The sophomoric slump is a looming curse for creative projects, but Hellraiser II (like other lucky sequels) managed to smash through this affliction. Still, there are only so many ways you can subject the same character to the same situations before it loses its impact. In 1992, some new blood was given a chance at the Lament Configuration, and all the horrors it contains, In Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth.
We meet a young journalist, Joey, who is fed up with her lackluster assignments, encounters an explosive news story at the hospital one night. This lead takes Joey to a self-indulgent nightclub, whose owner, Mr Munroe, has recently come into possession of a unique art piece, The Pillar of Souls. The statue is none other than the prison of Pinhead, recently liberated from any shred of humanity that Spencer had. He persuades Monroe to lure club patrons to him in exchange for grand promises. The good of Spencer is not completely vanquished, however, and contacts Joey. As Spencer attempts to redeem his humanity, with the help of Joey, is it too late to send the evil pinhead down to hell for good?
Fans of Star Trek will be pleased to see a young Terry Farrell as Joey, it is an excellent fit for the actress making her subsequent casting in Deep Space 9 all the clearer. She is also joined by a street-smart teen, Terri, played by Paula Marshall in one of her earliest roles, they both make a good team both in the film and as performers. The return of Doug Bradley as both the good Capt. Spencer and the now completely maleficent Pinhead, is a fun acting challenge. Along with Cenobites both new and old each bringing more inventive designs.
Retaining the track record of visually interesting other worlds, Hellraiser III ups the ante by increasing the disfigured locations our characters interact in. Such as a nightmarish recreation of a W.W.1. battlefield that is intertwined with Joey’s stylish apartment. From dim hospitals to showdowns at construction sites, Hell on Earth certainly knows how to create a good set-piece. In fact, with its hospital, gratuitous club scenes, and Vietnam flashbacks, the film does remind me a lot of Jacobs Ladder, a film two years its junior. Along with the corrupting of Mr Monroe by essentially an evil piece of art resembles Ghostbusters 2, in a more shady and disturbing way. Though it is fun to see these concepts applied to the world of Pinhead, especially in such a visually interesting style, make them feel more than just knockoffs.
Hellraiser III bids goodbye to the Cottons and hello to a world of wider possibilities, A stylish ensemble of cast and interesting concepts (both new and old) provides some flesh meat for Pinhead to devour. Speaking of Pinhead, he feels right at home on the decadent night scene of the early 90s, with newcomers providing a formidable challenge to an old foe, that makes for a thrilling and enjoyable experience, while not forgetting what made the originals great. Pinhead has found some new life to corrupt in the new decade.
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