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The Mystery of the Hellraiser 'Monument'

In our Rabbit Holes episode we touched on the mystery of curious city monuments – shoes strung from telephone wires, rows upon rows of padlocks clipped to wire mesh fences, the ‘graveyard’ for broken skateboards that looms over the Thames - unexplained but somehow maintained and constantly growing due to the actions of strangers.

There was one thing we were particularly intrigued by – a weathered copy of the gruesome horror film Hellraiser on VHS, which had sat on top of a South East London bus stop for years. Every time the VHS was taken down, another one would spring up in its place. Sometimes two copies would lie there, staring menacingly out at you as you gazed through the foggy bus window.

After Josie mentioned this on our podcast we were contacted by someone with most – if not all - of the answers to our questions…. They’ve asked to remain anonymous.

Have any Hellraisers appeared that haven't been planted?

When I saw him glaring back up at me from this bus stop there was an unexpected scent of recognition or fear.

I don't know how or why that first Hellraiser appeared. There's a Council Estate right above this particular stop and maybe a kid or someone living there threw it off their flat. How do these odds-and-ends find themselves on bus stops? I started seeing it up there on my way to work. That's if I got a seat on the top deck, in the left front side of the bus. I usually rode the 21 down the Old Kent Road.

What intrigued you about the Hellraiser ‘monument’?

Hellraiser appeared more gruesome or evil looking then all the others to me as a child. I distinctly remember those VHS covers on the rack in the rental store staring me down. When I saw him glaring back up at me from this bus stop there was an unexpected scent of recognition or fear. Some days you might be able to discern moisture was built up between the plastic and the blue and light coloured paper in the case. Other times it might've been a while so the image changed its overall hue or texture in a very pronounced way. It seemed nearly alive, and to me, as the object degraded it actually was looking more horrific than ever. Even furthering my surprise was that it then sort of began to emulsify into a softened, white-looking, small box.

When did you start maintaining it?

I like to make visual art and often try to use the everyday environment outside. After awhile I came up with the idea of "21 on the 21". The first video purposefully placed out there landed right next to that original and was done on the 21st December 2012. It was the night that was supposed to be the Mayan Apocalypse. I think that day was our first real big apocalyptic let down since Y2K. And with the idea of the bus stop being a raised platform, then the elements really erasing the hell off Pinhead's visage slowly away from the bus riders, I felt the words and numbers were on my side. So I started the process. There's been other Hellraisers along the route of the 21, one even on an N21. The idea is for twenty-one to be put out over time, hence the name "21 on the 21".

Recently ‘Hellraiser’ has been joined by ‘Jack’ and ‘Toy Story’ – is this anything to do with the project?

I've actually seen Toy Story and never seen the Hellraisers. I don't know "Jack", was it a movie about a snowman- but wasn't he in Frozen? I don't watch kids movies or horror movies. These others increase the chance of the top being cleared off so I'm not a fan. However, I did the same thing myself, so complaining at this point is futile. I just hope they stop.

What has the reaction been like?

We've had actual mayhem ensue on nights when going to place these out. One big surprise is folks even noticing enough to broadcast about these Hellraisers! If people themselves have delighted in seeing Pinhead raising and erasing and raising and erasing out there I'd ask them to please not talk too much about it and not to disturb the cassettes.

They’ve still got a job to do...