Does the character Pinhead ring any bells? You know, that guy from those Hellraiser films with the sleek leather and the myriad of nails poking out of his bald, pale head? Well the writer, director and artist—Clive Barker—first developed this iconic character for his novella The Hellbound Heart, which was first published in 1991.
If you’ve never experienced Barker’s dark fantasy then The Hellbound Heart is perfect sample to taste—don’t eat the book.
The story delves into a bizarre mythology about a cult from Hell—the Cenobites—who can only be summoned to Earth if an unfortunate fool manages to open the Lemarchand configuration, a fancy rubix cube.
Frank, a man who craves extreme sexual pleasures purchases this box, solves it and meets the Cenobites. Pinhead and his gang promise Frank what he thinks he wants. There seems to be a miscommunication as to where to draw the line when it comes to pleasure and pain because Frank is torn apart by chains and is killed on the spot.
The remnants of Frank’s will and his petrified heart survive the brutal assault and so he bides his time, waiting for someone to resurrect him. His brother’s wife, Julia, is seduced by dreams and her own carnal desires to do Franks bidding and so the real story begins …
Character dynamics are superb and the plot’s tension intensifies leading to a mediocre conclusion.
If the Hellraiser mythology intrigues you then check out the short story anthology Hellbound Hearts, which was inspired by the movies and Barker’s imagination. There are many contributors and Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean provide a mini graphic story which helps break up the prose. The stories are all entertaining and mostly toy with what we already understand about the mythology and our sentient pin cushion. Despite this, there are many plot twists and bizarre settings to surprise and haunt you.