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'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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When Clive Barker first showed the film to his mother, she cried tears of joy upon seeing her son's name in the opening credits. He leaned over and whispered that that would be the happiest she would be for the next two hours.
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).
Clive Barker spoke about filming fondly in the Hellraiser Chronicles, stating that his memories on production where of "unalloyed fondness... the cast treated my ineptitudes kindly, and the crew were no less forgiving." Barker admitted his own lack of knowledge on filmmaking, stating that he "didn't know the difference between a 10mm lens and a 35mm lens, if you'd show me a plate of spaghetti and said that was a lens, I might have believed you".
Clive Barker drew inspiration for the cenobite designs from Punk fashion, Catholicism and by the visits he took to S&M clubs in New York and Amsterdam. For Pinhead specifically, Barker drew inspiration from African fetish sculptures. Initially, Barker intended Pinhead to have a navel piercing implying that the character had genital piercings. Barker's original "Hell Priest" sketches for Pinhead were eventually adapted into an officially license mask by Composite Effects to be released in limited quantity to the public on March 24th 2017. This was done in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Hellraiser.
Nicholas Vince lived near Clive Barker, who liked his work. Barker suggested they work together, resulting in a collaboration on Hellraiser, Nicholas Vince (Chatterer) wore a one-piece mass that rendered him blind. The fake set of chattering teeth were fitted in his mouth and we're triggered when he bit down because of the difficulty in eating and the drooling associated with the design the chattering teeth were redesigned to be removable. The design was changed in the sequel to give Chatterer eyes so Vince could see.
Simon Bamford (Butterball) met Clive Barker through a friend who was doing prop work for Barker's plays. Bamford and Barker became friends and joined his theater company. After the company disbanded, Bamford contacted Barker to see what he was doing and Barker invited him to do Hellraiser. Bamford wore a fatsuit and a foam latex mask. He was designed to look as if it would be impossible for him to eat anything else. His torn open stomach was meant to give the impression that he could directly interact with his organs at will.
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).
Clive Barker had to make some cuts on the film after MPAA gave it an X rating, * two and a half shots were excised from the first hammer murder, including a close up of the hammer lodged in the victim's head, * in the scene where Julia murders another man, the actor playing the victim felt that it made sense for him to do so naked. The nude murder scene was shot but ultimately replaced with a semi-clothed version, *close-ups of Kirsty sticking her hand into Frank's belly exposing his guts, * longer version of the scene where Frank is being torn into pieces by the Cenobite's hooks, final shot where his head explodes and his brain messily splashes out was also cut. In an interview for Samhain magazine in July 1987, Barker mention some problems that censors had with more erotic scenes in the movie; "Well, we did have a slight problem with the eroticism. I shot a much hotter flashback sequence then they would allow us to cut in... mine was more explicit and less violent. They wanted to substitute one kind of undertow for another. I had much more explicit sexual encounter between Frank and Julia, but they said no, let's take out the sodomy and put in the flick knife." Barker also said on the commentary for the movie that the seduction scene between Julia and Frank was, initially a lot more explicit, " we did a version of this scene which had some spanking in it and the MPAA was not very appreciative of that. Lord knows where the spanking footage is. Somebody has it somewhere.... the MPAA told me I was allowed two consecutive buttock thrust's from Frank but three is deemed obscene!".
Doug Bradley revealed in an interview that he ask Clive Barker how he should play Pinhead Barker told him "to think of him as a cross between an administrator and a surgeon who's responsible for running a hospital where there are no wards, only operating theatres as well as being the man who wields the knife, he's the man who has to keep the timetable going" he also revealed that the two also decided early on that Pinhead was formerly human " a line from one of Clive's plays swam into my mind: "I am in mourning for my Humanity'. At this point there was no backstory for the character, but I discussed this with Clive and we had agreed that he had once been human. But whether this was yesterday, last week, last year, ten, a hundred, a thousand years ago, I didn't know. I didn't need to. Sufficient to have that idea lodged into my brain. A perpetual, unconscious grieving for the man he had once been, for a life and a face he couldn't even remember. And a frozen grief. I felt now that Pinhead existed in an emotional limbo were neither pain nor pleasure could touch him. A pretty good definition of Hell for me."
The Female Cenobite was inspired by scarification and body-piercing in National Geographic articles. The makeup took 3 hours to apply, caused her discomfort and prevented Grace Kirby from sitting. When Kirby refused to return Barbie Wilde took over the role,Wilde speculated that the producers were interested in her because of her background in mime, which was commonly believed in the industry to help with performing under prosthetic make-up.
Other issues included a rushed shoot of the Chinese restaurant scene with Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) and Larry (Andrew Robinson), due to the lateness of the individual responsible for letting the cast and crew into the establishment.
Clive Barker originally wanted the electronic music group Coil to perform the music for the film, but that notion was rejected by New World so film editor Tony Randel then suggested Christopher Young as a replacement for Coil for the film's score, Christopher Young had previously composed scores for other horror films like Nightmare on Elm Street 2 Freddy's Revenge (1985) and Invaders from Mars (1986).
Peter Sellers once related an anecdote that he would stare into a mirror for hours "Trying to see the Devil". This is in fact an hallucination brought on by sensory deprivation. It is responsible for a spate of Reptilian sightings, as per David Icke.
Having been dismayed at prior cinematic adaptations of his work, Barker decided to attempt to direct a film himself. Christopher Figg agreed to produce and New World Pictures agreed to fund the film for $900,000.
After securing funding for a motion picture adaptation in early 1986, Barker and his producer Chris Figg assembled a team to design the cenobites. Among the team was Bob Keen and Geoff Portass at Image Animation and Jane Wildgoose, a costume designer who was requested to make a series of costumes for 4-5 "super-butchers" while refining the scarification designs with Image Animation. "My notes say that he wanted "1. areas of revealed flesh where some kind of torture has, or is occurring. 2. something associated with butchery involved" and then here we have a very Clive turn of phrase, I've written down, "repulsive glamour." And the other notes that I made about what he wanted was that they should be "magnificent super-butchers". There would be one or two of them with some "hangers on" as he put it, and that there would be four or five altogether."
Paul Kane author of The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy, describes the Female Cenobites throat wound as representative of male fears of female sexuality. Kane says the crew gave the character various obscene nicknames referencing this.
Hellraiser Judgement will show Pinheads updated appearance from the previous films. As writer-director Gary J Tunnicliffe explained, "this is a very no-nonsense Pinhead. No glib one-liners, he's a little leaner and a little meaner. We specially try to incorporate this into the makeup and costume; the cuts are deeper, the pins a little longer, his eyes are completely black and wardrobe is a little sleeker and more visceral. Someone on set describe him as the "bad ass" version of Pinhead".
Dread Central named the Female Cenobite as one of their Favorite Sexy Badass Female Horror Characters. In ranking the character fourth in their list of ten best Cenobites, Shock Till You Drop praised both actresses' acting and said that she brings "a charming nastiness" to the films.
Shock Till You Drop called Chatterer an iconic character that is "simply a badass and incredibly terrifying". Paul Kane describes the character as representing two different fears: that of being eaten alive and dental work.
In The Ashgate Encyclopedia of Literary and Cinematic Monsters, David McWilliam writes that the Cenobites "provide continuity across the series, as the stories become increasingly stand-alone in nature".