Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Doug Bradley, Kevin Bernhardt, Lawrence Mortorff, Paula Marshall, Terry Farrell, Ken Carpenter, Sharon Hill, Clayton Hill, and Ashley Laurence
Directed by Anthony Hickox
Distributed by Paramount Home Video
We all know about suffering through the wait. There are some horror movies out there that are taking entirely too long to make their DVD debuts. Monster Squad anyone? Night of the Creeps maybe? It’s even more irritating if you’re a collector and have to have everything. Especially the missing umpteenth entry in a series. There’s nothing more annoying than missing just one part of a franchise because no one has released it yet. We try in vain to fill that void with imports, or even bootlegs, but it’s still not the same. Such was the case with Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth. Every sucky (and not-so-sucky) entry in this series has been readily available for a few years now except for this elusive little title. Is the chase finally over? Well, not quite. Before we get into all that, let’s start with the film’s premise.
After the Channard Institute (the setting for Hellbound: Hellraiser II) is closed down, all of its belongings have been either trashed or sold. One such item finds itself on exhibit and up for sale in an art gallery. “The Pillar of Souls” sits waiting ominously for anyone with the desire to take it home. Of course some sicko digs what he sees, and before you know it, the chains are flying and the flesh is ripping. While poking around at a local hospital, Joey (Farrell), a reporter looking to break into the biz, is witness to one such flesh torn victim’s bloody demise. Shocked, yet full of questions, she decides to further investigate this bizarre death.
Call me crazy, but if I see someone torn apart by floating chains, I’m out the front door without looking back.
Her path leads her right into the waiting hooks of everyone’s favorite Cenobite, Pinhead. The pinned one has a bit of a different agenda in this go-around. Instead of claiming souls and taking them to Hell, he opts instead to walk — and eventually rule — the Earth. Even a demon has got to have goals. Can Joey figure out the riddle of the Lament Configuration and send him back to Hell? Considering that there were five more sequels after this one, I’m sure you already know the score.
It’s hard to keep things fresh in a series past the second installment. Truth be told Hellraiser III is one of my least favorite flicks in the franchise, mainly because it’s just plain goofy. Pinhead does get to go on a bit of a bloody rampage, but that’s about the only thing this sub-par monstrosity has going for it. Everything else is mediocre at best. In its defense Hellraiser III does try to do a lot of things right but pretty much fails at every attempt. Especially in the new Cenobite department. Camera-head? CD guy? Burn-you-with-a-cigarette chick? All lame. Lame, lame, LAME. I really have to wonder how the makers of HIII thought that these creatures were in any way cool. All that, coupled with some then state-of-the-art, now sickeningly amaturish, CGI effects, makes for a pretty tedious viewing.
Let’s get back to my comments regarding the chase for this film not quite being over. Although the film is finally here as an official Region 1 DVD release, it’s the R-rated cut, not the unrated. Some four minutes have been trimmed in this version. About three minutes were needless exposition, but there’s a lot of gore missing, notably from the war sequence and Pinhead’s rampage through the Boiler Room club. I’m sure VHS and laser disc owners are still happy with their unrated goodies, but those of us looking to see the naughty bits on DVD have to just keep on waiting. Sad, but true.
On the positive side of things, the fine folks at Paramount have not given us another bare-bones release. Included in this package as an extra is the near thirty-minute featurette aptly named, Clive Barker: The Art of Horror. In it Barker’s work and life are explored from his humble beginnings to the connection he shares with his fans. Honestly, this well made short film alone warrants the purchase of this DVD, but I do have one gripe: The picture quality and the sound on this featurette are horrible. It looks as if it was just ripped from an old VHS tape that was found lying around the office. Well, at least it’s here I guess.
Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth may not be the best film in the franchise, but now fans can finally get rid of that full-screen Canadian DVD that claims to be a “Special Edition” yet is completely void of anything that can even remotely be considered an extra.
Now if only someone would get busy and bring us Phantasm II and III. Then I’ll be really happy.
Clive Barker: The Art of Horror featurette
2 1/2 out of 5