Why Pinhead Dies So Early In Hellraiser 2

Pinhead in Hellraiser

Horror icon and acupuncture enthusiast Pinhead is the most recognizable face in the Hellraiser movie franchise. Bringing up the series conjures images of the pale, terrifying visage in even the most casual fan. The problem is, he isn’t the most important character in the first two films. Pinhead shows up for a little while in the first movie before meeting his end in the second one. He dies at the hands of the pic’s true antagonist, newly minted Cenobite Dr. Chennard.

Still, it’s a testament to the writing in the Hellraiser series that Pinhead manages an arc between two short appearances. In the first film, his initial objective is Frank Cotton, a dead man trying to scheme his way back into the realm of the living. Pinhead initially stands alongside heroine Kirsty in capturing Cotton and returning him to the Cenobites’ “care.” He turns on her in the last act though, intending to drag her back, too. Her escape leads directly into Hellraiser 2, where Pinhead actually shows up in Kirsty’s defense against the aforementioned Chennard. He subsequently dies in the attempt.

That death manages to elevate a character that could have been a simplistic villain into someone with more dimension. It helps with the world-building inside Hellraiser’s lore, too. Pinhead illustrates what happens when and if Cenobites – created when humans give themselves over to Leviathan, the creatures’ deity and patron – regain their humanity. There’s even some of Pinhead’s origin story as WWI veteran Elliot Spencer woven into the beginning of Hellraiser 2. Pinhead’s death gets rid of an easy out, too: the humans are left on their own to fight the antagonist.

Of course, Hellraiser 3 brings the character back and more into the spotlight, giving us more of his origin story. But for those first two movies, Pinhead manages the trick of remaining mysterious and threatening while still showing an arc, and his death plays into that.