During a post-production party when filming had ended, Doug Bradley was dismayed to be ignored by the other members of the crew. He thought that he had gotten on rather well with the cast and crew, and it wasn't until later that he realized that none of the crew had actually seen him without his makeup when playing Pinhead and therefore did not recognize him.
The film was originally supposed to be called "The Hellbound Heart," after the novella upon which it was based. The studio decided the title sounded too much like a romance and asked Clive Barker to change it. Barker offered "Sadomasochists from Beyond the Grave," which was rejected for the overtly sexual content. He ultimately opened the floor to the production team to offer up their own suggestions, prompting a 60-year-old female crew member to offer up "What a Woman Will do for a Good Fuck."
Doug Bradley was originally offered a choice of roles between one of the mattress movers and the Lead Cenobite. He originally thought it important that, as a new film actor, the audience should be see his face, and nearly turned down the Lead Cenobite role.
Doug Bradley's character was named "Priest" in the earliest drafts of the script and ultimately became simply "Lead Cenobite" in the shooting script. "Pinhead" originated as a nickname for the character; it stuck, and began being used in the sequels. Director Clive Barker disliked the name, finding it undignified, and in his Hellraiser comic series produced for BOOM! in 2011 had characters refer to Pinhead as "Priest." He also maintains that the character has a "true Cenobite name" that he intends to reveal in a forthcoming work. Similarly, the Female Cenobite was designated "Deep Throat" on set, though the overtly sexual nature of the moniker led to her simply being billed as "Female Cenobite" again in the sequel.
Many viewers have commented about the poor quality of the FX at the end of the movie. Clive Barker has explained that, due to a very limited budget, there was no money left to have the FX done professionally after the primary filming. Instead, Barker and a "Greek guy" animated these scenes by hand over a single weekend. Barker has also commented that he thinks the FX turned out very well considering the amount of alcohol the two consumed that weekend.
The Chatterer and Butterball Cenobites had dialogue in the original script. However, when their make-up made coherent speech impossible, their lines were given to the Female Cenobite and especially Pinhead, which helped to cement his reputation as the film's trademark character.
The concept of a cube being used as a portal to hell has its basis in the urban legend of The Devil's Toy Box, which concerns a six-sided cube constructed of inward-facing mirrors. According to legend, individuals who enter the structure and then close it will undergo surreal, disturbing phenomenon that will simultaneously grant them a revelatory experience and permanently warp their mind.
Industrial band Coil originally did the soundtrack. Clive Barker was a fan of the finished product, saying "[Coil was] the only group I've heard on disc whose records I've taken off because they made my bowels churn." However, the studio ultimately decided to have the film re-scored by a "house band" that would not have to be paid royalties. The score that Coil recorded, a total of nine tracks, can be found on their compilation CD "Unnatural History II: Smiling in the Face of Perversity" and on another album, "The Unreleased Themes for Hellraiser". Both are quite rare.
The studio had planned on casting stunt men as the Cenobites to save on production costs. Director Clive Barker, however, insisted on hiring actors, reasoning that even if the characters did not speak and appeared under heavy make-up, their body language would still convey a personality.
For the video release, the film had one of the most unusual pieces of bonus material that has ever been offered: a Home Shopping Network show where merchandise from the movie could be purchased. The show was hosted by a giddy old lady claiming to be a hardcore fan of the movie.
At the time of the movie's release the MPAA had an agenda on "intensity of tone". As a result of this director Clive Barker had to make several cuts to the film - consecutive hammer blows, fingers entering flesh, S&M spanking between Julia and Frank, additional "thrusts" during the sex scene - all with the intention of watering down the overall impact of the piece.
Nintendo developed a video game based on the film. It was planned as one of the first to feature the capacity to save a player's game and let the player return later to that point in the game. However, it was discovered that the Nintendo console could not correctly interpret the saved game codes, so production was scrapped.
Originally, the opening sequence featured the Butterball cenobite reassembling Frank's mutilated face on the attic floor, using actual eyes, a tongue, and pulped flesh from a butcher's shop. Once the decision was made to emphasize Pinhead in press material (and after Barker decided he didn't like the special effects), Doug Bradley was brought back and a new scene was shot featuring Pinhead reassembling a prosthetic face. Simon Bamford (who plays the Butterball cenobite) was never informed. Consequently, for years, Bamford told fans at horror conventions that the brief shot included in the film of a hand piecing Frank's face together was taken from the scene he filmed. It wasn't until the 2010s, during the making of documentary on the Hellraiser series, that Bamford learned his scene had been entirely cut and that it was, in fact, Bradley's hand.
In his DVD commentary, Clive Barker explained that filming the movie in an actual house forced him to be creative in his cinematography. There was often only room for a single camera and this explains why many of the shots are from only one angle. In particular, vertical movement was often the only movement available to the camera operators, which explains many of the overhead and zoom shots. Only one room in the house, the attic, was shot on a soundstage, but only the FX shots used this attic set.
The film was originally set in England (hence the obvious London locations), but the studio, New World thought the film would be more marketable if it was set in America. So many of the English actors (including Sean Chapman, Oliver Parker and others) were dubbed by American actors.
Over the years, the film was released numerous times on DVD in Germany. However, all of these releases were bootlegs because the uncut version is on the youth protection index. Only in 2011 the film was released for the first time officially on DVD by Kinowelt (now StudioCanal). The uncut version was released only in Austria to circumvent sale restrictions. A cut version was released, too, available everywhere (this cut version is not the same as the previously cut VHS version, it runs ca. 30 seconds longer).
Character actor Lance Henriksen was offered the role of Frank by New World Pictures. But he turned it down, fearing that if successful, he would have to appear in a series of sequels, which he wasn't keen on. Henriksen would later go on appear in one of the Hellraiser sequels, Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005).
The earliest incarnation of Pinhead appeared in Hunters in the snow an original 1973 play with Doug Bradley in the title role of the Dutchman an undead Inquisitor and torturer, a later film titled the Forbidden which was shot in 16 millimetre and in black and white included a prop in the form of a wooden block with six nails in it which gave distorted shadow formations under different lighting angles. Years later during the scripting of Hellraiser the same design would be applied to Pinheads face to give him the same effect.