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Hellraiser: The Surprising Person Who Gave Pinhead His Nickname

Of the innumerable horror films to strike fear into the hearts of moviegoers over the years, few are on the same level as 1987's "Hellraiser." The Clive Barker-directed feature is as inventive as it is scary, thanks in large part to the disturbing Cenobites: mutilated extradimensional beings who are summoned to Earth via the solving of a mysterious puzzle box. In the aforementioned film, Doug Bradley brought the leader of the Cenobites to life — a character who has famously taken on the nickname "Pinhead" in popular culture due to an unlikely influence.

"That character is a priest of Hell. In number three, he's actually called on screen the Pope of Hell, which I guess came about later in the scripts. In my original script, that Cenobite didn't even have a name," Barker explained during an interview with Dread Central, going on to divulge the origin of the Pinhead nickname. One of the special effects people working on the first "Hellraiser" film called him Pinhead because of his pin cushion-like appearance. Though Barker initially found the moniker undignified, it stuck nonetheless.

Barker does have a point here. Pinhead is far from the most intimidating name to give such a character, but at the same time, Pinhead does have a darkly comedic side to him.

The nickname fits Doug Bradley's attempt at giving Pinhead a comedic side

Overall, Pinhead isn't someone to play games with. He and his Cenobite companions relish in the suffering of others, dishing out unspeakable punishments to those foolish enough to solve their puzzle box. At the same time, even though he's been almost entirely stripped of the humanity he once had, according to actor Doug Bradley, some of it is still there. Specifically for the line "No tears, please. It's a waste of good suffering," he wanted to add some comedy to his otherwise serious and dark presence.

He explained this during an interview with Metal Hammer, recalling, "What I was thinking was, 'I've got to make people laugh. Through this makeup and everything else, I've got to make people feel, 'Oh, that's funny, he's a funny guy.'" Still, Bradley didn't want to fall into the trap of turning Pinhead into a campy yet terrifying goof. He wanted moviegoers to giggle nervously, questioning why he's so hung up on his victims conserving their suffering for later. In Bradley's mind, he got the exact response he was aiming for.

Between his name and dry sense of humor, Pinhead could've been written off as a cheesy D-list horror movie villain. Ultimately, though, he has become recognized as one of the all-time horror greats.