Horror Digital  

Go Back   Horror Digital > Reviews > DVD Reviews A-M

Latest Poll
What's your favorite horror label today?
Anchor Bay
Arrow Films
Blue Underground
Code Red
Criterion
Grindhouse Releasing
Kino/Redemption Films
Olive Films
RaRO Video
Scorpion Releasing
Severin Film
Shout/Scream Factory
Synapse Films
Twilight Time
Vinegar Syndrome
88 Films
Other (specify in thread)...
Who's Online
There are currently 12 members and 131 guests. Most users ever online was 799, 04-10-2006 at 07:37 PM.
booper71, dave13, Eddyw78, fattyjoe37, KGBRadioMoskow, Kim Bruun, Mok, pvjt, RJ Fielder, Severin, SilentScreams, vidjunkie
 Thread Rating: 70 votes, 5.00 average.
Old 10-24-2012, 11:20 PM
190
Moderator
 
Scored: 7
Views: 4,617
Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth





Reviewer: Rhett
Review Date: October 24, 2012

Format: DVD
Released by: Echo Bridge
Release date: April 19, 2011
MSRP: $19.99
Region 1
Interlaced
Full Screen 1.33:1
1992



"There is a gateway to hell that can stop him."
"Where is it?"
"Your apartment."


inline Image inline Imageinline Image
Echo Bridge
Lions Gate
Paramount

With those lines near the end of the first act of Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth you knew that Clive Barker was creatively no longer dictating how his series based on his novella The Hellbound Heart was going. The Hellraiser series, despite having a monster on par with Jason, Freddy or Michael, was always a different beast, and were it not for that totally iconic cover for the first film the series likely would have taken on a completely different direction. The first film is largely a well-wrought domestic drama, and the second, two, has some haughty aspirations in exploring the humanity behind the monster we know as Pinhead. Those two came in the eighties when the horror villain was still largely a figure or presence, not necessarily a full-blown character. It wasn’t until Freddy-mania with the success of the 4th A Nightmare on Elm Street film that there was a shift to make the killer a wry scene stealer. It was four years, and three Freddy sequels in-between, until a third Hellraiser came out, and you can see the influence. The franchise went Hollywood, literally in moving from England to California and becoming soon-to-be juggernaut Dimension Films’ first release, and figuratively with Pinhead being pushed to the forefront of this third outing. You can see Elm Street all over this one, but contrary to what you might think, Hell on Earth might be closest in spirit to the divisive, and, well, incredibly gay, Freddy’s Revenge. Cause for lament? I don’t think so!

The Story


inline Image inline Imageinline Image
Echo Bridge
Lions Gate
Paramount

You know what’s never a good idea in a horror movie? Buying some kind of old artifact. Horror films seem to punish packrats or anyone with an affinity for history. Live in the moment, dear readers, or the Pinheads, Amityvilles and Christines of the world will get you. It happens to JP Monroe (Kevin Bernhardt) in Hellraiser III, the douche owner of popular nightclub The Boiler Room (anyone thinking this entry doesn’t own a bit to the Elm Street legacy can check out now) who buys a giant Han-Solo-Frozen kind of pillar for his posh flat. We learn later that this is the Pillar of Souls, and within it is Pinhead, along with the puzzle box and other entombed spirits. The schism that existed in the second film between World War I British Army Captain Eliot Spencer and his tormented form in death, Pinhead (Doug Bradley) has caused some kind of space-time calamity, and Eliot is in limbo while Pinhead is entombed. Okay, with that out of the way, now the fun starts.


inline Image inline Imageinline Image
Echo Bridge
Lions Gate
Paramount

An April O’Neil type reporter, Joanne ‘Joey’ Summerskill (Terry Farrell, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) is doing a mundane report at the hospital when suddenly a raver with long chains hooked into his body is wheeled frantically into the ER. One of the chains cuts her leg, and she goes in to investigate further and witnesses the man’s head exploding as he shrieks in absolute horror. Joey tracks down the man’s girlfriend, Terri (Paula Marshall, Warlock: The Armageddon) and through her finds out about the nightclub and more importantly a small little puzzlebox that Terri stole from The Boiler Room that might be causing all of this. Meanwhile, JP keeps having homoerotic sex and is coaxed by the Pinhead in the statue to feed him the flesh of club-goers in order to give the demon strength (sounds like a smart thing to do).


inline Image inline Imageinline Image
Echo Bridge
Lions Gate
Paramount

Pinhead finally gets his quotient of nubile flesh and is able to wreak havoc in an all-out slaughter of the entire Boiler Room nightclub in one fell swoop of his chains. Fearing for their lives, Joey and Terri unearth some old insanity ward footage of Kristy Cotton (Ashley Laurence from the first two films in a small cameo) explaining Pinhead and his Cenobites, and how the Lament Configuration is the one thing that can send him back to hell. Pinhead, some of the other familiar Cenobites and a few new ones thrown in as well, walks the earth and is determined to get his box back. Joey’s in control and thinks the key is to give it to the kindred Eliot Spencer in her dreams in order to free the good and send the bad back to the center of the earth. Pinhead has other plans.


inline Image inline Imageinline Image
Echo Bridge
Lions Gate
Paramount

Hellraiser III goes a good job of paying service to the first two films, both in story and style, for the first act. We get the continuity with the Pillar of Souls from Hellbound and Ashley Laurence coming back, however brief, does remind viewers where the whole thing started. But then once Pinhead sucks his first victim in through the pillar, this movie becomes a completely different beast. A completely awesome beast. This is a movie that plays to the back row – rather than dancing with the haughty underpinnings of the first film, this one instead satisfies horror fans at a guttural level: Pinhead and co. terrorizing legions of victims. And boy, are there are a lot. When Pinhead finally makes it into the real world he unleashes a complete and utter bloodbath on a nightclub of over 100 people. It’s really a show stopper, like Carrie on speed, with director Anthony Hickox showing amazing creativity death to death while still keeping a breakneck pace. Hickox had previously demonstrated a clever wit and visual playfulness with his loved Waxwork series and he again brings it here. If there’s one thing you’ll remember from this film it’s the Boiler Room bloodbath, but that’s not to say the movie isn’t peppered with other delights.


inline Image inline Imageinline Image
Echo Bridge
Lions Gate
Paramount

Hellraiser III is also able to keep the momentum going after the nightclub setpiece, turning Pinhead into some kind of unrelenting night terror, walking through fiery streets and police barricades like the terminator. Rather than battling with ideas or with conceptions of hell or death like the previous two films, this one abides by the title, giving Hell on Earth, and in the process stripping the series of pretense and making Hellraiser the most accessible it ever had been and probably ever would be going forward. It’s one hell of a gory, fun ride, and a scary one to boot.


inline Image inline Imageinline Image
Echo Bridge
Lions Gate
Paramount

What I like about the film too is, despite its more streamlined, dare I say mainstream, approach, it still manages to expand the mythology of the series and present a story with some narrative intrigue. There are a few twists that happen in the latter parts of the film that effectively keep the viewer guessing – how will Joey’s dreams manifest in reality and considering Pinhead seems to be manipulating that reality for others, what from all that’s being shown can actually be trusted? The payoff with all the World War I flashbacks is effective and not quite the one you’d expect.


inline Image inline Imageinline Image
Echo Bridge
Lions Gate
Paramount

The knock some have against the film is pretty much the same one they have with Freddy’s Revenge: you’re taking the monster out of his realm (in Freddy’s case, dreams and in Pinhead’s case, hell). In Freddy’s Revenge¸ other than all that naked ass slapping, the standout is that massacre at the party where Freddy just unleashes on all those thankless teenagers. Pinhead does similar at the party, and really, the results are the same: yep, okay, it’s a logical stretch, but remember we are believing that a dude with pins in his head and unlimited powers is controlled by a tiny clockmaker’s box. The important thing is that in both cases the carnage is fun, and I’m always willing to suspend disbelief if it means I’m going to be entertained, and in both films, I certainly was.


inline Image inline Imageinline Image
Echo Bridge
Lions Gate
Paramount

Hell on Earth, like Freddy’s Revenge, is that first film in the franchise to really take the steps to make the monster the main focus, whereas in the first films he was more symbolic of the sins that had been going on behind veils of suburban normalcy. In Hell on Eath Pinhead is quite simply a villain, a force erm, hellbent, on getting his freedom, and like Freddy, kind of becomes the anti-hero. If we’re keeping this Freddy’s Revenge thing going, I’d argue too that while Hellraiser III is not quite as overt in its homoeroticism, it certainly has some fun with the subtext. That sex scene with the jacked up and oiled Kevin Bernhardt certainly seems to put the focus on his body, and it seems like he’s getting jacked up for a football game rather than making love. And then there are all those phallic chains pretty much shooting in every which direction, penetrating wherever, sometimes shish kebob-ing people in pairs. When Pinhead has the scene where he pulls out pins and they birth these thriving, organic worms you can’t help but wonder if the makeup effects artist was Sigmund Freud. Even the female Cenobite has an erect cigarette sticking out of her neck so she can come and play with all the boys. What stops all the carnage? Joanne’s box…and damned if any of the guys know how to make it work!


inline Image inline Imageinline Image
Echo Bridge
Lions Gate
Paramount

If you’re getting the tone of my review, it’s that Hellraiser III is more fun than anything else, a wild ride of inventive setpieces, playful fan service and most of all a visual energy that helps make everything so much more fun than we’ve seen normally with the Hellraiser franchise. It strikes a balance where I think enough of Hell on Earth pays tribute to the excellent mythology of the first two films, but at the same time lowers the bar of entry to the series by making things a lot lighter and more accessible this time around. The much maligned Alien 3 initially advertised itself as the film that would also bring its monster to earth (“On Earth Everyone Can Hear You Scream!”) but ended up trying to mine the same feminine corridors of the first film to bad reviews. Too bad, because as we’ve seen here with Hellraiser III, sometimes a change of scenery can do wonders to a franchise. It’s on a different level than the excellent two first films are, to be sure, but Hell on Earth is as close as the franchise ever got to producing something commercially viable that horror audiences the world over could, well, latch onto.


Image Quality

Considering Hellraiser III was a success theatrically, making more than its predecessor, it’s kind of disheartening to see that of all the sequels it has probably had the shoddiest of releases. There are precious few options now for those of us in North America, and none are very good. Initially, it was first released in 2001 by Lions Gate exclusively in Canada in 1.33:1 open matte. Interlaced, dull and with a white edge line on the left side, it was far from perfect. Paramount surprised everyone with a widescreen transfer when Hell on Earth made its DVD debut in the US, but unfortunately the rights reverted to current Hellraiser rights holders, Miramax, and the film was discontinued less than two years after it was first released. Cenobites had to wait a few more years before this would finally again be legitimately released, but last year Miramax, through Echo Bridge, put this out on a budget (it’s also available in a 4-pack with the other Hellraiser sequels, or a twofer with Bloodline). We’re back to full frame and back, sadly, to interlace, and while the picture does appear more saturated, it sometimes lacks the sharpness evident in some of the closeups of the Canadian disc. This is likely because of the smaller bitrate, which contributes to more artifacting in the darker parts of blues and reds. It’s legible, but overall pretty bad and not even as good as the old 2001 disc. Bleh.


inline Image inline Imageinline Image
Echo Bridge
Lions Gate
Paramount

None of these hold a candle to the widescreen Anchor Bay UK disc, which also outclasses the rest in audio and extras also. The 1.33:1 framing predictably leaves the framing feeling very open and loose, without the intimacy or immediacy, sometimes so important in horror, that the film really requires. If you’re to watch any version in Region 1 I’d recommend tracking down the OOP Paramount disc for the better framing and picture, it’s night and day better, as you can see in the screenshots. For the few bucks Echo Bridge is asking for any of their allotment of releases of this particular picture, though, it is definitely still worth seeing.



Sound


inline Image inline Imageinline Image
Echo Bridge
Lions Gate
Paramount

As far as sound goes, there is far less variety in source elements here. All the Region 1 versions of the film are only presented in the film’s original stereo. The Canadian release was the worst of the bunch, with some hiss and a generally softer sound across the board. The Paramount and the Echo Bridge discs are much clearer and with a more dynamic sound range. The Paramount disc only operates at a 96 Kbps bitrate compared to the 192 of the Echo Bridge disc, so audio wise, EB wins out. Again though, the Anchor Bay UK disc features a beautiful 5.1 DTS track that puts the lot of these sound mixes to shame.

Supplemental Material

inline ImageWhen initially released in Canada, Hellraiser III boasted in gigantic caps print along the full left side: “SPECIAL EDITION”. What was special, it seems, was that it was even released, since there are no extras whatsoever on the disc. Echo Bridge follows suit without any supplements on their release, and surprising for anyone who grew up through Paramount’s initial Friday the 13th releases, the Paramount disc actually has the most extras. There’s the theatrical trailer along with a port of the old VHS featurette on Clive Barker’s art. Not too bad. It should be noted that all three releases of the film feature the longer R-Rated Canadian cut that essentially keeps in all the gore of the uncut version (give or take a few frames) while removing some of the slower exposition scenes that can be found on the Anchor Bay UK uncut version (both versions are available on that UK disc though, natch). The Anchor Bay disc features a commentary with Hickox and Bradley, the trailer, a gallery and a collection of new and old interviews.


Final Thoughts


Pinhead goes Hollywood in this third outing, and it’s a hell of a good time! Anthony Hickox gives the film a visual energy and has a lot of fun with all the new and novel cenobites on display. Hell on Earth also features some killer setpieces, like the flesh-slinging nightclub massacre to Pinhead’s bloody revival in the pillar post-coitus. While the film gleefully embraces a direction towards mayhem, it still effectively pays tribute to the ideology and continuity that got it there by building on the two films before it. As one of the best entries in the series, it’s a shame that it’s had such a spotty record on DVD here in Region 1, but as bad as Echo Bridge’s cheapie releases is, it’s still a package you’re going to want to tear apart and watch based on the quality of the film itself.


inline Image inline Imageinline Image
Echo Bridge
Lions Gate
Paramount

We’re going to be descending pretty deep into the lows of the series this week as we explore the later sequels here on the site, but even those who miss the restraint of the first two films with this divisive entry can probably agree with this apt line from Pinhead: “Down the dark decades of your pain, this will seem like a memory of Heaven.” Appreciate Hell on Earth, because it’s about to freeze over going forward!


Rating

.
Movie - B+

Image Quality - D+

Sound - B

Supplements - N/A





Technical Info.
  • Colour
  • Running time - 1 hour and 33 minutes
  • Rated R, 18A
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter Stops
  • English 2.0 Dolby Digital

Supplemental Material
  • N/A

Other Pictures

 

 

Extras
New Article
New Reply

DVD Reviews A-M
« Previous | Next »

Old 10-25-2012, 05:56 PM
Family is Forever
Part 3 is awesome for it's 90's feel and has the most Pinhead than any other in the series.
 
 

Posting Rules
You may not post new articles
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On


Main > Reviews > DVD Reviews A-M
All times are GMT +1. The time now is 05:54 PM.


Portal By vbPortal Version 3.8.1
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vbPortal. All Rights Reserved.