Retro Review: Hellraiser III – Hell on Earth (1992)

As a big fan of the Hellraiser series and the character Pinhead, I was late to the party in seeing Hellraiser.  When I was younger I did see Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth and it was before I had ever seen the first two movies.  There was something about the first two movies that I feared.  I kind of stepped into Hellraiser III in the middle of the movie.  That helped me to see that it was ok.  In fact, the scene I came in on, the church scene.  Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth is actually my favorite of the series.  I know, that must be a surprise, the third movie is weaker than the first two.  It is true, but it goes along with Hell on Earth being the first I ever saw.  It comes off the heals of seeing Candyman and learning who Clive Barker is a Master of horror, right, so I had heard of Hellraiser from seeing Hell on Earth had no luck tracking down the first two movies and Hell on Earth popped up on cable often and one evening, I was ready and I recorded it from Showtime or HBO or something.  I got the chance to see it a lot over the course of four years or maybe five.  Eventually I was able to rent Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II and it changed my world.

The story was pretty decent and there were some really excellent scenes.  When we meet Pinhead in this film, his a part of some bizarre pillar sculpture that feeds off blood.  He uses the douche bag club owner to regain his power then with that, the movie picks up.  I also love the movie delves into to Pinhead’s past and there is more Pinhead overall.  The first two films were really about Kirsty and her family and other characters, the Cenobites were not in the forefront.  Sure Uncle Frank and Julia are great.  But in Hell on Earth, we get to see a story the centers around a reporter and more Cenobites, along with new Cenobites come to life.  The original were reverted back to their mortal form in Hellbound: Hellraiser II.  These Cenobites are totally 90s and it is great, Dreamer Cenobite/Skinless Sandy, Pistonhead, Camerahead and of course CD.  It was cool to see new Cenobites created.

I talked about it in short, but my favorite part of the movie is when Pinhead comes to the church.  This to me, could be the best part of the series, I mean, it is hard to say.  The iconic, “I am the way”  and pose is something that has stuck with me for so many way.  But the entire scene is the very best.  Doug Bradley really got to do a lot with this role for once, more than the previous two.  It is not a long scene, but powerful.  We really get to see a charismatic Pinhead and a little comedic side.

I love this series and the first three are the strongest and Hell on Earth seems to close the book on the story that began in the first film.  So yeah, watching Hellraiser III tonight, so I suggest you watch it also.  Hell on Earth goes great with the first two movies, although it can be viewed by itself.  I have watched the first three back to back to back and it does work with the others.  But Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II work really well together, back to back, it is a self contained story, in two movies.  Hell on Earth is more of a sequel that gets you to the other sequels, away from Kirsty and Uncle Frank.

In many ways, Hell on Earth is also the turning point in the series.  Some say it is the follow up, Bloodline, but Hell on Earth is the beginning of the series going downhill.  There are good movies after Hell on Earth, but lets face it, when Hellraiser went straight to video, the quality of the story telling took a back seat.  But we got new Cenobites and we always got Doug Bradley…well…except the last movie and the coming Hellraiser: Judgement. has a rating of 5.4

I give Hell on Earth a 7.5, I love it!

Check it out, I know some people give the series a hard pass after Hellbound, but don’t, watch them all…In the words of Pinhead,”We have such sites to show you!”

If you haven’t hear, Arrow Video is bringing the Scarlet Box set to America!  Get yours, Hellraiser, Hellbound: Hellraiser II and Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth.


About Ray Marek III 656 Articles
I have been watching horror films since I was 6 years old. The story, one Saturday night, my mom and I were watching movies and she fell asleep on the couch. We had the channel set on HBO and the movie we were watching ended and the next one, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. This was some time in 1986. I watched then entire film, I was sitting on the edge of my seat. When my mom woke, she asked me what just ended and I told her, “Freddy”. That was all I talked about for weeks and finally she broke down and rented more horror films for me. She rented, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre part 2, Re-Animator, Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives and Halloween II. I watched all and fell in love with horror films forever. 5 Horror Films to Watch Inferno (1980) A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) The Beyond (1981) Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives (1986) Horror of Dracula (1958)