The design of Pinhead reaches back further than Clive Barker’s source material, however. While “Hellraiser” remains Barker’s first feature film as a director, throughout the 1970s, Barker was involved in multiple experimental theater projects and directed a few experimental short films. Briefly, in 1976 and 1977, Barker wrote “A Clown’s Sodom” and “The Day of the Dog,” his first plays as a solo playwright. The following year, Barker would co-found a theater troupe called The Dog Company where Barker would first meet Bradley and Peter Atkins, the screenwriter for the first few “Hellraiser” sequels. It was with The Dog Company that Barker would direct some of his better-known plays, including “Frankenstein in Love,” “The Secret Life of Cartoons,” and “The History of the Devil.”
Barker first experimented with film way back in 1973 with a brief experimental short based on the ancient play “Salome,” and would return to the medium in 1978 with a short called “The Forbidden,” based on a short story from Barker’s own horror anthology “The Books of Blood.” Running 36 minutes in length, lacking dialogue, and shot in high-contrast black-and-white, “The Forbidden” is about a man who is apprehended and transformed into an art project wherein his skin is slowly removed. Periodically throughout “The Forbidden,” Barker would cut to a small board festooned with a grid, and at every intersection of horizontal and vertical axes, a nail was driven.
In a 1995 interview included on the DVD of “The Forbidden,” Bradley recalled Barker experimenting with multiple similar “nail boards” earlier in his artistic career and could see the direct corollary between decorating a board with a grid of nails … and decorating a human face with a grid of pins.