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The Famous Line From Hellraiser That You Didn't Know Was Ad-Libbed

There may never be another era as great as the '80s for the horror genre. The decade gave us so many of the greatest horror villains of all time that it's easy to overlook a few of them. Fans tend to focus on the unholy trinity of Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th, Freddy Krueger of A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Michael Myers of Halloween (whose first appearance was technically in the '70s, but who really became a capital-S Slasher during the Neon Decade).

For our money, though, few villains are more screamingly terrifying than the extradimensional entity known as Pinhead, who first appeared (although he wasn't identified by that name) in 1987's Hellraiser. The flick was one of only a handful of features to be directed by legendary horror author Clive Barker, upon whose short story "The Hellbound Heart" it was based. As portrayed by Doug Bradley, Pinhead was an altogether different type of villain: positively soft-spoken and not terribly physically intimidating, Pinhead couldn't really do much except, oh, summon the forces of Hell to drag his victims screaming into a gnashing blender of excruciating pain with the help of his freaky minions, the Cenobites. 

This was the fate that awaited anyone who summoned him through the use of the mysterious puzzle box (later identified as the "Lament Configuration"), which opened doors to places that the flick's extreme sensation-seeking main character, Frank Cotton, probably shouldn't have been so curious about.

Actor Andrew Robinson ad-libbed one of Hellraiser's most iconic lines

The film opens with Frank, initially portrayed by Sean Chapman, solving the puzzle box in the attic of his home — and promptly being ripped to shreds by the Cenobites. He gets an opening to return to the land of the living, though, when his brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) and his wife Julia (Clare Higgins) move into his old home in hopes of repairing their marriage (which had recently sustained some damage, thanks to Julia's affair with Frank). Larry cuts his hand while moving some furniture into the attic, and his blood is all it takes for Frank to make a partial return — as a grotesque, skinless monster. When he reveals himself to Julia, she agrees to help fully return him to the land of the living by luring people to the attic for Frank to "feed" on.

Eventually, Frank is able to regain a normal appearance by, well, killing Larry and wearing his skin, at which point Robinson takes over the character's portrayal. Unfortunately for him, the Cenobites are none too happy that he has escaped their clutches, and when the Cottons' teenage daughter Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) discovers the horrifying goings-on and inadvertently summons Pinhead and his goons, they offer to give her a chance to avoid a one-way ticket to Hell — as long as she helps them to reclaim Frank.

Eventually, Kirsty is able to guide the Cenobites toward the guy wearing the skin of her dead father, whom they shepherd back off to Hell in spectacularly gory fashion. About a hundred chains with hooks at the ends appear out of nowhere (a favorite tactic of Pinhead and the gang), sinking themselves into seemingly every inch of Frank's skin as a terrified Kirsty looks on. Right before they literally pull him to pieces, Frank croaks out a line that Robinson came up with on the spot: "Jesus wept."

The original line was a lot more profane, but a lot less cool

These two words are, of course, famous for being the entirety of the shortest verse in the King James Bible, so they are obviously loaded with a kind of twisted thematic relevance. But in Barker's original screenplay, this is not what Frank said before his horrifying demise. According to the documentary Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II, the original line was a great deal less poetic, if perhaps more appropriate to Frank's situation: it was "F*** you," directed at Kirsty, at whom Frank was a bit irked for delivering him back into the Cenobites' clutches. The reason for Robinson's adlib is simple and, well, kind of cute: The actor simply hated cursing, so he swapped out the line with the Biblical phrase, which he remembered from his childhood as a colloquialism commonly used to mean something along the lines of "Well, geez, isn't this a pain in the butt" (via Screen Rant).

While some of the doc's sources remembered that Barker was upset at the adlib, he couldn't have been too upset, as it ended up in the completed film. He also couldn't have been too surprised: Robinson is famously just a sweet guy who hates violence and conflict. His most well-known role before Hellraiser was in 1971's seminal loose-cannon cop flick Dirty Harry, in which he portrayed the psychotic Scorpio Killer — a role for which he had to undergo firearms training just to avoid visibly flinching whenever he fired a gun, according to PopMatters.

Robinson, a gifted actor, has gone on to enjoy a long career in TV and film; you may recognize him (or perhaps not, given the makeup required for the role) as Elim Garak on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In a film full of quotable lines, Frank's dying words are some of the most memorable — and it's all thanks to Robinson's lack of a potty mouth.