- Pyramid Head Guide - September 24, 2022
- Silent Hill vs Resident Evil: A Battle Between Two Titans of Horror - September 24, 2022
- James Sunderland Guide: The Many Faces of a Troubled Protagonist - September 3, 2022
Every excellent horror franchise has its mascot. Nightmare on Elm Street has Freddy Krueger, Resident Evil has the Tyrants, Alien has the Xenomorphs, and Silent Hill has Pyramid Head. But what sets Pyramid Head apart from other mascots is that his entire reason for existing within the Silent Hill universe has a much deeper meaning than just being scary.
While some mascots exist to make a movie around them, Pyramid Head exists to punish particularly flawed and guilty individuals. He is a unique creation born from a desire to be held accountable. A combination of the silent stalker energy we see in Michael Myers with the sadistic and personal tendencies of the aforementioned Freddy Kreuger, if you happen to see Pyramid Head run, don’t walk.
Silent Hill as a franchise has always leaned towards the psychological end of the horror spectrum; Pyramid Head perfectly complements that. Peeling back his layers of mystery only makes him scarier and further illustrates just how good this series can be. Our Pyramid Head guide will fill you in on all things Pyramid Head, from his initial concepts to his symbolic meaning and current appearances, and hypothesize about his future within the series.
The Lead To Silent Hill 2: Background and Development
During the development of Silent Hill 2, Team Silent knew they wanted an enemy to serve as a pursuer. Piggybacking off the symbolism behind the enemies in the original Silent Hill, they sought to create further a universe that would serve as an apt home to an execution-based monster.
To do so, they looked at two different avenues: The history of the Silent Hill universe and the history of Silent Hill 2‘s main protagonist: James Sunderland. In order to bring Pyramid Head to life, the monster designer for the original Silent Hill trilogy Masahiro Ito looked to the past. He based Pyramid Head on a drawing he did during his days at University and built it from there.
Simply put: They wanted Pyramid Head to be scary. They’d use the narrative to provide him a reason for existing and wanted his design to be terrifying yet logical to the Silent Hill universe. Our next section will further explore the nature of his role in Silent Hill 2 and what makes him so unique to that game and the series.
Pyramid Head in Silent Hill 2
Put simply, the town of Silent Hill has a dark history. Cult worship has been a part of it since day one, and members of the cult would take it upon themselves to perform executions. When James Sunderland and his wife Mary were visiting Silent Hill, they stopped at the Historical Society, and that’s when James met his maker for the first time. This painting of Pyramid Head represents him as an executioner, based on the uniforms members of the town’s cult would wear when performing their own executions.
This first glimpse of Pyramid Head would later come full circle when James finds himself back in the town several years later. While pursuing a mysterious letter penned by a now-dead Mary, he comes across Pyramid Head several times. The first time is behind a grated wall, and all he does is stare at James. Players cross paths with him while investigating a scream coming from the abandoned apartment complex they’re exploring.
Players later have a cutscene in which James hides in a closet while witnessing Pyramid Head sexually assaulting other monsters. Members of Team Silent have named this iteration “James’s Pyramid Head,” not only implying that there’s more than one but that each incarnation of him has a personal twist.
Silent Hill 2 ultimately tells the story of a man coming face to face with denial and his desire to be punished and held accountable for his actions. This version of Pyramid Head represents that perfectly. Throughout the game, he pushes James to new areas, be it kicking him off the roof of a hospital or clearing other paths deeper into the depths of the town of Silent Hill.
He is forcing James to reveal his hand and come face to face with the truth: He murdered his wife, Mary and has been lying to himself ever since. Towards the end of the game, a second Pyramid Head is created, and James is forced to engage in combat with both of them.
This time, the two Pyramid Heads have captured Maria, who is essentially a phantom the town created based on James’s desires during his marriage to Mary. Not only do they kill Maria in front of James (forcing him to realize that he’s on his own and only he can save himself), but eventually, after inflicting enough damage to them, they kill themselves since their purpose is fulfilled. James admits that he was “weak, and needed you (Pyramid Head) to punish me.” This moment of accountability sets the final events of the game and one of the various endings the player can unlock.
Pyramid Head is everything James isn’t. While James felt cuckolded by Mary’s illness, he goes out there and gets laid. While James can’t handle the truth, Pyramid Head thrives in it and forces it upon James against his will. While James hardly knows how to shoot a gun, Pyramid Head swings his Great Sword or spears with ease and finesse.
The town of Silent Hill attracts people who are hiding from the truth and tries to help them by forcing them to face their fears and face themselves, and Pyramid Head in Silent Hill 2 perfectly embodies this. Due to the game’s critical and commercial acclaim, it was a given that future entries in the franchise would be released.
During this time, Konami attempted to make Pyramid Head the mascot of the entire series. Our next section will further explore his appearances in other Silent Hill games and media and non-canonical appearances in other games.
Silent Hill: The Movie
Filmmaker Christopher Gans directed the first Silent Hill full-length film, which was released in 2006. I have many memories of watching a low-res QuickTime player of the trailer on its official website as I counted down the days to its release. While reviews were generally mixed-to-positive, there were a few rifts regarding long-term fans of the series.
The film easily captured the look and ambiance of Silent Hill but took some creative liberties with the lore. One of those considerable liberties was the portrayal of Pyramid Head. While in Silent Hill 2, he is tailor-made to the protagonist and his guilt, in the movie, everyone in the town can see him.
He’s much more ruthless and stalks the film’s protagonist Rose and kills other town members when the siren goes off and the world shifts to dark Silent Hill. His most memorable scene entails the town in the midst of phase switching and him grabbing a member of the church before brutally ripping her in half.
While Pyramid Head is a brutal and efficient killer, he’s also not quite that gouache. He wouldn’t just rip someone in half for no reason, and in the first film’s world, he seems only to exist to serve as visual fan service while simultaneously completely throwing to the wind his actual context for existing within the Silent Hill universe.
Silent Hill: Homecoming
Silent Hill: Homecoming was an interesting crossroad in the series’s history. After Team Silent disbanded following the release of Silent Hill 4: The Room, Konami began outsourcing development to Western studios in hopes of increasing their profits and keeping the franchise alive. Homecoming tells the story of military veteran Alex Sheperd who finds himself between the real world of Shepherds Glen and the dream world of Silent Hill.
Pyramid Head makes various appearances throughout the game but is never a boss in any of them, and his design is heavily influenced by his Anubis-inspired design in the 2006 film. Homecoming is a tale of two towns and righting the wrongs of children who were abused within them.
Throughout the game, Alex has many choices to make that can influence the ending, but the basic plotline revolves around him acting as a sort of judge and jury to abusive parents and him having to fight the monsters that remain in those children’s psyches.
Pyramid Head eventually kills Alex’s father, and in the story’s context, the stage is set for Alex to be the fourth monster. But, if the player makes good choices, embraces forgiveness, and helps others, then Pyramid Head’s role is diminished after that scene. However, if the player is selfish and unforgiving, then an ending occurs where he awakens strapped to a chair, and two Pyramid Heads attach one of their iconic helmets to him, making him into the third.
While this version of Pyramid Head is not the same one that haunted James in Silent Hill 2, there is at least an arguable context for his existence that plays to his themes versus the movies that have him for the sake of having him.
Oddly enough, much like how Pyramid Head tends to open up new paths for James in his debut appearance, in this entry, if players follow the bugs that co-exist with Pyramid Head, they’ll be led to their current objective.
Silent Hill Revelations 3D
While the first film took some creative liberties it ultimately was faithful to the aesthetic and could be forgiven for providing fan service for the sake of fan service. The same can not be said for its sequel, 2012s Silent Hill Revelations 3D. Original director and screenwriter Christopher Gans and Roger Avery were gone from the project leading new talent to take the helm, and we got a swing and a miss.
While the game is loosely based on Silent Hill 3 and is a sequel to the 2006 film it takes a huge tonal shift and even more liberties with the established lore of the series. In this film Pyramid Head serves as a guardian for the main character Heather Mason/Sharon Da Silva and most notably engages in a fight with the villain of the film in the final scene. It makes no sense within the continuity of the series as Pyramid Head is created from an individual’s guilt, and has little to do with the actual cult worship from the town other than his design stemming from their own attire.
Quite frankly: It’s ridiculous but sometimes bad movies can be fun too. Further complicating his appearance is that he is essentially serving as a guardian to the main character, but he literally tried to kill her mother in the previous film. At this point in Silent Hill’s history, the franchise was already considered to be going downhill and this movie did not help to change that reputation.
Dead by Daylight
Many were surprised when the Silent Hill and Dead by Daylight crossover events were revealed. Ultimately culminating in the first new and playable form of Silent Hill since 2012s Silent Hill: Downpour. While this appearance is non-canonical as Dead By Daylight exists in its own universe it’s still fun to see Pyramid Head again.
This time he takes the role of an executioner and players will utilize him to mercilessly stalk other Survivors. He can attack them from afar or up and close and personal with his Great Knife, and even trap them in cages similar to Maria and Mary from Silent Hill 2.
He also takes on another form known as the Pyramid Blight by injecting himself with the Blight Serum. Dead by Daylight has a similar effect to Fortnight in which many legendary staples of horror have crossed over into its universe. Other crossovers include Resident Evil, Hellraiser, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Saw.
Pyramid Head has appeared in lots of other Silent Hill spinoffs and Konami games. This includes him being a boss fight in Silent Hill: The Arcade, him appearing in the pachislot adaptation of Silent Hill 2, him appearing in the dungeon-crawling PS Vita spinoff Silent Hill: Book of Memories, and making a pseudo cameo in a painting in the opening level of the PSP prequel Silent Hill: Origins.
He’s also a playable character in Konami’s Krazy Kart Racing and can be unlocked in the Nintendo DS games International Track and Field and Super Bomberman R Online. His most recent appearance was in DLC for Dark Deception: Monsters and Mortals which is a small online multiplayer game that is similar to Dead by Daylight. With that said, since there hasn’t been a new Silent Hill game since 2012 many have been wondering: is there a future for Pyramid Head?
The Future of the Series
This is where things get bleak. In 2014 a game known as PT was released on the Playstation Network and upon completion of the game, players were met with a trailer informing them that they had actually been playing a playable teaser for the next game in the series, called Silent Hills.
Not much is known about Silent Hills other than that it was a collaboration between game director Hideo Kojima, film director Guillermo De Torro, actor Norman Reedus, and that the legendary manga artist Junji Ito was set to assist with monster designs.
Unfortunately, the game was canceled in 2015 by Konami and led to a falling out between the studio and Hideo Kojima who went on to create his own studio, Kojima Productions. As Konami still owns the rights to Silent Hill there have been plenty of rumors since 2015 but as of this time nothing has come to fruition…kind of.
In the Summer of 2022, some images leaked and were promptly taken down that were reported to be from a new entry in the Silent Hill franchise, as well as additional rumors stating that Polish developers Bloober Team are developing a remake of Silent Hill 2. Otherwise, the only new content we’ve gotten was a slot machine adaption of Silent Hill 2 and an officially licensed novel that was released in 2016, minus Pyramid Heads’ aforementioned cameos in multiplayer survival horror games.
While we will not be posting the copyrighted screenshots here, rest assured you can still find them by perusing Twitter. The screenshots appeared to be in first person and one of them featured a Cherry Blossom-inspired monster. At this point, it’s safe to assume that Konami still wants to keep the IP alive and has been toying with things behind the scenes, and rumors are heating up that a new title may be revealed at the upcoming Tokyo Game show in September 2022.
As for Pyramid Head, we’ll just have to see. I personally think it would be wise to move on without him pending a remake of Silent Hill 2. As iconic as he is, he was never meant to be a mascot. He was meant to be an embodiment of the themes of the series and was custom crafted for the narrative of Silent Hill 2. To keep it short: His creator Masahiro Ito has stated that “I wish I never made that f____ng thing.”
- In beta versions of Silent Hill 2, Pyramid Head would spawn randomly throughout the town and act in a similar fashion to the stalker enemies seen in recent Resident Evil games.
- Pyramid Head wasn’t supposed to wield a great spear until much later in Silent Hill 2, but that changed due to difficulties animating him with the Great Sword in narrow hallways.
- Masahiro Ito, the creator of Pyramid Head hates the oversaturation of Pyramid Head within the franchise and has lamented that due to fans overplaying the sexual aspects of his nature in Silent Hill 2, he had a hard time getting a girlfriend following its release.
- Originally James was supposed to use the knife he took from Angela and connect it with another knife found in the labyrinth, creating his own version of the Great Sword and further tying him and Pyramid Head together.
- The director of Silent Hill Revelations 3D admitted in an interview that “We had to put him (Pyramid Head) in the movie cause he was in the first one, and he’s like our Pinhead!” much to the chagrin of fans of the series who would only want to see him make an appearance because it fits the narrative.
- Masahiro Ito has been dodgy about confirming specifics regarding Pyramid Heads’ physicality. When asked how he can see, he responded with “How can any monsters in Silent Hill see?” and when asked what’s under his pyramid he stated that he’d never reveal that.
- While Pyramid Heads’ appearance in Silent Hill: Homecoming has been derided as a cash grab, there are many theorists who actually feel he fits perfectly due to the games overarching themes of guilt, abuse, and judgment.
- Pyramid Head in Silent Hill 2 has been called “James’s Pyramid Head” by his creator, leaving the door open for there to be different incarnations of the executioner. This is further supported by his design in Homecoming being taller and more muscular than his version in the second entry, which isn’t much taller than James and has bad posture.
- The polygons saved from covering Pyramid Head’s face were then used to animate his fingers.
- In Silent Hill 2 shortly after Pyramid Head makes his first appearance by watching James behind a fence, players can find a dead body in an apartment that has his exact character model.
- Pyramid Head’s last appearance in a mainline Silent Hill game is within a joke ending in Downpour in which characters from various entries in the series make a cameo. He uses his Great Sword to cut a birthday cake. Yummy!
Question: Why isn’t there a Pyramid Head in Silent Hill 3?
Answer: Because SH3 is a sequel to the first one, and as such Pyramid Head wasn’t needed for that story. His appearance in SH2 and Homecoming is meticulously crafted for the characters. Unlike in the movies, Pyramid Head is not a guardian. He’s an omen and manifestation of guilt or revenge depending on the character. Silent Hill 3 was ultimately a twisted coming-of-age story that explored themes of body autonomy and self-ownership. Conversely, Silent Hill 2 and Homecoming instead explore themes of accountability and atonement. There isn’t anything Pyramid Head could have added to Silent Hill 3 from a narrative standpoint and as such, he wasn’t needed.
Question: Do you think we’ll see Pyramid Head again in future releases?
Answer: it depends. If there is indeed a remake of Silent Hill 2 in development then it would make perfect sense to feature him in it. He’s a major part of the game and the story wouldn’t be complete without him. It could also provide a great opportunity to feature random encounters with him or have him serve the role of a stalker enemy as he was originally envisioned. While ultimately he remains very recognizable as a part of Silent Hill I personally hope that a potential remake of SH2 is his last canonical appearance. Konami is allowed to use him for non-canon crossovers and that’s well and fine, but if the series is to return after a decade and counting hiatus then it needs to showcase new enemies, new stories, and new ways to scare people.
Question: How many Pyramid Heads are there?
Answer: There is no firm answer to that. We’ve seen at least four canonical Pyramid Heads based on appearances in SH2 and Homecoming but that’s the type of question that Konami and the masterminds behind Silent Hill would never provide a solid answer to. If we knew there were only five of them, it would diminish the fear. A good villain has an infinite sense to them. Like how it doesn’t matter how many movies Jason is in, he just won’t die or go away. While there is a reference to a “Red Devil” in Silent Hill 4, that was confirmed to not be Pyramid Head so as far as we know there are anywhere from four to four thousand of them.
Iconic, terrifying, and delicately woven into the series’s mythology Pyramid Head is an unintentional mascot for a series that is desperate for new blood. Born from a wish to receive punishment and accountability he’s much more than Michael Meyers in a different outfit. Pyramid Head is a living embodiment of the themes of the franchise and sadly enough was also a perfect representation of it after its peak: Overexposed and lacking quality.
What started as a threat like no other turned into a cash grab by a corporation to play on nostalgia and a visceral reaction. Nevertheless, to learn him is to better learn the artistic integrity of the Silent Hill franchise, and for that, he remains important. Do you remember your first time encountering Pyramid Head?
We’d love to hear your story and in the meanwhile: We’ll all be watching the upcoming Tokyo Game Show with bated breath. Hoping that Silent Hill gets the resurrection and respect it deserves.