10 Things You Didn’t Know About… Hellraiser
Over the next few weeks we'll have a range of films on offer from the folks at Arrow Video, with a range of cult classics on offer in stores and online, both on Blu-ray and DVD. You can find the full range of films here in our online store and we'll be revisiting some of the best titles, continuing this week with Clive Barker's game-changing body horror classic, Hellraiser.
It may have one of the most iconic lead characters in horror history, but how well do you know Hellraiser really? We dug up 10 lesse-known facts about Clive Barler's film...
Coil wrote and performed an original soundtrack for the film, but it wasn’t used
Director Clive Barker was a huge fan of the industrial band, once describing them as “the only group I've heard on disc whose records I've taken off because they made my bowels churn." He wanted the band to write a score for the film, which they duly did, but the studio were not keen, reportedly because they wanted a ‘house band’ to record the music instead as they could avoid paying royalties to the band.
Despite Coil having written and recorded an entire soundtrack, the whole thing went unused and was instead released by the band later that year as The Unreleased Themes from Hellraiser. The music actually used the film was composed by Christopher Young.
The film had some interesting working titles…
Hellraiser was based on a novella Barker had written himself, The Hellbound Heart, and the director had originally intended to use the same title for the film, but the studio were worried that it sounded too much like a romance, so Barker came up with Hellraiser on the basis that he’d use the title unless anybody came up with a better idea.
Barker himself had suggested Sadomasochists from Beyond the Grave, while one of the other suggestions, according to Barker, came from "One of the very English, very proper ladies working on the set, who said it should called 'What a Woman Will Do for a Good F**k.'"
It was Clive Barker’s first feature film, and he had no idea what he was doing
Other than a couple of shorts, Barker had no real filmmaking experience and really didn’t know where to start. In desperation he headed to his local library, which held only two books on the subject of filmmaking – both of which, it turned out, had already been checked out.
Doug Bradley initially wanted another role in the film
Initially Bradley wasn’t keen on the idea of playing the leader of the Cenobites, reasoning that as a young and aspiring actor it would be better if audiences could see his real face. In fact, none of the actors in contention wanted the role for the same reason, but Barker eventually chose Bradley for the part and the actor later admitted that he would have been “dead wrong” to take a different role.
‘Pinhead’ isn’t really the name of Bradley’s character, and the director isn’t a fan…
The name of the lead Cenobite is never actually revealed during the film - Barker has said he intended to reveal this in a possible future sequel – and although he isn’t credited as ‘Pinhead’ anywhere in the film, audiences began using it and it the name stuck.
Barker admitted that he’d never been keen on the character’s given name and once described it as “undignified”, instead preferring to refer to him as ‘Priest’.
The character also features in a Sherlock Holmes novel
Just to be clear, we’re not talking about the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories here – the author died almost 60 years before the film’s release – but many other authors have written novels and stories featuring the famous detective, including Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss.
One such story written by Paul Kane, Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell, is essentially set in Clive Barker’s world and ‘Pinhead’ plays a key role.
Most the film was made in a house in London, one rumoured to have a gruesome past…
Because the film’s budget had initially been set at only $700,000 (although later increased to $1 million), Barker was forced to employ a few money-saving strategies, one of which being the film’s main location. Most of Hellraiser is actually filmed in a regular house in the suburban streets of London’s Dollis Hill, with some other shots filmed in nearby Cricklewood.
Rumour has it that the location was chosen in part because it was empty, the result of its previous inhabitant having recently committed suicide by asphyxiation, inhaling car fumes in his garage. As far as we are aware, Barker has never confirmed this, but the rumour has persisted and adds a grisly twist to the film’s setting.
Somebody had the job of making sure all the cockroaches were the same sex
Barker and Bradley have both described having a ‘cockroach wrangler’ on set. This lucky soul was responsible, among other things, for ensuring that all the cockroaches used on set were male, fearing that if they were allowed to mate they would be unable to contain an infestation.
The producers insisted on dubbing some of the actors’ lines with American accents
As well as being filmed in London, the film was also intended to be set in the same city, but studio bosses at New World Pictures decided to switch the story to an American setting to appeal to audiences in the U.S.
This also led the producers to overdub many of the British actors’ lines with American accents and the initially wanted to give Bradley’s character the same treatment, but realised after watching his performances that his delivery was perfect for the character.
The film’s leading lady has never seen the whole thing
Clare Higgins, who plays Julia in the film, has a pretty severe aversion to horror films and admitted that she has never seen Hellraiser all the way through, only managing to watch the first 10 minutes of an early screening before “freaking out” and having to leave.