Why is the new Pinhead in Hellraiser a woman?

Not Pinhead at all. The famous figure from the acclaimed film version of Clive Barker’s book The Hellbound Heart is credited as Lead Cenobite and is referred to in the story as “the Priest,” a follower of a mysterious, deadly religion. To Barker’s dismay, the Priest was given the moniker Pinhead because he required a catchier nickname in an era of gimmicky slashers like Freddy, Leatherface, and Jason. The moniker, however, never seemed to fit the beautiful character played by Doug Bradley, even as it became more and more common.

For those reasons, filmmaker David Bruckner had no reservations about choosing Jamie Clayton to play the Priest in his upcoming October 7 Hellraiser revival on Hulu. According to Bruckner, “We always understood that [a female Pinhead] made sense given the history of the series and the kinds of fans that have embraced it.” The Hellbound Heart “was suggestive of a female Pinhead, and the comic books also explored the subject,” according to Bruckner, who claims that Barker’s work was a major influence on the choice. Bruckner cites female and non-binary versions of The Priest in fan art as further sources of influence. We never had any fear of it, he insisted.

The gender shift additionally gave Clayton leeway from earlier film takes. It was also a method for us to avoid trying to top Doug Bradley’s outstanding, legendary performance, according to Bruckner. In Barker’s 1987 original Hellraiser, Bradley played Pinhead for the first time. He stayed in the character for the next seven films before being replaced by Stephan Smith Collins for 2011’s Hellraiser: Revelations and by Paul T. Taylor for 2018’s Hellraiser: Judgement. In Hellraiser II and Hellraiser III, Bradley also played Captain Elliot Spencer, Pinhead’s pre-Lament Configuration human form.

When Clayton was freed from the pressure to match Bradley, he added additional dimensions to the Priest, which gave Bruckner unexpected storytelling options. He said, “Jamie came up with something that was lot more sensual. “The character has an air of inquiry. Given what she has to offer and her seeming intense interest in her victims’ innermost thoughts and motivations, her engagement is quite unsettling.

Fans of Hellraiser should be elated by that last line. The Cenobites are distinct from other horror monsters, despite being grouped with slashers from the 1980s. They don’t only show up to kill, or even to intimidate. Only those who call them and who want to experience the exquisite blending of agony and pleasure they give will receive their arrival.

Clayton has little doubt that Bruckner intended for the Priest to be more than just a boogeywoman and take an interest in all she sees based on his remarks. Bruckner claims that this iteration of the Priest is unaware of her previous human identity. He said, “I suppose that’s where her mind sits. She has long been devoted in her search of extreme experience and delivering that upon others.”

Hulu will release Hellraiser on October 7. We can all make assumptions about who should perform a reinvented CD till then.

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