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 actually sort of "grew up" with "Hellraiser." I got into horror late, in high school, and my two first loves in horror were H.P. Lovecraft and Clive Barker. At the time, I read all his novels and saw all his films, and the "Hellraiser" stuff was definitely some of my favorite. One of the things I really like about Clive's work is the cosmologies he builds. Pinhead is sort of one of those 80s horror icons, like Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees, but what I think sets "Hellraiser" apart from the other horror classics from around that time is the backstory and the world-building you see in the Cenobites and the Labyrinth and Leviathan and all of it. That sense of scale and detail is something I found really 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 been really amazing to be involved with "Hellraiser!" The series meant a whole lot to me when I was young, and it's been really surreal to get to play in the sandbox as an adult. It's also really neat to know Clive Barker's looking over my shoulder! Neat -- and also a bit intimidating!
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?
Kirsty Cotton was the "final girl" of the original "Hellraiser", the one member of her family who survived. She started out as a victim, but she became a hero, dedicating her life to hunting and killing Cenobites. All that took a left turn in the main "Hellraiser" comic, where she ended up being recruited by Pinhead as his replacement and became a Cenobite herself.
Kirsty became the new Pinhead so she could "change the system" -- Hell! -- "from the inside." But instead, she learned what purpose Hell and the Cenobites actually serve. Hell's basically a metaphysical prison where bad people -- like her uncle Frank -- get punished for the crimes they committed during life, and the Cenobites are their jailers. Put that way, Kirsty realized that she actually agrees with what the Cenobites do!
"The Road Below" picks up pretty soon after Kirsty's conversion, when she's still enthusiastic about Hell's mission and is eager to do her job: retrieve the sinners who call the Cenobites to Earth.
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 of think "good intentions gone bad" is the engine that drives the "Hellraiser" universe. From Frank Cotton just looking for a good time, and getting tortured by Hell, to Julia Cotton who just wanted her lover back -- but had to kill people to get it. With Kirsty, everything she does, she does with the best intentions. She hunted the Cenobites for years, thinking they were evil -- and then discovered they were basically cosmic cops, and she'd been on the wrong side the whole time. Most recently, she became a Cenobite so she could "change the system," only for it to lead to the death -- again! -- of her lovers and her friends. Kirsty just can't win.
Will fans of the flicks see any other familiar faces in the pages of the book?
Kirsty and the Female Cenobite are really the only classic "Hellraiser" characters in "The Road Below." Everybody else is new, but the new characters will certainly have some familiar elements that fans of Clive's work will recognize. The main "Hellraiser" comic has lots of allusions to Clive's other creations, and Harry D'amour, from the "Books of the Art" series, is one of the main characters, now. "The Road Below" plays off the fact that the Cenobites and the Labyrinth are 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 was super excited when I heard Ibraim's drawing my stories. He's extremely talented, and he's got a great, versatile style. He's most known for doing superhero stories, sure, but he's also done a bunch of horror and horror-related stuff, like "The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks" and the Flashpoint "Frankenstein" series. He brings a level of realism and believability to everything he does, whether it's superheroes or monsters. And 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.