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Hellraiser’s Puzzle Box Explained: The Lament Configuration’s Origin & Powers

Hellraiser's evil is centered on the Lament Configuration puzzle box, which traces its bloody, Cenobite-fueled history back over 200 years.

Hellraiser's evil is centered on the Lament Configuration puzzle box, which traces its bloody, Cenobite-fueled history back over 200 years. While there have been many cinematic depictions of Hell, or at least realms similar to it, Hellraiser offers a truly unique version. As shown in 1988 sequel Hellbound: Hellraiser 2, Clive Barker's hell is a massive labyrinth, with those unfortunate enough to be sent there trapped in a eternity of personalized suffering. At the center of this labyrinth is a being known as Leviathan, an ancient entity that some have theorized might be the Hellraiser equivalent of Satan.

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As fearsome as they are, Pinhead and his fellow Cenobites are in the end mere servants of Leviathan, which as also revealed in Hellraiser 2, is actually what turns people into Cenobites to begin with. Leviathan is also clearly tied to the Lament Configuration itself, as Leviathan resembles the same type of geometric shapes the sinister box forms when solved.

Related: Pinhead’s Doug Bradley Almost Played A Different Hellraiser Character

While it's unclear just how old Leviathan itself is, the Lament Configuration puzzle box boasts its own long existence. In fact, it dates back all the way to the 18th century.

Hellraiser's Lament Configuration Was Created in 1784

Hellraiser Bloodline Pinhead

First off, it should be noted that the Lament Configuration actually has two slightly different origin stories, one given in Hellraiser comics, and the other more widely accepted one coming via the 1996 film Hellraiser: Bloodline. In both stories, the puzzle box is created by a man named Philip LeMarchand, but in the comics, Philip is a diabolical murderer, who actually uses human fat and bone to create his boxes, of which there are said to be over 200. In Hellraiser: Bloodline, Philip is simply a talented toymaker that's hired by by a wealthy sadist named Duc de L'Isle to create the box.

Focused on harnessing dark magic, de L'Isle is able to summon Angelique, a demon princess of Hell. Angelique takes up residence in the waiting skin of a woman de L'Isle and his servant Jacques had sacrificed as part of the ritual. Angelique and Jacques turn on de L'Isle, and Angelique also ends up killing Philip. However, the LeMarchand bloodline survives, becoming cursed until a descendant can manage to undo the damage they caused by creating the Lament Configuration. Paul Merchant is finally able to do this in 2127 by transforming a space station into a giant puzzle box, then using it to kill the Cenobites and close the door to Hell, seemingly for good. Of course, no horror franchise ever really ends, and all subsequent Hellraiser movies had Pinhead and the Lament Configuration return with zero explanation, and no acknowledgement of Hellraiser: Bloodline.

Hellraiser's Lament Configuration Opens a Gateway Between Earth & Hell

hellraiser 1987 cenobites

In every Hellraiser film, the Lament Configuration's purpose is to open the gateway between the human world and Hell. This gate is opened whenever anyone solves the puzzle, but importantly, the person opening it has to on some level be amenable to the sadistic "pleasures" it has in store. Therefore one can't just force someone else to open it, then watch them get ripped apart by hooks. If solved inside Hell, it also has the power to temporarily weaken Leviathan, facilitating the escape of the person who just solved it.

Hellraiser's Lament Configuration Isn't the Only Puzzle Box

Interestingly, there are shown to be multiple different puzzle boxes in the Hellraiser series, and it's unclear what distinct powers they might possess, as they don't get used onscreen. In Clive Barker's original Hellbound Heart novella, Kirsty theorizes that a different box might open the gates to heaven.

More: Why Hellraiser Sequels Were So Bad (But Didn’t Stop)

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