“Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth” (1992)

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By Jerome Reuter

Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth is the third installment in the legendary franchise, and is also completely unnecessary. As I’ve stated before, the franchise should have concluded after the first two installments. However, sequels to such iconic films have a guaranteed audience. A film such as this, is another case of accountancy being placed before storytelling.

The first two installments, Hellraiser and  Hellraiser II, created a mythology, and brought it to a fitting conclusion. Hell On Earth, makes an attempt to build upon what the first two films established. An attempt, that does not succeed in any way, shape, or form. Even going so far as to rehash certain elements from the first two films.

It revisits one of the more interesting aspects of Hellraiser II, the origin of Pinhead. Doug Bradley once again reprises his double role as the lead cenobite, and English army officer Elliot Spencer. Placing a great deal of the plot around Spencer trying to subdue Pinhead, is one of the many disappointments with this one. The Second installment gave us the origin, and it gave us the death, and sometimes less is more. I’ll give Bradley credit, he always does his best with the material he’s given.

Seeing as the original Cenobites died at the end of Hellraiser II, we’re given new ones. The best way to describe them, you might ask? Profound disappointment. The design and look of Hell’s newest minions, have the appearance of cheap Halloween costumes. Cenobites went from grotesque demons, to creatures with cameras and CD’s embedded in their flesh.

Which leads me to the biggest complaint I have with this one. The whole effort seems to be a product pandering to the MTV generation. Stripping the gothic element of the first two completely away, and replacing it with something for generation x. A good amount of sequences take place at a heavy metal club, that reminded me of the ‘Gas Works’ from Wayne’s World. With a cameo from Armored Saint, and music from Motorhead and KFMDM, it’s quite apparent who this film was trying to appeal to. After all, there’s a reason I often refer to this one as “The MTV Hellraiser.”

With bad design, poor dialogue, and laughable effects, it’s no wonder this was a bomb. Clive Barker’s original vision was completely reformulated, to fit a demographic. Although credited as executive producer, he had little to no creative input on this, or any of the sequels that followed. It’s my belief, this is one of the reasons he finally decided to do away with Pinhead in his newest book, The Scarlett Gospels.

No more sequels, please. It’s a waste of good filmmaking.

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