|First appearance||The Hellbound Heart|
|Created by||Clive Barker|
|Portrayed by||Doug Bradley
Stephan Smith Collins (Hellraiser: Revelations)
|Voiced by||Fred Tatasciore (Hellraiser: Revelations)|
The Pope of Hell
Dr. Paul Gregory
|Real name||Eliot Spencer|
|Primary location||"The Labyrinth"/Hell|
Pinhead is a fictional character from the Hellraiser series. Created by Clive Barker and portrayed by Doug Bradley, Pinhead is a prominent figure in the series, mostly featured as the main antagonist. Pinhead is the leader of the Cenobites, formerly human creatures from an extradimensional realm who travel to Earth through the Lament Configuration, and harvest human souls. Depicted as intelligent and articulate, the character was deliberately presented as a departure from the mute or wise-cracking 1980s horror movie villains who preceded him, being based more on Count Dracula.
In Hellraiser (1987), Kirsty Cotton unintentionally summons Pinhead and the Cenobites, but is spared on condition that she lead the Cenobites to her uncle, Frank Cotton, who had escaped them. After reclaiming Frank, the Cenobites turn on Kirsty, who manages to banish them with the Lament Configuration.
In Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988), it is revealed that Pinhead was born Elliot Spencer and opened the Lament Configuration after becoming disenchanted with human life after serving in World War I. Like the other Cenobites, he lost all memory of his human identity following the transformation. He is a follower of the god Leviathan, an entity that presides over a labyrinth realm called Hell, where the Cenobites live and torture their quarry. Kirsty shows Pinhead a photograph of his former self, causing him to regain his memories. He briefly leads his fellow Cenobites in a battle with the newly created Channard cenobite, but during the battle Pinhead reverts back to his human form and is killed by the Channard cenobite.
In Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992), it is learned that Spencer's reversion to his human form caused the negative attributes of himself to manifest into an independent entity, which takes the form of Pinhead. Without human influence, Pinhead is unbound by the laws of the Cenobite Hell, and engages in an indiscriminate killing spree on Earth, transforming some of his victims into a Cenobite army. Spencer manages to escape Limbo and stops Pinhead by re-merging with him.
In Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996) Pinhead allies himself with the demon princess Angelique, in order to force John Merchant (a descendant of the inventor who built the Lament Configuration) to create an unsealable gateway to Hell. The future segments of the film reveal that Pinhead is finally destroyed in the year 2127 by Dr. Paul Merchant, another descendant, who uses a space station to complete the "Elysium Configuration", capable of closing Hell's gateway for good. Pinhead and other Cenobites are trapped inside it and are destroyed along with the box.
In Hellraiser: Inferno (2000) Pinhead appears primarily under the guise of police psychiatrist Doctor Paul Gregory, assuming his true form near the end to inform protagonist Detective Joseph Thorne that he has been in Hell for the duration of the film, and is being punished for his corruption and various misdeeds in life.
In Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2001) Pinhead serves a role similar to the one he fulfilled in Inferno. Kirsty is now married to Trevor, a corrupt insurance agent who plots to have her killed in a murder-for-money scheme, using Lemarchand's box to "cleanly" kill Kirsty without the evidence pointing to himself, his mistress, or his conspirators. Pinhead appears at the end of the film to inform Trevor, who had amnesia throughout the film, that he has actually been dead and trapped by the Cenobites for some time; Pinhead had appeared to Kirsty, pleased at the prospect of a "reunion," but Kirsty ultimately struck a deal with him: she would be left alone in exchange for killing Trevor and his conspirators, thus giving the Cenobites the victims' souls.
In Hellraiser: Deader (2003) Pinhead appears several times to reporter Amy Klein after she tinkers with the box, a central relic of a cult she is investigating. After Amy is captured by the group's leader, Winter, she learns he is a descendant of puzzle creator Phillip Lemarchand, and believes that it is his birthright to control the box and, thereby, the Cenobites. However, neither he nor any of his followers have been able to open it. Amy successfully opens the box, but rather than submit to Winter, Pinhead instead kills him and his followers for attempting to control it. Subject to being taken to the Cenobite realm for having opened the box, Amy instead chooses to commit suicide.
Pinhead appears as a fictional character in Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005). In this film the box and the Cenobites have become the basis for a successful MMORPG called Hellworld. Although the Pinhead seems to attack the guests at a Hellraiser-themed party, he is revealed to be the hallucination of five guests who have been drugged and buried alive by the party's host, who blames them for not preventing his Hellworld-addicted son's suicide. In the film's climax, the host discovers that the Hellraiser mythos are based in real facts, and that his son had come into possession of a real Lemarchand box. Opening it causes the real Pinhead to appear, praising the boy's ingenuity before ordering a pair of Cenobites to kill the host.
Hellraiser: Revelations (2011) portrays Pinhead as he was presented in the original Hellraiser. Here, he appears to teenagers Nico and Steven, who open the box during a nihilistic vacation in Mexico. Nico accompanies Pinhead to the Cenobite realm, but, like Frank, discovers that the "pleasures" offered to him are too painful to bear. Nico manages to escape and convinces Steven to help him kill prostitutes in order to regenerate his body and successfully flee the Cenobites; when Steven finally decides to stop killing, Nico skins him and assumes his identity. A dying Steven summons Pinhead, who, sensing the extremity of Steven's inner darkness, makes him into a Cenobite.
Its voice, unlike that of its companion, was light and breathy-the voice of an excited girl. Every inch of its head had been tattooed with an intricate grid, and at every intersection of horizontal and vertical axes a jeweled pin driven through to the bone. Its tongue was similarly decorated.
—The Hellbound Heart, Clive Barker, ch. 1
The character appears in various Hellraiser comics and received his own comic miniseries, entitled Pinhead, published by Marvel Comics' Epic Comics imprint. In the comic book series, Pinhead is depicted as the latest incarnation of the cenobite spirit Xipe Totec, an entity derived from Aztec mythology. In the Harrowing storyline, Pinhead is revealed to have been romantically involved with a cenobite named Merkova, who was killed by the disciples of Morte Mamme, the sister and rival of Leviathan. In the Pinhead/Marshal Law crossover series, it is revealed that Pinhead's human incarnation, Captain Spencer, took part in the Battle of the Somme.
Captain Spencer has a cameo appearance in the novel The Bloody Red Baron by Kim Newman, in which he is working as an agent of the Diogenes Club. Suffering from shell shock, Spencer is invalided out of the army after hammering nails into his own skull (in his introduction to Newman's collection The Original Doctor Shade and Other Stories, Neil Gaiman claims that "Kim Newman was the original inspiration for Pinhead").
In 2011 Barker began writing a series of Hellraiser comics for BOOM!, taking place sometime after the events of Hell on Earth. Pinhead is reunited in Hell with his cenobite entourage from the first two films (including Chatterer, the Female, and Butterball), where he comes to mourn the futility of his own existence. Deciding that he wants to permanently return to his human form and seek spiritual salvation, he begins sending anonymous clues to Kirsty Cotton as to the locations of artifacts that summon cenobites so she can destroy them. After Kirsty locates and opens the box, Pinhead and his fellow cenobites appear to her, but rather than kill her, Pinhead instead betrays his fellow cenobites and he and Kirsty kill them together. As of the September 2011 issue it is unclear whether Pinhead is attempting to coerce Kirsty into taking his place as the leader of the cenobites, or whether his plans to return to a human form involve romantic interests towards her.
He is set to appear in The Scarlet Gospels, in which he will confront Harry D'Amour. In 1998, Clive Barker stated that the novel will mark the death of Pinhead, and hopes that it will be definitive.
"One of the things I'm trying to do in the story with D'Amour and Pinhead is, I actually want to kind of make Pinhead feel fucked. I want people to make fools of him as he breathes his last and with no hope of resurrection. No sequels. I swear the way he's going - I have plotted this - the way he's going is so total, is so complete that the most optimistic film producer in Hollywood could never dream of resurrecting him! So I'm going to 'off' him, and I want the audience to say, 'Good'." .
—Clive Barker on The Good, The Bad, And The Light In The Dark By Phil Stokes, at the Write On! talk at Everyman Theatre, Liverpool, 11 November 1998
Concept and creation 
According to Clive Barker and Doug Bradley, the earliest incarnation of Pinhead appeared in Hunters in the Snow, an original 1973 play with Doug Bradley in the role of the Dutchman, an undead inquisitor and torturer. A later film titled The Forbidden, which was shot in 16 millimetre and in black and white, included a prop in the form of a wooden block with six nails in it, which gave distorted shadow formations under different lighting angles. Years later, during the scripting of Hellraiser, the same design would be applied to Pinhead's face to give the same effect.
After being disappointed with the way his material had been treated by producers in Underworld (which included a scene in which needles burst out of a character's skull), Barker wrote The Hellbound Heart as his first step in directing a film by himself.
|"[Pinhead] was basically Clive's design, as seen on the Hellbound T-shirts. There was a lot of discussion with Clive, then I did a few drawings. First we just had spikes coming out of his head. I wanted it to be more geometrical. Originally he had pins all over the head, but Clive and I thought it would be nice to make it look more like a mask with pins around his chin, over his ears and at the back of his head. We modelled it about six times and did loads of drawings. If you look at the first test pictures that came out of Hellraiser there are actually pins in there rather than nails and the pins got lost - you couldn't see them. So we clipped the ends of the pins off and made our own hollow brass nails that inserted over the top and they were much more visible."|
|— Games Without Frontiers By Brian J. Robb, Fear, No.6, May/June 1989.|
Barker drew inspiration for the cenobite designs from punk fashion, Catholicism and by the visits he took to S & M clubs in New York and Amsterdam. For Pinhead specifically, Barker drew inspiration from African fetish sculptures. Initially, Barker intended Pinhead to have a navel piercing implying that the character had genital piercings.
After securing funding in early 1986, Barker and his producer Chris Figg assembled a team to design the cenobites. Among the team was Bob Keen and Geoff Portass at Image Animation and Jane Wildgoose, a costume designer who was requested to make a series of costumes for 4-5 'super-butchers' while refining the scarification designs with Image Animation. Lighting-wise, Pinhead was designed so that shadows would swirl round his head. By July 1986, the shooting script positively identified the single pinheaded Cenobite from the earlier draft as clearly the leader.
When he read the script for the first time, Bradley stated on interview that he saw Pinhead as a cross between Oscar Wilde and Noël Coward. Upon asking Barker how he should play Pinhead, Barker told him to "[think] of him as a cross between an administrator and a surgeon who’s responsible for running a hospital where there are no wards, only operating theatres. As well as being the man who wields the knife, he’s the man who has to keep the timetable going." The two also decided early on that Pinhead was formerly human:
A line from one of Clive's plays swam into my mind: 'I am in mourning for my humanity.' At this point there was no back story for the character, but I had discussed this with Clive and we had agreed that he had once been human. But whether this was yesterday, last week, last year, ten, a hundred, a thousand years ago, I didn't know. I didn't need to. Sufficient to have that idea lodged into my brain. A perpetual, unconscious grieving for the man he had once been, for a life and a face he couldn't even remember. And a frozen grief. I felt now that Pinhead existed in an emotional limbo where neither pain nor pleasure could touch him. A pretty good definition of Hell for me.”
—Hellraiser From Chapter Seventeen of Sacred Monsters: Behind The Mask Of The Horror Actor by Doug Bradley, 1996
The Pinhead makeup took six hours to apply. When Bradley first donned the Pinhead makeup, he spent a few minutes alone in his room getting into character by looking at himself in the mirror. During rehearsals, Barker told Bradley, who at the time was more used to working in theatre, to subdue his movements and gestures, in order to give Pinhead an aura of complete control. New World Productions originally considered overdubbing Bradley's voice with that of an American actor, though this was reconsidered when the producers watched him perform.
In the first Hellraiser script drafts, Pinhead was credited as "Priest". In the film, the character was simply credited as the "Lead Cenobite". The name "Pinhead" was coined by the makeup crew that applied the prosthetics on Bradley to distinguish the Cenobites. Clive Barker had no say in choosing "Pinhead" as a name, and did not like it, as he thought it was undignified. In the films, the character is only ever referred to as "Pinhead" by protagonist Joey Summerskill in Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth. The name also appears in the film Hellworld, referring to the fictional character portrayed in the Hellraiser films.
Pinhead's role has varied with each Hellraiser installment. In the script for the original film, Barker describes Pinhead and the other cenobites as "demons" in his notes; the character himself, however, upon capturing Kirsty Cotton, identifies himself as neither explicitly angelic or demonic, stating that he and his fellow entourage are "Explorers in the further regions of experience. Demons to some. Angels to others."  The second film expounds on the idea of the Cenobites as demons by depicting them as denizens of a realm called Hell, a maze-like dimension ruled over by an entity known as Leviathan, where they subject their quarry to emotional and psychological torture. The third film radically altered the original concept, making Pinhead into a purely evil demon of chaos, explained by Pinhead losing the human, 'orderly', part of himself during the previous film. In the fourth film he is presented as a megalomaniac bent on world domination, and by the fifth he acts as a judge, punishing those who open the box for their sins by making them face their personal demons. In this film, he goes by the title of "Engineer", a name derived from the lead cenobite in Clive Barker's original novella. 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.
|"[Pinhead] was an English army officer in an unspecified place and time, though roughly in the Far East in the late 20's or early 30's. He was a very pucker Englishman, a public school type who went straight into the army. He felt terribly out of place and unfulfilled because he was only there through family tradition. So from his sterile viewpoint, what he hears of the Lament box is very appealing. I see him alone in his Nissen hut trying to solve the puzzle - which he obviously does, and is transformed into Pinhead.
"I don't see him as the first Cenobite. Of the four we know about, he is the leader, but the Cenobites have been around for centuries. To me, Pinhead is the chief Cenobite of the 20th Century..”
|— Quoted from Doug Bradley in The Pride of Pinhead By Philip Nutman, Fangoria, No 82, May 1989.|
The character's past, which is alluded to in Hellbound: Hellraiser II, is expanded upon in Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth where it is revealed that Pinhead originated as Elliott Spenser, a captain in the British Expeditionary Force suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and survivor guilt. After having participated in one of the Battles of Flanders, Spenser lost faith in humanity after witnessing its cruelty to itself and lost faith in God, whom he believed had failed humanity.
The disillusioned and jaded Spenser wandered Earth indulging in a hedonistic lifestyle, turning to the baser methods of gratification for satisfaction and pleasure until finding the Lament Configuration in British India in 1921.
According to Clive Barker, as the writing of the Hellraiser script took place during the height of the A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th and Halloween film series, his intended portrayal of Pinhead as an articulate and intelligent character was initially not well received by the producers: some suggested that Pinhead should act more like Freddy Krueger and crack jokes, while others suggested that he be a silent character like Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers. Barker insisted that Pinhead's personality be more evocative of Christopher Lee's portrayal of Count Dracula: "Part of the chill of Dracula surely lies in the fact that he is very clearly and articulately aware of what he is doing – you feel that this is a penetrating intelligence – and I don’t find dumb things terribly scary – I find intelligence scary, particularly twisted intelligence; it’s one of the reasons why Hannibal Lecter is scary, isn’t it? It’s because you always feel that he’s going to be three jumps ahead of you."
Though described by Pinhead's human half in Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth as being "very persuasive and very inventive", Pinhead prefers using coercive methods in order to obtain his goals, a fact which brings him into conflict with his ally, the demon Princess Angelique.
Pinhead can be reasoned and bargained with. In both Hellraiser and Hellraiser: Hellseeker, Kirsty Cotton 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. In Hellraiser: Revelations, Pinhead is prepared to take Emma to the cenobite realm for having opened the box before other characters explain that she was forced to open it at gunpoint by her boyfriend; Pinhead agrees to let Emma go and take Nico instead.
In his demonic incarnations, Pinhead is irreverent toward Christianity: in the third film, club owner J.P. Monroe exclaims "Jesus Christ," to which Pinhead mockingly replies, "Not quite.", and later on mockingly imitates the stigmata in a church, and states in the fourth "Do I look like someone who cares what God thinks?" In Clive Barker's Hellraiser comics published by BOOM! in 2011, Pinhead has reached a crisis point in his existence and now yearns for spiritual salvation and the opportunity to reach Heaven, and puts into motion a plan to destroy his fellow cenobites as a means of atonement.
Powers, weaknesses and limitations 
Described by Doug Bradley as stronger than Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers, Pinhead is an extremely powerful being, and as such, has several supernatural abilities. 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, being able to resist both gunshots and futuristic energy weapons. His magic is also used for creating objects out of thin air, teleporting, creating explosions at distances and deceiving opponents with illusions. He is capable of creating other cenobites from both living and dead victims.
In order to act in the physical world, Pinhead needs to have been purposely summoned through the Lament Configuration, though this in itself is not usually enough for Pinhead to target the puzzle-solver: in Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Pinhead stops the Cenobites from torturing an emotionally traumatised girl who was manipulated as a proxy into opening the Configuration, remarking "...it is not hands that call us, it is desire." In Hell on Earth, he finds a way to temporarily eliminate these restraints and wreaks havoc indiscriminately upon every human subject he encounters until he is finally defeated. During this incident his powers were apparently expanded beyond their normal limits allowing him to physically warp reality to his will.
Pinhead at first has no memory of his human past, though is reminded of it in Hellbound: Hellraiser II, which results in what screenwriter Peter Atkins described as him being "spiritually weakened" and subsequently killed by the Chanard Cenobite.
Pinhead is shown in all his appearances to be accompanied by other denizens of Hell. Although originally portrayed as a subordinate of "The Engineer" in The Hellbound Heart, his film incarnations show him as the leader of secondary cenobite characters. In the first two films, he is followed by three other cenobites,. In Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth and Hellraiser: Bloodline Pinhead creates cenobites from his victims, giving them characteristics evocative of their past lives or professions. Though he usually dominates other demons present in the films, in Hellraiser: Bloodline, he encounters Angelique, whom he grudgingly treats as an equal:
"This is something entirely new for Pinhead; he's never had a demonic cohort, so to speak. He's had his other Cenobites in the previous films, but the pecking order was always pretty clear. Angelique is at least his equal, and certainly in Angelique's own mind possibly his superior. Pinhead doesn't quite see things that way, so their relationship is a little sparky."
—Doug Bradley on Hellraiser: Bloodline, US Press Kit, March 1996
Though initially reverent toward her, Pinhead is disillusioned when his methods in achieving his goals through coercion come at odds with Angelique's more seductive techniques.
Hellraiser remake 
Doug Bradley has stated that he has not been approached to portray Pinhead in the remake, stating that "seeing someone else become Pinhead feels like a kick in the teeth".
Pinhead redesign 
Gary Tunnicliffe, who was responsible for the Pinhead makeup in the last four films, improvised a new design for Pinhead called Project Angel: Recreating an Icon, the photos of which he published in Fangoria.
"My design idea was to create something that still felt like Pinhead but that stepped away from the “order” of the original design, something that was more painful, more chaotic. Several times over the years, Clive has approached me on various HELLRAISER sets and commented that the makeup looked very “clean” and that it had lost some of “the decay, the filth.” I decided to amp up the dirtiness of Pinhead’s visage, make it more self-inflicted, bloodier and more brutal.”
Among Tunnicliffe's redesigns included the usage of square shafted nails for the iconic pins, which were meant to look rusted and handmade. He also designed the new Pinhead as wearing a white priest's robe rather than the original black leather, as a homage to the origins of the word "cenobite" which implies a religious connection.
The redesign was criticised by Clive Barker as being too bloody:
“I don’t think that’s right. I think the whole point about Pinhead is that he isn’t bloody - that his victims are bloody but he isn’t. The other thing is that there are these lacerations that are diagonal and very random. The original had the feel of geometry paper in school where it was broken up into segments and lines, which to me had a severity to it. Having the pins of the intersections of the crossroads made it have a surgical severity to it almost. I think this new version has sacrificed that feeling.”
In popular culture 
The character has been spoofed in a number of television series, including Robot Chicken episodes "That Hurts Me" (voiced by Scott Adsit), "Slaughterhouse on the Prairie" (voiced by Seth Green), and "Tubba-Bubba's Now Hubba-Hubba", The Simpsons episodes "Treehouse of Horror V" and "Stop, or My Dog Will Shoot!", South Park episodes Imaginationland Episode II and Imaginationland Episode III, and Family Guy episode "Meet the Quagmires".
He is also spoofed in an episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, in which "Pinhead" is depicted with bowling pins in his head, rather than nails. He also uses a Rubix Cube in place of the Lament Configuration. In the end, he is defeated when Billy's dad rearranges the colored stickers, therefore "solving" the puzzle, like many people do.
Doug Bradley appeared as Pinhead in the Motörhead music video for the song Hellraiser, a number of segments during MTV's 1996 Spring Break programming, and the television talk shows The Arsenio Hall Show and The Jay Leno Show.
Pinhead is alluded to in the 1998 film Bride of Chucky. When John Ritter's character is seemingly killed, his face looks much like Pinhead from Hellraiser. Chucky exclaims, "Why does that look so familiar?".
Pinhead was also parodied in the 2000 film Little Nicky where a demon is punished by having a pair of breasts appear on his head, he is later referred to as "Tithead".
Pinhead was also parodied in the 2009 film Stan Helsing, identified there as "Needlehead", along with parodies of Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Puppet Master, Chucky, and Leatherface.
Pinhead was also spoofed in the 2012 film The Cabin in the Woods, with a character called Fornicus, Lord of Bondage and Pain; who would evidently be summoned with a spherical version of the Lament Configuration.
Captain Elliott Spenser appears briefly in Kim Newman's alternate history novel The Bloody Red Baron, before being diagnosed with shell shock and placed on indefinite medical leave after he drives several iron nails into his own skull.
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