I've never understood the curious disentegratory nature of horror movie series. Friday the 13th, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street etc - in every case the first film is undoubtedly the best. The first sequel is where it starts to go downhill, but it's usually not too appalling. By the time we're at sequel number four we're suddenly churning out some of the worst films in the history of creation. By sequel seven we've usually got 'self parodies', which is usually just making excuses for the direness of it all. Logic would surely dictate that series can only get better over time; you try a little bit harder with each new sequel, learning from the mistakes of the last. In theory.

In practise, however, this is of course a load of old bum (cockney rhyming slang: bum wipe, tripe). Picking a name right out of the air, let's take the Hellraiser series. First film is really weird and clever in a gorey kind of Neil Gaiman way. Second film is really just more of the same. Third film is basically a slasher with expensive make-up effects. I don't get this. Someone explain it to me.

Anyway, coincidentally, now we're going to review Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth, not to be confused with Doom 2: Hell on Earth, which I think wasn't out at the time this came out, so we can't fault it there. As well as the usual Doug Bradley as Pinhead, our new heroine for today's little romp is none other than Jadzia Dax from Star Trek: Deep Space 9. Yes, I'm pretty certain the character and indeed the actress have their own names, but as far as I'm concerned they're both just Jadzia Dax.

In this film, Dax has come back in time to present day New York (I think. It's a city in America and NY is the only one I can think of), where she has put flesh-tone make up over her alien face decorations and taken a job as a TV news reporter. She's not content however, finding herself reporting on the really mundane shit, until some bloke is brought into some hospital with chains sticking into his face and explodes while they're trying to stick him full of morphine. Understandably intrigued, Dax decides to investigate further.

Meanwhile, some bloke we don't know buys a great big pillar thing which the producers would have us believe is the pillar that rose out of the bed at the end of Hellraiser 2, but which is NOTHING OF THE SORT. This new one's made of stone with lots of hellish decorations, including Pinhead's funny face positioned, fortuitously, at exactly the right position it would be in if, say, the pillar was actually made of hollow polystyrene and Pinhead was actually inside sticking his face out of a little hole. Unknown bloke decides this would be just thing to brighten up his bachelor pad, and takes it right away.


A-nyway, Dax traces the girlfriend of the bloke whose head exploded to the bloke with the pillar, who owns a nightclub, it would seem. She finds the girl, a bit down about the whole head explodey adventure as you'd imagine, and the next thing we know the girl (homeless, of course) has moved in with Dax. I think. I've seen this film a few times but I didn't have time to watch it again before I started writing this, so I'm unsure about some details. Anyway, I think the homeless girl tells Dax that the head explodey incident occurred as a direct result of fiddling with artefacts from somewhere called the 'Channard Institute' (Hellraiser 2 veterans gasp in horror). Dax looks into that fateful place and somehow acquires a bunch of security tapes and documents and shit. She views video tapes of Kirsty, who was the heroine of the last two films, ranting on about demons and hell, then some English bloke appears on screen and says 'SHE'S TELLING THE TRUTH, DAX,' in an ominous voice. Then he goes away. How rude.

Nightclub owner bonks some blonde girl then she steps a little bit too close to the pillar of hell, whereupon it eats her and Pinhead's face comes to life, offering empty promises of glory and sandwiches to nightclub owner if he'll just bring a few more of these yummy promiscuous girls. He thinks it sounds like a pretty good deal. Meanwhile, Dax and homeless have a bit of a falling out and homeless runs crying back to - oh dear - nightclub owner, who tries to feed her to Pinhead but fails, getting eaten himself. Pinhead now offers himself to the homeless girl (he's such a whore) and escapes from his polystyrene prison, holding out his hand for girl to take.

Dax has a funny dream in which English bloke appears again and starts with the exposition. Apparently he's the spirit of the bloke Pinhead used to be. The two (human and cenobite) were once one and the same, but after the business in the last film they apparently had a bit of divorce, Pinny getting stuck in a pillar and bloke getting stuck in some afterlife dream zone affair that looks a bit like World War 1. Pinhead has to be destroyed, 'parently, and Dax must use the puzzle box she conveniently got from homeless girl.

It turns out that after the loss of his mates in the last film Pinhead is out to set up a bit of a recruitment party. He offs the entire clientele of the nightclub in a very lengthy, inCREDibly gorey sequence which indicates that the producer ordered a bit too much fake blood and wanted to make the most of it. Everyone's killed and the place is repainted in an interesting new shade called hint of viscera. Dax sees a bulletin of people with chains in their faces being wheeled away, and whisks off to combat old Pinhead, failing to notice that the television is unplugged. WOOOO FUCKING OOOOOOOO.

Anyway, she turns up to find her cameraman (amongst others) dead and Pinhead looking jolly pleased with himself. He demands the puzzle box from her, because all villains like having the only thing that can destroy them in their possession, but she's not about to be sweet-talked by a blue-faced drink of water surrounded in dismembered body parts. Off she flees, to face Pinhead's new cenobite friends - the DJ has CDs lodged in his mush because he's a DJ. The cameraman has a camera stuck in his eye because he's a cameraman. The homeless woman has a cigarette in her open throat because she was a big silly. The barman has barbed wire wrapped around his face, because ... erm ... because 'barbed wire' has got 'bar' in it. Yeah. None of them seem to get anywhere in the killing-Dax stakes, so Dax just solves the puzzle box and sends Pinhead back off home. In the process she addresses him as 'Pinhead', incidentally, so I guess either they got pretty chummy off-camera or employees of Hell have to wear name badges like all the other workers in the world.

It's his dentist I feel sorry for.

Dax is visited by the ghost of her dead dad in the warlike afterlife dream zone place. He asks her for the puzzle box, which she hands over with great delight, at which point she realises that her dead dad died before she was born, and as such wouldn't know who she was. Surprise surprise, it was Pinhead all along. I mean, really. What would her dad have done with the puzzle box? Maybe he thought it would make a good centrepiece. Oh well. Anyway, Pinhead's human self turns up - because this is his realm, which he rather subtly lured Pinhead into - and they merge together into one. Pinhead turns out to be the dominant one, though, so Dax solves the puzzle box and sends him back to Hell properly this time. Then she buries it under wet cement, which of course guarantees that there won't be any more sequels, because everyone knows cement is completely unbreakable! Ho ho ho!

Ratings. Now.

Fingers In Ears Rating: 6/10
It's more of a gore film than a shock film, but I suppose if you find people with hooks in their flesh shocking, then this would keep you awake at nights I suppose.

Similarity To Last Film Rating: 4/10
Disappointing. As I said, there's less of the old characterisation and clever metaphors and shit and more blood squirting everywhere like you've lodged a sprinkler into your neck stump.

Blood and Guts Rating: 10/10
See above.

Get Nekkid and DIE! Rating: 10/10
Two people get nekkid - nightclub owner and the first woman he rogers - and they both get eaten by the polystyrene pillar of death. So that's a 1:1 nudity/death ratio. Full marks!

Hateful Heroes Rating: 7/10
Nooo! It's Jadzia Dax! Oh alright. She is a bit of a cunt in this film. English human-side-of-Pinhead bloke was cool though. That's me defending my countrymen, that is.

Overall Horror Movie Sequel Rating: 8/10
Not bad. Not bad at all. Unless you mean in terms of quality, in which case yes, very bad. Bad bad bad. BAD.

Quality Rating: 33%

One-Word Summary: "Make-up"

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