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Pinhead is a fictional character from Clive Barker's Hellraiser universe. He is portrayed in the movies by actor Doug Bradley.

In the original film, Pinhead did not have a name, but was simply credited as the "Lead Cenobite". Pinhead was a name coined by the makeup crew that applied the prosthetics on Bradley to distinguish the Cenobites. Clive Barker has voiced his intention to kill off Pinhead in a future short story, saying: "I want to give Pinhead a good send-off. I want to do it right. If we are going to get rid of the old guy, let's do it with some style."

Fictional character biography

Pinhead was not always a Cenobite, but was in fact once human. Pinhead originated as Captain Elliott Spencer, who was born into the middle class British society of the Victorian Era in 1888.

He joined the British Expeditionary Force, eventually rising to the rank of Captain and served during World War I. Spencer was a charismatic and eloquent man, who could feel great empathy and compassion for those around him. These are factors which undoubtedly assisted in his mental breakdown which he suffered after the Battle of Flanders in 1914. Spencer did not believe he had a right to live after watching many of his comrades perish in horrific circumstances. He had also lost faith in the human race after witnessing the inhumanity one individual could enact upon another. He had lost faith in God, who he believed had failed humanity, claiming "God fell at Flanders too."

Whilst other survivors of the war turned to religion, philosophy, music, art and poetry, the disillusioned and jaded Spencer wandered the world and became something of a hedonist, turning to the baser methods of gratification for satisfaction and pleasure. These included opium, alcohol, and sex; however these were insufficient, as the sensations were never strong enough and Spencer always wanted greater highs, leading to his dabbling in the Occult, Satanism and black magic. By his own definition, he had become "an explorer of forbidden pleasures." He had indeed become a lost soul, descending deeper and deeper into madness and eventually sadomasochism as pain became indistinguishable from pleasure.

His transformation into Pinhead (a.k.a. "Lead Cenobite", "The Angel of Suffering" "Leviathan's Lord of the Damned" and "The Dark Prince of Pain") occurred when he opened the demonic Lament Configuration, which he picked up from a market in India in 1921. In the Hellraiser comic book series, Pinhead is depicted as the latest incarnation of the Cenobite spirit Xipe Totec, an entity derived from Aztec mythology.

Pinhead's role has varied with each Hellraiser installment. In the original Hellraiser, Pinhead was simply the "Lead Cenobite" and was part of a collective group giving pleasure and pain to those who opened the box. They were not evil as such, simply a force or group of tragic characters that existed to explore experience. The second film followed this but the third film radically changed the original concept, making Pinhead and the Cenobites into typical Hollywood monsters. In the fourth film he is presented as a demon of Hell bent on world domination, and by the fifth he simply tortures those who solve the box. The seventh film reverts closer to the original film, with the Cenobites responsible for pleasure and pain, but the characters seem more demonic as in later installments. In the Hellraiser comic book series, it would seem that Leviathan might be considered the overlord of the Cenobite world.

Character details and personality

The character of Pinhead presented something of a departure from the horror movie villains popular at the time. Unlike Leatherface, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers, he can and does speak. However, he is rarely comical, as are Freddy Krueger or Chucky. When he does indulge in humour, it is notably dry. Another difference between Pinhead and other film killers, supernatural or otherwise, is his need to have been purposely summoned, as The Lament Configuration must be opened for the Cenobites to enter the corporeal world. Pinhead does not kill indiscriminately, nor for vengeance; he kills because he was conjured from Hell by the opener of the puzzle box. Like very few other film killers, Pinhead is sometimes portrayed as a tragic villain when his origin of how he became Pinhead was explored in Hellbound: Hellraiser II and Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth. He also has characteristics of both an anti-villain and an anti-hero because in the second film, he was able to regain some of his humanity when he recollects his memory of his former life and tries to protect Kirsty and Tiffany from the insane Channard Cenobite.

Pinhead's other difference from typical film killers is that he can be reasoned and bargained with. In both Hellraiser and Hellraiser: Hellseeker, the Kirsty character bargains with Pinhead to offer him more "souls" in exchange for her own (in particular, her human adversaries), thus resulting in her life being spared. Pinhead does not kill quickly, as he and the other Cenobites are well-versed in torture. Death does not end the suffering of his victims either, as they are brought to Hell/The Labyrinth, where, Pinhead says, "We have an eternity to know your flesh." Sometimes he stands back as the other Cenobites under his command do the actual killing. Pinhead is obsessed with pain and exploring the limits of the flesh, calmly observing his "experiments" as they suffer under the ministrations of him and fellow members of his order.

The act of opening The Lament Configuration is not always sufficient reason to be killed: in Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Pinhead stops the Cenobites from killing Tiffany, an emotionally traumatized girl who opened the box only after being manipulated by Dr. Channard. Pinhead remarks, “…it is not hands that call us, it is desire…” Later in the film Pinhead is killed by Dr. Channard who is by then a Cenobite himself, but not before Channard returns Pinhead to his original human form, as opposed to the other Cenobites, who were killed outright and then returned to their human forms upon dying. In the third film, the reborn Pinhead becomes the main villain and he completely loses his humanity (as a result of his rebirth), making him pure evil and able to kill for enjoyment.

He very rarely speaks to his subordinates and usually does so only when issuing an order. Only Cenobites of comparable ranking to himself, such as the Cenobite Princess Angelique, are spoken to as equals.

Powers and abilities

A drawing by the original creator of pinhead: Clive Barker

Pinhead is an extremely powerful being, and as such, has several supernatural abilities. He is virtually unstoppable and invulnerable in the physical sense, but rarely engages in physical combat, instead letting hooked chains do his bidding. His preferred method of attack is by summoning hooks and chains to mutilate victims, often pulling said victims in several directions to tear them apart. These chains are subject to his total mental control and he may direct them at will. The chains may even change shape after having attached to a victim. Pinhead is highly resistant to damage and direct assault, able to shrug off all but the most potent attacks.

His magic is also used for creating objects out of thin air, teleporting, creating explosions at distances and deceiving opponents with illusions. Pinhead is also familiar with the Occult and magic, with an ability to read minds. He is at once charismatic and terrifying, and can often persuade others to perform horrific acts to his favour. ] It is not known if Pinhead's power exceeds that of other Cenobites, although he was once killed by the Channard Cenobite after remembering his human life. In Parts 3 and 4, Pinhead creates Cenobites from his victims, which tend to be physically manipulated to resemble an aspect of their human lives with special abilities granted in the process. Pinhead is rarely without an entourage of such beings.

When the Pinhead character's inhuman evil (Unbound Pinhead) manifests in the world in Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, it seems to have nearly unlimited and highly versatile powers. He could telekinetically control vast areas, transfer matter to different forms whether it be living or non living, create and control fire, animate objects, and the like. Towards the end of the film, Pinhead's human side suggests that he is no longer bound by the rules governing other Cenobites (suggesting others among them might have such power).

Other appearances

  • Pinhead appears in various Hellraiser comics, with the Clive Barker's Hellraiser anthology series stating that he is the latest incarnation of Aztec god Xipe Totec. Pinhead also received his own comic miniseries, simply entitled Pinhead, created by Marvel Comics' Epic Comics imprint.
  • Pinhead was considered to appear in alternate ending for the 2003 film Freddy vs. Jason. In the cut ending, when the titular characters are dragged down to Hell, they are restrained with chains while Pinhead appears in a scenario that film writer Damian Shannon referred to as "sort of a 'gentlemen, what seems to be the problem' moment."
  • In an illustration of a wall covered in masks in another one of Barker's works, The Thief of Always, Pinhead's head can be seen as one of the masks.
  • In the stop-motion parody television series Robot Chicken, Pinhead (voiced by Scott Adsit), alongside fellow horror icons Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, Leatherface and Jason Voorhees, appears in a spoof of reality television series Big Brother in the episode "That Hurts Me". In contrast to his persona in the films, Pinhead is portrayed as overly sensitive in the episode, at one point bursting into tears over losing his chance to use a cell phone to call his mother on her birthday. During the challenge, which involved retrieving a kitten from a block of ice, Pinhead resorts to scraping his head against the ice, since he's the only one in the house without a weapon. Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers also launch a prank war against him. In a later episode of Robot Chicken entitled "Slaughterhouse on the Prairie", Pinhead (voiced by Seth Green) appears in the skit "Pinhead's New Haircut", which features him visiting a barber to have many of the nails in his head driven in further, with the rest creating the form of a mohawk. His most recent appearance on that series was in the episode "Tubba Bubba's Now Hubba Hubba" in the segment "Girls Gone Wild Cenobitches" where he and the cenobites are featured on Girls Gone Wild tourturing people.
  • The animated series The Simpsons has featured appearances of Pinhead twice. In the Halloween special "Treehouse of Horror V" Pinhead appears among various other ghouls in the segment "The Shinning" attempting to coerce character Homer Simpson into killing his family.
  • In the animated comedy series Family Guy Pinhead appears in a cutaway gag in the episode "Meet the Quagmires" after character Peter Griffin states he is "going to raise more Hell than Hellraiser". The scene consists of a woman eating with Pinhead, who secretly unscrews the lid of a salt shaker when she asks him for it, causing her to pour salt all over her food, much to Pinhead's amusement.
  • Pinhead appears several times in the animated series South Park during the episode "Imaginationland Episode II". He can be seen in the background as one of the evil characters flooding through the destroyed gate that separated the good imagined creatures from the bad. In "Imaginationland Episode III", he is among the horde of evil creatures attacking the Castle of Sunshine. Pinhead is killed in battle during the episode, when he has his head sliced off by a sword-wielding Jesus.
  • A homage to Pinhead is made in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode "The Show That Dare Not Speak Its Name" in the form of Pinface, a demonic being with bowling pins protruding from his face, who is summoned to Earth by a magical Rubik's Cube.
  • Pinhead also makes an appearance in a Motörhead music video for the song "Hellraiser" (originally co-written by Ozzy Osbourne and Zakk Wylde with Motörhead bassist, singer and songwriter Lemmy). This song was directly associated with Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, and uses some scenes from this film. It also, however, uses original scenes of Pinhead sitting in the audience listening to Lemmy and Motorhead, turning the remaining audience into Cenobites. Finally it shows Pinhead playing cards with Lemmy. Pinhead reveals 4 kings and a 2. Lemmy reveals 4 aces in a row. The final ace he reveals is the ace of spades. Then he adds a joker as his final card to top the whole thing off.
  • Pinhead's original incarnation, Captain Spencer, has a cameo appearance in the novel The Bloody Red Baron by Kim Newman, working as an agent of the Diogenes Club. In this a shell-shocked Spencer is invalidated out of the army after hammering nails into his own skull. (In the introduction to Newman's collection Famous Monsters, Neil Gaiman claims that Clive Barker based Pinhead partially on Newman, arguing "they are both snappy dressers".)
  • A reference is made to Pinhead in Bride of Chucky. John Ritter's character is killed by having nails fired into his head with a nailgun. There are nails sticking out of his head and face, to which Chucky exclaims, "Now why does that look so familiar?"
  • Pinhead has a cameo in an episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, in which he expresses great interest in Jay's hangnail.
  • During MTV's 1996 Spring Break programming Pinhead appeared in a number of segments. Standing on a platform to the left of the main stage, he would make ominous declarations and "torture" unlucky beach-goers by suspending them from giant underpants, effectively giving them a wedgie from Hell.

External links

Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.