Peter Atkins

Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992, Anthony Hickox)

Hellraiser III is one of the first “horror” movies I’ve seen where they seemed concerned with action figure tie-ins, with the Cenobites having gimmicks (they shoot CDs, blow fire and so on). It’s also one of those absurd movies set in New York but clearly filmed somewhere else, in this case North Carolina. It gets more absurd than some, with protagonist Terry Farrell driving an SUV around “New York.” There also aren’t any black people in Hickox’s New York (well, there was one), so it’s kind of like an early Dark Knight.

It’s hard to believe anyone associated with the previous film had something to do with this one, but it’s the same screenwriter–this time he seems to be trying to infer a lesbian attraction between Farrell and Paula Marshall, but the film’s never really willing to commit to it. The big plot twist too, in regards to that relationship, is never explained.

Hickox is a bad director–sure, he’s charged with directing Borg-looking demons on the streets of North Carolina–sorry, New York–so it isn’t going to be an easy task for anyone, but he does a really lousy job of it. Hellraiser III, in a horror franchise without much scare factor (at least the first two had some uneasy gross moments), is kind of like a gory PG-13 sequel to an R-rated movie. It’s actually a lot like Robocop 3.

The worst performance is from Kevin Bernhardt, who, frighteningly, now writes screenplays.



Directed by Anthony Hickox; screenplay by Peter Atkins, based on a story by Atkins and Tony Randel and on characters created by Clive Barker; director of photography, Gerry Lively; edited by Christopher Cibelli and James D.R. Hickox; music by Randy Miller; production designer, Steve Hardie; produced by Christopher Figg and Lawrence Mortorff; released by Dimension Films.

Starring Terry Farrell (Joey Summerskill), Paula Marshall (Terri), Kevin Bernhardt (J.P. Monroe), Ken Carpenter (Doc) and Doug Bradley (Lead Cenobite/Captain Elliott Spencer).

Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988, Tony Randel)

So, Hellbound is a British production, but it dubs over the British cops (who are dressed like American cops and carry guns and don’t know how to use them–because they’re British?) with American accents. It’s a lame decision and one of the few gaffs in the film not related to the story itself.

Even with Christopher Young’s really overbearing score, the film’s at least somewhat successful, if only because half of it plays a little like Tron in hell. It also features a decently plotted story this time, with plot progression and so on.

Unfortunately, it makes absolutely no sense in the context of the first film (and not just because it starts immediately following the first film, which ended with a house burning down, with the house still intact). It’s also never clear what happens to the Hellraiser box from the first movie.


The really confusing elements come about halfway through, when resurrected (and strangely top-billed) Clare Higgins has superpowers. Then she reveals she’s on a mission from hell to recruit souls but she does a really bad job of it, only getting one and she can’t even bring him to hell, she needs mute Imogen Boorman to do it. Kind of.

Boorman’s character arc is an example of the best thing about Hellbound. It’s implied evil doctor Kenneth Cranham (who apparently is a supervillain out to take over hell) kills Boorman’s mother just so he can perform brain surgery on her, but never made clear.



Directed by Tony Randel; screenplay by Peter Atkins, based on a story by Clive Barker; director of photography, Robin Vidgeon; edited by Richard Marden; music by Christopher Young; production designer, Michael Buchanan; produced by Christopher Figg; released by New World Pictures.

Starring Clare Higgins (Julia Cotton), Ashley Laurence (Kirsty Cotton), Kenneth Cranham (Dr. Philip Channard), Imogen Boorman (Tiffany), Sean Chapman (Frank Cotton), William Hope (Kyle MacRae), Doug Bradley (Lead Cenobite), Barbie Wilde (Female Cenobite), Simon Bamford (Butterball Cenobite), Nicholas Vince (Chatterer Cenobite), Oliver Smith (Browning) and Angus MacInnes (Detective Ronson).

Scroll to Top