iramax started off their Dimension Films
subsidiary with a bang with the release of the third "Hellraiser"
film, awaited by fans for almost four years. Their patience has not gone
unrewarded, for Pinhead is back in all his blackest splendor. Assuming a
more central role this time around, Pinhead cements his status as a horror
icon and presides over a gory and entertaining film.
When we last saw Pinhead (Doug
Bradley) he was encase in a stone statue and seemingly gone for good. But
nothing stays hidden forever, as Traci Lords can attest with her underage
porn films. The statue is bought by a hedonistic club owner, who places it
prominently in his apartment above the club. Unbeknownst to him, an
ambitious young reporter named Joey (Terry Farrell, "Deep Space
Nine") is staking out the local E.R. She winds up with the story of her
life: a man is brought in clutching a strange puzzle box with chains tearing
into him. When the man suddenly explodes, Joey thinks she might be on to
Teaming with the dead man's newly single girlfriend (Paula Marshall), Joey
learns about the Lemanchard Configuration and of the dreaded Cenobites.
Meanwhile, Pinhead is freed from his stone prison and is set loose upon the
physical realm. Pinhead aims to rebuild the ranks of the Cenobites by
conscripting the unwilling people he encounters and ultimately turning the
planet into a veritable Hell on Earth. It's up to Joey to stop the Prince of
Hell with the aid of Elliot Spencer, Pinhead's human alter ego (also played
"Hellraiser III" brings a fresh new approach to the series, and
the infusion of creative blood is certainly appreciated. Director Anthony
Eclipse") never gives you a chance to be bored with all the
gruesome goings on. It can all be overwhelming at times, but in the end it's
all good, gory fun. Hickox is also adept at handling exposition scenes as
well as those with death and carnage; both are balanced out enough so
"Hellraiser III" never feels uneven or hits any slow spots.
Scribe Peter Atkins ("Wishmaster")
is smart enough to know that by the third installment the people want
Pinhead. As a result, Atkins' script focuses more on the Cenobite leader
and finally allows him to run unchecked on Earth. Atkins also gives much
more time to Elliot Spencer, and we learn more about the man who would
become the monster. The writer also does a nice cameo, playing the club's
bartender, a character that gets turned into a Cenobite.
As Joey, Terry Farrell is a charming and likeable lead. Farrell's
performance is full of emotional resonance, making it easy for the
audience to empathize with her intrepid character. Kevin Barnhardt is
equally good as J.D., owner of the Boiler Room nightclub. His character
oozes licentiousness, and at times acts like he's a few cards shy of a
full deck. But those two excellent performances are overshadowed by Doug
Bradley as Pinhead. Bradley's classical training pays off in spades and
the character has never looked so powerful or dangerous. This is Pinhead
unbound, and Bradley makes sure we get to see what the demon is really
capable of. Series favorite Ashley Laurence also pops in for a quick and
The director's cut features more gore, most noticeably in the Boiler Room
massacre. There is also an interesting scene showing how Elliot Spencer
acquired the box in the first place. It may not be the most shocking
revelation, but it does add a nice detail to the history of Pinhead's
genesis. "Hellraiser III" is probably the last great film of the
series, before its retrograde in later sequels to direct to video status.
Audaciously bloody and never dull, this is one horror film that lives up
to its name. Hell is indeed raised.