There is a list I keep in my mind of the things I really wish I could have gone my whole life not seeing. If I had not seen a couple of these things, I might be a little more well-adjusted and less mean as catshit. They’re not all gruesome, mind you, but if there’s a God, he’d have called foul by now, a yellow flag, SOMETHING! Things likeâ€¦
-That damned “Mission Accomplishedâ€ banner.
-The details of Bill O’Reilly’s phone sex conversations.
-Any episode of Saturday Night Live past the ’01 season.
-Four words and a hyphenate: “Aaron Boone walk-off home run.â€
With all the depravity, deceit, and just plain ooginess on display in those four examples, a disembodied cervix that has hydraulic equipment embedded in it is the chumpiest of chump change, which is what’s on display in this week’s installment. I don’t know how it’s gonna pan out in quality, but in terms of grisly imagery at least, I have a feeling that The Hellraiser Experiment might just be more easier than I thought.
And even in terms of quality, it’s panning out okay so far. Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth, which I have been assured is the most painful of the series’ theatrical chapters, isn’t as bad as everyone told me it was. In fact, it’s a little below the second one and a hell of a lot higher than the first one. Allow me to explainâ€¦
Hellraiser is a slasher movie the same way Se7en is a slasher movie. They’re BOTH slasher movies, but they both earnestly tell us they’re not. Their directors tell us they’re not. Their fans tell us they’re not. So we kinda accept that they aren’t when it’s COMPLETELY FUCKING OBVIOUS they are. They’re slasher movies with raisins and cilantro in them. But Se7en is awesome because the characters are wonderful, the dialogue is great, and the acting is superb. Hellraiser, on the other handâ€¦
Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth is a slasher movie the same way Friday the 13th is a slasher movie. It just IS and doesn’t pussyfoot or lie. It’s completely from commercial and wholly as advertised. Gee, honesty’s great.
But what isn’t great is the whole “suckingâ€ thing. And while HR III does indeed suck loudly, it just doesn’t suck hard.
The story is this: A nightclub owner played by a Q-Grade Billy Zane clone purchases The Spinning Sunglasses Display of Torment and Not-Niceness (you know, the pillar thing that keeps popping up in these movies) from an art gallery. The SSDTNN contains both the revenant soul of Pinhead (Doug Bradley) and the Rubix Cube â€˜o Doom, which summons him or sends him back to Hell, depending on the movie.
For reasons that kinda aren’t clear, some gomer at this dude’s club breaks out a pickax and gets the box out of the pillar and tries to open it. As a result of what usually happens when someone tries to play Cenobite Jenga, he is rushed to the hospital with chains and hooks sticking out of his assâ€¦ Then he explodes for no real reason whatsoever. A reporter is there (Terry Farrell) and figures that an exploding dude is worth investigating. Along the way she comes across a clubgoer and one-time booty call of the club-owner, played in a suck-out-loud early performance by Paula Marshall.
The sad yet hopeful thing about this is while these two beautiful actresses are just abhorrent in this movie, they went on to do good work on TV, with Farrell going on to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Marshall doing that short-lived TV show Cupid with Jeremy Piven, back when his ONE CHARACTER was still cool. So follow your dreams, huh kids?
On a related topic, if you don’t want to know what happens to the Paula Marshall character, do NOT go into the language and caption section of the DVD. If you are deaf or don’t speak English, the wonderful guys at Paramount DVD decided to ruin it for you.
Anyway, the box is opened, people are sacrificed, Pinhead comes alive and starts killing people, creating new Cenobites and hoping to engulf the world in the in the Hot Topic store that is his Hell. While his old Cenobites from the first two movies at least had some glimmer of creativity and vision, (like Leering Fat Guy and Baldetta McSkankerpants) this time they’re DICK TRACY villains in black leather Cossacks. The DJ has CDs stuck in his skull. The bartender who serves up Flaming Moes now carries one of those martini shakers and breathes fire. The cameraman has a zoom lens embedded in his skull.
But all of this is prelude to Pinhead. If people complained when Freddy Krueger morphed into David Letterman in HIS third movie, what with all the puns and the Stupid Dream Tricks, I can only imagine the fit Hellraiser fans pitched when they turned Pinhead into Monty Hall. “Well, you can live your normal life where you can keep your hair, you don’t have to wear leather and you don’t have to use knives during foreplayâ€¦ Or you can take what’s inside The Box.â€
The movie erupts in the final act into a special effects light show, which is common for these movies. But I shall forever hold a place in my heart for the painfully long scene where Pinhead goes into the church. I’m not against sacrilegious imagery per se (I don’t have a stake in the whole thing), but this scene just reeked of desperation like a middle-aged algebra teacher applying on Match.com. “The people who watch these movies are loser, atheist shut-ins who listen to heavy metal and have no friends. WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING IN A CHURCH!â€ Pardon the pun, but Jesus H. Christ.
I shall also hold dear in the bad-movie-lovin’ part of my heart the Farrell character’s dreams of her father, who was killed by the Viet Cong in a field in North Carolina. What the Viet Cong were DOING in North Carolina and why everyone refers to this field as “Vietnamâ€ I have no idea. All I know is that what I see about the location and what the movie is TELLING me about it just don’t match up.
Also worth watching is the DVD special feature documentary “Clive Barker: The Art of Horror,” where Barker is interviewed and sounds as completely full of shit as I’ve imagined him in my violent revenge daydreams. He uses the term “fantastiqueâ€ with a straight face and sounds more like Garth Marenghi than Garth Marenghi does.
It’s strange that The Hellraiser Experiment has coincided with the World Series, both with an equal amount of attention from me. One unusual side-effect is that I’ve started having dreams where the two kinda blend together. Daisuke Matsuzaka told me that he would “have an eternity to find out what makes me whimper.â€ That should scare me, but his Japanese accent and chubby cheeks made it abso-fuckin’-lutely adorableâ€¦ Sort of like this movie, but I don’t think that was the intent.
So for those of you keeping score at home, that’sâ€¦