Archive for the 'Retro Stuff' Category

Nov

Comments Off on Friday the 13th: Part III

To celebrate Friday the 13th by watching Friday the 13th, I wanted to take a look back at my favorite Friday, “Friday the 13th Part III.” It’s like watching “Die Hard” at Christmas at my house.
Part III, how do I love thee? Lemme count. Number one, there’s the sweet 80’s main theme that I like to call Disco Jason. Such a party track. Number two, Part III is in 3D, and many copies you can buy even come with old school 3D glasses. (And, mercifully, the option to watch in 2D.) But number three and most importantly, this is the first Friday where Jason is the Jason we know, love, and make action figures of, the man in the mask Alice Cooper belted about in part VI. I mean, everyone knows Mrs. Voorhees is the killer in part one, and in II, Jason’s rocking a flour sack and not truly at full Jason – although, in fairness, he is mourning his crazy mama. Part III is Jason moving on, out of the shack with mama’s severed head, out of the camp setting entirely, and while he’s still pretty human looking around the edges, we do get the hockey masked, immortal/undead/zombie/whatever the hell he is killing machine of legend and box art in this movie.

Part III opens with the end of part II, just in case you were afraid you’d be lost in the mythology. Ginny, the Final Girl of II, pretends to be Jason’s mama and then machetes him real good in the shoulder. When the coast is clear though, we see wounded Jason scoot away into the darkness. Then we rock out with Disco Jason and 3D movie credits invade our personal space.
But the movie really starts with a bickering couple, presumably middle-aged, although I think the wife is actually pretty young and they put her in a bathrobe and curlers to make her insta-45. Bickering couple are just chilling out at their combination crappy home/crappy rural grocery, when the wife listens to local news recount the aftermath of part II, so of course, Jason’s ears are burning. It’s OK; bickering couple were just the appetizer.
After we’ve established that Jason’s on the loose and his stabbing arm is all warmed up, we get to meet our crew of nubile young victims. And they’re in a van. They even have a pair of stoners in the van. I’m just glad they didn’t have a dog, because I cannot stand violence against animals.

OK, so roll call: we’ve got Chris, the Final Girl – we know this because she’s a pretty, but serious girl, kinda turned off of sex, and she both owns the van and has a boy’s name. We have Shelly, who attempts to make up for his lack of traditional good looks with gory practical jokes and pouting about how no one likes him; the stoner couple; Deb the pregnant girl and her innocuous boyfriend Andy; and finally, Vera, a cool Latina who was conned into being Shelly’s date. Pretty good selection for Jason to run through. Despite happening upon a crazy old man who warns them, um…pretty much just to be warned, he’s not very specific, the kids continue to Chris’s family farm, which is also convenient to Camp Blood.

When they arrive, Chris meets up with Rick, an old boyfriend, and she starts to get emo and ominous about not being back to the place for two years. I would like to take a moment and point out that despite not seeing each other for an undefined amount of time or being in a current relationship, Rick instantly begins pressuring Chris to get snuggly and never, ever stops. I realize inviting a guy to spend a weekend with you strongly implies receptivity to snuggling, but let her finish a sentence, you horndog. Rick’s painted as a good guy, driving a VW Beetle and everything, but really, he’s a jerk. Jason will make it better, I’m sure.

Back to the plot. I need to introduce a few more victims. Our other variety of jerk (bigus fatus jerkus), Shelly, goes with Vera to a local grocery for supplies. This grocery, however, is being menaced by a three-person biker gang. They don’t do much though besides threaten the kids a little bit, and you have to wonder exactly how much tough biker ganging there is to be done in a brightly-lit country store too small to even have aisles. Shelly manages to back over one of their bikes as they leave though, and in so doing unwittingly adds three more to Jason’s kill list, because you know the gang’s going to have to follow them and try to get revenge.

All the dominoes are now set up, and it’s fun to see how Jason knocks them down. 3D filming techniques will assist where possible. He’s less creative than he will be in the future, of course, but I believe he does innovate the fuse box kill here, and while there are some callbacks – Kevin Bacon’s death in the first “Friday the 13th” is a good one – they’re well repurposed.
It all comes down to Jason and Chris though, and we learn through torturous, onion peeling dialogue scenes that this is not her first rodeo with a deformed psycho killer. In fact…it was at this very place on the lake… Sigh. Chris, you’re an idiot, aren’t you?

I will give Chris credit for being a pretty effective Final Girl, using things in her environment as diverse and innocuous as hay bales and manual car windows to her advantage and executing traps with minimal whimpering. I wouldn’t be able to go close enough to Jason to loop a noose around his neck, uh-uh, no way. She may not be Kirsty Cotton or Laurie Strode, but she’s pretty tough stuff. Not as tough as Jason, but hey, who is? Jason’s basically jerky to start with.

roadside attractions

  • Brand-new crazy old man to warn the kids about Jason
  • Jason finds his signature look
  • Central casting stoners
  • Central casting bikers
  • Fried hippie
  • Not practicing speargun safety
  • Not practicing hammock safety
  • Red-hot poker action
  • The Boy Who Cried Psycho Killer
  • I am crushing your head
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

A little dated and heavy on the eyeballs for my taste, but Jason shows real enthusiasm for this kind of work.

2

blood

BREASTS


Fleeting exposure in a pretty self-conscious shower scene.

8

beast

BEASTS Jason will get hulkier, maggotier, and more inventive in later sequels, but there wouldn’t have been a Jason X without Disco Jason.

8 OVERALL There’s a purity to Part III I enjoy. The formula is solid by this point without being overdone, and it’s happy to just be what it is: a big dumb fun slasher movie for Reagan’s America.
dripper

Watch the trailer to “Friday the 13th: Part III”

trailers

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Aug

Comments Off on MegaForce


What more is there to say about MegaForce when I can show you a picture of Barry Bostwick in costume? Move over GI Joe, the solid gold dancers are Earth’s greatest fighting force.

This gem from 1982 reeks of the modern day Hollywood formula, ACTION > PLOT. “Here’s a list of scenes that will send audiences into orgasmic bliss, write a story around them. You know what? Don’t waste your time. We’ll figure it out in editing.” Director Hal Needham, was a well known stuntman, need I say more? The MegaForce team is a group of the world’s best soldiers and a guy from the Southern US. See, like NASA they all have flag patches to display their origins. Dallas, Bostwick’s number 2, has the recently maligned confederate flag on his arm. These spandex clad motorcycle jockeys are like every other superior fighting force that’s off the books, they get called in for the tough jobs. Save the country, save the world? Um, no. Thwart tyranny or remove a corrupt dictator? Not really. There current assignment is to bait a warlord into crossing the border of the current country he is terrorizing into one where the proper military can take him down and arrest him legally. I’m not sure why you’d use the precision and expertise of the solid gold dancers as bait. I guess they don’t want MegaForce to take this guy out because that would look like the military crossed the border and their authority?
The wrong stuff
If you’re going to wear golden spandex, your vehicles have to be tricked out as well. Instead of some drab military colors, they’ve got custom paint jobs on each piece of transport featuring a very 80’s lightning bolt pattern. MEGAFORCE! “But wait! That doesn’t sound very stealthy.” No worries, there’s some techno babble to explain that the “photo sensitive” paint reacts to the light. When it’s night time, the vehicles are completely black. In the day time, more obnoxious than college kids at a big ten football game. The motorcycles are Battlestar Galactica vipers minus the space travel, wings and Starbuck. These bikes are low budget 80’s futuristic, complete with machine guns and missiles. You’ll notice them during the completely still closeups that they cut to every 3.87 seconds during a moving battle scene. The bikes are introduced to us through the eyes of a general seeing the team for the first time. The general is Devin Miles from Knight Rider, and he plays Devin Miles the general in this movie which is why I didn’t bother looking up his name. Anyway, he gets a demonstration of these supercyles in which they demolish some multicolored balloons randomly thrown above them as they drive down a road. To do that, you need to do a lot of wheelies on your motorcycle. Eat it, Mission Impossible Tom Cruise. Frickin’ wheelies, man.
silhouette love
I love finding a film that is so bad it is good, and I started the Film Frown podcast to document my journey. Is MegaForce in that category? The bad part is there, one hundred percent. Every chance they get, Bostwick the emaciated unfed Barry Gibb impersonator poses like he’s just defeated world hunger.flying motorcycle His headband is neither holding his hair, nor big enough to stop sweat. He looks like the little boy from The Ewok Adventure all grown up. His sidekick is the spitting image of Andy Gibb, so I think they must be a Bee Gees tribute group. While the vehicles are well done, you’ll be surprised when they give you a brief look inside and there’s no shag carpet. Finally, near the end Bostwick’s motorcycle sprouts wings and he flies. It’s some of the worst green screen you’ve ever seen. Greatest American Hero is like the Mona Lisa of flying heroes when compared to this scene. In case you don’t believe me, some kind person on imdb does note in the goofs section that “he’s clearly not actually flying a motorcycle.” Some movies throw stills in the credits or bloopers. Needam puts the same action scenes we saw during the film in the credits? I guess they were proud of the battle that ended with zero casualties and a rainbow.
rainbow warriors
This movie left me in awe. There was so much bad in every scene that I couldn’t take my eyes from it or disengage my brain to form an opinion. After writing that sentence, I think that I have to call MegaForce so bad it is good. I mean, it has to be seen to be believed. How did this film get released?

roadside attractions

  • Barry Bostwick’s winning smile
  • vyger with hair
  • military holograms used for porn
  • wheelies
  • two motorcycle jumps, yes TWO!
  • Barry Bostwick’s shit eating grin
  • green screen skydiving
  • thumbs up for spandex
  • Barry Bostwick’s leering smirk
  • proto-Team America: World Police
totals

0

blood

BLOOD

The director wanted to make an action film that was good, clean fun where no one died, with tanks and machine guns.

1

blood

BREASTS
+1 because we’re lucky to have a single woman in this film. Who needs nudity when everyone is in spandex?

4.5

beast

BEASTS

To be fair there’s no beast, but the young Henry Silva is a monster at being the most likable bad guy ever.

6 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer for Witching & Bitching

trailers

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Jun

Comments Off on Hellraiser: Hellworld

I binge-watched all of the Hellraiser sequels from “Inferno” on with horror maven/podcast partner Miguel Rodriguez from Horrible Imaginings in preparation for our big celebratory Scarlet Gospels podcast. By the time we got to “Hellworld,” we were bored with the shallow moralizing and inertia of “Hellseeker” and “Deader,” and our bar for the franchise had gotten too low to limbo under. The promise of Lance Henriksen in a cast is always a reason to fist pump though, and we dared hope. The director is still Rick Bota, just like on “Hellseeker” and “Deader,” but “Hellworld” got a much brighter, bloodier, boobier visual aesthetic, reflecting his work on films like the “House on Haunted Hill” remake. The whole thing just looks more fun, and it better, because this one is 95% party.
The movie starts out ominously enough; a bare-chested, blood-streaked guy digging, probably a grave, appropriately chilling choral music, and then some murmured exposition among your standard slasher movie set of thirty-something teenagers at a closed casket funeral. Actually, I don’t know that they’re supposed to be teenagers. You just assume that because they seem to be living at home and paired off for snuggling and play video games a lot, but maybe they all were English majors and work at the same restaurant.

The funeral is for their common friend Adam, and the picture by the casket is of the guy we saw digging before someone turned the Chant album on. We learn through the furtive whispers of his buddies that Adam killed himself, apparently because he got too into a game they all enjoy playing called Hellworld. Hellworld is clearly based off the Hellraiser franchise, so we’re in deep meta waters here, kids.

Anyway, his friends blame themselves, to varying degrees, that they didn’t see Adam’s self-slaughter coming. They also note how he has no family at his own funeral, which seems like it might be as much a contributing factor to suicide as anything powered by a 386 Pentium chip.

Speaking of Pentiums, as an authentic gamer and nerd from back when those things meant you were lonely and pathetic AND WE LIKED IT THAT WAY, the days before cute Doctors Who, when anime was called Japanimation and you could only find one half of a shelf of it in your most specialty video store, and when all comic book movies sucked direct to video, I need to call this movie out. I can deal with gorgeous teens who don’t wear braces or break out; that’s common cultural currency. And yeah, the term geek in just the last ten years has gone from something that left deep psychological welts to an effective branding tool, but these people are Abercrombie models. I can smell the guys’ Cool Water through the Netflix stream. And it makes me wonder, since the people who make movies, especially horror movies, are usually a little nerdy, why the nerds of this film are so Bayside High? Was it some sort of ironic commentary? Is it possible none of the creatives on “Hellworld” knew what a gamer was?
None of it matters, of course. “Hellraiser: Hellworld” is just looking for a way to get cute actors into gory set pieces, and the gaming and Hellraiser aspects are as incidental to how this happens as actual intake procedures at a female prison are to a porn setup.

OK, so now that I’ve done my gatekeeping, let’s get to the movie. After the funeral, the kids or whatever they are all wind up playing Hellworld again, although you don’t see much gameplay beyond opening a virtual version of the box. And one by one they win invitations to a big Hellworld party. More of a frat party than a LAN party, as it turns out. There’s some hemming and hawing about going from Chelsea, and this makes her instantly recognizable as our Final Girl. She also wears leather pants and is blonde, so you can think of her as a Buffy proxy. Jake, the shoegazey one, is also reluctant, blaming himself and the others extra hard for Adam’s death, but he ends up coming, too. There is also a Fairuza Balk-y one, the as-yet unknown Henry Cavill one, and a token person of color one. Try not to get attached.

The Scoobies arrive at the party, and it’s fully House on Horny Hill, with raucous metal banging, full frontal boobs, a dance floor crowded with plain white masks doing the Monster Mash, and Lance Henriksen parting the nubile crowd with a cryptic smile.

Our host – and that’s all the name you get from him, the Host — Lance is playfully sinister as he tours the kids through the house. First he shows them tons of Hellraiser memorabilia and talks about the history of the house, originally a convent turned asylum built by Phillipe Lemerchand. The kids occasionally insist that Hellraiser is just fiction, but Lance soldiers on with the unwavering confidence of a Creationist or an ancient aliens theorist, a sly smile suggesting that he’s read further in the script than they have. He looks like he’s having fun, and I hope he was, because he’s the only decent actor in this thing and I don’t think we could tell if he were screaming on the inside. I found this part of the movie quite pleasant, but I always enjoy the setting up the dominos part of slasher movies.

At the end of the tour, Lance presents each of the Scoobies with plain white masks with numbers on the forehead and a Nokia. The numbers on the masks correspond to the number to dial on the cell phones, the better to anonymously hook up with you, my dear. He excuses himself with a twinkle in his eye. (Don’t go, Lance! Take me with you!)

With Lance sadly gone, time to watch these idiots get perished. Each of our Scoobies obligingly wanders off to get isolated and culled according to formula. It will surprise no one when Lance shows up for these murders, but Pinhead does, too, and this was the point when Miguel and I started throwing popcorn at the screen, because Pinhead would not waste a victim on simple executions the way we see here. Of course, since this is a post-Scream slasher flick, there’s a twist.

Twist or not, nothing makes much sense once body parts start flying, but it doesn’t matter. Just go with it and watch the meta crap and don’t hope for anything else. In the beginning, it seems like the movie might be doing something clever and consciously referencing the Hellraiser series in a way that is particularized and special, but it’s not. It’s just a big, dumb, sloppy slasher flick, and it should be better, but it could be worse. Oh, look, there’s Lance. Man, Lance is awesome. So cool.

roadside attractions

  • Lance [bleep] Henriksen
  • Saturated colors and saturated co-eds
  • Hellraiser Simulation
  • The call was coming from inside the house!
  • Premature burials
  • No actual gamers were harmed in the making of this film
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Respectable bloodletting, more on the order of Final Destination than Hellraiser, but acceptable.

7

blood

BREASTS


Actual dialogue: “Gratuitous tit shot.” “Necessary tit shot.”

2

beast

BEASTS Contract-stipulated Cenobites notwithstanding, more party animals than beasts

5 OVERALL It makes complete hash of all continuity and the ethos of the Cenobites, but you could do worse than a dumb meta slasher flick starring Lance Henriksen, and the Hellraiser series has, a lot.
dripper

Watch the trailer to “Hellraiser: Hellworld”

trailers

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May

Comments Off on Hellraiser: Bloodline

When we last left Pinhead n’ pals at the end of “Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth,” Pinhead had been reunited (and it felt so bad) with his ghost, Captain Elliott Spenser, in hell, and the heroine, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s Jadzia Dax, plunked the Hellraiser box in the drying foundation of a building, the better to keep people’s mitts off of it. At least people who aren’t Kitty Pryde. And then we see a building with Hellraiser box décor erected on the building site. But Pinhead’s in his hell, the gate to which is literally encased in tons of concrete, and all’s right with the world, right? Right?!
Of course not.
You know how when “Jason X” came out, everyone chortled “haw haw, it’s Jason – in space!” (I love “Jason X” so much, don’t get me started.) But Pinhead did it first and he did it here. The movie opens in the plausibly-distant future with standard issue space marines storming a space facility where a mysterious man, Dr. Merchant, sets a poor innocent low-end Terminator to solving the puzzle box.

The man successfully activates the box-by-bot just as he is captured by Rimmer, the Ripley of this set of space marines, and he pleads with her to get off the station and let him finish what he started. Finish what? Hope you brought some popcorn, Rimmer. Settle in.
The previous Hellraiser movies never really got into the background of the box sketched out in the “Hellbound Heart” novella, although neeeeeeerds still picked up it’s called Lemarchand’s box or the Lament Configuration. The franchise is gonna fix that with Dr. Merchant’s Introduction to the Hellraiser Box 101, and the course materials are a couple of big-ass flashbacks. Because, you see, his bloodline is the bloodline of the title, as his ancestor was the one to create the box in the first darn place. Good one, Merchant family.
And so we’re in powdered-wigs-and-tights era France where a toymaker named Philippe Lemarchand, who looks exactly like Dr. Merchant, has whipped up the Hellraiser box to order for a wealthy client. Of course, he somehow designs it to his patron’s specifications without realizing what it does, and his wife is unimpressed when all he can get it to do is open and play tinkly music. Oh, you just wait, hon.

Lemarchand delivers the box to his client on a dark and ominous night. The client, Duc de L’Isle, looks sort of like an evil harlequin Bea Arthur, and he receives the box while a woman he and his trusty apprentice Jacques – Adam Scott’s first film role, everybody! — have just ganked cools offscreen. Then Lemarchand hangs around watching through the windows while the pair use the box to invoke a demon to possess the dead lady. The sequence is long enough to be montaged, so I have to assume Lemarchand is out there for hours. He should have brought a lawn chair.
And, kids, if you’re going to raise the dead in the front room, consider pulling the drapes.

Understandably bummed, Lemarchand relates all he witnessed to a friend, while his friend chops up a dead body for study. His friend has good advice while rib spreading a corpse – if you made a box that can summon demons, maybe you can make one that can destroy ‘em? And so Lemarchand sets to designing a box for just that purpose and goes to L’Isle’s digs to retrieve the original.
He finds the box, but he also finds L’Isle with an extra red smile bisecting his face, and the demon, Angelique, is now shtupping Jacques. Well, Jacques is a better deal, can’t blame her. They catch Lemarchand and moiderize him, but he has a pregnant wife, so the story’s not over, even though his story so is.

Hundreds of years pass, but we don’t have to watch that. What we do have to watch is brilliant architect John Merchant – same face, got some powerfully stubborn genes in that family – as he unwittingly designs a whole building’s worth of Hellraiser box. You know the box in the foundation and the Hellraiser building from the end of III? Yeah, this is that. Angelique and Jacques have been bumming around Europe, living an Anne Rice novel or summat, when she catches wind of this and wants to go do something about it. Jacques says no, and no means dead.
Angelique tries to seduce John, but he has just enough sense and foreboding ancestral dream knowledge to resist. Going with plan B, she finds the original box in the foundation and seduces a meaty partygoer into solving it, opening the portal to hell. Angelique meets Pinhead and the two do shop talk about hell for a bit, both ultimately very interested in making the building itself into a permanent gate to hell. Angelique thinks she can snuggle it out of John, but Pinhead would prefer to rip it out with serrated hooks. Their blue state/red state approaches put them at odds, but neither way looks very good for John. Good thing he also has a son.
No spoilers because you already know this thing will end where it began, back to the future, with Pinhead in space and a whole bunch of dumb, squishy space marines. They should beam over to LV-426 while they’re at it.
…Did I mention Pinhead has a dog in this one?

Overall, this is probably some of Alan Smithee’s best work. Actually Kevin Yagher directed this, and it’s seriously not bad, but the studio meddled in hell’s domain too damn much and prompted him to quit and take his name off. The elegance and intimacy of the original “Hellraiser” has been purged here and they’ve grafted on a luxurious temptation backstory with the Merchant family – none of whom are interesting enough to be tempted to do anything – and an Alien-esque space marine slasher crescendo. The Cenobites are much improved over the punchlines of III though, and that includes the Chatterer Dog Cenobite. Of course, you do get chains and graphic violence and all of that stuff, but at this point, it’s expected, so having a guy’s skin ripped off is little bit of a yawn.

This is, by the way, the last Hellraiser movie Clive Barker was at all associated with, and we’re not even halfway through the franchise.

roadside attractions

  • Piercings
  • Chainings
  • Reanimation
  • Demon possession
  • Extreme Cenobite Makeovers
  • Piiiinheeeeeaads in Spaaaaaaace!
  • Man’s Best Cenobite
  • French stuff
  • Three eras of Bruce Ramsay’s face
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Yes. Kinda boring blood by Hellraiser standards though honestly.

0

blood

BREASTS


No boobs. Well, a couple of really dumb guys, yeah, but not boob boobs.

7

beast

BEASTS New and improved Cenobites, including the Odie of the Damned, but that’s it.

7 OVERALL Crappy sequel to some, last decent sequel to others.
dripper

Watch the trailer to “Hellraiser: Bloodline”

trailers

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Apr

Comments Off on Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth

You know, sometimes a horror series just takes three entries to get where it’s going. Jason didn’t play goalie until “Friday the 13th Part III” and Freddy’s comic timing never gelled until “Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.” So FINALLY, after two movies of being an amoral undead dom invoked by sweaty humans pawing the famous puzzle box, Pinhead’s doin’ it for himself.

The story opens with J.P., a rich jerk, at an art gallery checking out a large baroque pillar smothered in sensual bas-relief carvings – you know, faces and hips and boobs and suchlike. Pinhead’s face and the puzzle box are also floating around in there somewhere, like gluten in your lite beer. If you watched “Hellbound: Hellraiser II,” you may dimly connect this lovely artwork to a cheap prop rising from a blood-soaked mattress in Dr. Channard’s house at the end, complete with, my favorite, a pair of adorable rutting skeleton marionettes on one side. That must have just been hell’s first concept piece.

J.P. is approached by a plausible Kris Kristofferson impersonator/scary drifter, and instead of whipping out his gun, because you know J.P. is the kind of guy that has a Glock tucked in the waistband of his Bugle Boys at all times, he proceeds to negotiate with this guy like he’s the legal owner of something other than the lice in his beard. Mysterious guy tells J.P. the pillar is his and accepts a clutch of bills without counting or caring. Fans of the series so far know where this is going. Although non-English-speaking fans of “Sabado Gigante” probably know where it’s going, too.

We meet our heroine, Joey, who is neither an 8-year-old boy nor a kangaroo. No, Joey is a reporter, or wants to be, and on this particular night, she is fretful because the news desk dispatched her to the hospital emergency room to cover people…um, generically croaking, I guess. And Death must have been still nursing his ankle injury at Peter Griffin’s house, because no one in the city is dying. Poor Joey is super put out by this lack of suffering to report on and convinced the news desk purposefully sent her to cover bupkus. (One might argue a good reporter could turn a totally empty emergency room into a story, Joey.) Despite this being our first glimpse into her character, Joey remains sympathetic, but then this is the same era where it took 9 seasons for audiences to realize the characters in “Seinfeld” were terrible people.

Joey’s cameraman Doc, a sweet Motorhead roadie of a man, is called away to assist another reporter on an actual story. Joey resumes having a sad. But then a man is wheeled in on a gurney covered in chains that summarily electrocute him, and Joey’s night is immediately looking up. She doesn’t have a cameraman and the guy is dead, but he was accompanied by a distraught girl, and Joey is on her like maggots on the guy in the straitjacket in “Hellraiser II.” She doesn’t get much out of the terrified witness though except the location where the guy got chained, a club called The Boiler Room.

As Joey goes after her big story, J.P., the owner of the Boiler Room, discovers a defect in his newest conversation piece where the puzzle box had been. With the help of a critter nested in the hole, J.P. learns how much his new art enjoys soaking up blood. It’s not far from there to find out sacrificing ladies to the pillar is not only a great way to avoid awkwardness after anonymous sex, but it also brings his new bestie Pinhead to life. J.P. cannot imagine a downside.

Joey heads to the Boiler Room and eventually reconnects with the witness, Terri, who just happens also to be J.P.’s off-again girlfriend. Terri crashes at Joey’s pad and gives her the puzzle box, along with a Lifetime Channel’s worth of wronged woman woes. She tells Joey how she never dreams and it’s clear she never hopes for much either; she expects Joey to exploit her, too. When Joey treats her with kindness and offers to let her stay at her condo even after she’s got her story, Terri’s amazed and grateful. But that won’t stop her getting scared of being abandoned again and running to J.P. when he calls.

Terri might not dream, but Joey sure does, and that’s where Pinhead’s better angel comes in. You see, Joey’s father was killed as a soldier in Vietnam, and we join her in a recurring nightmare where she screams for a Medevac to come to her father’s rescue. Also joining Joey this time is Captain Elliott Spenser, a ghost from a previous generation’s war, but you might recognize him better when his face is scored with nails.

A dream of one war is a dream of all wars, Spenser says, explaining how he reached out to her from the eternal WWII limbo where his soul now hangs its hat. (I hope that doesn’t include the Great Joel Versus Mike Compuserve Flame War of 1996.) Spenser tells Joey how he became Pinhead, was released by a friend – meaning Kirsty, the heroine of the first two movies, but I’m pretty darn sure I saw Dr. Channard de-Cenobitify him and cut his throat in “Hellraiser II” – but that his evil was too dang evil to destroy. (That’s the Law of Conservation of Evil established in 1978 by Dr. Sam Loomis.) So Pinhead’s distilled evil got congealed in the pillar of hellstuff that survived the climax of “Hellraiser II” by being made into art, while his better nature went to dream-purgatory-limbo-ville. Sure, you’ve got an authoritative British accent, I’ll buy it. And so will Joey.

The problem is that Captain Spenser can’t do much about Pinhead in the physical world. He needs Joey to bring Pinhead through to the dream plane, where he has power to, erm, do stuff. And you may be thinking – wait. Is Pinhead’s ghost asking Joey to enact reverse Elm Street kid maneuvers against Pinhead? What what what? And a good half and a bad half? Wasn’t that, like, the plot of 10 episodes of “Star Trek”? Yep and yep.
Meanwhile J.P. tries to feed Terri to Pinhead, and that doesn’t work out too well for him. Terri’s weakness for bad men will still be her undoing, although Pinhead is definitely a step up from J.P. So, unbound from the rules of hell and upstairs from a club full of people who have reflexes slowed by drink, Evil!Pinhead begins speechifying and butchering, also raising new, incredibly silly Cenobites from among the dead to help out.

From here it’s blood and Pinhead monologues all the way down. You could argue pretty persuasively on either side of whether “Hellraiser III” was a damning or redemptive moment for the franchise. The director, Anthony Hickox, you may remember as director of such films as “Waxwork,” “Waxwork II: Lost in Time”, and “Warlock II: the Armaggeddon,” and he brings a jewel-toned, distorted-lens panache to the series along with a mordant sense of humor and zeal for extravagant bloodletting. Clive Barker was an executive producer, but the movie doesn’t feel Clive Barker-y anymore. It’s less serious for sure, but also less fantastic; and while it looks better, or more expensive, (hat tip to Hickox on that, it wasn’t) it’s less beautiful somehow. But it is fun, and while the plot bursts into dust at the lightest scrutiny like so much Dracula in sunshine, you could also say that about “Hellraiser II.”

Fun fact: I’m originally from the Piedmont-Triad area of North Carolina, the same general area that gave you Andy Griffith and NASCAR, sorry, and surprisingly, it also gave you “Hellraiser III.” They filmed it largely in Winston-Salem and High Point, and though the movie desperately tries to convey it’s in New York or a similar metropolis, it’s so not. There are no skyscrapers, no public transport, no crowded streets – hell, no city, at least as TV defines it. There’s some urban sprawl and ornamental trees resplendent in magnificent fall color, I guess. They used a bunch of locals, so you can play “spot the Southerner,” but most conspicuously they had a local anchorman at the time, Rick Amme from WXII, as the TV reporter for the Boiler Room slaughter coverage, and you may notice, Rick has a pretty hick accent as TV anchormen go. So there’s an esoteric drinking game for you.

roadside attractions

  • Piercing fetishes, check
  • Chains with hooks, check
  • One skinless corpse, check
  • Extreme Cenobite makeovers, check
  • New, yet by now extremely dated Cenobites
  • Pinheads Gone Wild
  • Mild sexytimes footage
  • Small Southern cities impersonating big Northern cities
totals

10

blood

BLOOD

It is a Hellraiser; there will be blood.

.5

blood

BREASTS


Boobs are almost shown several times, but the nudity remains basic-cable-before-10:00-appropriate.

7

beast

BEASTS Pretty weak field for a Hellraiser with only the new Cenobites and no other monsters.

8 OVERALL Enjoyable and less confused than “Hellraiser II” was by the end, and it’s fun to watch Pinhead finally cut loose.
dripper

Watch the trailer to “Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth”

trailers

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About the Highway

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