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Movie Reviews

Hellraiser III

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Reviewed by Liam Griffiths

Released: February 19th 1993 (UK)

Directed by: Anthony Hickox

Starring: Terry Farrell, Doug Bradley, Kevin Bernhardt

Certificate: 18 (UK)

Hell on Earth is an enormous departure for Hellraiser, largely due to how easily it abandons it’s atmospheric roots and embraces the Rocky Horror style of 80’s cinema instead. Interestingly, this was the last film in the series to be actually written as a Hellraiser movie – all sequels following this one began their lives as something else, only to be hastily re-written to include Pinhead and his despicable cronies. That should be indicative that the people in charge of the franchise (Creator Clive Barker had essentially disowned the series from here on out) had little to no interest in creating a meaningful narrative by the end of this film.

 Hell on Earth tells the story of a chauvinistic, depraved club owner (Kevin Bernhardt) who buys an intriguing looking statue from a mysterious exhibition. Only, of course, that statue houses the undiluted evil of Pinhead (Again portrayed by Doug Bradley), and it’s not long before he weasels his way free and begins harvesting souls. So, with the help of Captain Elliot Spencer (Pinhead’s since separated human soul) an investigative reporter sets out to stop Pinhead from taking over the world.

 With layers upon layers of cheese and some nice poo flavoured crackers to compliment them, Hell on Earthsucceeds only in being an absolute stinker of a movie. There was certainly potential, had it been somewhat more restrained in it’s cartoonish presentation, but frankly the only thing this film is good for is as a demonstration of what-not-to-do with a truly entertaining villain. Pinhead is a caricature of his origins here, hamming it up with one-liners and pantomime speeches at any opportunity.

 It’s not even like the writing was salvageable by a better crew either – it’s fundamentally awful in almost every way. Actors are stilted and uncomfortable, scenes are depressingly predictable and slow moving – even the ones with Bradley growling his way through the awful script like a cornered wolf. He does his best with what he’s given, but frankly, what he was given was so terrible it would have taken a miracle to wade out of it smelling of anything other than rancid faeces.

 A particularly daft scene (and probably the only stand-out sequence in the film) sees a freshly unleashed Pinhead going postal on a club full of hapless morons, who scream and die at the hands of various sentient paraphernalia. Pinhead then uses his GCSE in Arts & Craft to put together some modern-technology themed Cenobite minions from the piles of corpses – there’s a dude with an entire video camera in place of his eye, a guy with a bunch of Vinyl discs implanted in his skull and a barman who breathes alcoholic fire and throws Molotov cocktails at people. It’s silly, but not in a fun way. The not-at-all-good Claymation and special effects betray any irony or horror held within, blowing it out like a waning candle in a tornado of farts.

 It’s probably a side-effect of Hellraiser finding success shortly following the height of Heavy Metal’s heyday, and those gung-ho hard rock sentiments seem to have seeped into the series from every orifice – there’s even a live Metal band (the real life, awesomely named ‘Armoured Priest’ , who also wrote the credits song for this film) playing when we are first introduced to ‘The Boiler Room’. Leather clad metallers, silly haircuts and blistering guitar riffs make up the bulk of the mood, turning it into the kind of horror only a fashion designer could appreciate.

Aside from its obvious failings and generally depressing quality, I can see it’s not beyond the realms of enjoyment. Someone, deranged though they may be, can surely find some fun within this slapstick, cheese-ridden mess – but to be honest, the only thing I found waiting for me is a worrying husk of what might have been. A shame, really, that it only took three films to desecrate Hellraiser’s once fascinating corpse.

What in Hell is waiting for me from here?

25 year old film fanatic who loves rock music, Xbox and cat videos on Youtube. I also tweet @lewisvstheworld

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