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kenmiller

United States

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Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth

Cover Image

What began in Hell, will end on Earth.

Some call him the Black Prince of Hell. Some call him the Angel of Suffering. To horror fans everywhere, he's Pinhead (Doug Bradley), the urbane, spike-faced minion of evil with a bloodlust for human souls. Now Pinhead returns in the most diabolical Hellraiser of them all - Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth! TV reporter Joey Summerskill (Terry Farrell, Back To School) is on assignment at a local hospital when a bloodied teenaged boy is rushed into the emergency room. As Joey watches, the writhing boy is literally torn apart by chains impaling his body. Fleeing the carnage, Joey follows the victim's girlfriend to a downtown nightclub, the Boiler Room. In the apartment above the Boiler Room rests the owner's newly purchased sculpture: a pillar etched with distorted figures and faces. Among the frozen images is Pinhead. Tonight he shall be released!

Details

Country:United States
Year:1992
Format:DVD
Barcode:097361511641
Region: 
Released:8th August 2006
Discs:1 disc
Runtime:93 minutes
MSRP:14.99 (USD)
Studio:Paramount
Genre:Unknown
Rating:

Subtitles

English

Audio

EnglishDolby Digital2.0

Video

480p16:91.85:1Anamorphic WidescreenNTSCColour

Features

Clive Barker's The Art of Horror Featurette, Trailers (Edition Out-Of-Print/Recalled)

Reviews

"The Last Truly Great Hellraiser Film." by RedSabbath on 10th March 2010

"I have seen the future of horror and its name is Clive Barker" - Stephen King

Well maybe at the time, Stephen. Hellraiser creator/writer Clive Barker was the J.K. Rowling of Horror in the 80's and 90's. So like King his novels caught the eye of anxious filmakers, wanting to see if it would successfully translate to screen. It seemed like a good idea at the time, due to the huge success of Horror with the likes of Friday The 13th, Halloween, A Nightmare On Elm Street, and the like. But after two medicore attempts (Transmutations & Rawhead Rex), it was time for Barker himself to take the reins, and direct what most consider to be his greatest work: The Hellbound Heart, what would eventually be known to filmgoers as simply Hellraiser.

Hellraiser was a landmark film for it's time. Back in 1987, American 80's horror fans hadn't seen a film so graphically surreal, so deep in plot, so....well British. It was a monster hit, giving tired franchises like Friday & Nightmare a run for it's money. He quickly followed it up with Hellbound:Hellraiser II going even deeper and plot-heavy to basically the same success. So once the filmbug bit him real deep, he decided to adapt another best-selling novel of his "Cabal" into a film known as to 1990 audiences Nightbreed. But at the time it didn't work. And just like that Clive Barker went back to the writing board of novels, only returning to the chair five years later with the equally poorly received "Lord Of Illusions". So maybe he wasn't the next Stephen King of films (not that King's film track record was all that great to begin with), but that addition of the two Hellraiser films will forever mark him as one of Horror's greatest pop-icon creators.

So, now acting as only an executive producer, he gave mininal input of various films to follow. The first as such was the long-awaited third installment of the Hellraiser series:Hell On Earth. This time featuring only Doug Bradley's Pinhead and Ashley Laurence in a short cameo as it's only returning characters, Hellraiser III is a somewhat strange entry of the then existing series. Gone were the numerous surreal tones set by the first two, replaced with more action and could-it-be, gore in the process. Truth be told, it seemed that ole Pinhead followed the trail that Freddy had laid, get more American and speed it up a notch. Maybe even more than that....

Continuing from Hellbound, we find that Pinhead is cenobite-less, trapped in a monolithic statue known as the Pillar Of Souls. A young night-club owner J.P. finds the pillar in a specially shop, buys it, and displays it proudly in his bedroom/office there. His on/off girlfriend notices a clubgoer covered in chains holding the famous box, of which he stolen off the statue. Following a tip of the incident, a reporter, played by Terry Farrell (best known as Dax on Star Trek:Deep Space Nine in her first big-screen lead role), meets the young girl to investigate what had actually happened. Meanwhile back at the club, J.P. notices the statue seems alive and has a craving for blood, to which it's hunger is truly found out by a helpless female victim (probably one of the most memorable effects in the film) standing just too close to it. Pinhead escapes, and on a mission: to create a new cenobite army (some of the most over-the-top cenobites ever), take over the world, and destroy the Box once and for all, never to return to Hell in the process.

I guess the only problem with Hell On Earth is that it was made just too late. Released in 1992, Horror's 80's heyday had run it's course (for then at least). And five years in this genre is just too long to wait between sequels, especially for one that only had two installments at the time. Another factor was it's tone. It was just too playing-up to American audiences, the same audiences that found the first two films just so different now had a sequel that could have starred Freddy Krueger just as easily. It wasn't a huge success. Probably didn't help to have a Heavy Metal soundtrack (like others in it's path) when Grunge was king at the time. And pretty much the franchise was left to rot away in direct-to-video fare starting three years later with the fourth installment Bloodline.

But after all this time and a total of eight films in all, where does Hell On Earth stand? Pretty damn good actually. Even though it's tone was different, it is truly an exciting chapter. The story rarely drags and when it comes to Pinhead himself, he probaly has more screen time here than in any sequel. The effects are not only impressive and original, but extremely graphic. Gorehounds will love the film, with it's attack on The Boiler Room club scene being a neverending violent highlight. Even the subplot of Pinhead's human spirit Elliot telling Joey how & why he came to be and how to stop it are informative and add to the overall legacy of the series. In other words, this is one sequel you don't want to miss, or as known by many "the last truly great Hellraiser film". To me personally I agree with that statement, even going as far as it being my favorite after the first one. Maybe if only '92 audiences saw the version I saw, it's own legacy would be different.

Whatta I mean? Well, Hellraiser III has three different cuts out there! Back in '92, the MPAA gave it an NC-17 rating, and had to cut the film's sex and violence by upwards to three minutes, taming the movie badly. But shown in Canada, it got two of those minutes back, while years later a Directors Cut came to be that included all the scenes plus four other minutes in addition to. So, there's a 91, a 93, and a 97 minute! However, this title is owned by Paramount Pictures, where their policy for their catalog titles are "No rating, no release" (till only recently, and that's just a handful of titles.). So when they finally released this title on DVD, they planned to press the 91 minute cut with it's offically rated "R" rating. But ooops, someone over there pulled the 93 min instead, pressed that, and illegally made that "R" on there to be incorrect. This is the version I'm writing about here now. Paramount looks very down upon Horror's past, never releasing catalog titles like Friday The 13th and My Bloody Valentine in their original unrated version. So, when the mistake was found, after only 15 months, Hellraiser III left the shelves again, quite possibly for a long time here in the States, making this version OOP and for a collector like me, I like it! Sure, it isn't the 97 minute version, but what does that 3 and a half minutes have that mine doesn't? Not much: one bare-breasted dancer scene towards the beginning, and extended scene of Elliot & Joey seeing him actually buying the box in an Indian bazaar, and Terri's sad return to J.P. office. That's it! No more gore, that was put back in to make the 93, so unless you want to go Region 2 for a fullframe presentation or buy the entire three films again in a limited addition pricey boxset, this is the best you can do, and believe me....it's enough.

So how is the presentation? Great and so-so. So-so due to the audio. With a 4.0 mix it does the job, but strangely it's at 96kbps instead of the usual 192 mininum. That's odd and a bit tinny at times, but so where did all the rest of the dual layer space go to? The video. Man, the video is excellent on this release with it's bit-rate going through the roof all throughout the flix. Colors dead-on and very sharp, blowing away the Canadian full-frame version to shame. As for extras, surprising there's two, the original trailer for the film and a pleasant surprise, a 30 minute documentary called Clive Barker:The Art Of Horror. Lemme tell you something, this Doc was NOT made for this release, it's professionally made from 1992 and it doesn't seem to be about Hellraiser as it's more about Barker himself reflecting on his work in books and the occasional movie. Where this thing came from I have no idea, but a great watch looking back at what potential he had before he stepped out of the spotlight. It even has trailers inside it of Hellraiser 1 and 2...maybe that's what got this pulled (?), I don't know....

Finally, this is a worthy addition to any Horror library. The film has stood the test of time and is a great sequel to the franchise. All the Hellraiser films have merit, but Part III is the only one that just puts the pedal to the metal. Highly, highly recommended..one of my Top 100 favorite films!
(RedSabbath Rating:9.0/10)

Submitted by dvdcount on 6th November 2008
Last updated by RedSabbath on 4th April 2009 at 12:16pm (update history)
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