Film review: Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 6 1992 12:00 a.m. MDT

My idea of hell is having to sit through any one of the "Hellraiser" trilogy again — but especially the latest, "Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth."

This is unquestionably one of the most gruesome and unpleasant horror movies it has ever been my misfortune to review, a film that will appeal strictly to die-hard (no pun intended) fans of cinematic gore. And even they will have to acknowledge the confusion in what little plot exists here, the amateurish acting and the film's tedious, plodding snail's pace.

Clive Barker, the acclaimed horror novelist who conceived and directed the first film, apparently had little if anything to do with this sequel. He's been called "the next Stephen King," but since King's work also inspires terrible horror movies, do we really need him?

The central character here is ostensibly a TV newswoman (Terry Farrell) who is tired of being assigned to cover fluff. She yearns for a tough story that will legitimize her status. "I want tight stories, not tight skirts," she laments, though her protestations don't seem to change her wardrobe.

But anyone who's seen the earlier incarnations in this series knows that the real star is "Pinhead," the Freddy Krueger of these films, a bald demon with nails imbedded in his face and head (Doug Bradley, who also plays a second role). In an effort to distinguish Pinhead from Freddy Krueger, however, the filmmakers don't have him drop one-liners when he skins and gorges on his victims; his zombie followers get the gag lines.

Anyway, Farrell gets her big story when she happens to be in a hospital as a victim of Pinhead is brought in, complete with fishhooks and chains connected to his flesh. For good measure, his head explodes in the operating room.

Farrell decides that this might be a story. Boy, she's good. So, she connects with a homeless young woman (Paula Marshall) who knew the victim and is soon led to The Boiler Room, a decadent nightclub decorated in early Torquemada. Marshall gives Farrell this series' second lead character, the mysterious box that looks like a Rubik's Cube and opens the doorway to hell.

Pinhead, frozen inside a weird statue, soon devours enough stripped human carcasses to take on his own persona and battles Farrell for the box.

None of this makes much sense and there isn't really any good vs. evil showdown here since it doesn't seem to matter much in Barker's world who are victims or who saves the world or why.

In the end this is simple-minded gore for gore's sake and it's clear the film's budget was spent almost entirely on special effects. Next time, maybe they should hire a writer and director.

"Hellraiser III" is rated R for considerable violence and gore, as well as profanity, sex and nudity.

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