each grid scar and nail of his infamous visage. Looking into the eyes of the figure, one can almost feel his insatiable craving for souls.
Great care has been paid to each detail of Pinhead’s attire. His vestments perfectly capture the look from the legendary film. The flayed portions of Pinhead’s flesh bear witness to his suffering with a realistic wet-look finish. His sacred instruments, a trio of blades, dangle from his holy robes.
The figure comes complete with two sets of hands: one set to hold the included Lament Configuration for summoning the Cenobites, and a second set to wield his instruments of transformation.
Pinhead features seven points of articulation and is packaged in a specially die-cut collector friendly window box that highlights his grotesque beauty.
Clive Barker’s Hellraiser: The Dark Watch Vol. 3 TP
Authors: Clive Barker, Brandon Seifert
Artists: Tom Garcia, Janusz Ordon
The three people to serve as Pinhead—Elliott Spencer, Kirsty Cotton, and Harry D’Amour—have been thrown into various factions fighting a war between Hells that threatens to destroy all of humanity. As the divisions between dimensions dissolve, each of the Hell Popes must decide how far they are willing to go to win the war and to ensure their survival. Clive Barker and co-writer Brandon Seifert, with artist Tom Garcia, bring this epic Hellraiser saga to a thrilling conclusion. This volume also includes stories from Clive Barker’s Hellraiser Annual 2013, featuring work by Barker and Seifert, as well as Ben Meares, Jesus Hervas, and Janusz Ordon. Collects Clive Barker’s Hellraiser: The Dark Watch #9-12, and Clive Barker’s Hellraiser Annual 2013.