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Film / Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth

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Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth (1992) is the third film in the Hellraiser series.

At an antique shop in New York, a nightclub owner named J.P. Monroe (Kevin Bernhardt) purchases an old statue pillar for his private collection. Several weeks later in a hospital emergency room, reporter Joey (Terry Farrell) is witness to someone being ripped apart by meathooks that came out of nowhere. The trail leads her back to the club, where she befriends a girl named Terri (Paula Marshall) who brought the person in, but Terri herself is hesitant of telling Joey anything. Monroe learns that the statue contains the essence of the Cenobite Pinhead (Doug Bradley) when it devours a girl alive in front of him, and is eventually convinced by Pinhead to bring him more victims in exchange for power. When Joey is visited by the spirit of Captain Elliot Spencer (Bradley), Pinhead's human self, she learns that Pinhead has become evil incarnate and wants to plunge the world into hell.

Hellraiser III contains examples of:

  • Above Good and Evil: Pinhead gives this speech when Monroe calls him out as being evil.
    Pinhead: Oh, how uncomfortable those words must feel on your lips. Good. Evil. There is no good, there is no evil, there is only flesh. And the patterns to which we submit it.
  • Answers to the Name of God: This exchange:
    J.P. Monroe: Jesus Christ!
    Pinhead: Not quite.
  • Came Back Wrong: After Pinhead and the other three cenobites were killed by Channard in the second film, Pinhead was separated from his human half. Thankfully, this mistake is corrected towards the end of the film after the two halves merge together again.
  • Cannot Dream: Terri.
  • Coolest Club Ever: The Boiler Room was completely packed and popular... a perfect spot for Pinhead to wreak havoc.
  • Cross-Melting Aura: Pinhead melts a cross and badly burns a priest.
  • Cyborg: The new Cenobite minions that Pinhead creates are all fused with modern technology. One shoots CD disks from his mechanical head, another has a projectile camera lodged in his skull, etc.
  • Deadly Disc: A disc jockey is turned into a compact disc-flinging cyborg-like monster.
  • Death of a Child: The Hell Baby, one of the props, with its eyes and mouth sewed up. Possibly double subverted because it started as a doll, but it was alive by the time Pinhead had been through the club.
  • Devour the Dragon: After Pinhead's shortlived right hand Monroe fails to offer Terri to him, Pinhead convinces her to instead take Monroe's place by his side and feed Monroe to him, which she obliges. The power is enough to give Pinhead humanoid form again.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: The turned Cenobites (the ones who can still talk, at any rate) are all jubilant about becoming Pinhead's minions so they can cause destruction and kill people.
  • Dull Surprise: The Boiler Room DJ seems oddly unfazed by the club massacre, until he gets a face full of CD's.
  • Enemy Without: After Captain Spencer rediscovered his humanity in the last film, his evil proved so strong that he was split up into his good human spirit and the Cenobite Pinhead, now pure evil.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When Pinhead says he is not so different from Monroe for using girls only for pleasure, the latter rejects it and says that what Pinhead did (eating a girl alive) was plain evil compared to him.
  • Evil Laugh: Pinhead gets one.
  • Eye Scream: One of the nightclub patrons gets hooked right in the eye.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Feeling betrayed by everyone, Terri chooses to join Pinhead, and she becomes a Cenobite.
  • Final Girl: Played straight. Joey has the final confrontation with evil Pinhead, who wreaks havoc in the city before she is able to send him back to Hell.
  • Fingore: During Pinhead's slaughter of the nightclub patrons, one of the patrons catches a hook with his hand, but the hook pulls away, severing his fingers.
  • Flayed Alive: A girl gets flayed by Pinhead before he absorbs her into himself.
  • Freudian Excuse: It's insinuated that Monroe was molested by his parents, potentially explaining why he's such an asshole in his adult life.
  • Going for the Big Scoop: The protagonist, Joey Summerskill, a reporter who sees her big break when she witnesses the effects of the Lament Configuration on a hospital patient, and gets wrapped up in Pinhead's plot.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: While we get to see a lot of the deaths that occur in the nightclub massacre, the scene ends with the survivors running to the exit doors as they are sealed shut. The camera then pans backward from the other side of the door showing an series of puddles of blood expanding from underneath the door while the audience hears horrible sounds coming from within. Even more terrifying, as the blood slowly spreads, we hear fewer and fewer screams coming from inside—not because the people are calming down, but because there are fewer people left to scream.
  • He-Man Woman Hater: J.P. Monroe is a well-built hedonist who picks out a different clueless girl from his club every night so he can enjoy them in the bedroom. Afterwards he insults and taunts them that he used them, and throws them out. It's suggested that this is due to a Freudian Excuse of being raped by his mother as a kid, and that he's projecting his hatred for her onto all women.
  • Hell on Earth: The title is a dead giveaway. Specifically, Pinhead Unbound wants to turn it into a Cenobite hellworld.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Spencer gives instructions to Joey on how she might be able to draw Pinhead Unbound to his dimension so that he can defeat his other self, but in the end he can only stop Pinhead by merging with his other self once again, condemning himself back to Hell to save the world.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Pinhead tricks Joey into giving him the puzzle box by impersonating her father. However, to do so he dragged them both to Limbo...which is exactly where Joey and Captain Spencer were trying to lure Pinhead to this whole time, prompting the latter to finally confront Pinhead.
  • I Am the Noun: During the scene in the church near the end, Pinhead corrupts a Bible verse after his mock creation of crucifixion stigmata.
    Pinhead: I am the way!
  • Immune to Bullets: Monroe tries to destroy Pinhead by shooting him. Since he's shooting at a solid pillar statue it's virtually useless and Pinhead just spits out the bullets, asking him if they can now talk sensibly.
  • Impaled Palm: Pinhead pulls two nails from his head and shoves them through the palms of his hands, deliberately mocking the resultant crucifixion imagery to freak out Joey.
  • Improbable Weapon User: The film features the CD and Camerahead Cenobites. Guess what their main weapons are.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Joey, for a wannabe example.
  • Karmic Death: Monroe gets his in a big way after Terri offers him as a sacrifice to Pinhead.
  • Large Ham: Pinhead starts to turn this in this movie, with Doug Bradley absolutely devouring the scenery in.
  • The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: Monroe acquires the Pinhead artifact from an obscure art gallery in New York, who obtained it from Dr. Channard's private collection in England. When Joey goes to investigate, she is told the owner moved to Hawaii months ago.
  • Made of Evil: Pinhead Unbound is the living embodiment of Captain Spencer's inner evil.
  • Made of Plasticine: Pinhead plants a hook in a girl's forehead and pulls on said hook, which yanks the girl's entire skin from her body like a sheet from a mattress.
  • Mr. Exposition: Most of Captain Elliot Spencer’s role consists of telling Joey how Pinhead Unbound came to be, and providing instructions to bring him back to him.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Pinhead gives Monroe a speech about how the way he derived pleasure from devouring the girl is no different from Monroe wooing her to have his way with her sexually and then throwing her out while mocking her. Monroe denies it violently.
  • Oddball in the Series: When compared to the previous two films, this movie comes off as an oddity. There’s no mention of Leviathan anymore as the movie builds up Pinhead as the devil that can do anything, the classic Cenobites are nowhere to be seen, it’s in New York City rather than England and Kirsty isn’t the main character, only making a brief cameo. This is especially noticeable when Arrow Video released the “Hellraiser Scarlet Box” set, which contained the first 3 movies.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Captain Elliot Spencer's wayward soul, who is stuck in some sort of limbo before the afterlife. He contacts Joey to inform her about his past and Pinhead's creation, and how to defeat him by bringing him back to Spencer's realm.
  • Police Are Useless: Subverted. Called to a massacre at the nightclub and discovering literal demons walking the streets, the police blaze away against their demonic adversaries to no effect whatsoever. Despite this, their noble sacrifice at least allows Joey to escape and ultimately save the day in the end.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "Shall we begin?" Cue the Boiler Room getting turned into the biggest slaughterhouse in the whole franchise.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Pinhead reveals that Monroe killed his own parents with the same gun he tries to use on the pillarized Pinhead.
  • Sequel Escalation: The makers of the third film tried to get around the problem of topping Hell itself by promising a film where the series' antagonists, the Cenobites, are unleashed in an urban setting.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: The first two films take place in the United Kingdom. This is the first one to move the action to the United States.
  • Slasher Movie: This is really the first film in the series to be a traditional one. It's notable in being the one where Pinhead claims the most victims.
  • Split-Personality Merge: Pinhead Unbound and Elliot Spencer are merged back into the same being, which turns out to be Pinhead. Joey is given just enough opportunity to stab Pinhead and send him back to the Cenobite dimension.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: An entire sequence just has Joey running down the street as stuff explodes around her.
  • Taken for Granite: Pinhead is trapped as a statue, but frees himself after a certain amount of blood.
  • Tempting Fate: When Joey seeks refuge at the church to escape the "Demons", the priest assures her demons don't actually exist. And guess who decides to strut on in...
    (Pinhead opens the doors)
    Joey: Then what the fuck is that?
  • Terms of Endangerment: Pinhead makes a habit of addressing Joey with "my child" while threatening to give her an excruciating death.
  • Twisted Eucharist: When Pinhead chases Joey into a church, he takes a moment to defile the altar, push nails through his palms, and force a bloody chunk of flesh from his chest into the priest's mouth:
    "Burn? Oh, such a limited imagination! This is my body. This is my blood. Happy are they who come to my supper."
  • War Is Hell: Captain Spencer is trapped in Limbo in a recreation of his memories of World War I. He is able to contact Joey through her dreams of her father's death in The Vietnam War since "a dream of war is a dream of all wars".
  • We Can Rule Together: Pinhead promises Monroe a place by his side for helping him. When Monroe fails, he makes the same offer to Terri, and she gives in. He "rewards" them both by turning them into lesser Cenobites.
  • Weaponized Camera: The Camerahead Cenobite can make things explode by taking a picture of them with his camera eye, which can also extend with enough force to punch a hole through a man's head.


Video Example(s):



Main baddie of the series, a mysterious figure known as a Cenobite holding the rank of the Hell Priest. Pinhead is an extremely dry witted bringer of the ultimate pleasure, which just happens to take the form of horrific tortures. Formerly Captain Elliot Spencer of the British Expeditionary Force, his mind was shattered after participating in The Third Battle of Flanders (Battle of Passchendaele). Developing a severe case of PTSD and Survivor Guilt, Spencer buried his grief by seeking out increasingly depraved carnal pleasures. His dark journey would eventually lead him to the Lament Configuration, and his transformation into Pinhead.

How well does it match the trope?

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