HELLRAISER III: HELL ON EARTH
Reviewed by: Rees Savidis
What's it about
“Jesus Christ!” – J.P Monroe (Kevin Bernhardt)
“Not quite” – Pinhead (Doug Bradley)
Pinhead returns, sans his regular gaggle of fetishistic cenobites, to bring a little bit of fire and brimstone down on New York City.
Is it good movie?
I have incredibly fond memories of seeing Clive Barker’s original Hellraiser when it was released to theatres way back in ’87 - Jesus, that’s almost 20 years ago! I was a fresh-faced 14 year-old kid who’d just discovered that horror films were the be-all-end-all of what mattered in life and, despite my tender year and rules-be-damned, I was going to be in that theatre opening weekend, watching all those gruesome, skinless, candy-apple-red bodies that I’d been staring at in Fangoria for months, finally move and breathe on screen. My first attempt to steal my way into an afternoon screening landed me a seat in the PG-13 rated House II: the Second Story instead; sharp-eyed ushers be damned, I wasn’t going to let this little set-back deter me from witnessing the birth of one of horrordoms most icon figures. I swore I’d be back, that they hadn’t seen the last of Rees Savidis! The very next day I returned, stoically standing-up to the ticket-booth and announcing my intentions; I was gonna see Hellraiser today, for sure this time, no sneaking in, no elaborate subterfuge, no nothin’…this time I brought my dad - Sonsabitches had to let me in!
Five years and one sequel (Hellbound: Hellraiser II) later, I found myself settling in at the very same theatre, eagerly wringing my hands, as the third chapter, Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth flickered across the screen. I remember enjoying the film quite a bit when I walked out of the theatre, and I also recall being somewhat of a champion for it within my group of horror-hungry friends; a group that was most unkind to the film. But I have to be honest with you, I haven’t really seen much of it over the last 14 years, so I’d have to say that this afternoon – if memory serves me right- was the first time I’d watched Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth all-the-way-through in probably 10 years. For all of its kitschy charm, and despite the flood of happy memories that came back to me, Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth is kind of a piece of shit. Did it take me 14 years to get hip to something a bunch of zit-faced geeks were trying to impress on me from the get-go? No way. F**k that. And f**k them; I said Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth is “kind of” a piece of shit – just kind of. The truth of it is, is it’s still a pretty enjoyable flick and, considering the crop of shit were being offered theses days, hold up surprisingly well, although I doubt if it were released today that it would see the light of a projection booth, it would still make for a pretty kick-ass DTV sequel.
Now that I’ve grown a little bit older, slightly wiser and certainly wider, I noticed a couple of things about Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth this time around; some good, some not-so-good a some that are just plain bad. The good: It is capably directed by Waxwork and Sundown director Anthony Hickox who manages to keep things fairly even-handed without going overboard on the trickery that was so “De-jour” back in the early nineties. The not-so-good: Very, very…very poorly acted by pretty much everyone save for Doug “Pinhead” Bradley who, at this point, could probably fart most of Pinhead’s lines and make ‘em sound like Shakespeare. The just plain bad: One year after T2 pioneered CGI effects in film is probably not the best time to have a stab at doing them for 1/20th the budget. Wow, just…wow.
Video / Audio
VIDEO: Paramount has provided fans with a very nice 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer that is sure to please.
AUDIO: Straight-up, old school 2 channel stereo baby! While I appreciate the nostalgic charm of preserving the films original soundtrack, I really would have loved to have heard this sucker in full-on Dolby Digital 5.1, or better yet, DTS. This is by-far the most dynamic - from a sound design stand point – of any of the Hellraiser films and I feel that re-mastering the audio would have only served to up the ante.
As is to be expected with most cheapie DVD releases these days, the extras on this disc are barley even a blip on the radar. Here’s the list:
We get the films original theatrical trailer, as well as a 30 minute Clive Barker: The Art of Horror featurette that looks to have been dug-out from some dusty, forgotten vault someplace. The bits of information Barker dishes are, by now, pretty standard stuff - his inspirations, what scares him, what scares others etc. Considering this featurette was shot 14 years ago, fans should be fairly well versed in everything Barker has to say.
Not as good as I remember it, but certainly not as bad as some would say, Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth is still a worthy addition to your Pinhead collection.