Thursday, June 6, 2013

Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992) - A Review


“This is my body, this is my blood. Happy are they who come to my supper.”

Continuing with the Hellraiser franchinse, we move onto part three: Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth. This is the first film to break away from the canon of the first two. While we hear of Kirsty Cotton, and see a tidbit of video footage of her, it breaks away with a whole set of new characters, new Cenobites, but of course, Doug Bradley returns as Pinhead.

I love Hellraiser, and I love Pinhead, but does that mean that I love every film in the franchise? Read on to find out.

Title: Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth
Director(s): Anthony Hickox
Writer(s): Peter Atkins, Tony Randel
Producer(s): Christopher Figg, Lawrence Mortorff (Exec. Produced by Clive Barker)
Starring: Doug Bradley, Terry Farrell, Paula Marshall, Kevin Bernhardt, Ken Carpenter

I’m trying to figure how to kick this one off but I’m having a bit of trouble. I suppose the best way to go about it is to just jump right on in.

Watch out for SPOILERS, cuz here they come:

The film picks up following the pillar that Pinhead has been cast into, as a direct result of the conclusion of the last film (that rose out of Julia’s mattress). A seedy club owner, JP Monroe, with a penchant for art depicting various forms of heinous torture purchases the pillar to display in his home. By crazy happenstance, the Lament Configuration is stolen from the statue by a young man who then unleashes Hell’s wraith and ends up in the hospital where reporter Joey Summerskill (Terry Farrell) has lost yet another huge story. She gets to witness the blood and carnage as the chains that were brought in with the boy tear him apart in the emergency room.

After Joey tracks down the young woman that arrived with the poor soul, she extends her a place to stay in exchange for information. The young woman, Terri, informs her that “the box did it” and gives Joey the Lament Configuration. Upon further investigation, Joey is able to retrieve the video-taped interviews of Kirsty Cotton from the Channard Institute, in which Kirsty vividly describes the Cenobites and the torture that the box unleashes on those who open it.

Meanwhile, JP discovers the power that the pillar holds when blood is shed on it, and Pinhead consumes his latest conquest. Pinhead, now simply a head attached to a stone body, offers JP the great pleasures of the world, “Flesh, Power and Dominion”, if JP provides him with enough sustenance to return to his former power and escape the pillar.

With Pinhead on the loose, he quickly begins to rain terror down on not only the nightclub but anyone who stands in his way as his mission to being Hell to Earth begins to come to fruition.


So. In theory, this film could have been great.  There were a multitude of reasons as to why I think that this movie was overall a failure for the franchise.

It’s hard to rebound from such a solid start, especially when you change directors and cast. If it weren’t for Doug Bradley bringing yet another amazing performance as Pinhead, this film would have almost no redeeming qualities to me. The story focuses on Joey Summerskill (Terry Farrell), our new protagonist, and her inability to get a solid story as a reporter. She befriends local derelict and 90’s goth-girl, Terri (Paula Marshall), who doesn’t have a home and comes from a rocky background leaving her feeling dejected, used and starved for affection. The main problem with this are the actresses who played these two characters. I found myself getting frustrated at how terrible they were. It seemed almost as if Terry Farrell was a no-name actor, picked off the streets, who watched every horror movie she could and portrayed the worst possible charade of a “scream queen” that I’ve ever seen. There was no conviction in her delivery, it just seemed sad. It really wasn’t just Terry Farrell, I shouldn’t pick on her, the cast as a whole was in shambles. Enough on that though, let’s move on.

A high point of the film for me was, of course, Pinhead’s return. When he is finally freed from the pillar he wreaks some of the worst havoc in the entire franchise, the blood spills and he is happy to see it do so. I also love Pinhead’s dialogue, it’s beautiful in a very morbid way, and he has some lines in this one that are just… perfect.

A perk of this film is also the fact that we see a bit of Pinhead’s backstory and how he came to be Pinhead, not like in the second chapter where we physically see him become Pinhead, but who he was before the Lament Configuration changed his life forever. He had a new fervency in this film, his desire and appetite for flesh and the incitement of suffering was intense and I loved every second of it.

I only wish that we saw the original Cenobites in this one. Pinhead creates a new army of Cenobites, and they were just god awful. No one will ever top The Chatterer, Butterball and The Female. They are the original, and the best, but this new gang just seemed… well… insulting. We had “CD head” (?), who had compact disks embedded into his head, and would throw them at lethal speeds into his victims. There was “bartender man” (once again, ?) who blew fire and threw martini shakers full of gasoline at his victims. Among other equally bad ideas and concepts, I found these two to be the worst.

Really now? This looks like a cheap haunted house advertisement.

Let’s get to the P’s and C’s:

1. Pinhead.
That’s about it, really. Watch this, if anything, for the scene in the church, holy shit.
2. Hellraiser IV: Bloodline. The next one isn’t nearly as bad as this one.

1. Most everything. I really wish there were more good things to say about this film, but I’m afraid that there just isn’t. I want to wrap this review up in short time because I’m afraid that I could go on and on about all the things that I found wrong with it. From the acting, to the silly Cenobite crew (that had a penchant for awful one liners), it just fell way short, especially for it to follow Hellbound. If this was the 5th or 6th installment, it’d be a bit more understandable, but it completes the original trilogy.

So, will I recommend this to people? Probably not. Not by a long shot. I believe that you can watch this franchise and skip over this one and it’ll still be fine, you won’t miss anything too important that you can’t catch up on browsing Wikipedia. However, do you wanna have some beers with friends and throw on a silly movie to laugh at? This would be your pick, because honestly, Pinhead is an absolute badass in it.


-Rg Lovecraft

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