A true horror icon is hard to find, and even harder to keep iconic. In modern cinema, you get a lot of bad guys hunting annoying co-eds in the woods, shoddy sequels and flash in the pan torture porn artists, but the real classics endure. Clive Barker's Pinhead, star of the "Hellraiser" films, and his fellow demons from Hell the Cenobites have remained among the horror elite for decades.
First appearing in Barker's novella "The Hellbound Heart" before debuting on screen in the 1987 horror classic "Hellraiser," things got admittedly bad for Barker's beauties for a number of years as other people took their own turns helming their adventures. However, after a number of subpar, straight-to-video and DVD sequels, Barker finally regained control of the property in comic form thanks to BOOM! Studios and its line of "Hellraiser" comics. In addition to reprinting older issues from Epic Comics' series in "Clive Barker's Hellraiser Masterpieces", BOOM! has also released new titles like "Clive Barker's Hellraiser," co-written by Barker himself, and the brand-new "Hellraiser: The Road Below" 4-issue miniseries, written by "Witch Doctor" creator Brandon Seifert with art by "Uncanny X-Men" penciler Ibraim Roberson.
In the latter series, Seifert and Roberson will tell the story of Kirsty Cotton, survivor of the original "Hellraiser" and burgeoning Pinhead herself, focusing on Kirsty's early days on the road to Hell. With the new comic set to launch in October, CBR News spoke excusively with Seifert about his plans for Cotton, the road to Hell and his own personal history with the franchise.
CBR News: What is your history with Clive Barker's "Hellraiser" stories and characters?
Brandon Seifert: I actuallyÂ sort of "grew up" with "Hellraiser." I got into horror late, in high school, andÂ my two first loves in horror were H.P. Lovecraft and Clive Barker. At theÂ time, I read all his novels and sawÂ all his films, and the "Hellraiser" stuff wasÂ definitely some of my favorite. One of the things I really like about Clive'sÂ work is the cosmologies he builds. Pinhead is sort of one of those 80s horrorÂ icons, like Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees, but what I think sets "Hellraiser"Â apart from the other horror classics from around that time is the backstory andÂ the world-building you see in theÂ Cenobites and the Labyrinth and Leviathan andÂ all of it. That sense of scale and detail is something I found reallyÂ influential, and it's something you see a lot in "Witch Doctor."
Considering your longtime love of the franchise, what's it been like to build on the legend of Kirsty Cotton?
It's beenÂ really amazing to be involved with "Hellraiser!" The series meant a whole lot toÂ me when I was young, and it's been really surreal to get to play in the sandboxÂ as an adult. It's alsoÂ really neat to know Clive Barker's looking over myÂ shoulder! Neat -- and also a bit intimidating!â€¨Â For those reading who might not be fully familiar with "Hellraiser" lore, who is Kirsty and where is she when "The Road Below" picks up?
KirstyÂ Cotton was the "final girl" of the originalÂ "Hellraiser",Â the one member of her family who survived. She started out as a victim, but sheÂ became a hero, dedicating her life to hunting and killingÂ Cenobites. All thatÂ took a left turn in the main "Hellraiser" comic, where she ended up beingÂ recruited by Pinhead as his replacement and became a Cenobite herself.
KirstyÂ became the new Pinhead so she could "change the system" -- Hell! -- "from theÂ inside." But instead, she learned what purpose Hell and the Cenobites actuallyÂ serve. Hell's basically aÂ metaphysical prison where bad people -- like her uncleÂ Frank -- get punished for the crimes they committed during life, and theÂ Cenobites are their jailers. Put that way, Kirsty realized that sheÂ actuallyÂ agrees with what the Cenobites do!
"The RoadÂ Below" picks up pretty soon after Kirsty's conversion, when she's stillÂ enthusiastic about Hell's mission and is eager to do her job: retrieve theÂ sinners who call the Cenobites to Earth.Â â€¨It's said that good intentions lead people down the road to Hell, and it sounds like that's exactly the case with Kirsty. Was that a theme you were looking to explore?
I kind ofÂ think "good intentions gone bad" is the engine that drives the "Hellraiser"Â universe. From Frank Cotton just looking for a good time, and getting torturedÂ by Hell, to Julia Cotton who justÂ wanted her lover back -- but had to killÂ people to get it. With Kirsty, everything she does, she does with the bestÂ intentions. She hunted the Cenobites for years, thinking they were evil -- andÂ thenÂ discovered they were basically cosmic cops, and she'd been on the wrongÂ side the whole time. Most recently, she became a Cenobite so she could "changeÂ the system," only for it to lead to theÂ death -- again! -- of her lovers and herÂ friends. Kirsty just can't win.
Will fans of the flicks see any other familiar faces in the pages of the book?
Kirsty andÂ the Female Cenobite are really the only classic "Hellraiser" characters in "TheÂ Road Below." Everybody else is new, but the new characters will certainly haveÂ some familiar elementsÂ that fans of Clive's work will recognize. The mainÂ "Hellraiser" comic has lots of allusions to Clive's other creations, and HarryÂ D'amour, from the "Books of the Art" series, is one of the mainÂ characters, now.Â "The Road Below" plays off the fact that the Cenobites and the Labyrinth areÂ only one part of the big, strange world that Clive's dreamed up.
Finally, the artist on the series, Ibraim Roberson, has a very big, bold superhero style. How does that play into your collaboration on what is a more horror-themed book?
I wasÂ super excited when I heard Ibraim's drawing my stories. He's extremelyÂ talented, and he's got a great, versatile style. He's most known for doingÂ superhero stories, sure, but he's also doneÂ a bunch of horror andÂ horror-related stuff, like "The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks" andÂ the Flashpoint "Frankenstein" series. He brings a level of realism andÂ believability toÂ everything he does, whether it's superheroes or monsters. AndÂ to me, the more grounded something looks in a horror story, the scarier it is!
Discover how scary "Hellraiser: The Road Below" by Brandon Seifert, Ibraim Roberson and BOOM Studios turns out to be, this October.