Archive for the 'Slasher' Category

Jun

Comments Off on Hellraiser: Deader

“Hellraiser: Deader” tasks me. I know I said that the last two movies were slush pile escapees with Cenobite architecture grafted on, but really nothing to do with Hellraiser or even the spirit of Hellraiser. At least “Inferno” had the core of a decent horror movie and “Hellseeker” had fodder for my Kirsty/Pinhead fanfic, but this? “Deader” offers us Kari Wuhrer in pigtails in Romania, a few ooky effects, but not much else. “Hellseeker” director Rick Bota is back, so look for pretty shots signifying nothing.

We meet Kari’s character, Amy Klein, belly baring and passed out in a fairly livable looking crack den. There are lots of passed out addicts all around her, but they aren’t violent and all still have their teeth, so it can’t be that bad. Amy wakes up, apparently not a crack fiend but an amazing simulation, and stealthily begins snapping pictures of the blasé druggies with her giant stealth camera. A short time later, she checks out, refusing drugs from a guy one must assume is a very generous young addict. “I got what I came for,” snarls Amy Klein – everyone always says her whole name whenever they address her, like John Wick or a Pimp Named Slickback — cigarette dangling dangerously from her dangerous lips.

We follow dangerous maverick Amy Klein to the magazine where she works, London Underground. Amy Klein goes to her boss, they exposit a little bit about how maverick she is, and then he tells her he has a video to show her. And he does, an actual VHS, and the shocks don’t stop there. It’s a snuff film, or seems to be, until the person who commits suicide in the video suddenly comes back to life.

Amy Klein’s boss wants her to go to Romania to do a story on this super underground cult called Deaders, who have a way of killing themselves and living to make home movies about it. Amy Klein obliges, following the trail of the mysterious videotape to some despoiled and creepy apartments run by a Romanian version of Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Bribing her way inside, she finds a Deader-eyed body clutching the Hellraiser box along with an enticing padded envelope. Amy Klein puts both into her inventory.

At her hotel, Amy Klein smokes and thinks and smokes and empties out the envelope and then smokes and opens the box. Her head is seized with some pretty fat chains before she sees Pinhead telling her, “Don’t think for a moment that you are not in danger.” Then she’s back in her hotel, apparently not in any danger.

Amy Klein follows the Deader trail to a party train full of so much nudity. Here we see “Deader” pioneer territory perfected by “Game of Thrones” in having naked people groping each other in the background of long dialogue scenes heavy with exposition. This dialogue scene is between Amy Klein and Joey, Joey himself dressed like someone’s idea of ultraviolence and well acquainted with the Deaders. He warns Amy Klein of her own self-destructive tendencies, although honestly, what’s he even talking about? He hasn’t even seen her so much as chainsmoke.

Up to this point, the movie has been plodding, but it hasn’t been terrible. Let me tell you where the movie really ups the suckage. Amy Klein learns that the guy behind the Deader cult is Winter Lemarchand, the great-great-great-etc relative of the box’s architect, Phillipe Lemarchand, who you may remember from such films as “Hellraiser: Bloodline.” Winter is killing and resurrecting his cultists in order to produce one chosen one that can open the box his ancestor made, so Winter can then go and be Boss of the Cenobites. Winter can’t open the box himself, and he believes it’s going to take killing and resurrecting a truly self-destructive, vulnerable individual to get it done. And this is why this movie kills brain cells. You both have to know about (maybe even care about) “Hellraiser: Bloodline” and simultaneously completely forget “Hellraiser: Bloodline” for that to make any sense. And what’s with the chosen one stuff? Hell, Dr. Channard had an entire ward opening boxes in Hellbound.

I’m not going to take you any further on Amy Klein’s journey. Suffice it to say, she’s dangerous and self-destructive, but also smart and the kind of girl Pinhead prefers to talk to rather than flay outright.

Like “Inferno,” soldering on Hellraiser bits – and in this case installing a major foundational element in Winter’s nonsensical motivation — muddies and weakens the underlying horror movie. And bless her heart, Kari Wuhrer really tries in this film. She screams until I feel hoarse, and her boobs are probably the sole reason to watch any of it. I don’t know if “Deader” on its own could have risen above forgettable, but I know for sure that “Hellraiser: Deader” would be doing well to be forgotten.

roadside attractions

  • None, keep driving
  • OK, fine
  • Kari Wuhrer’s pigtails?
  • Um, really, nothing
  • I guess half naked Amy Klein wrenching a knife out of her back by trapping it in a cabinet door was kind of cool.
  • OK, also half naked Amy Klein
  • Around minute 54, but she screams a lot and it’s annoying, so turn the sound down
  • Butchered idea based on an idea not at all to do with an idea by Clive Barker
totals

3

blood

BLOOD

An effort is made, but nothing you wouldn’t expect at your local haunted house attraction that’s trying to get on a Travel Channel special.

8

blood

BREASTS


Yes, full frontal everything, everything, including boobs. There is also tasteful Kari uncoverage.

2

beast

BEASTS Beasts, what beasts? We got some inert zombies and British guys. The same dull Cenobite retreads from Hellseeker are back for five minutes.

2 OVERALL Deader is deadest. Miss it.
dripper

Watch the trailer to “Hellraiser: Deader”

trailers

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May

Comments Off on Hellraiser: Hellseeker

I was excited, dammit, when I saw Ashley Laurence had been hauled onboard for “Hellraiser: Hellseeker.” Maybe hauled onboard isn’t the right analogy. Maybe it’s more like she was lured into the back of the craft services van and chloroformed or she walked across a pit covered with copies of a totally different script.

Laurence matters because she played Kirsty Cotton, the heroine of the first two films and for my quatloos probably the best Final Girl of the 1980s. After the meandering noir fable of “Hellraiser: Inferno,” roots needed returning to, and Laurence’s Kirsty never failed to kick ass. Plus, Kirsty still had a story to tell. Unlike many a horror franchise heroine, she skipped the traditional perfunctory offing in the opening of the first sequel she wasn’t heroine-ing. So after literally wearing the skin of her wicked stepmother and witnessing the ultimate answer to man’s search for meaning is a grey maze filled with kinky zombies, how did her hellbound heart go on? I mean…did she take a year off and backpack Europe? I want to know.

More crucial, unfortunately, than Kirsty’s involvement is the helming of this film by Rick Bota, who also directs the next two entries in the franchise. If I ever get access to time travel technology, I’m going back to 2002 and hunting down every person in the phone book named Rick Bota. To be fair, Bota is a deft cinematographer, and I have the feeling these movies were requisitioned by the studio with about as much vision, passion, and resources as you put into ordering a Subway sandwich. “Hey, Rick, here’s a director credit and a script from the slush pile. Go make a Hellraiser so we don’t lose the copyright. On Hearty Italian.”

So all that said, “Hellseeker” sucks.

While I’m feeling food metaphors, let me start with the three-cheese soundtrack. Gone is the fantastic choral score of the first few films, replaced with some wailing-on-a-Stratocaster Winger audition that you could plunk at the start of a light Skinimax offering, maybe something on the USA Up All Night docket. Unacceptable. Save your bargain brand Dokken for Freddy. We need some majesty and dignity up in this joint. You’re not playing Pinhead on with that crap.
It is true that Clive Barker originally wanted metal for the score of the first “Hellraiser.” But Clive wanted metal for the score. This soundtrack is to metal as Screech is to Bill Nye.

Ah, but I’ve not touched the story. Let me get my asbestos gloves.

The movie opens with Kirsty and her husband Trevor riding in a car, laughing, playing, loving each other conspicuously, like people do in commercials for antidepressants and boner pills.

The dialogue neatly informs us they are reconciling from something and embarking on a new start. Then they start kissing and Trevor smooches them right across the center line. Honk, honk, Trevor swerves to avoid a face full of Honda and loses control of his car. The compact goes full Duke Boys rampant, plunging them into a lake, albeit absent Waylon Jennings narration.

Trevor manages to worm out of the car, but the door gets stuck and he can’t save Kirsty. Police divers find no sign of her body, and her seatbelt was undone. Trevor hasn’t even left the scene before he finds himself the target of oblique insinuations from a homicide detective, who by the way is clearly the love child of Lieutenant Columbo and Sergeant Murtaugh.

Besides the police detective who seems to have skipped ahead to the end of the script, Trevor has two other big problems. One: he came out of the accident with a head injury, and so he has trouble remembering anything. Also, his days weave in and out of fugue states and delusions, which are great when you want to mess with the audience without committing to anything happening. I will give Bota and company full credit for some nice Pinhead foreshadowing in a brain surgery scene though.

Trevor’s other big problem is that he sweats Sex Panther cologne. This guy’s BVDs are getting their elastic challenged by every woman in the movie. Who knew being a widower was such a turn-on? You could probably change the music and make this into a sex farce. Just splice in Rob Schneider as a wacky neighbor instead of Pinhead and boom, you’re good. In fact, just keep the music.

Eventually we find out that Trevor was unfaithful with lots of women during the marriage, and so the women aren’t exactly coming out of nowhere. We are also shown that Kirsty found out about the affairs, but more interestingly, that Trevor obtained a Hellraiser box and made Kirsty open it. We don’t get to find out the result of that delightful gag gift until the curtain falls, but you will have figured it out long before then. Suffice it to say, that long drive off a short pier we started with was less straightforward than we originally witnessed.

“Hellseeker” is not terrible, but I’d be straining to call it even okay. I’d rather watch an honestly terrible movie than this thing. Give me all the Zombeavers and Thankskillings you have.

They’ve taken one of the most explicit and daring titles in horror, and they’ve expurgated it until you get something that could play with minimal cuts on Lifetime, at least until the last 15 minutes. It is full of groping and murder, but it is still terribly boring, except when Pinhead is on the screen, but then you probably just feel sad. No Cenobite innovations, barely any Cenobite presence, and you don’t even have the disturbing murders that gave “Inferno” its genuine oog-out moments. And like “Inferno,” the story revolves around getting gutted for hidden sin, metaphorically and literally, which departs significantly from the original BDSM ethos of the Cenobites. They were never here to punish you or reward you; they’re here to play. Because you asked.

There’s nothing to play with here though. Just a dull as dishwater psychological horror title that tacks on some by-the-numbers Hellraiser motifs here and there and calls it a day. This should not have counted toward keeping the copyright.
I have serious issues with the ending, too, honestly, but I’m not going to think too hard about it because it’s a better deal for Kirsty, and she’s the only one I can muster much feeling for in this, what with her 10 minutes of screentime.

roadside attractions

  • The Short Happy Life of Kirsty Cotton
  • Will Someone Turn Off That Guy’s Amp?
  • Pinhead and Kirsty, still Angela’s OTP
  • Wardrobe by Victoria’s Secret
totals

2

blood

BLOOD

Most of it is in that screenshot I have above of the brain surgery.

0

blood

BREASTS


Not even a nip slip.

2

beast

BEASTS Generic retread Cenobites and superficial Pinhead. It won’t do.

2 OVERALL It gets one point for Kirsty, one point for Pinhead, and there are no other points worth spooling this up in your Netflix queue for. Give it a miss.
dripper

Watch the trailer to “Hellraiser: Hellseeker”

trailers

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May

Comments Off on Hellraiser: Inferno

“Hellraiser: Inferno” is a helluva lot better if you don’t think of it as a Hellraiser movie. I’m not sure it was meant to be honestly. You could have swapped the Hellraiser stuff with Candyman or Leprechaun or probably Alf without using very much whiteout, and the story itself is a total departure from every Hellraiser we’ve seen so far.
Craig Sheffer would be playing his second Clive Barker hero here (after Boone from “Nightbreed”) if this were a real Hellraiser movie from Clive Barker, but he’s not, so — anyway, he plays Joseph Thorne, a shady detective with a flair for solving puzzles and playing games. When not being an arsebiscuit to his partner through the unlikely medium of crosswords, he may be found snorting coke, stealing from crime scenes, and cheating on his truly lovely wife with hookers. He’s a flawed protagonist. He’s also the narrator, in another departure from the Hellraiser template, and as faithful as he is to his wife and daughter, probably should pencil him in as an unreliable narrator, too.

Thorne and his partner Tony are called to the super opulent scene of a homicide, and it turns out Thorne knew the victim in school and even bullied him. (Flawed protagonist!) It did not get better for the dead guy, and somewhere along the way, he got himself a hold of the Hellraiser box, and the box got a hold of him, like it do. The true detectives also find a child’s finger encased in a candle at the scene, a particularly chilling little touch that viscerally troubles absentee father Thorne.

Starting with a murder scene and an imperative to hunt down the killer before he finishes murdering the child he sawed that finger off’n, things deescalate quickly when Thorne takes the box along for sexytimes with a hooker. (Flawed protagonist!) He opens it, of course, but strangely, chains do not jet out and get themselves hooked into his face. No! Pinhead, sweetie, did you forget to turn your out-of-office on?
Instead of being shown such sights, he has a dream (or dream-like?) sequence where hotsy-totsy Cenobites try groping him to death, and then a chase, a jump scare, awake, and it’s daylight. Back to work and hunting down that darn killer. Okaaaaaay.

Back at the office, Thorne gets a call from his special friend from the night before, who sounds like she’s about 5 seconds from getting Cenobitified. He rushes back to the no-tell motel, discovers the hooker’s body, along with a child’s finger party favor, and fetches his partner Tony. Thorne then manipulates Tony into helping him clean the crime scene to cover up his involvement, all the while also planting evidence to make Tony a patsy should he get too much conscience and turn on Thorne. (Flawed protagonist!)

Kind of pissed off with each other, but even more desperate to stop the killings than before, Thorne and Tony find themselves on the trail of a mysterious mastermind, known only in breathless criminal whispers as “The Engineer.” I will tell you right now that trail is going to basically involve following chunks of people who know Thorne, along with the occasional child’s finger.

Also, let me tell you about the Engineer. The Engineer is part of the Hellraiser mythos that is never explicitly discussed onscreen up to this point, although he’s familiar to fans, especially fans of the novella. You know that flying snapping thing that chased Kirsty in the first one? That was the Engineer. In lore, he was maybe human once, maybe the one who first opened the gate to hell, but is definitely the one who makes the Cenobites all their fun action features. I suppose taking license with the mythos by making the Engineer the Big Bad is arguable, but to me, it’s one more thing that screams that this movie happened when someone played Hellraiser Mad Libs in someone’s psychological horror spec script.

Craig Sheffer actually does a pretty darn good job with this role. Thorne is a bastard all right, but Sheffer still makes empathy happen and convincingly veers from smarmy self-control to unhinged brutality to utterly beaten and back as the plot demands it. I kind of like that the movie dares to make him such a barely-mitigated dick.

The new Cenobites seem to be purposefully symbolic in their blinded, hypersexualized designs, which is a nice first for the series and unexpectedly deep. There’s also a sort of return of the Chatterer Cenobite, although this one is legless, and somehow that might be creepier.

And then the murders are fairly unflinching and “Criminal Minds” grade disturbing at times, realism that is risky, but interesting, following four movies of nothing but fantastical gore.

I don’t have all good things to say. Honestly, I’m kind of shocked I had that much good to say. For one thing, it drags, often and not in a fun RuPaul way. Also, once the movie starts to invest heavily into the psychological part of its alleged psychological horror, it peels away into a tedious and gory “Groundhog Day.” It tries for profound, but it just gets stuck in a b.s. death spiral, although, I guess, at least the b.s. is internally consistent. Consistent with itself, of course, not Hellraiser or anything from the mind of Clive Barker. Pinhead, the box, and especially the Engineer just do not need to be here, and it makes more sense for everybody if they’re not. But at least Doug Bradley got a paycheck out of it.

roadside attractions

  • Boone! How ya been, Boone?
  • Flawed protagonist!
  • Genuinely creepy new Cenobites
  • Absolutely everybody dying except the guy that deserves to die
  • OK horror movie in there somewhere
  • With special guest star: Pinhead, the Hell Priest
  • What a twist!
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

Grim, realistic horror that’s effective, yet generally no worse than most police procedurals nowadays.

0

blood

BREASTS


Direct to video with minor sexytimes, yet you will have to content yourself with Craig Sheffer nips.

8

beast

BEASTS These are probably the best Cenobites since the original Cenobites. I would also accept them as fine Silent Hill creatures as well. Not enough of ’em though.

6 OVERALL Could have been worse, could have been better, was not a real Hellraiser either way.
dripper

Watch the trailer to “Hellraiser: Inferno”

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

trailers

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About the Highway

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