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The Hell Priest (or Pinhead) is a minor antagonist in The Hellbound Heart, and the main antagonist of its sequel The Scarlet Gospels.
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!".
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 The Hellbound Heart 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).
- 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.
- Although defined sequels of The Hellbound Heart, The Scarlet Gospels and Hellraiser: The Toll are indeed reboots that take place in a new continuity, which mixes elements of the first film in the Hellraiser film series and the novel The Hellbound Heart. For example, Larry Cotton and Kirsty Cotton are father and daughter, while in the book Larry (called Rory) and Kirsty were friends and Kirsty was in love with him and the Lament Configuration Box is described as similar to the film (with golden decorations), while in the book it had an appearance and of different colors (it was black and without decorations), and characters from the film such as Steve - Kirsty's boyfriend - or the clochard who at the end of the film turns out to be a demon are not mentioned. Consequently, the appearance of the Hell Priest is described as more similar to the Pinhead of the films, thus losing the female connotations with which he was described in The Hellbound Heart and restoring his role as leader of the Cenobites.
- In the novels the true identity of the Hell Priest is not Captain Elliott Spencer. Although it is confirmed in The Scarlet Gospels that, before turning into a demon, the Hell Priest had been a human being, it is never revealed who he was or how he became a Cenobite. In the same novel, however, it is vaguely hinted that it is very ancient, and that therefore it became a Cenobite long before its cinematographic counterpart (so much so that his fame allowed him to be mentioned in ancient manuscripts or portrayed in paintings and drawings).