|Silent Hill character|
Pyramid Head as he appears in Silent Hill 2
|First game||Silent Hill 2|
|Designed by||Masahiro Ito|
|Portrayed by||Roberto Campanella (film)|
Pyramid Head, also known as "James", "Red Pyramid", or "Bogeyman", and Sankaku Atama (三角頭) in Japan, is a fictional character from the Silent Hill series of survival horror video games published by Konami.
Introduced in the 2001 installment Silent Hill 2, he is the antagonist and he stalks James Sunderland, the primary player character, who comes to the town of Silent Hill after receiving a letter from his deceased wife, Mary. The Silent Hill series, particularly the second installment, frequently utilizes psychology and symbolism: Pyramid Head represents James' wish to be punished for Mary's death. Masahiro Ito, the designer of Silent Hill 2's monsters, created him because he wanted "a monster with a hidden face". Known for his large triangular head, Pyramid Head lacks a voice, and his appearance stems from the town's past as a place of execution.
Pyramid Head has since appeared in other media in and outside the Silent Hill media franchise. Positively received in Silent Hill 2 for his role as an element of James' psyche, he has been cited by reviewers as an iconic villain of the series and part of Silent Hill 2's appeal.
Concept and design
Ito wanted to create "a monster with a hidden face", but became unhappy with his designs, which resembled humans wearing masks. He then drew a monster with a pyramid-shaped head. According to Ito, the triangle's sharp right and acute angles suggest the possibility of pain. Of the creatures that appear in Silent Hill 2, only Pyramid Head features an "overly masculine" appearance. He resembles a pale, muscular man covered with a white, blood-soaked robe reminiscent of a butcher's smock. He does not speak, but grunts and moans painfully. His most outstanding feature is his large red, triangular head.[note 1] His weapons consist of the deadly and heavy Great Knife, which the player can find and use for the rest of the game, and later a spear.
According to Konami's Lost Memories, his appearance was a variation of the outfits of the executioners from the fictional history of the town. They wore red hoods and ceremonial robes to make themselves similar to Valtiel, a monster who appears in Silent Hill 3. Like Valtiel, Pyramid Head dresses in gloves and stitched cloth and pursues the game's main protagonist. According to Silent Hill 2's character designer Takayoshi Sato, he appears as a "distorted memory of the executioners" and of the town's past as a place of execution.
Christophe Gans, the director of the film adaptation of Silent Hill, suggested that Pyramid Head "was one of the executioners in the original history of the town" and "there is not one particular or exclusive manifestation of him as an entity."
In video games
In Silent Hill 2, after receiving a letter from his deceased wife, Mary, and arriving in the foggy town of Silent Hill to search for her, the game's protagonist and primary player character, James Sunderland, encounters Pyramid Head several times over the course of the game. He first appears from behind a gate, making no attempt to attack James. Later, in an apartment, James walks in on Pyramid Head killing two Mannequins—creatures made of two sets of feminine hips and legs. Terrified, James hides in a closet and shoots Pyramid Head with a handgun several times, causing him to leave. When James asks another character, Eddie, about the monster, Eddie denies knowing about Pyramid Head. Later, near a flooded stairway, James witnesses Pyramid Head killing another creature, and Pyramid Head attempts to kill him. After a few minutes, sirens sound in the distance and Pyramid Head descends the stairway, removing the water. James does not meet him again until in Brookhaven Hospital, where Pyramid Head knocks him through a safety railing and he falls, sustaining injuries. Pyramid Head does not pursue him or continue the attack. Later, he stalks James' companion Maria, who closely resembles his wife Mary, through a lengthy corridor. As James flees into an elevator, the doors shut before she can join him. He struggles to open the doors to save her, but Pyramid Head kills her. However, in the labyrinth beneath Toluca Prison, James finds her alive and unharmed in a locked cell. Before trying to seduce him, she reminisces about a trip that only he and Mary took to a hotel in Silent Hill. He leaves, promising to find a way to free her, and discovers that Pyramid Head walks a corridor nearby, now carrying a spear. Afterwards, James reaches Maria's side of the cell, but finds her dead. Pyramid Head makes his final appearance just before the final boss, where two Pyramid Heads take part in the encounter. They kill Maria yet again and, after pursuing James around the room for a while, both commit suicide.
Pyramid Head makes a significant appearance in 2009's Silent Hill Homecoming, but his role is limited to non-interactive scenes. The "Bogeyman", as he is referred to in the game, appears only twice to the game's main protagonist Alex Shepherd: once in the Grand Hotel in Silent Hill; and, much later, in a church, where he executes Alex's father by splitting him in half. His last appearance is in a possible ending to the game: Alex wakes up in a wheelchair as two Pyramid Heads appear, each with part of a helmet, which they use to turn Alex into one of them. After this ending is played, the player obtains the Bogeyman's costume for Alex to wear. Mindful of Pyramid Head's role in Silent Hill 2, the developers chose to include him as "the embodiment of a myth [that] parents started to keep the children out of trouble" and "the accretion of the activities going on in the town of Shepherd’s Glen."
Pyramid Head appears as a boss in the 2007 first-person shooter Silent Hill: The Arcade, and as a super-deformed selectable character in the 2008 Nintendo DS title New International Track & Field, an installment of the Track & Field series and another spin-off Krazy-kart racers alonside Robbie the Rabbit. The 2007 game Silent Hill: Origins also included a similar monster named "The Butcher", whom the protagonist occasionally encounters killing other monsters and a painting of Pyramid Head is seen in the burning house of Alessa. Pyramid Head appears in the "Surprise!" ending of 2012's Silent Hill: Downpour, along with various characters from the franchise. Pyramid Head's most recent appearance was in 2012's Silent Hill: Book of Memories, where he is a monster that can spawn randomly to fight the player.
In other media
Pyramid Head makes an appearance in the 2006 film adaptation of Silent Hill as "Red Pyramid", and is portrayed by Roberto Campanella. In the film, the psyche of the female characters shaped the character's physical appearance. Gans claimed that replicating the character's head exactly and having the actor move while wearing it proved to be impractical; he noted that, despite the name, Pyramid Head actually wore "a basin" instead of a triangle-shaped head. Red Pyramid's sword and head were constructed out of lightweight material painted to appear heavy. For the role, Campanella wore a "five-part prosthetic"; it took two-and-a-half to three hours to get him into costume and make-up. His boots had a hidden 15-inch (38 cm) sole which made him just under 7 feet (2.1 m) tall. Patrick Tatopoulos, who worked on the make-up effects and monsters, enjoyed the project of designing the character. According to him, Red Pyramid serves as a symbol of the town's darkness and harbinger of its changed character. Gans considered the monsters of the film "a mockery of human beings", and commented: "The real monsters are the people, the cultists who tortured Alessa. When I approached the film, I knew that it was impossible to represent the monsters as simply beasts that jump on you."
In the 2012 film Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, the Pyramid Head, once more portrayed by Roberto Campanella, is both a monster and a guardian. More than once, it saves Sharon from the forces of Silent Hill. This is explained by its loyalty to Alessa: since Heather is the good half of Alessa's soul, it sees them as the same being and is thus bound to protect both from harm. Pyramid Head is also seen controlling the carousel where Heather and Alessa face off against each other, then it kills the cult leader Claudia Wolf after the amulet shows her inner, monstrous nature.
He also makes a cameo appearance in the 2008 Silent Hill comic book Sinner's Reward, published by IDW Publishing. The writer, Tom Waltz, later said he regretted the cameo, which only functioned as fan service. To him, Pyramid Head is a psychological construct created for James; however, he stated that: "At the same time, I don't think that ruined the comic. Some people really liked it. To some people, Pyramid Head should be in all the stories because they do like him." Additionally, the character was portrayed from October 2 to 31, 2009, in the haunted attraction Sinister Pointe, based on Silent Hill, in Orange County, California, United States.
The Silent Hill series uses symbolism and psychology; the town of Silent Hill draws upon the psyche of its visitors, ultimately creating an "otherworld," a twisted reality that manifests delusions and elements of their subconscious minds, varying from character to character. Specifically, in the case of Silent Hill 2's primary player character James Sunderland, the version of the town he explores is influenced by him. Many of the monsters that roam the town symbolize his guilt, wish for punishment, or sexual repression during his wife's three-year-long illness, and cease to exist after James comes to terms with the fact that he killed his wife Mary, partially to end her suffering and partially out of resentment and frustration. James knew she had a terminal illness, which has been speculated to be cancer, and he often read medical textbooks, searching for something to help her. During her last days alive, she became physically repulsive as a result of the illness and treated James abusively, ordering him to leave one moment and begging him to comfort her the next. The knowledge of her terminal illness caused her to become angry and to hurt her loved ones, particularly James, and it pained him to visit her in the hospital. Pyramid Head functions as an executioner of Maria, a delusion of James' who strongly resembles Mary. Through Maria's repeated deaths, Pyramid Head reminds James of Mary's death and causes him to experience guilt and suffering. His appearance as an executioner stems from a picture that James saw while visiting the town three years ago with Mary.
Reviewers have suggested various interpretations. According to Christina González of The Escapist, Pyramid Head acts as "judgment personified, a sexually dark butcher," and "James' masochistic delusion" which punishes him for Mary's death. Ken Gagne of Computerworld suggested that the monster "represents James' anger and guilt." A critic for IGN, Jesse Schedeen, considered Pyramid Head's role throughout the Silent Hill series to be "a manifestation of a person's guilt", commenting: "Pyramid Head is just there to help you serve your penance in the most painful and grotesque way possible."
Critical reaction to Pyramid Head has been favorable because of his distinctive appearance and role as an element of James' psyche. Critics cite him as an iconic villain of the Silent Hill series, a favorite among fans, and part of the appeal of Silent Hill 2. GameSpot compared Pyramid Head's appearance to Leatherface, the main antagonist of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series of slasher films, and found him the most terrifying monster in Silent Hill 2. Computerworld named Pyramid Head as one of the most terrifying villains in computer and video games. GamesRadar felt that the scene in which he rapes the two other monsters was unsettling, since the subject of rape is not often tackled in video games, and disliked the final battle with him because of how anti-climactic it was, in comparison with his role throughout the rest of the game.
GameDaily ranked Pyramid Head first on their 2008 list of the scariest video game monsters. GamesRadar listed him as one of the 25 best new characters of the decade and ranked him second on its 2009 list of the scariest video game villains, calling him the "most horrifying character ever to have a cult following". In a 2009 retrospective on the survival horror genre, IGN noted that Silent Hill 2 incorporated "a 'stalker' element similar to Clock Tower and Resident Evil 3," and wrote: "To this day, Pyramid Head is remembered as one of gaming's most frightening villains." PlayStation Universe ranked him as the first on their 2009 list of the scariest monster "to infest a Sony platform", also noting his "prolific reputation as one of video game’s most fearsome monsters." In 2010, Pyramid Head as named as the scariest character in video game history by Joystick Division, who added that "being chased by him in Silent Hill 2 ranks with all of the scariest moments in video gaming history." UGO.com ranked him as number one on their 2011 list of the scariest characters in video games, commenting he is "too mainstream to be all that scary, except he's still really super scary." In 2012, PlayStation Official Magazine included him on their lists of the biggest freaks and scariest characters in the PlayStation games, commenting: "Ol’ Metal Top is easily the best thing about Silent Hill – and maybe even survival horror in general – completely encapsulating that intoxicating dread of knowing that it’s not if you’ll fight him, but when." That same year, FHM included him on their list of ten scariest game characters ever; on the list of the "coolest" video game villains by Complex, Pyramid Head placed as 15th. GamesRadar too praised Pyramid Head's role as an antagonist, putting him in their 2013 list of the best villains in video game history at number 18.
His appearances outside Silent Hill 2 have received mixed critical reaction. Critics generally agreed that Pyramid Head's appearance in Homecoming struck them as fan service, though Chris Hudak of Game Revolution called it "damned effectively-employed." Film critics commented on his role in the film adaption, with several finding him disturbing. DVD Reviews praised Campanella's portrayal of Pyramid Head and another monster, writing: "These are without a doubt some of the most striking bogeymen that I have seen on screen in a long time." His appearance in New International Track & Field received mixed critical reaction. GameDaily disliked it, finding it awkward that a character like Pyramid Head was competing in sporting events with characters like Frogger and Sparkster, while The Escapist called it enjoyable and "hilarious".
- Scissorman, the identity of similar characters in the Clock Tower survival horror video game series
- Nemesis, a similar character in the Resident Evil survival horror video game series
- While Ito designed the monster to have a pyramid-shaped head, one of the potential endings to Silent Hill Homecoming re-imagines the head as a helmet lined with spikes on the inside that is put on the player character to turn him into a Pyramid Head (or Bogeyman, as the monster is referred to in Homecoming).
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- Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo, Inc. Silent Hill 2. (Konami of America, Inc.). PlayStation 2. (2001-09-21) James: Maria’s dead. I couldn’t protect her. Once again, I couldn’t do anything to help. [...] Mary... What... What should I do? Are you... really waiting somewhere for me? Or is this your way of taking...
- Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo, Inc. Silent Hill 2. (Konami of America, Inc.). PlayStation 2. (2001-09-21) James: You're alive! Maria...! I thought that thing killed you...! Are you hurt bad? / Maria: Not at all, silly. / James: ...Maria? That thing... it stabbed you. There was blood everywhere. / Maria: Stabbed me? What do you mean?
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- Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo, Inc. Silent Hill 2. (Konami of America, Inc.). PlayStation 2. (2001-09-21) James: Forgive me... / Mary: I told you that I wanted to die, James. I wanted the pain to end. / James: That’s why I did it, honey. I just couldn’t watch you suffer. No! That’s not true... You also said that you didn’t want to die. The truth is I hated you. I wanted you out of the way. I wanted my life back.... / Mary: James... if that were true, then why do you look so sad?
- Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo, Inc. Silent Hill 2. (Konami of America, Inc.). PlayStation 2. (2001-09-21) James: Mary's going to die...? You... you must be joking! / Doctor: I'm very sorry. [...] As her doctor, I promise that I'll do what I can. But... there's still no effective treatment for her condition. / James: How long does she have? / Doctor: I'm afraid I'm not sure. 3 years at most... Perhaps 6 months...
- González, Christina (2007-08-28). "The Escapist: Seeing Red: The Repulsive Allure of Pyramid Head". The Escapist. Themis Group. p. 2. Retrieved 2010-08-04.
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- Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo, Inc. Silent Hill 2. (Konami of America, Inc.). PlayStation 2. (2001-09-21) Mary: Between the disease and the drugs, I look like a monster. Well what are you looking at? Get the hell out of here. Leave me alone already! [...] Are you still here? I told you to go! Are you deaf?! Don't come back! James... Wait... Please, don't go... Stay with me. Don't leave me alone. I didn't mean what I said. Please, James... Tell me I'll be okay. Tell me I'm not going to die. Help me...
- Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo, Inc. Silent Hill 2. (Konami of America, Inc.). PlayStation 2. (2001-09-21) Mary's letter: Whenever you come see me, I can tell how hard it is on you...I don't know if you hate me or pity me... Or maybe I just disgust you... I'm sorry about that. When I first learned that I was going to die, I just didn't want to accept it. I was so angry all the time and I struck out at everyone I loved most. Especially you, James.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pyramid Head.|
- Silent Hill 2 official website (Japanese)