Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992)

Sometimes the passing of time is not kind to certain movies.  

I talk often about how, after seeing something again after 20 to 30 years, my perspective as a middle-aged adult is quite different than it was as someone in my early 20s.  Whether it be experience or just that the world has changed so much since then, having a new perspective on many films that I dismissed when I was younger has helped me enjoy them.  I don't always; there are many where I find more fault with them than I did when I first saw them.  Then there are those where I have a hard time understanding why I liked them as much as I did.

Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth is one of the latter.  I saw it in the theater when it came out, being a fan of the first two films, and although I didn't think it felt as much like a Hellraiser film I still enjoyed it.  It got away with a lot more than most horror films did around the time and was willing to get quite bloody, especially the whole scene in the nightclub.  There were some silly parts but I let them go as the movie on the whole was entertaining.

The Pillar of Souls, which rose from the bloody mattress that Dr. Channard used to resurrect Julia in Hellbound: Hellraiser II, is discovered in a strange art gallery by nightclub owner J.P. Monroe (Kevin Bernhardt) and brought back to his loft.  When a girl named Terri (Paula Marshall) removes the Lament Configuration from the Pillar it results in the death of a young man she is with, something that reporter Joey Summerskill (Terry Farrell) witnesses.  She goes in search of Terri and, after getting in touch, the two begin investigating the sculpture.

Meanwhile, J.P. accidentally gets blood on the Pillar, causing Pinhead (Doug Bradley) to return to life.  He encourages J.P. to bring others to give him sustenance so he can break free.  Captain Elliot, having been freed from being a Cenobite by Kirsty Cotton, contacts Joey to warn her of what is to come and help her remove Pinhead from Earth, where he quickly begins to form a new army of Cenobites.

As I said, I loved this when it came out.  I do see how silly it is now to have a Cenobite killing people by shooting CDs at them, but it wasn't supposed to be all that serious then.  Unfortunately, the big problem with this movie is director Anthony Hickox.  He has a few tricks up his sleave, like thrusting objects at the camera dramatically, but he fails to give this movie the dreamlike atmosphere that Clive Barker and Tony Randel gave the first two.  Randel did cowrite this one, which he was originally supposed to direct, and not letting him do so was a big mistake.  Hellbound may have been a mess in places, but it was an interesting mess, where Hickox fails to drum up excitement despite all the explosions and action going on. 

There is also a cheapness to this entry that wasn't as apparent in the first two despite the lower budgets.  After the fourth installment this would become a direct-to-video series, but this almost feels like part three should have been.  Too much of it feels like a cordoned-off set, again contributing to the fact that when big things happen they don't feel as big as they should.  The exception still is Pinhead's attack on the nightclub, which Hickox realizes brilliantly.  There is also too much use of early '90s computer effects which, given the budget, look so much worse now than they did then, something that unfortunately plagued Hickox's other movie around the time, Waxwork II: Lost in Time.

Terry Farrell is decent in this, but it's pretty obvious why she didn't become a bigger star after leaving Deep Space 9.  Paula Marshall isn't terrible and, though a bit thin, is the eye candy in the film.  Kevin Bernhardt does what he can with such a one-dimensional character.  Of course, it is Doug Bradley who is the true star, and at least Pinhead gets some decent lines, as well as a scene where he decides to attend mass in the only other truly memorable sequence in the movie.  

Parts of this are still entertaining but it takes a long time to get there.  It is far from the worst in the series, but after the heights of the first two films this is quite a bit of a disappointment.  The sad thing is it only got worse from here. 

Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992)
Time: 97 minutes
Starring: Terry Farrell, Doug Bradley, Paula Marshall, Kevin Bernhardt
Director: Anthony Hickox



Popular posts from this blog

Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)