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All is death, woman. All is pain. Love breeds loss. Isolation breeds resentment. No matter which way we turn, we are beaten. Our only true inheritance is death. And our only legacy, dust.
~ The Hell Priest to Norma, in Scarlet Gospels.

The Hell Priest (or Pinhead) is a minor antagonist in Hellraiser: A Film By Clive Barker - a volume that collects the original script of the film Hellraiser by Clive Barker and sold together with the laserdisc of the film - and the main antagonist of its sequel The Scarlet Gospels and Hellraiser the Toll. He is the leader of the order of demons known as the Cenobites and is inspired by a minor character from the novel The Hellbound Heart. It later inspired its film version.


The Hellbound Heart

Pinhead's portrayal within the novella is greatly different from his movie counterpart, appearing as a nameless follower of The Engineer alongside three others who in the movie would become Chatterer, Butterball and Female/Deep Throat. While retaining his signature grid with iron pins jabbed at the intersections, in the novella the grid is described as being tattooed rather then sliced on. Likewise, Pinhead's tongue is similarly decorated. Probably the most significant change is the fact that while in the movie series Pinhead is male, in the novella he is a gender ambiguous being, the clothing covering up his sexual organs. Also of note is the fact that while Pinhead bares a deep and eloquent masculine voice in the movies the novella's version has a breathy light voice, compared to that of a little girl.

Pinhead makes an appearance within the first chapter along side three other cenobites. They offer Frank Cotton their perverse form of pleasure before departing the room, taking with them the offerings he had laid for them on a shrine and amplifying his senses to maddening levels, leaving him in a state of shock and confusion before taking him to their world.

All four Cenobites appear during the novella's last chapter where they tear Frank Cotton apart using hook chains. Afterwards they disappear, taking Frank away and respecting their agreement with Kristy, leaving the girl to run away. During the earlier hospital scene in which Kirsty Cotton solves the puzzle box, she is confronted by The Lead Cenobite, whose lines would be used by Pinhead in Hellraiser, most notably: "No tears, please! It's a waste of good suffering!" as well as a variation of "We will tear your soul apart!".

Hellraiser: A Film By Clive Barker

In the screenplay volume, Pinhead's actions are relatively the same within the film's theatrical release. The screenplay ignores Pinhead's characterization in the original novella and gives him the role as the lead Cenobite who is obviously male as opposed to being androgynous in the novella. He is also given actual pins in his head instead of tattoos.

The Scarlet Gospels

In the 2015 sequel The Scarlet Gospels, Pinhead returns as the main antagonist and seeks to destroy all magicians in the world, absorbing their power and leaving some alive to be his broken slaves. He is referred to as the "Hell Priest". He goes against Harry D'Amour, another iconic character within Barker's novels.

The Hell Priest's intentions are exposed once Joseph Ragowski, one of the magicians he killed, is resurrected via the N'guize Working and reveals his plans. Ragowski's resurrectors are led by Elizabeth Kottlove, and include Lili Saffro, Yashar Heyadat, Arnold Poltash and Theodore Felixson. They try to figure out a way to stop the Hell Priest, however he finds them. He kills Poltash with his hooks and chains for trying to escape, rapes Elizabeth and kills Heyadat for trying to reason with him, in the same way he killed Poltash. Lili dies from the trauma of seeing Heyadat get killed. The Hell Priest shows anger over being called "Pinhead" by Joseph, and kills him a second time for having done so, by infecting his head with worms that end up eating him. Elizabeth dies from the baby resulted in the Hell Priest's's rape tearing her apart from the inside, and the Hell Priest feeds the remains of the dead magicians to it. He takes Felixson to become his slave and turns him into a monster.

The Hell Priest uses the magic from the magicians to kill Hell's ruling classes, betrays and murders the Order of Gash, and attempts to do the same to Lucifer himself. He strips Lucifer's body of his armor and becomes the new Lord of Hell. However, Lucifer's body reconstructs itself and disembowels the Hell Priest who unfortunately lives long enough to blind Harry and rape his medium Norma Paine to death.

Hellraiser: The Toll

In 2018 Pinhead appears in another novel: Hellraiser: The Toll, written by Mark Alan Miller under the supervision of Clive Barker and which bridges the gap between Hellraiser: A Film By Clive Barker and The Scarlet Gospels. In this novel, Pinhead (identified as "the Cold Man") has a new confrontation with Kirsty Cotton, to whom he reveals his plans to conquer Hell and capture a mortal who will witness his rise to power ( which will turn out to be Harry D'Amour).


The Hell Priest is an extremely cruel, ruthless and sadistic being. Cold-tempered, relentless and calculating, he normally maintains a stoic and composed attitude but can easily let himself go to anger, especially when provoked or cornered. In particular, it seems that the thing that bothers him most seems to be called by the nickname "Pinhead" (referring to the nails that pierce his skull), and usually when someone dares to offend him in this way he is in grave danger. He is also very wise and cultured, and knows the feelings and weaknesses of the human soul well, and is a great expert on everything related to pain and suffering.

Another distinctive trait of him is an inordinate ambition and an iron determination, which will lead him to desire to conquer hell and to want to unseat Lucifer from the throne of King of Hell. To do this, he will do research on magic that will lead him to kill the most powerful wizards on Earth to take possession of their magic (in which he places a lot of faith, unlike many other inhabitants of the Underworld) and will have no qualms about exterminating his companion Cenobites and to kill all those who come between him and his target. He also has a disposition tending to deceit, as he makes Kirsty believe that he would have spared her life if she would have handed him Frank Cotton, and instead he does not respect the pact trying, together with his four companions, to kill her too. Despite everything, however, it seems that the millennia of immortality have tried this by creating a veil of suffering in him.


  • Clive Barker hated the nickname "Pinhead" that was given to his most iconic character. Therefore, he changed the name to the "Hell Priest" in The Scarlet Gospels. The scenes in the novel in which the Hell Priest reacts with anger when called that way are a reference to Barker's aversion to this nickname.
  • This version of Pinhead is much more negative and merciless than his movie counterpart: in addition to being guilty of crimes already committed by his film version (such as not respecting the pact with Kirsty Cotton and torturing his victims), he also committed acts such as rape and humiliation of his victims. In addition to those crimes, he blinded Harry D'Amour, raped his friend Norma Paine to death, exterminated the entire Order Of Gash, tried to conquer Hell by trying to subdue its inhabitants and killing many, murdered numerous wizards (and reserving particularly gruesome deaths for Joseph Ragowski and Elizabeth Kottlove, infecting the body of the former with numerous worms that completely devour him because he had insulted him by calling him "Pinhead" and raping the second, whose daughter will grow up prematurely to destroy his body from the inside) to steal their magic and become more and more powerful. He also tried to kill Lucifer by appropriating his armor.
  • Unlike in the movies, this version of Pinhead is not the demonic embodiment of Captain Elliot Spencer. Although his origins are never revealed and that he was a human being, in Scarlet Gospels it is suggested that he turned into a Cenobite in an ancient time, and that his fame was such as to allow him to be mentioned in ancient manuscripts and portrayed in ancient paintings and drawings.

External Links




Frank Cotton | Pinhead | Julia Cotton | Puzzle Guardian

Phillip Channard | Pinhead | Julia Cotton | Leviathan

Hell on Earth
Pinhead | Pistonhead | Camerahead | CD | Barbie | Dreamer

Pinhead | Angelique | Siamese Twins | Chatter Beast

The Engineer | Joseph Thorne | Wire Twins | Torso

Trevor Gooden | Surgeon | Stitch | Bound | Chatterer

Winter LeMarchand | Little Sister | Spike

The Host | Bound II

Nico Bradley | Chatterer | Pseudo-Pinhead

Sean Carter | Jophiel | The Stygian Inquisition | Stitch Twins

Pinhead | Chatterer | Butterball | The Female | Leviathan | Angelique | Hell Priest | Puzzle Guardian