Is It Worth It? Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992)

This is part of my Horrorathon for Mothers/Men Against Senseless Killings (aka MASK)Is It Worth It? is where I talk about sequels a lot of people skip, and determine if they are worth a visit or better left in the bargain bin. Fair warning, there will be spoilers in my recap, so if you just want the verdict skip to the bottom.

Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth(1992)

From IMDb: An investigative reporter must send the newly unbound Pinhead and his legions back to Hell.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve only seen three Hellraiser movies, but this isn’t actually one of them. I’ve previously seen the first two and then caught Hellraiser: Inferno on TV one time (back when catching something on TV was a thing). So I have never seen this sequel before.

Although series creator and horror master Clive Barker was an Executive Producer on this one, he really didn’t have too much involvement until post-production. And it shows. Barker always wanted the movies to be a trilogy, going so far as to describe it as “the Star Wars [original] trilogy of horror films.” Original plans for this entry included Julia being a main villain or having it set in Ancient Egypt to reveal the Great Pyramid as the original puzzle box. The movie alludes to these elements but instead tells a continuing story of Pinhead as he works to corrupt and collect souls in New York City.

Recap

The film begins with a cErTiFiEd BaDaSs named J.P. going into the Pyramid Gallery and buying a stone version of the wooden pillar that showed Pinhead’s trapped visage from the previous film. But surely J.P. will be responsible with this right?

Nevermind

Across town, a news reporter named Joey is pissed her assignment at the E.R. is uneventful.

Or you could be happy there aren’t people suffering. Whichever Joey.

When she is about to leave, a man is wheeled into the E.R. who dies when electrocuted hooks and chains explode out from his body.

Well that escalated quickly

Joey manages to learn the young man was at a club called The Boiler Room from the young brunette woman who brought him into the E.R.

Back at the TV station, one of Joey’s colleagues who went to the Roger Ailes School of Shittery tells Joey she needs to show more skin while interviewing if she ever wants to be an anchor woman. Joey is now even more determined to figure out what happened to the hooks & chain guy, so she goes to The Boiler Room to look for the girl she saw bring the man into the E.R. The place is a huge entertainment complex, with multiple atmospheres including a large dance club, a concert venue, and even a fine dining restaurant.

Joey encounters our certified badass J.P. who offers her a rose pre-Bachelor, but she declines what is sure to have been quite the gentlemanly courtship J.P. would have offered.

Immediately after this scene, we are inexplicably shown imagery from the Vietnam War because why not?

Joey is having a nightmare about her dad’s death in combat, who she refers to as daddy. Oh no. We have another case of Daddy Issues-itis.

The young brunette girl from the E.R. calls Joey, and invites herself over.

Giving off major Faith vibes before that was even a thing

Her name is Terri, and she is clearly skittish, on uppers, and slow to trust people, but well-meaning like a big dog who knocks over a bunch of things while shaking their tail in excitement. Terri and Joey bond pretty instantly, and I’m just throwing it out there, but I got major sparks between the two characters. I definitely don’t think they intended to write them this way, but Joey basically lets Terri move in after their first date platonic team up so I’m calling it like I see it.

Terri shows Joey the puzzle box, telling her the guy from the beginning claimed the hooks and chains sprung from the box and killed him.

Meanwhile, J.P. realizes there is a hole in the pillar statue and of course decides to stick one of his appendages in it.

Thankfully he starts with the hand.

The hole conceals a rat that bites him, and his blood splashes on the Pinhead outline.

Rat Toss 2020

Seeing his blood cause the statue to light up inspires one “woah!” from this guy. Speaking of guys like J.P. going “woah!”, Terri has inexplicably spend the night at Joey’s and decided to attempt to make breakfast as a thank you.

You stay in that condo 48 more hours and you two are going to be engaged
I’M BEGGING YOU TO JUST KISS OTHERWISE WHY ARE YOU TALKING THIS CLOSE

Joey and Terri break into the closed Pyramid Gallery for clues, and find information suggesting the puzzle box and pillar J.P. bought were both obtained from the Channard Institute aka the psychiatric asylum from the previous film.

Meanwhile at the club, J.P. pulls his Bachelor rose routine on an impressionable young woman, and in the next scene he is giving her what I can only presume he calls the J.P. experience.

Then his orgasm wakes Pinhead up. I wish I was joking.

Terri and Joey find a picture of Kirsty

❤ So glad she lived!

Meanwhile the young woman gets the other half of the J.P. experience when he cruelly kicks her out, but before she can leave the awakened Pinhead kills and devours her.

J.P. says “Jesus Christ!” to which Pinhead replies”Not Quite.” I guess this Pinhead has jokes! Pinhead tells J.P. that they both enjoyed the woman in their own ways.

“What did you see? The same as I? Appetites sated, desire indulged. A miniature of the world and how it will succumb to us. There is no goodMonroethere is no evil — there is only flesh, and the patterns to which we submit it.”

Pinhead spitting bars

J.P. decides to grab a gun and shoot Pinhead, but Pinhead reveals he is omnipresent, and asks J.P. if this is the same gun he used to shoot his parents. Then he goes from spitting bars to spitting bullets.

I love how a grinning J.P. runs up all “citizen’s arrest!” style

Pinhead continues to try to persuade J.P.

There is a place at my right hand for you. For a man of your tastesTastes I can help you to indulge.”

Pinhead is a little sneaky one

J.P. thinks about it, and then asks how they start, to which Pinhead replies it has already begun. That’s how you know beyond a doubt Pinhead is going to screw this guy over.

Joey watches a video of Kirsty where Kirsty hypothesizes the box wants you to open it. In the next scene a restless Terri begins tinkering with the puzzle box before J.P. calls her in an attempt to lure her over for some Sex and Sacrifice. Terri seems to struggle, but tries to commit to her new “platonic” life with Joey. Unfortunately, Terri hears a voicemail Joey gets about a job she got in California, and leaves Joey’s place before she can be abandoned again.

Terri goes to J.P.’s, which starts a scene of him continuously trying to lure her over to the statue and her continuously being resistant. Complete with him saying Frank’s old line, “Come to daddy.”

J.P. finally gets tired of asking an attacks and drags Terri to Pinhead, but Terri manages to knock him out.

Pinhead then spits some more truth bombs at Terri, telling her she can go back into the world where she has nothing waiting for her, or she can…

Irish people are sharing their lovely memories of Gene Wilder and Willy  Wonka

Resigned and weak, she sacrifices J.P. which causes the statue to fall apart in pieces of flesh and goop, revealing her prince in shining bondage armor.

Joey gets haunted by an old timey radio, and ends up in a vision of a bodies strewn battlefield with Captain Elliot Spencer. He explains that the trauma of war drove him to the box, and that he forgot his humanity and became a captain of hell. And although Kirsty freed him by reminding him of his humanity, his evil hid and now Pinhead is just that – the pure evil version of him, no longer bound to the commandments of hell. Elliot wants to help, but Joey has to use the puzzle box to lure Pinhead to him.

Pinhead appears in the clurb aka The Boiler Room, and massacres everyone there. This is the one must see scene from the film.

I will give the movie credit that there are some creative deaths in this montage (including someone’s drink turning into a cloud of Pinhead’s face before freezing into a frozen spike and impaling them!).

But I think the most striking image is seeing a pool of blood slowly form on the other side of a locked door where a mass of people are frantically trying to escape a mass murderer. The lingering shot of the door and the blood is punctuated with the sounds of hooks and chains whipping through the air and slicing flesh. It is a particularly dark and upsetting given how akin it seems to terrible, non-Cenobite driven tragedies we have seen happen.

But on a lighter note, this also happens.

Joey catches news of the massacre on TV and calls her camera person to meet her at The Boiler Room. When she arrives, she encounters piles of dead bodies akin to her nightmares about her father’s death in Vietnam. Her reaction is really hard to watch, going from breaking down in tears to yelling out in horror. Pinhead has apparently lit numerous candles to welcome her at least.

Seriously who lit all these candles

She also finds her camera person.

Pinhead starts chasing Joey down the street for the box, and then we meet the D-list Cenobites. We have Camerabite

We have CDBite

His head inexplicably makes an electrical whirring noise when it turns

We have whatever the fuck this one is.

Joey encounters two squad cars of police who are quickly dispatched with CDs and fire. Joey flees to a church, but the priest’s disbelief in the possibility of corporeal demons allows Pinhead the power to destroy him and hold a black mass just to ensure this film, through quality or content, is offensive to everybody.

Also my favorite line in this entire film has to be the priest trying to say demons are just metaphors, only for Pinhead to enter the church, leading to Joey pointing at him and saying

Big 2020 mood
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Joey runs away with the puzzle box, but then encounters a TerriBite. It is a sad fate for Terri, who looks more at peace now than she was in her human life.

Just to ruin the emotional heft, J.P. is inexplicably a Cenobite now too.

Even Pinhead calls them a shadow of his former troops

Worth noting, Joey yells “Pinhead” at the infamous character which is the first time in the series he is referred to as Pinhead. She solves the puzzle and all the LameOBites as well as Pinhead are zapped by the box and disappear.

Joey is then inexplicably beamed to the field her father died in, and his ghost talks to her, saying he was asked to thank her and take the box from her. She gives it to him, and almost immediately realizes it is a trick from Pinhead. But it jogs her memory about Pinhead’s human alter ego Elliot Spencer which allows Elliot to enter Joey’s dream. He wrestles the puzzle box away from Pinhead, and they eventually merge into one being again. But Pinhead still attacks Joey, so she stabs him with the puzzle box because I guess that is how it works now.

Joey returns to the real world and tosses the box into wet cement. But eventually the building constructed on that cement foundation is revealed to be a giant puzzle box waiting to lure more victims.

Dun dun dun!

Random Observations

  • I really enjoyed Terri as a character. She was written in a way that makes you feel truly bad for her, and it was even sadder to see that she seemed more calm and at peace as a Cenobite than when she was human
  • The parts with Joey’s father should have just been cut. I cannot understand why those were kept in the film, and half expected it to be revealed Pinhead was somehow part of her bloodline.
  • Pinhead feels a lot closer to Freddy in this one, but he really seems to be a precursor to the djinn in Wishmaster which would come out 5 years later

Verdict

This sequel aged as poorly as the technology prominently featured in it, but it has some merits. This is 90s cheese with a dash of some good themes and ideas. It definitely builds some interesting potential for the future’s series, but is a noticeable downgrade from the intellect, quality, and finesse of the first two films. Watch is you wonder what Hellraiser fanfiction might look like.

3 thoughts on “Is It Worth It? Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992)

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