The Real Reason Hellraiser Still Makes Us Bleed After 35 Years Of Beautiful Suffering

No monster movie is complete without, well, the monster. Fortunately, “Hellraiser” has a strong roster of nightmare-inducing demons in the form of the Cenobites — leather-clad monstrosities who are summoned to the realm of the living through a mysterious puzzle box. Of course, their leader, Pinhead (Doug Bradley), needs no introduction as he’s a bonafide horror icon and unlike other horror villains.

Horror movies about monsters and killers typically present the foes as silent or prone to cheesy one-liners. Pinhead, meanwhile, is an articulate and intelligent demon whose mannerisms echo the perverse elegance of classic monsters such as Dracula. It’d be fun to play chess and discuss philosophy with him in a social setting. He interacts with his subjects, and Doug Bradley’s sophisticated accent adds some class to the monster’s aesthetic.

At the same time, Pinhead and his Cenobite minions aren’t mindless slaughterers. Pinhead can be bargained with, and he only sets out to punish those who summon him — well, that was true until “Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth,” which tore up the rulebook. While the silent and ruthless killers of other horror movies can be terrifying in their own right, the Hell Priest is intriguing as he’s bound by rules and politics. 

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