In the early 90’s, horror movies were just the best. Looking at it now, we were truly blessed by some of the most interesting, imaginative, innovative, and downright charming villains ever put to screen. There wasn’t just gore for the sake of gore, though that did exist if you looked for it. (mostly in Italy…) There was a seriousness to the horror even in the most absurd of situations. And in 1992, a movie arrived that scared the pants off of me.
Hellraiser was a franchise I was familiar with in abstraction. I knew Pinhead, but didn’t know the films. When the original released in 1987 I was only six years old, far too young to understand the horror of Hellraiser. Its sequel also hit at a too young age for me. But in 1992, I was ready. At the manly and distinguished age of twelve, I decided I had seen enough scary movies and was ready for the unique horror stylings of Hellraiser. Spoilers… I could not have been more wrong. So, on a random weekend during a free channel preview, a time when us poor unfortunates would get to watch HBO or Cinemax without paying for it, I happened upon Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth. Sweet twelve year old me thought. I was alone for the weekend, because my mother and stepfather are terrible people, and had no one to tell me to go to bed or not to watch this movie.
Hellraiser III starts off with a yuppie looking dude, JP Monroe, purchasing the Pillar of Souls for his nightclub The Boiler Room. Trapped within the pillar was Pinhead for reasons I didn’t understand then and won’t bother to explain now. Suffice it to say that Pinhead doesn’t stay trapped for long. After an evening tryst with Mr. Monroe, a club-goer named Sandy has her flesh ripped off of her body by Pinhead. She examines the pillar, he wakes up and shoots a spike and chain out of his mouth, and rips all of the flesh from her body. This is, if memory serves, within the first ten or so minutes of the movie. Pinhead convinces Monroe to bring him more people to eat. Now, as I said, I was twelve and all alone in my house for the entire weekend. My parents had left me plenty of times before and it had always been fine. This time turned out fine as well but for a bit, I was pretty sure it wouldn’t. The rest of the movie is a relatively confusing mess of a film but what really scared me was the creation of new Cenobites. Pinhead makes a new band of minions to terrorize the town and they are simply people in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was terrifying to be alone, with no one anywhere near enough to help if needed, and see people who were in the same type of situation. These people happened to be somewhere when some bad shit went down and no one was able to help them. That scared the shit out of me. As I got older though, and rewatched the movie, I realized that as much as it may have scared me, it just isn’t very good. The first two are excellent, this one, not so much. I will never forget that feeling though, and will always kind of love Pinhead because of it.