Unintentional Brilliance in Hellraiser: Revelations

There are some movies that are just so close to unwatchable that even I have trouble with them. For me, the film that best exemplifies that is the ninth installment in the Hellraiser movie franchise, Hellraiser: Revelations.

Hellraiser Revelations was slapped together so that Dimension Films could keep the film rights to the franchise, and sadly, it shows in so many different ways. The special effects were sub-par, the acting wasn’t fantastic and the story felt forced in a lot of ways. I think that it could have been a much better movie in a lot of respects if there had been more time and care put into it. It’s been argued that because it was originally written to be a Hellraiser film (rather than other recentish Hellraiser films), that it isn’t the weakest film in the franchise. In my own opinion, if a film is badly done and doesn’t have the structured story or production values to engage a viewer, then the “written as a Hellraiser film” argument falls flat.

For all its faults, there is an aspect of the story that I initially hated, but has created an idea in my head that I feel adds to the story.

Let me explain.

The lead cenobite, the Hell Priest, affectionately known by fans and outsiders alike as Pinhead, was immortalised by actor Doug Bradley in the original Hellraiser film and subsequent seven films that followed. In Hellraiser Revelations, Doug Bradley had declined to play the iconic character. Instead, we had Stephan Smith Collins. While Stephan Smith Collins did an admirable job trying to fill those leather shoes, the way that the dialogue was written felt like a hollow shell of the hell-priest that we all know and love, as well as looking more like a bad cosplay of Bradley’s Pinhead.

He wasn’t Doug Bradley, nor could he be the same Pinhead that Bradley played..

That, in my opinion, is where the unintentional brilliance comes into play. For those that haven’t watched the film, there are spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.

Now, in the beginning of the film we’re shown some found footage of two young men and their trip to Mexico. They find the box and as a result are whisked off to Hell by you-know-who. One returns and we find out that the other has remained in Hell and is acting as a Cenobite-in-training, with similar pins to that of Pinhead he is following. So what we have here is evidence that the pins through the head aren’t unique to Pinhead.

We also note Cenobite-in-Training doesn’t look like “the finished product” that we’re used to seeing in the earlier Hellraiser films, nor does it gel with the creation of cenobites that we see in Hellbound: Hellraiser II. Rather than see this as a contradiction, I’m personally led to believe that there are multiple methodologies for creating a Cenobite. This is strengthened by the slapdash creation of Cenobites in Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth.

Now, we’ve seen in different Hellraiser films multiple iterations of the Cenobites. The Chatterer alone has undergone more than a few transformations. What I find fascinating is that all of the cenobites have undergone changes except for Pinhead. What I’m suggesting is that they may not have actually been the original Cenobites that we saw in the first film.

What I’m putting forward is the idea that each position in Hell’s priesthood is marked by unique piercings, markings or other kinds of wounding. This would explain why the Cenobites consistently change from film to film but retain some similarities. The Cenobites by their nature, are a religious order, with one particular example being the Order of the Gash. The use of scarification of flesh as markings of office works as an explanation as to why the Pinhead we saw had a follower with similar pins.

But now I want to focus on the character of Pinhead here. Stephan Smith Collins’ take on Pinhead had a lot of people saying “This isn’t the Pinhead I know and love.” I say that they’re right, but not in the way that they think. Pinhead is innately different in Hellraiser: Revelations. Stephan’s efforts are solid, but it isn’t the same Pinhead as the previous films.

While it’s assumed that this character is meant to be the same played by Doug, I personally can’t make that assumption with the same certainty. This has a few cosmetic similarities, but this just doesn’t feel like the same Cenobite. The character looks different to Doug’s Pinhead, moves differently to Doug’s Pinhead and even speaks differently.

Let’s focus on the speech for a moment. It is similar in some ways, with similar themes, but there are glaring differences. The phraseology is just inherently unfamiliar, with both wording and delivery being different from what we recognise from Pinhead. What would account for this would be a different personality having studied the same (un)holy books and receiving “instruction” within one of Hell’s Orders.

While some might think that I’m reaching, it strikes me that there is nothing that ties the original Pinhead (as seen in the first Hellraiser films) to the Pinhead portrayed in Hellraiser: Revelations, but a case CAN be argued against it.

Just a fan theory to help make sense of what happened there and maybe get some creative juices flowing.

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~ by southernhowler on June 30, 2016.

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