Ode to 80’s Horror: The Hellraiser Series

August 2, 2016

Written by Capt McNeely

Georgia Division ZADF Twitter: @ZADF_ORG

If you Google “80’s Horror”, one of the first movies that’s going to pop up is Clive Barker’s  Hellraiser, along with it’s multiple (and extremely varying) sequels.

1987 Poster, featuring Pinhead, who was listed as simply "Lead Cenobite" in the credits of the first film.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia


Hellraiser is a Horror Film’s Horror Film. It’s a movie that any horror aficionado worth his or her salt knows and appreciates. Personally, it’s my favorite horror film (well- it’s really a three way tie between Hellraiser, Evil Dead 2, and Reanimator, but there’s time for that later.) so I couldn’t think of a better way to kick of this #Odeto80sHorror than by exploring Kirsty Cotton and her Cenobite counterparts.


The original 1987 Hellraiser film was an adapted from noted horror author Clive Barker’s novella The Hellbound Heart (it’s a quick read; I highly recommend it.) Barker would also direct the 1987 film. The screenplay adapts a romantic relationship into a father/daughter relationship, and our heroine, the young and scrappy Kirsty Cotton (played by a young Ashley Lawrence) , is born. But unfortunately for Kirsty, her Uncle Frank is really into some messed up stuff, and he’s pulling her right into hell-literally.


One word: Cenobites. The best part about Hellraiser, like any good horror series, is that it’s monsters are so. damn. interesting. 

OG SQUAD. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

OG SQUAD. Photo Credit: Wikipedia


LOOK AT THEM. You gonna tell me you’re gonna look at the Cenobites and just go “Oh, whatevs, let me check Snapchat.” ?? NO. You’re gonna go WHAT. WHAAAAT? And then you’re gonna Google every single thing you can find out about them because WHAT. ARE THEY. WHY ARE THEY? We have to know.

There have been variations on the Cenobites throughout the series, but we don’t like to mention them much. And they happened in the 90’s so they technically don’t count.

90's mistakes: CD Cenobite  Photo Credit: Wikipedia

90’s mistakes: CD Cenobite
Photo Credit: Wikipedia


A fun thing about Pinhead specifically (played perfectly by Doug Bradley) is that he is a monster that can talk and explain things to his victims. Unlike Freddy Kruger, who is also a monster who can speak but is crass, Pinhead is well-spoken, even academic in his speech. Which makes his super scary, and super interesting. This gives him an extremely secure space in the Horror Monster Hall of Fame. Hell, he even had one of the more prominent shout-outs in Cabin In the Woods.

And that leads me to the other reason we love Hellraiser so much: the fan culture. The Hellraiser  universe has had a long and prosperous life in the hands of it’s fans, via graphic novels, fan faction, and some really amazing fan art, like this picture by Kat Philbin of Pinhead playing with cats:

I'll wait while you buy this.  Photo Credit: Etsy.com

I’ll wait while you buy this.
Photo Credit: Etsy.com


Basically the best thing about Hellraiser is that it creates a universe in which other fans/artists can create: it’s a world filled with horror and mystery and a KILLER score that keeps us coming back and imagining new stories, new places, and new Kirsty Cottons (although there will always be a special place in our hearts for the first.)


This one’s easy: Julia’s rockin style.

Shoulder Pads on fleek.  Photo Credit: Google

Shoulder Pads on fleek.
Photo Credit: Google


Tell me what other films you think deserve an #OdeTo80sHorror: @Magthecar

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