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In 2001, Konami introduced Silent Hill: 2 (Restless Dreams) and
forever changed the world of survival horror. With its non-stop ride of
creepy atmosphere and unbearable tension, even the most hardened fans
of the horror genre found themselves face-to-face with nightmares
beyond imagine. Dan Birlew, author of the official strategy guide
wrote, "I believe the entire game development community has a new
standard to which to rise1..."
The fans agreed. When a movie adaptation of Silent Hill was
finally approved by its protective Konami creators, an outcry from the
fans soon followed; begging its screenwriter, Roger Avary, to adapt
Restless Dreams; more so than any other game in the series.2 Creators
of horror movies and games alike continue to look to this masterpiece
for inspiration even now; nearly a decade after its release. (Dead
Space  producer, Glen Schofield named it as one of their major
design influences3) Since its debut, Silent Hill: 2 has remained on, if
not at the top of most lists of scariest video games4, scariest video
game moments5, and of course, scariest video game villains6.
In this case, a villain that was created to strike fear into
the heart of the protagonist and gamers alike became so much more; an
icon. He's been called The Red Pyramid, Red Pyramid Thing, The Butcher,
Bogeyman, The Executioner, The Red Devil...but no matter what you call
him, this helmeted, blood-stained creature known fondly as Pyramid Head
remains horror king supreme - and a fan favorite.
Designed by Team Silent's Masahiro Ito, "Red Pyramid Thing"
was created with more than a mere monster or video game boss in mind.
As the form of an executioner from Silent Hill's dark past7, Pyramid
Head represents punishment. It is implied that whoever encounters him
does so because of a deep-seeded guilt and desire for atonement.
What sets Pyramid Head apart from other survival horror
villains is the fact that he's not just obsessed with the protagonist;
in fact, he would gladly kill supporting characters or other monsters
without prejudice; and often does. No amount of Silent Hill horror
prepared gamers for what is considered, to this day, to be one of the
scariest moments in video game history5. Hiding in a closet, James sees
Pyramid Head for the first time - and watches helplessly as he brutally
assaults and kills other monsters with ease. It is during that
heart-pounding moment, when Pyramid Head turns from his victims to us,
that we know what real terror feels like.
Pyramid Head wields The Great Knife, which he drags behind
him - emitting the horrific scraping noise that has become his calling
card. Sometimes, but only in Silent Hill 2, he carries a spear and just
when you've changed your pants, here he comes with another Pyramid
Head. James can even steal The Great Knife at one point in the game,
and though it may be slow and heavy, the blade makes for a devastating
Despite the initial shock of his brutality, Pyramid Head
became so popular with the fans that he appeared again in the Silent
Hill comic book series, Silent Hill: The Arcade (Only available in
Japan), Silent Hill: Origins, Silent Hill: Homecoming (Silent Hill V)
and the Silent Hill movie. (The film was inspired by the original game,
despite fan outcries, but director Christophe Gans felt that The Red
Pyramid still played a pivotal role in his vision for the story.8) A
caricature version of Pyramid Head can also be selected in the
New International Track & Field for Nintendo DS.
Although hardcore fans argue over his "true" name and
appearance, Silent Hill producer and composer, Akira Yamaoka agrees
that since Pyramid Head is a manifestation of guilt and the desire for
punishment, his appearance will be translated by each character's
psyche8. As such, he is depicted in a unique way each time he is
encountered throughout the franchise.
"...Beware of he who took them, he goes by many names: the Bogeyman, the Shadowed One, but all are he - the same..."
Pyramid Head, as seen in Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams
Red Pyramid, as seen in the Silent Hill movie adaptation
The Butcher, as seen in Silent Hill: Origins (aka Silent Hill: Zero)
Bogeyman, as seen in Silent Hill: Homecoming
Costume changes aside, Pyramid Head has become an icon for
both the Silent Hill series and horror games alike. He is perhaps the
deepest, most symbolic villain in video game history; fascinating and horrifying all at once. Call him what you will...but if you find yourself
alone in the darkness, hearing the long, metal scrape of The Great
Knife growing near; know that as your heart races, your atonement will
soon be at hand. Now ask yourself: how would he appear to you...?
"...so do not cry aloud at night, stay hidden in your bed...or
the Bogeyman from Silent Hill will come chop off your head." - Silent