Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth

Often horror franchises will set out on one path, hang out with one set of characters for the first couple entries or so and then go back to the drawing board to shift gears completely, placing their action and mythology elsewhere in a different scenario. It gives fresh perspective, new characters and a chance for an atmospheric transference to a new environment, which I think Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth handles terrifically. The nightmarish Rubik’s cube has somehow made its way to a 90’s big city and is purchased by an obnoxious nightclub owning freak-show (Kevin Bernhardt) who uses its otherworldly aura to boost both his club’s atmosphere and his own bizarre sex life. The cube, embedded in a sculptured pillar, has a mind of its own though and soon Pinhead and his merry little gang escape from their stoney prison and wreak all madness and havoc throughout the city, starting with an impossibly bloody free for all at the club. One intrepid reporter (Terry Farrell) knows a good story when she sees one and begins to get embroiled in the Cenobites plan for citywide mayhem, along with her friend (Paula Marshall). Pinhead is fun in this one because it’s not like the first two where he just gets summoned from the cube and is there all ready to go, here he’s been trapped in that stone pillar for quite sometime and has a lot of pent up rambunctious energy and when he gets loose, he *really* unleashes hell. He’s got some… quite interesting homies in this one too, not the same peeps from the first two. There’s one cenobite with CD’s embedded into its head who chucks them around like ninja stars and amputated people’s limbs. Another one has a fancy camera on its face and uses filmmaker lingo as it kills people and as ridiculous as these two might seem initially, one must remember that the cube and the forces within seem to mirror human experience back at us with their shenanigans so it kind of makes sense in a way, plus I greatly appreciated such audacious creativity. Bradley gets to play both Pinhead here and the colonial era British explorer who he used to be for a nice touch of variation and duality. This one was a blast; stunning gore and visual effects, nostalgic 90’s aura, a wicked fun female protagonist and a playful tone that sets it apart from the first two.

-Nate Hill