Pyramid Head

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Pyramid Head
Pyramid Head as he appears in Silent Hill 2
Series Silent Hill series
First game Silent Hill 2
Designed by Masahiro Ito

Pyramid Head, also known as "Triangle Head" (三角頭 Sankaku Atama?) in Japan,[1] is a monster from the survival-horror Silent Hill video game series, published by Konami. Introduced in the 2001 installment Silent Hill 2, he stalks the primary player-character James Sunderland, who comes to Silent Hill after receiving a letter from his deceased wife, and executes James' companion Maria—who strongly resembles James' wife except for her provocative clothes and behavior—multiple times. He also sexually assaults several monsters over the course of the game. The Silent Hill series frequently makes use of psychology and symbolism: Pyramid Head represents James' wish to be punished for his "sins".

Masahiro Ito, the designer of Silent Hill 2's monsters, created him with the goal of having "a monster with a hidden face".[2] Known for the large triangular helmet which conceals his head, Pyramid Head is unusual for a video game antagonist since he lacks a voice, a visible face, back-story, and reason for his actions.[3] He has since appeared in the 2006 film Silent Hill as "Red Pyramid", in the 2007 first-person shooter Silent Hill: The Arcade as a boss, and in the fifth installment of the series, Silent Hill: Homecoming, as the "Bogeyman". He has also made an appearance outside of the Silent Hill series as a selectable character in the 2008 Nintendo DS title New International Track & Field. Critical reaction to him in Silent Hill 2 has been favorable for his appearance and role as an element of James' psyche.

Design and characteristics[edit | edit source]

Of the creatures that appeared in Silent Hill 2, only Pyramid Head features an "overtly masculine" appearance.[3] Pyramid Head resembles a pale, muscular man covered with a white, blood-soaked robe reminiscent of a butcher's smock. Pyramid Head does not speak, but grunts and moans painfully inside the helmet.[3] His most outstanding feature is a large red, triangular helmet that covers his head completely.[3] Masahiro Ito, the designer of Silent Hill 2's monsters, wanted to create "a monster with a hidden face", which led him to add the pyramid-shaped helm. According to him, the possibility of pain is suggested, because of the triangle's sharp right and acute angles.[2] At times, it appears that Pyramid Head is in pain and suffering.[3] His weapons consist of the deadly and heavy Great Knife, which the player can later find and use as a weapon for the rest of the game,[4][5] and later, a spear.[6]

As revealed by Konami's The Book of Lost Memories, Pyramid Head's appearance was a variation of the outfits of the executioners from the fictional history of the town, who wore red hoods and ceremonial robes to make themselves similar to Valtiel,[7] a monster who appears in Silent Hill 3.[8] Pyramid Head was created from "the townspeoples' idolatrous ideologies".[7] Pyramid Head also shares traits with Valtiel, such as similar gloves, cloth stitching, and following the protagonist of the game.[7] Christophe Gans, the director of the 2006 film adaption Silent Hill, suggests that Pyramid Head "was one of the executioners in the original history of the town" and that "there is not one particular or exclusive manifestation of him as an entity."[9]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Silent Hill 2[edit | edit source]

After receiving a letter from his deceased wife, Mary, and arriving in the foggy town of Silent Hill to search for her, the protagonist and primary player-character James Sunderland encounters Pyramid Head several times over the course of the game. He first appears from behind a gate and makes no attempt to attack him.[3] Later in an apartment, James walks in on his rape and murder of two Mannequins—creatures made of two sets of hips and legs.[10] Terrified and panicked, James hides in a closet and shoots Pyramid Head with a handgun several times, which causes him to leave. James witnesses Pyramid Head's rape of another creature when near a flooded stairway and Pyramid Head attempts to kill him. After a few minutes, sirens sound in the distance and Pyramid Head descends the stairway, removing the water.[11]

James does not meet him again until in Brookhaven Hospital where Pyramid Head knocks him through a safety railing and he falls below, sustaining injuries. Pyramid Head does not pursue or continue the attack.[12] Later, he stalks Maria, James' companion who closely resembles his wife, through a lengthy corridor. As James flees into an elevator, the doors shut before she can join him. He struggles to open the doors to save her, but Pyramid Head kills her. However, in the labyrinth beneath Toluca Prison, James finds her alive and unharmed behind a locked grate. She displays a memory that only he and Mary shared, before trying to seduce him. He leaves, promising to find a way to her, and discovers that Pyramid Head walks a corridor nearby, now carrying a spear. James reaches the room behind the grate soon afterwards, but finds her dead. Pyramid Head makes his final appearance just before the final boss, where two Pyramid Heads take part in the encounter. They kill Maria yet again and after pursuing him around the room for a while, both commit suicide.[11][10]

Film[edit | edit source]

Pyramid Head makes an appearance in the 2006 film adaption Silent Hill as "Red Pyramid" and is portrayed by Roberto Campanella. Pyramid Head's physical appearance differs from Silent Hill 2. Red Pyramid's appearance is conjured from a female perspective.[9] Gans noted that despite the name, Pyramid Head's head is actually "a basin and not a triangle at all" and that "it was impossible to make an authentic replica of the shape and actually have a real person move under it."[1] Pyramid Head's "very deformed body" in the game was altered into a "tall, powerful character a little like the Warrior God in Stargate."[1] Red Pyramid's sword and helmet were constructed out of lightweight material painted to appear heavy.[13] For the role, Campanella wore a "five-part prosthetic"; it took two and a half to three hours to get him into costume and make-up.[13] His boots had a hidden fifteen-inch sole which made him just under seven feet tall.[13] Patrick Tatopoulos, who was in charge of "creature and special-makeup-effects", enjoyed the project of designing Red Pyramid. According to him, "Pyramid Head is ... this huge mythical character wearing a human-skin apron," who "symbolizes the darkness. And when the darkness comes, everything in the whole place of Silent Hill becomes different; he signals that by heralding it."[14]

Silent Hill: Homecoming[edit | edit source]

PlayStation: The Official Magazine revealed that the "famous Pyramid Head makes a significant appearance in Silent Hill Homecoming, but his role is limited to non-interactive scenes."[15] The "Bogeyman", as he is referred to in the game, appears only twice to the game's protagonist Alex Shepherd; once in the Grand Hotel in Silent Hill and again much later in a church where he executes Alex's father by splitting him in half.[16][17] His last appearance is in a possible ending to the game: Alex wakes up in a wheelchair as two Pyramid Heads appear, each with part of a helmet, which they use to turn Alex into one of them. After this ending is played, the player obtains the Bogeyman's costume for Alex to wear.[18] Mindful of his role in Silent Hill 2, the developers chose to include him as "the embodiment of a myth [that] parents started to keep the children out of trouble" and "the accretion of the activities going on in the town of Shepherd’s Glen."[19]

Other[edit | edit source]

Pyramid Head appears in the 2007 first-person, two-player shooter Silent Hill: The Arcade as a boss,[20] and as a super-deformed selectable character in the 2008 Nintendo DS title New International Track & Field, an installment of the Track & Field series.[21] He also made a cameo appearance in the 2008 Silent Hill comic book Sinner's Reward, published by IDW Publishing. The writer, Tom Waltz, later regretted the cameo, calling it "total fan service."[22] To him, Pyramid Head is a psychological construct created for James; however, he stated that: "At the same time, I don't think that ruined the comic. Some people really liked it. To some people, Pyramid Head should be in all the stories because they do like him."[22]

Analysis[edit | edit source]

I was weak. That's why I needed you...Needed someone to punish me for my sins...

—James Sunderland, Silent Hill 2, [23]

The Silent Hill series, particularly Silent Hill 2, uses symbolism and psychology; the town of Silent Hill serves as "biblical Limbo" where "the protagonists are inserted into the disorienting nightmare to confront symbols of their inner darkness."[10] The motivation of Silent Hill 2's primary player-character James Sunderland is "open to interpretation" as to whether he killed his wife, Mary, to end her suffering or out of revenge for his sexual repression during her three-year-long illness.[10] During her last days alive, she became physically repulsive as a result of the illness and treated James abusively, ordering him to leave one moment and begging him to comfort her the next.[24] The knowledge that she had a terminal illness caused her to become angry and hurt her loved ones, and it pained him to visit her in the hospital.[25] Manifesting as "James' anger and guilt",[6] Pyramid Head functions as an executioner of Maria—a woman who strongly resembles Mary and later revealed to be James' delusion[10]—and his constant tormentor.[6] As a result of her repeated deaths, James re-lives the guilt and suffering that he felt when he killed Mary.[10] Pyramid Head acts as "judgment personified, a sexually dark butcher", and "James' masochistic delusion" which punishes him for his sins.[12] Additionally, through his violence and sexual assaults, he becomes "the ultimate representation of James' violent interior self and sexual frustrations".[26]

In Well Played 1.0: Video Games, Value and Meaning, Doris C. Rusch analyzed Silent Hill 2 from the perspective of "a psychotherapeutic process".[11] As "the epitome of a murderer", Pyramid Head provokes "fear of confrontation" from the player and James.[11] Rusch suggested that Pyramid Head might stand for "some deeply buried fear that 'stared' at James from across the abyss ... and that James was not bold enough to face yet."[11] Unable to move past the "psychological trauma" of Mary's death, James unknowingly re-enacts it by having him kill Maria repeatedly.[11] However, by accepting his role in her death, James becomes "strong enough to finally face his fears" and the two Pyramid Heads eventually commit suicide, which Rusch considered "[a] big breakthrough in the therapeutic process".[11]

Reception[edit | edit source]

Critical reaction to Pyramid Head has been favorable for his creepy appearance and role as an element of James' psyche. GameSpot compared Pyramid Head's appearance to Texas Chainsaw Massacre's Leatherface and found him the most terrifying monster in Silent Hill 2.[27] Computerworld named Pyramid Head as one of the most terrifying villains in computer and video games.[6] GamesRadar listed him as one of the 25 best new characters of the decade and ranked him second on its list of the scariest video game villains, calling him the "most horrifying character ever to have a cult following".[28][29] The Escapist described him as "one of gaming's most memorable recent antagonists".[3] The scene in which he rapes another monster was noted to be unsettling,[10][30] since the subject of rape is not often tackled in video games.[30] GamesRadar disliked the final battle with him because of how anti-climactic it was compared to his role throughout the rest of the game.[31] His appearances outside Silent Hill 2 have received mixed critical reaction. Critics agreed that Pyramid Head's appearance in Homecoming was more of fan service, though Game Revolution called it "damned effectively-employed".[32][33][34] His appearance in New International Track & Field received mixed critical reaction. GameDaily disliked it, finding it awkward that a character like Pyramid Head was competing in sporting events with characters like Frogger and Sparkster,[21] while a critic for The Escapist called it enjoyable and "hilarious".[35]

A small group of Silent Hill female fans in their teens to early twenties have expressed romantic attraction to Pyramid Head on the social networking website Facebook.[36] According to them, it is sympathy for him, "a violence fetish" or a fantasy of "tam[ing] the beast".[36] University of Leicester's Dr. Natasha Whiteman theorized that because of the character's "dark ambiguity", "his female admirers can use him to explore and discuss their own fantasies and visions of sexuality".[37] Kingston University's Dr. Ewan Kirkland wrote: "The Silent Hill series draws upon the art of Francis Bacon, Hans Bellmer and Allen Jones, and given that much of its imagery, particularly contained in official digital art associated with the series, has elements of sadomasochism, it is not surprising that the character of Pyramid Head has been appropriated in this kind of way."[38] It was noted that researchers are still not sure "how people take their experiences in virtual worlds and apply them in real life".[38] One commentator remarked: "Pyramid Head is a dark canvas we can use to project our sexual feelings, and the addition of violence makes it a lot less clear-cut. If the sexual violence in Silent Hill were more realistic, say if the victims were responding by screaming, would that still be attractive?"[38]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Gans, Christophe (2006-03-15). On Adapting Silent Hill Lore, The Red Pyramid, and Using "Centralia" as a Temp Film Title. Sony Pictures. Retrieved on 2010-03-14
  2. 2.0 2.1 Konami. The Making of Silent Hill 2 DVD. KCET, 2002.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 González, Christina (2007-08-28). The Escapist: Seeing Red: The Repulsive Allure of Pyramid Head – Page 1. The Escapist. Retrieved on 2010-08-04
  4. Konami (Team Silent). Silent Hill 2. (Konami). PlayStation 2. (2001-09-21) "On-screen text: I got a great knife."
  5. Konami (Team Silent). Silent Hill 2. (Konami). PlayStation 2. (2001-09-21) "On-screen text: Massive weapon wielded by Pyramid Head. Hard to use, but lethal."
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Gagne, Ken (2008-09-16). You can run, but you'll only die tired: Gaming's 'baddest' villains. Computerworld. Retrieved on 2008-09-16
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "1: The Magician" (in Japanese). The Book of Lost Memories. Japan: Konami. 2003. pp. 84–85. ISBN 4757181450. 
  8. Silent Hill 3 Guide/Walkthrough – Enemies. IGN. Retrieved on 2010-08-05
  9. 9.0 9.1 Gans, Christophe (2006-04-06). Silent Hill: On The Red Pyramid, Carol Spier as Production Designer, and Exploring Society in Horror Films. Sony Pictures. Retrieved on 2010-03-14
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 Alexander, Leigh (2007-07-19). Column: The Aberrant Gamer - 'Sundering the Mind'. GameSetWatch. Retrieved on 2010-08-04
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 Rusch, Doris C. (2009-03-10). Staring Into The Abyss – A Close Reading of Silent Hill 2. Well Played 1.0: Video Games, Value and Meaning. ETC-Press. Retrieved on 2010-08-28
  12. 12.0 12.1 González, Christina (2007-08-28). The Escapist: Seeing Red: The Repulsive Allure of Pyramid Head – Page 2. The Escapist. Retrieved on 2010-08-04
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Making Silent Hill – Path of Darkness. TriStar Pictures. 2006. 
  14. Carroll, Larry (2006-04-17). No Green Screen Here — 'Silent Hill' Baddies Report To Set. MTV. Retrieved on 2010-08-28
  15. Joe Rybicki, "Review of Silent Hill: Homecoming", PlayStation: The Official Magazine 13 (December 2008): 64.
  16. Silent Hill Homecoming Guide/ Walkthrough – Page 9. IGN. Retrieved on 2010-08-04
  17. Silent Hill Homecoming Guide/ Walkthrough – Page 29. IGN. Retrieved on 2010-08-04
  18. Silent Hill Homecoming Guide/ Walkthrough – Page 10. IGN. Retrieved on 2010-08-04
  19. Klepek, Patrick (2008-11-11). Double Helix Reflects On The Good, Bad And Scary Of Making 'Silent Hill: Homecoming'. MTV. Retrieved on 2010-08-24
  20. Epperson, Justin (2007-02-17). Previews: Silent Hill: Arcade. Retrieved on 2007-08-22
  21. 21.0 21.1 Workman, Robert (2009-01-27). Bad Career Move: Video Game Characters' Worst Moments. GameDaily. Retrieved on 2010-03-14
  22. 22.0 22.1 North, Dale (2010-07-28). Interview: Tom Waltz: From comics to Silent Hill 8. Destructoid. Retrieved on 2010-08-23
  23. Konami (Team Silent). Silent Hill 2. (Konami). PlayStation 2. (2001-09-21)
  24. Konami (Team Silent). Silent Hill 2. (Konami). PlayStation 2. (2001-09-21) "Mary: Between the disease and the drugs, I look like a monster. Well what are you looking at? Get the hell out of here. Leave me alone already! [...] Are you still here? I told you to go! Are you deaf?! Don't come back! James.... Wait.... Please don't go.... Stay with me. Don't leave me alone. I didn't mean what I said. Please James.... Tell me I'll be okay. Tell me I'm not going to die. Help me..."
  25. Konami (Team Silent). Silent Hill 2. (Konami). PlayStation 2. (2001-09-21) "Mary's letter: Whenever you come see me, I can tell how hard it is on you...I don't know if you hate me or pity me...Or maybe I just disgust you....I'm sorry about that. When I first learned that I was going to die, I just didn't want to accept it. I was so angry all the time and I struck out at everyone I loved most. Especially you, James."
  26. Silent Hill Enemies: Pyramid Head. UGO Entertainment. Retrieved on 2010-08-24
  27. Dulin, Ron (December 4, 2002). PC - Silent Hill 2: Director's Cut - Reviews. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2007-01-21
  28. The 25 best new characters of the decade. GamesRadar (2009-12-29). Retrieved on 2010-01-04
  29. The scariest villains ever. GamesRadar (2008-06-16). Retrieved on 2009-01-05
  30. 30.0 30.1 GamesRadar staff. The 10 most shocking game moments of the decade. GamesRadar. Retrieved on 2010-03-15 “The emotionally-loaded subject of rape has never really been dealt with in games before or since Konami’s survival horror....Still, even though it’s a hugely disquieting moment, there’s no question it further adds to Pyramid Head’s mystique as one of the most terrifying video game villains ever.”
  31. The 7 least-scary moments in scary games. GamesRadar. Retrieved on 2010-01-05
  32. Hudak, Chris (2008-10-03). Silent Hill: Homecoming - PS3 Review. Game Revolution. Retrieved on 2010-04-17 “...even Pyramid Head’s appearances feel more like fan service (albeit damned effectively-employed fan service).”
  33. Croshaw, Ben (2008-10-22). The Escapist : Zero Punctuation: Silent Hill Homecoming. The Escapist. Retrieved on 2010-08-09 “Pyramid Head also makes his contractual appearance for no better reason than fan service.”
  34. Haynes, Jeff (2008-09-30). Silent Hill: Homecoming Review. IGN. Retrieved on 2010-08-09 “...even the few sequences where Pyramid Head pops up are more like brief guest appearances for fans, although he does have a great scene towards the end of the game.”
  35. Stoklasa, Thaddeus (2008-08-14). The Escapist: Review: New International Track and Field. The Escapist. Retrieved on 2010-08-30
  36. 36.0 36.1 Xu, Samantha (2009-06-21). The Escapist: Love Triangle – Page 1. The Escapist. Retrieved on 2010-08-03
  37. Xu, Samantha (2009-06-21). The Escapist: Love Triangle – Page 3. The Escapist. Retrieved on 2010-08-03
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 Xu, Samantha (2009-06-21). The Escapist: Love Triangle – Page 2. The Escapist. Retrieved on 2010-08-03

Silent Hill series
Main series
Silent Hill - 2 - 3 - 4: The Room - Origins - Homecoming - Shattered Memories - Downpour
Play Novel - Arcade - Orphan - Book of Memories
Silent Hill - Silent Hill 2

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