Gender-swapping long-time male characters is nothing new, and in most cases unwelcome among fans of popular and iconic franchises, so there are probably some expecting uproar at the news that Jamie Clayton, star of The L Word: Generation Q, will be taking over the role of Cenobite priest Pinhead in the Hellraiser reboot based on Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. However, many fans have really taken to the announcement, which came on the back of filming on the movie wrapping up as it aims to arrive on Hulu sometime next year.
Hellraiser was originally released in 1987 and brought Barker’s short story The Hellbound Heart to screens. The movie brought to life the horrific tale of the Lament puzzlebox, a device that could open up a gateway to a dimension where the Cenobites dwell and await those seeking out levels of pleasure that can only be achieved by the levels of torture that they live by. Although not named in the original story or movie, Doug Bradley brought Pinhead to life in a way that instantly created a cinematic monster that would join the likes of Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees in the horror hall of fame.
The franchise suffered, as many horror series do, of being stretched to the point of becoming a badly drawn shadow of itself, with multiple sequels being churned out thanks to previously signed contracts, and eventually Barker entered a legal battle to regain the U.S. rights to his own franchise. When he won the case, which sees him get back the rights to what is his on December 19th this year, Barker then joined the new movie as producer and was quick to praise the new iteration of his characters.
“Having seen some of the designs from David Bruckner’s new Hellraiser film, they pay homage to what the first film created, but then take it to places it’s never been before,” he said. “This is a Hellraiser on a scale that I simply didn’t expect. David and his team are steeped in the story’s mythology, but what excites me is their desire to honour the original even as they revolutionize it for a new generation.”
As well as Jamie Clayton taking over the role of the lead Cenobite, the cast also includes Odessa A’zion, Brandon Flynn (13 Reasons Why), Goran Visnjic (The Boys), Drew Starkey, Adam Faison (Everything’s Gonna Be Okay), Aoife Hinds (Normal People), Hiam Abbass (Succession) and Selina Lo (Boss Level). David Brucker is directing, with the screenplay being adapted by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski from a story by David S. Goyer, who also produces.
Unlike many gender-swaps in well-loved franchises, there is a good reason why fans of Barker’s original characters are happy with the change from Doug Bradley’s male Cenobite. As said, the original film had Pinhead listed as simply lead Cenobite and despite being cast as a male role, the Cenobites themselves are pretty much devoid of gender in Barker’s original story, so although we have been used to Bradley’s portrayal in numerous movies it is not like swapping a character like Michael Myers, Freddy or Jason. It seems that many fans have noted this already and are more than happy with the change.
“Great news for horror by honoring Clive’s original vision, bad news for bros who still haven’t figured out that Pinhead has always been free of gender and the binary,” said one Twitter user. Another commented, “Well, Pinhead was a woman in the original stage play version The Hellbound Heart, so this is VERY exciting!” A third echoed the sentiment, saying, “This is so incredibly cool! In the original novella The Hellbound Heart, the character who would become Pinhead was of unknown gender with a feminine, melodic voice. If anti-SJW dudes are gonna get buttmad, then they’re just showing they have no clue about the source material.”
Of the numerous remakes and reboots currently in production, Hellraiser is seemingly one of the better ones and has many things going for it. While there is no premiere date currently set, the film is expected to arrive in 2022 so expect more updates on the film relatively soon. It is set for a debut on Hulu.