At the Gutter this month, I write a love letter to Hellraiser’s Julia (Clare Higgins — you get all the Oscars in my heart) and it occurred to me during the writing that Hellraiser’s Lead Cenobite, the Hell Priest, or more popularly “Pinhead,” and Clive Barker’s other big movie monster, the Candyman, are not dissimilar. Consider:
- Both technically dead, yet able to physically manifest when invoked.
- Both invoked through a deliberate ritual, solving Lemerchand’s Configuration or saying Candyman’s name 5 times.
- Both fetishize pain. Your suffering will be exquisite, legendary, etc. Promises, promises, boys.
- Insofar as suffering = snuggling, both are pansexual. The heart wants what it wants.
- Both love to talk, especially when backed by orchestral themes.
- Both love their work. Which is eviscerating people, primarily with hooks.
- Be it infibulated flesh or a fur-trimmed coat, these gentlemen are unafraid of making a fashion statement.
But if you consider the Hell Priest and Candyman as Bizarro Valentines, which would offer the better relationship?
I suppose some of it has to do with what you’re looking for in a monster. The Hell Priest is obviously polyamorous, coming with his own set of playmates. While focused on his petitioner/victim, he still defines theirs as a casual relationship, ever referring to the attentions of the Cenobites as “play.” Whatever his disposition in flashbacks, he’s consistently dominant. You will not be picking the restaurant.
Candyman, on the other hand, is more relationship focused, though he will kill other people. But at heart, he’s pretty clearly a bee-filled romantic. Candyman also respects consent. You can invoke him and he might split you from your groin to your gullet, but he’ll still ask for a kiss. Meanwhile, the Hell Priest seems like he’d plow right through any hard limits with a glib “there are no limits” and that’s not cool, even for a sadomasochistic monster.
- You couldn’t kiss Pinhead without putting an eye out. Which you’d probably better be into if you’re snuggling Pinhead. I suspect he’s one of those who’s not into kissing anyway.
- Do the bees stay inside Candyman or would they get on you, too? I think they probably would. Are you allergic to bees?
- Are you the reincarnation of Candyman’s long lost love? If not, he may break your heart while he splits your gullet.
- Would Pinhead ever give you any alone time or do the other Cenobites always have to come with? What if you just want to be with the Chatterer? Would he get jealous? Would you be upset if he didn’t?
- Age and planes of existence differences: Technically Pinhead’s only been around since WWI, but his explorations of the untold realms of experience seem to have given him knowledge equivalent to several millennia. Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey. Candyman dates from when slavery was still the law of the land, and of course, it was a barbaric act of racial violence that made him into the unquiet dead he is. While his persistence as rumor is not explicitly grounded in the climate of racial injustice and has lent him an aspect of timelessness, functionally that history is a huge, integral part of his story, and you need to be sensitive to that.
- They will kill you, but you may not have the same ability to cross into other planes of existence that they do. Or you might. Consider carefully whether that flexibility is important to you.