Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, spelt the end of the franchise as we knew it. Away from its compelling origin and into the standard slasher fare that studios knew how to market.
Trying to continue from where we left off, Pinhead is still in his sexy torture pillar. Or known as the Pillar of Souls (you decide which name is better). With his Cenobites and can but only wait until a foolish soul comes near.
Tv reporter Jo, (Terry Farrell). Is looking for a quick scoop at the hospital when a man is brought in with ominous chains embedded into his skin. When released they cause Jo to begin investigating the suspicious nature of how and why they got there in the first place. Meanwhile, nightclub owner JP Monroe (Kevin Bernhardt) has just bought the Pillar of Souls for his club. The same pillar that Pinhead and others were stuck in last time out. Tempted by Pinhead, Monroe begins to feed the pillar to release all of the Cenobites onto Earth.
Well, this was certainly a film that existed. I will not be kind to the film in this review, as I just remember it angering teenage Scott. So it is only fair to say from the start that it is hard to blame writers Peter Atkins, Tony Randel and director Anthony Hickox. They were brought in to do the job and from what has been shared. This was very studio led, even with the hefty budget that came along with it. But, sometimes it is just better to get the frustrations out about a film…
The most glaring of issues is that to be turned into a Cenobite was to be seen as an honour like our good evil Dr Channard from Hellbound. Yet it is decided everyone and their mummy can be a Cenobite, and it is as easy as turning into a zombie it seems. Even worse, these changes are not even gruesome or sinister. A person who was a DJ is turned and can fling out discs from his forehead. It is truly uninspired and a great disappointment as any special effects designer in the early 90s would have been begging to mould people into the worst possible demons, and we get, well these lads down below.
Wait, that isn’t necessarily true, as we also have Pinhead, this creepy fairly silent in control demon, become Freddie Kruger with how he acts and his needless one-liners that are not sinister in the slightest. It is a travesty that a character such as him can be turned into something he is not. We also get way too much of him and the Cenobites, these are creatures best suited in the dark or their world, not having a lovely evening jaunt down the street chasing our heroine. It is pointless and removes all fear you can have for these overzealous Halloween costumed folks.
I spoke in the previous review of Hellbound where I would have had it and Hell on Earth go and I stand firmly with it. Having the Pillar of souls sold as an art piece to a creepy guy (not a person who wants to fully delve deeper into the darkness of the world is horrible and undersells the entire franchise. Monroe just doesn’t fit with the “bad” human of the piece in comparison to Frank Cotton and Dr. Channard. He means well and has the style of someone who could venture down the psychosexual route, but he is all style and no substance and it just disappoints.
The same is said for our protagonist. Maybe we were just spoiled by Ashley Laurence’s performances as Kirsty that when we have a replacement. Who is effectively going down the ambulance-chasing career that Louis Bloom would revel in, then we are conflicted. Do we care for her? Kirsty was a wholesome character who was potentially abused as a child and fought through it all twice. Here, we have a wannabe journalist who is just a shady Nancy Drew.
Yet, if you remove the thoughts and love you have for the first two films, this is trashy fun. The complete opposite of what a Hellraiser is, sure. But for a 90s horror film? Pretty harmless. Everything about Hellraiser III screams the 90s, from the production design to the cast themselves. I don’t think American Psycho could imagine as yuppyish a cast as we have here. But what screams horror and grunge more than hot gothic people. I am pretty sure you could make a 90s horror checklist and this film could tick it all. Impressive for a film released so early in the decade! Maybe everyone copied Hellraiser III, wouldn’t that be the best/worst thing to learn?
This is the type of film that suits the so bad, it is still bad and let’s just talk over it and have a laugh. It is a party film. Imagine watching Hellraiser in 1987 and thinking how this world could be expanded on with sequels. Then a year later seeing a decent enough, if ultimately flawed sequel. To then 4 years later be given this trashy waste of celluloid. Maybe that is a bit harsh as Hellraiser III works for the first act or so until we get to go outside. It isn’t great, but it works enough to get by. Much like the Xenomorph, Cenobites work best in the shadows, light is not their friend. No matter how much you want to show off their design.
In the end, then, we have a film that takes the franchise in a direction that diehards will regret, but one that we effectively are a template for how the next number of sequels will go.
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