Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth

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I feel I should open by noting that at one point in time, "Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth" was my favorite entry in the series. And that point in time? When I was about twelve years old and watched the first three movies for the first time on cable in the late 90's. Edited for content and for the allotted time, of course. But looking back now? It's a mildly entertaining mess.

A young reporter named Joey is in for the story of her life when she is drawn into a dark series of invents involving a mysterious pillar and the nefarious puzzle box known as the Lament Configuration. As it turns out, the demonic Pinhead is still very much alive, having fractured away from his former human spirit Elliot Spencer. And Joey must team up with the ghostly Spencer in order to try and vanquish Pinhead once and for all.

The most frustrating thing about the film is that, on a surface level, there's actually the seeds of a good story there. And in the hands of a different filmmaker, perhaps the film could have worked. There's some really solid ideas at play. Unfortunately, director Anthony Hickox seems like an ill fit for the "Hellraiser" sage. While he's proven himself capable with fun films like the "Waxwork" duology, his style just doesn't jive with the script. The film is way too flashy and overproduced, and lacks the deliberation and nuance such a story needs to flourish. It's very uneven, and at times feels more akin to a music video than a horror film. And it leaves the film feeling like a bit of a mess.

Additionally, the bulk of the cast feel very, well... miscast. Star Terry Farrell is objectively likable and may be easy on the eyes, but she has a weird tendency to over-act or under-act at peculiar times. It makes it hard to take her seriously. And then there's Kevin Bernhardt, who is almost deliciously awful as a vain, womanizing nightclub owner who becomes a pawn for Pinhead. Let's just say I wasn't surprised to learn that he got his start on soap operas. It's just unfortunate that he has such a big part. Honestly, the only non-returning cast-member to emerge unscathed is the underrated Paula Marshall, who has a supporting role as an almost "adorkable," insecure young woman that helps out Joey for a period of time. She's actually pretty darned solid.

Now, all that having been said, there is still some entertainment to be had. The movie has all of the trademark goo and gore you'd expect from a "Hellraiser" story, and series star Doug Bradley knocks the role of Pinhead out of the park once again. No matter what, he always puts in a very good performance. And the movie does have plenty of surface-level thrills. On a purely superficial level, it's still fun to watch. There's some good spectacle here and there, and a few nifty sequences where Hickox actually does a good job conveying mood. But it's just not enough to totally save the film in my opinion.

At the end of the day, "Hell on Earth" is easily the weakest of the theatrical "Hellraiser" films. It's good for a few laughs, but unless you're a particularly hardcore fan, I think it's one you may wanna skip. I'm giving it a sub-par but watchable 2 out of 5.

TedStixon

Continuity mistake: In the first hospital scene, where a kid dies by the hook-tipped chains in the operating room, there is a point where his head just explodes. Later, when Joey opens the door, for a second you can clearly see the kid's body, still with a head.

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Trivia: Peter Jackson was reportedly asked to direct, and while he entertained the notion, he ultimately turned down the opportunity as at the time he mainly worked on broad comedic horror films and felt he would not be a good fit for the material.

TedStixon

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Question: When Pinhead kills JP Monroe, what is the device that is affixed to Monroe's head that is also part of his Cenobite form?

Phaneron Premium member

Chosen answer: It's a piston. 2 piston rods are jammed through his head and they move powered by something unknown. You can see the crank shaft and part of some sort of cylinder. A piston is part of an internal combustion engine. It's part of his cenobite form since he liked cars.

lionhead

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