The Hellraiser series has always been my favorite horror franchise. Yes, before you even go there, most everything after Part III is un-watchable… mostly… and to many Part III itself is the exact moment the promising series jumped the zombie shark. That’s neither here nor there. What matters is that for the first time I am aware of we finally have a solid entry into an otherwise dead and buried series.
Clive Barker’s Hellraiser: Bestiary is one part episodic horror short, one part long overdue Cenobite adventure. Two of the three short stories in issue #1 focused on Pinhead and the cenobites. The third was of the sort told in the films, where a person stumbles across the Lament Configuration and all hell breaks loose. This time it happened in an apartment building, and someone ended up splattered on the concrete outside. Pretty standard fair. It is the other two stories, however, that make this issue interesting.
The first story finds us in the Hell World scene in Hellraiser 2. One of the familiar Cenobites is narrating, and telling the story of how the high priest, Pinhead, has returned. Their world has been in a civil war, cenobite fighting cenobite, factions fighting factions, awaiting the return of their high priest. Apparently he spent some time on Earth, and it changed him somehow. But Pinhead is too distracted to address his followers. He’s busy torturing and killing people, far more than our narrator thinks is necessary. Something has changed about Pinhead, indicated by the smile he is wearing as he tastes the suffering of others. This story ends abruptly, and it’s unclear as to whether or not it will continue. I love the idea of exploring more of the cenobites’ world, and really hope we get a chance to see more of the demented world.
The third story focuses on Pinhead himself. Someone has opened the Lament Configuration and Pinhead arrives to collect flesh. But it’s actually a trap, and Pinhead finds himself incapacitated. Why? Well here’s where it gets interesting. His captors are being paid a lot of money to retrieve the pins in Pinhead’s head. This obviously has something to do with what “changes” him, having been referenced in the first story.
The mood of this comic is spot on. There’s gore and chains and cenobites and the box that opens unto a nightmare unlike any other. I look forward to getting some incite into the cenobites, Pinhead, and the madness of Clive Barker’s grotesque characters and delightfully macabre world.