The Wild Origins of Pinhead Design


Pinhead’s design dates back further than Clive Barker’s source material, however. While “Hellraiser” remains Barker’s first feature film as a director, throughout the 1970s Barker was involved in several experimental theater projects and made some experimental short films. Briefly, in 1976 and 1977 Barker wrote “A Clown’s Sodom” and “The Day of the Dog”, his first plays as a solo playwright. The following year, Barker co-founded a theater group called The Dog Company where Barker first met Bradley and Peter Atkins, the screenwriter of the first “Hellraiser” sequels. It is with The Dog Company that Barker will lead some of the his most famous piecesincluding “Frankenstein in Love”, “The Secret Life of Cartoons” and “The Devil’s Story”.

Barker first experimented with filmmaking in 1973 with a short experimental film based on the old play “Salome”, and would return to the medium in 1978 with a short titled “The Forbidden”, based on a short story by Barker’s own Barker’s horror anthology. “The Books of Blood.” Running 36 minutes, with no dialogue and shot in high-contrast black and white, “The Forbidden” is about a man who is apprehended and turned into an art project in which his skin is slowly peeled off. Periodically throughout “The Forbidden”, Barker would cut out a small scalloped plank from a grid, and at each intersection of horizontal and vertical axes, a nail was driven.

In a 1995 interview included on the DVD of “The Forbidden”, Bradley recalled that Barker had experimented with several similar “nail boards” earlier in his art career and could see the direct corollary between decorating a board with a grid of nails…and decorating a human face with a grid of pins.

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