Pinhead reads in Hellbound: Hellraiser II

The Deleted ‘Hellbound: Hellraiser II’ Ending That Could Have Changed the Franchise

The Hellraiser franchise is synonymous with Pinhead and his grotesque Cenobite minions, all of whom are undeniably wicked, fond of leather and, occasionally, misunderstood. Those who are foolish enough to summon the sadomasochistic demons through the Lament Configuration tend to find themselves wrapped up in chains, having their flesh — and souls — torn apart. While the servants of Hell certainly don’t like to waste good suffering, they aren’t always the evilest creatures in the room. Some of the humans they’ve encountered throughout the films have been objectively worse.

Hellraiser spawned nine sequels, most of which weren’t even envisioned as Hellraiser movies, having begun life as separate horror scripts that were rewritten to include Clive Barker’s creations (via Film School Rejects) in order to churn out cheap sequels. However, that certainly wasn’t the case for Hellbound: Hellraiser II, the ambitious follow-up to the original 1987 classic. This sequel actually expands upon the mythology from the first film, allowing the Cenobites to show more of their gruesome sights. The movie is a direct continuation of what came before, with some fan-favourite characters returning for the mind-bending and ultra gory nightmare.

Julia Cotton (Clare Higgins), the scariest human villain in Hellraiser, found her way back from the grave in the sequel. Not even death could stop her reign of terror, but Hellbound: Hellraiser II turned out to be the character’s final on-screen appearance in the series. That being said, if events had turned out differently, Julia would have been the biggest star of the entire franchise.

Hellbound: Hellraiser II sees Julia return from the dead thanks to a doctor who’s obsessed with the Lament Configuration. He somehow manages to obtain the mattress that she got sucked into at the end of the previous movie, and thanks to the power of ritualistic sacrifice, Julia regenerates and becomes a living, breathing flesh suit. Later on, Julia and her new friend enter the Cenobite dimension and chaos ensues, with the doctor becoming a deformed demon who goes on a bloody rampage, using medical lingo to trash talk his victims along the way. Julia, meanwhile, gets sucked into a vortex, and the film ends with two delivery men being pulled into her old bed mattress. It’s pretty wild.

However, the original planned ending for the sequel would have ratcheted things up a notch, by setting up Julia to stage a coup of Hell.

In the Hellraiser II: Hellbound commentary track, writer Peter Atkins revealed that the plan was to have her rise from the mattress at the end, as the newly-crowned queen of darkness. The creators wanted Clare Higgins to become the franchise’s main villain afterwards, which could have caused the iconic Pinhead — who, frankly, wasn’t the main villain in either of the first two films, either — to take a backseat, if he even returned, following his fate in Hellbound: Hellraiser II. However, the actress wasn’t interested in reprising her role, and those plans were quickly put to bed.

Higgins might have considered the idea for a minute, though. As The Clive Barker Podcast pointed out, a scene was shot that depicted Julia as the Queen of Hell. While the footage isn’t available online, there is photographic evidence of her rocking a black dress and looking sinister. Given that Julia was the epitome of pure evil, she would have been a fitting villain to anchor the saga around. Alas, we’ll just have to spend the rest of our lives wondering what could have been.

As a result of Higgins leaving the franchise, Hellraiser was given two more theatrical releases in which the Pinhead and the Cenobites went clubbing (Hellraiser: Hell on Earth) and visited space (Hellraiser: Bloodline) before entering the murky depths of DTV releases. While most of the movies are entertaining in some way, the franchise didn’t live up to its potential in the end. The reboot can’t come soon enough.

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