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Famous ‘Hellraiser’ Line Was Actually Ad-Libbed On Set

Clive Barker shocked audiences in 1987 with his directorial debut, Hellraiser. The iconic horror film was based on his novella, The Hellbound Heart, and introduced Doug Bradley’s “Pinhead” that has since become the face of the franchise. But, as fans of the original film know, there were plenty of other villains introduced. One such villain includes Frank Cotton, the flayed maniac who escaped the clutches of the Cenobites while hoping for freedom. Of course, it’s hard to blend in without skin, and much of the film focuses on his character attempting to regain a human appearance. By the end of the film, he wears the skin of his brother Larry (portrayed by Andrew Robinson.) While a multitude of actors and special effects were used to bring Frank Cotton to life, Andrew Robinson’s take on the character is often considered the most memorable. One such reason is for his famous final line towards the end of Hellraiser – which was apparently ad-libbed.

The moment occurs during the climax of the timeless horror film. In this scene, Frank Cotton is getting prepared by the Cenobites to go back to their dimension – presumably Hell. A series of chains are shot into his body, all of which have hooks which begin to pull on his skin. As he’s about to literally burst into pieces, he utters the iconic line. He says:

“Jesus wept.”

It’s an eerie phrase and the meaning of which has been moderately debated by Hellraiser fans for decades. Indeed, this is the iconic Hellraiser line that was actually ad-libbed by actor Andrew Robinson. As pointed out via Screen Rant, Andrew Robinson was originally supposed to state a more generic expletive: a simple “F*** you.” While it’s definitely a more predictable phrase for such a character to say, the other line is a lot more creepy. And, considering the subtle religious tones of the film, the ad-libbed line actually fits in with Hellraiser quite well.

Interestingly, it appears that Andrew Robinson decided to switch the line up because he simply does not like cursing. He simply does not enjoy using foul language. And, so, he decided to use the term “Jesus wept” as that was a phrase used during his childhood. While Clive Barker seemed to have been disappointed at first, he still wound up using the line, and it’s become an iconic horror quote ever since. So, thank you, Andrew Robinson. Your refusal to use curse words actually gave us a much more creative and poetic line to close out Frank Cotton’s character arc. At least, that is, until the character returns for a smaller role in Hellbound: Hellraiser II.

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