Writer and scare master Clive Barker created two of the most compelling icons in horror history in the ’80s and ’90s with the release of Hellraiser and candyman, villains so dynamic that they inspired several sequels. At one point in the late ’90s when a fourth Candyman movie was being discussed, the possibility of a crossover between the two franchises arose, though it never actually came to light, but it didn’t stop fans from pondering the “sights” that might have been.
With their long coats, hypnotic stare, and oddly calming dispositions, the two villains are some of the most elegant monsters to ever haunt fans’ dreams, but they boast enough unique attributes to make them stand out on their own.
10 Similar: Their Costumes
Unlike other horror villains who are hidden behind masks, Candyman and Pinhead don’t conceal their faces, and their somewhat more elaborately stylish costumes demand attention. In long, elegant coats with rusted metal tools protruding from their bodies, they exist at the crossroads between sophisticated and delinquent, offering striking silhouettes.
Both villains are presented as mangled and disfigured entities who, despite their ghastly appearance, retain an element of gracefulness. As Pinhead so memorably says, “we are angels to some, demons to others.”
9 Different: Their Kill Style
Though Candyman can express some tenderness towards certain victims, he’s still a violent killer capable of disemboweling and throat-slashing with his hook hand. Pinhead, by contrast, doesn’t kill people himself so much as he orchestrates their demise by a series of gruesome instruments designed to tear them apart.
While Candyman will kill not only whoever summons him but those in their immediate vicinity and anyone trying to help them, Pinhead will usually only kill whoever has solved the puzzle box. In Hellraiser II, he notably didn’t kill someone who had been the victim of someone else’s avarice, indicating a personal code of honor.
8 Similar: They’re Seductive
As a Cenobite, Pinhead’s entire existence takes place in the nucleus of pleasure and pain, offering victims their wildest, most carnal fantasies while revealing they exist at the axis of their most profound suffering. By appearing as an amalgamation of both a priest and a practitioner of sadomasochism, Pinhead is by his very nature an object of sexual fetishism.
Candyman entreats his victims like lovers, particularly Helen Lyle, who, in the original candyman, bears a striking resemblance to the woman his life was forfeited for. When he purrs, “be my victim”—one of the best quotes of the new candy man movie—and yearns for “just one exquisite kiss” from her, it’s because he’s trying to reach her on a soulful level. Like a romantic Gothic hero, he even offers her a waltz before he kills her.
7 Different: Socio-Political Message
The original candy man movie provides a commentary on classism and systemic racism, themes that offer an undercurrent for the killer’s motivations. Daniel Robitaille was a black man slain for loving a white woman, and his vengeful spirit returns as a potent manifestation of collective black trauma in an area of neglected urban decay.
In candy man (2021), his spirit becomes an even more prominent opponent of police brutality and gentrification, conveying a socio-political message that can’t be ignored because little has improved for people of color in the decades since the events of the original movie. Every movie in the franchise reflects the moral issues of the era in which it was created, all stemming from the psychological turmoil of black Americans.
6 Similar: They Both Look For Worthy Victims
In many ways, both Candyman and Pinhead are motivated by trauma. Though Candyman’s was inflicted on him against his will and Pinhead’s was not, the pain they experienced has made them prey on the ignorant and the avarice-adled.
When they are summoned, they both seek similar objectives. In Candyman’s case, he seeks a worthy victim like Helen who will return to hell with him and remain by his side, while Pinhead seeks to bring back a “worthy sinner.” Amidst the vacuous victims curious or ignorant enough to tempt them, they desire to find someone to understand their experience.
5 Different: Their Origins
Spanning different centuries, continents, and races, Candyman and Pinhead share divergent origin stories. Candyman was a black painter in the 19th century who was tortured and lynched for falling in love with his white client’s daughter, and his wrath originated from the violence inflicted on him for being a man of color.
By contrast, Pinhead was a captain in the British Army named Elliott Spencer who, after witnessing the chaos and degradation of World War I, entreated the Cenobites to let him join their ranks. He offers victims the same opportunity, knowing their curiosity will get the better of them, as his did.
4 Similar: They’re Immortal
Like many horror icons who can propel a franchise, both Pinhead and Candyman must be revived time and time again even after their perceived deaths. Living in a hell dimension, awaiting a victim to solve his puzzle box, Pinhead can be resurrected many times over. As long as Candyman’s legend strikes fear and ignorant souls recite his name five times, he’s in no danger of being killed permanently.
It’s perhaps no surprise that director Bernard Rose viewed Candyman as a “Black Dracula,” while Clive Barker based Pinhead on Christopher Lee’s interpretation of the Prince of Darkness in the Hammer Films Dracula movies.
3 Different: Their Methods Of Summoning
Pinhead is summoned with an evil puzzle box, known in the franchise as the Lament Configuration, by people who want to explore the depths of the physical experience. Since he and his fellow Cenobites have already pushed the limits of their own self-experimentation, they offer the opportunity to those foolish enough to make a pact to receive their every fantasy.
By contrast, Candyman is summoned after his name is recited five times into a mirror, at which point he will come to kill whoever is foolish enough to tempt fate. He requires that his name be remembered and his legacy live on as “the writing on the wall…whispers in the classroom” or else he’ll fade into obscurity.
2 Similar: They’re Articulate And Intelligent
Both Pinhead and Candyman are villains that came about after a maelstrom of hulking slasher icons dominated the horror genre in the ’80s. Unlike the similarly shuffling, monosyllabic Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers or the glib killers like Freddy, they are intelligent and suave. Candyman orates like the well-educated 19th-century free man he was when he died, and Pinhead speaks with the erudite cadence of a religious scholar.
In Evolution of a Character – Pinhead, Clive Barker explains that much like Candyman, Pinhead also had “an aura of complete control” about him. He didn’t need to make any grand, threatening displays to get his point across because fear was instilled through his quiet, menacing composure.
1 Different: Demon Vs. Ghost
While both Pinhead and Candyman are supernatural figures, their construction differs considerably. Pinhead, when not in our dimension, exists like all cenobites in a version of hell, ruled by an entity known as Leviathan, adopting the rank of “Hell Priest” and administering torture and punishment in the labyrinthian plane of existence.
Candyman, by contrast, is less of an interdimensional demon and more of a vengeful spirit, whose legend must be preserved or else he will cease to exist in the minds of the community that he haunts. Occasionally, he can act as an avenging warrior for socio-political injustice, but, when not summoned, he doesn’t seem to exist in a physical plane anywhere.
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How Candyman And Pinhead Are Similar (& How They’re Different)