Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, 1992
directed by Anthony Hickox
starring Terry Farrell, Paula Marshall, Doug Chapman
After two strong films to start the series, it’s time to (no pun intended) watch the Hellraiser series go to hell. Unlike the second film of the series, the third feels less like a sequel and more of a generic studio movie with the Hellraiser theme applied over it. Stylistically it’s very different, and it’s hard to fault the creators for trying something new, but it’s just cliched waste of time, devoid of any atmosphere that the first two films were known for. Much of the film drags on in its effort to expand on the story behind the first two films. But while so much time is spent on the pre-story, not a whole lot is actually added or particularly interesting. As a result, the film is left to scramble near the end, lost between acting like a prequel and a throwaway, box-office bait of a sequel.
As mentioned, the drastic drop in atmosphere is particularly disappointing, but it’s also the villains of the film that suffer. The initial appearance of Pinhead takes far too long, and eventually is surprisingly disappointing. There is a different attitude to him this time around. It seems undue to blame Doug Bradley, portraying Pinhead for the third consecutive time, but rather the script. One of the things I really enjoyed about the first two Hellraiser movies was the unwavering evilness Pinhead had, without humor and silly lines. In this entry, he has traded that solemn darkness for a slightly lighter, and unfortunately a less intimidating villain. His potency also comes into question, whereas he was so powerful in the first, begins to make the stereotypical horror-villain mistakes and lapses of killer instinct.
The final portion of the film is an absolute mess, and moves far from the horror genre. It’s littered with explosions and nonsensical chase scenes. Less of a horror movie, it starts to feel more like a backlot tour at Universal Studios. The acting throughout is extremely poor, at times comical. There are only a few positive moments scattered throughout the movie for me: occasionally cool makeup effects, and the eventual reveal of Cenobites. And, to be quite honest, I absolutely loved a particular line from Pinhead: “Human dreams, such fertile grounds for sowing the seeds of torment.” A great line, but this movie was an absolute torment.