(List) Ranking the Hellraiser Franchise from Best to Worst

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4. Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth

This is the film that launched Pinhead into the spotlight and made him a house hold name. It also has a wonderful screenplay by Peter Atkins and Doug Bradley gives his best all around performance as the character. He really chews up a lot of the scenery with the excellent dialog that Peter Atkins has written for him to play with. Also, J.P Monroe was a nice addition to the Hellraiser universe with his sneaky ways that reminded me of Frank. And director Anthony Hickox brought a more polished looked to the film that the first two films lacked, though personally I enjoyed the gritty looks of those eariler films. For me the film’s only problems are we never really get to see Hell come to earth (obvious budget constraints here) and some of the cheesy dialog and cenobites. Seriously, a CD cenobite and Camerahead cenobite? Those two always make me cringe when I watch it.

3. Hellraiser: Bloodline

It’s such a shame what happened to Hellraiser: Bloodline. Peter Atkins wrote a powerful script which many of his peers believe to be the best in the entire series. As most fans know the film went through a horrible production with behind the scenes meddling that led to original director Kevin Yagher leaving the project and replacing his name with the dreaded “Alan Smithee” credit. Luckily, through all the madness a decent film actually came out of it. I’m not going to make excuses for the film’s shortcomings because there are many, but there’s still a lot to enjoy here: Doug Bradley was back in true Pinhead form after playing the character a little differently from Hell on Earth, Valentina Vargas created a demon to remember with her portrayal as Angelique, the cinematography was beautiful, and Daniel Licht’s score reminded me of the greatness of Christopher Young score’s from the past. There are also a couple of very inspired scenes that I really enjoyed such as the summoning scene at the beginning of the movie, and the face off between Pinhead and Angelique at the end of the middle segment. But in the end the film does fall flat and it’s such a shame because this could’ve been the best sequel.

2. Hellraiser

The original film stands by itself and is a true horror classic in every sense of the word. It set a new standard for its time by touching on themes that mainstream audiences probably found taboo. It also of course gave horror audiences a new horror icon that we’ve all come know and love as Pinhead. But for me the true monster of the story isn’t the cenobites or even the box that summons them. That honor is bestowed unto Frank, the selfish brother who corrupts a simple house wife, has sexual desires towards his niece, and steals his trusting brother’s skin. The cenobites are really quite inconsequential to the main storyline and are merely spectators watching this family rip itself apart.

1. Hellraiser II

For a sequel to surpass the original is quite amazing feat in itself because most sequels don’t. They usually lack any trace of originality and repeat the same beats that made the original work so good. Luckily, director Tony Randel and screenwriter Peter Atkins pulled off a film that went deeper into the mythology that Clive Barker had established and this makes the movie feel completely new and fresh. It’s a flawed film for sure but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. Ken Cranham steals the show as Dr. Channard and it was good to see Frank finally get his just desserts. The visuals and special effects are top notch, as is Christopher Young’s beautifully epic score which brings the film to a whole new level. A classic for sure and for me the last “true” Hellraiser film.

Over all it’s a pretty bumpy series and the author only enjoyed the first four,much like Barker himself who has disowned any connection from the last few films.

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