It’s now October, and we are ever so close to Halloween. In this update as promised we are going to open the Puzzle Box and take a look at Epic Comics’ adaptation of Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth! But to really tell the story of how I first got to see the film, we have to focus on video rental stores, not your Blockbuster Videos or West Coast Video but the ones that were in super market and department stores. Back in the 1980’s, the video rental industry was in a huge boom and alongside the massive chains, you also had smaller mom and pop shops and still yet major retail chains even got into the business and had small sections in the store that acted as their rental shop. One such store that had a video rental store in it was Kroger on Whipp Road. It was a full grocery and midway in the store, they had a very small electronics department that was filled with cameras, film and blank cassettes and VHS tapes; that’s also were the video store was. For me, way before Netflix took its soulless grip on movie watchers, video rental stores were a very important way to discover horror films that I had never heard of, and nothing can take the place of cruising the isle of a video store looking at the amazing cover art for VHS and DVD scary films to choose what ones to watch that weekend. That’s one thing I will always love about my teen years, hanging out with my older brother Bryan and going to the local video store and renting a ton of horror films to watch over the weekend, only taking a break to watch TNT’s Monstervision or USA’S Up All Night, but I am getting off topic. One weekend my Dad and I went over for a quick visit to my uncle’s house. It was early in the morning, and the visit was a couple of hours. On our way home my Dad stopped at Kroger to pick up some food for dinner, and while he went shopping I beelined to the video department and started looking at the PVT’s (Previously Viewed Tapes) and there it was Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth on VHS and I so wanted it! My Dad found me holding the tape in my hand as if it was a prize. I had seen the first two Hellraiser films and loved them and so wanted to see the third film in the series. My Dad told me it was time to go and reality hit me in the face that I was just a young kid with no money and as I slowly started to put the tape back on the shelf my Dad said “You want that movie? Well go on and get it and let’s go” and this is why my Dad rules. He could see in my face how much I wanted that movie and spent the money to get it for me, and this small thoughtful act meant the world to this strange Monster Kid.
When we got home, I rushed to the VCR and popped in my new VHS tape as my parents went outside to do some yard work, and I was treated to the wonders of the Hell on Earth! The film is about Joey Summerskill a TV reporter who is stuck doing lame stories, but one night she stumbles onto a case while at the ER. She witness a teen coming in for help who is ripped apart before her eyes by chains! The dead youth was brought in by a young pretty girl named Terry who is dating JP Monroe, the owner of a club called the Boiler Room, and Joey really needs to find her to crack this story. The club is filled with all types of odd artwork that includes a pillar that houses the evil spirit of Pinhead and when Joey goes looking for Terry she gets to see just how scummy JP is. Terry breaks up with JP and stays with Joey to fill her in on the puzzle box that is revealed to be the source of the chains that killed the youth, and to make things worse Pinhead is breaking free of the pillar and is using JP to bring him victims to get stronger with false promises. But when Pinhead uses Terry to free himself from the his prison its up to Joey armed with the puzzle box to fight off Pinhead and his new crew of cenobites who want to bring Hell to Earth! Joey is helped by Captain Elliott Spencer (Pinheads human counterpart) in her dreams who is the key of ending his terror forever. Is Joey strong enough to defeat Pinhead or will she be the reason the world as we know it coming to an end? The write up was taken from my old Review site for Bloodline Video were I gave the film a 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. I would watch the film several times over the years on that VHS tape and at times I think I drove my Mom crazy with watching it as she hated a scene that took place in a church. But I don’t want to talk to much about the film’s plot and my thoughts because we will save all that for the comic!
One thing I should point out is that on my first viewing I was amazed by the body and boobs of actress Aimee Leigh, who plays Sandy a young woman from the club that is used for sex and then is killed by Pinhead. When watching the scene where she is naked on the bed, I felt as if I was watching something I should not be seeing and that my parents were going to come in the living room and ask what kind of filth was I watching! But I made it past the scene and her performance will always live on in my mind!
While Pinhead is the most popular Cenobite, his fellow minions also have their own following. I mean who could forget Chatter or even Butterball from the original 1987 movie, and this third film has its own cast of weird cenobites characters that include CD Head, a cenobite that has Compact Discs in his head and he can fling them as a deadly weapon. Barbie is a Cenobite with barbwire around his face who can also blow fire from his mouth! Camera Head has a camera for an eye that he can use it as a tool to shoot through the skulls of victims. Piston Head is a cenobite with a piston running through his head, and last is Terri a female cenobite who well, dreams….yeah, these cenobites could be the lamest of Pinhead’s henchmen in the whole series, but their cheesy names and gimmicks also makes them pretty damn cool! I can remember fellow horror film fan friends of mine as well as my cousins Dino and Norman making fun of the likes of CD Head. Poor CD seemed to be the one everyone pointed out as being lame and was the butt of many jokes. Bellow is a group pick of the cenobites from the film as well as I believe the director of the film. So check em out and see CD Head in all his glory!
I can’t remember too much merchandise coming out in 1992 when the film was released to theaters besides the movie poster, cardboard cut out and maybe a T-Shirt, but in the 2000’s toy makers NECA made a line of figures based of the Hellraiser franchise and many of these figures were based on the Cenobites from the third film. The figures are well detailed and are great collectors items and are worth a buy if your a fan of the series, and yes I do own many of them and yes, one of them is CD Head. Check out the pics bellow for what they look like.
The film had two soundtracks come out on CD and Cassette, one being the score and the other being music used and inspired by the film that includes artist like Motorhead and KMFDM. While the Rock N Roll soundtrack is pretty dang good, the score music by Randy Miller is the better choice of the two for me. While Miller’s music fits the film, it’s very 90’s sounding and very different from the Christopher Young score of the original. So if you like horror film soundtrack music, then you can pick your poison and bang your head or soak in the mood of this film. And for those wondering I do play Miller’s score music on Alpha Rhythms from time to time.
So it’s time. The Puzzle Box is open and the chains are flying and I can hear Pinhead creeping around so before we get stuck in his nightmare world and we are forced to read Epic Comics’ adaptation of the third Hellraiser film, I want to remind everyone that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star scale and look for entertainment value, art, story and how true the comic is to its source material. So the time is here, let’s get ready to walk the dark side with the cenobites!
Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth **
Released in 1992 Cover Price $4.95 Epic Comics # 1 of 1
J.P. Monroe is a night club owner who buys a pillar statue from an abandoned art house from a strange homeless man. Meanwhile news reporter Joey Summerskill is at the ER covering a boring story and as Doc, her cameraman, leaves a young man is rushed in with chains hanging from open wounds on his body, Terri, a young goth girl who brought him, in is the only clue to what has happened to this young man as Joey watches as he chains rip him apart! The news station she works with thinks Joey’s story is too fantastic, and she goes out on her own to find answers to what has happened to the exploding youth. She tracks Terri to a night club called The Boiler Room that’s owned by J.P. and leaves her business card for Terri to call her. Terri does so once she and boyfriend J.P break up and Joey allows Terri to stay with her at her apartment. Joey and Terri work as a team and try to find answers to what the Puzzle Box is and what is its connection to the youth’s death. Meanwhile J.P finds that Pinhead, the evil cenobite, is living in his statue and wants human blood to become stronger and free himself from his stone prison and unleash hell on Earth! Joey gets a visit in her dreams from a man named Elliot who was the human side of Pinhead who teaches her the way to kill the cenobite once and for all! But Pinhead has some tricks up his sleeve as he turns J.P., Terri, Doc and some of the bar workers into cenobites and tries to bully Joey into giving him the puzzle box, the only tool that can send him back to Hell! In the end Joey, with the help of Elliot’s ghost, tricks Pinhead and sends him back to where he came from, and she buries the box in concrete.
First thing I must say is that for a comic adaptation of a Hellraiser film, this sure does wuss out on the blood and gore and for the most part is pretty tame! In fact I think that some Vertigo and Marvel Horror titles might be bloodier than this! The story of the film is pretty intact with only a few things being left out, the most notable one being the slaughter at the night club that is nothing more than the aftermath of the massacre with bodies being around but no blood. I think the biggest issue with this comic is the whole thing seems rushed from the story to the art. Joey is a pretty likeable hero who you find yourself rooting for as she tries her best to solve the puzzle of how to rid the world of Pinhead once and for all. She is also very brave as she heads towards danger and befriends a ghost. Terri is a confused young woman who tries to do the right things but is easily manipulated by scummy people like J.P and Pinhead. She’s a pretty good “sidekick” and helps add to the over all story. J.P. is a pure scumbag and is one of those characters you love to hate. Pinhead, while the main villain in this comic, really doesn’t seem to do much besides talk a lot and murder people, many of them not seen on any panel. I really hate to say it, but I was really bored reading this comic adaptation and while I really like the movie, I would tell comic fans to skip this one. At some points while reading this comic I found my mind wondering and losing interest and that’s a bad sign. The art is done by Miran Kim and in some spots it looks good, but many of times it looks terrible and down right laughable! The cover is the best part about this comic and is the only really good piece of artwork connected to this Epic Comics failure. It’s a shame because I really wanted to like this comic adaptation and was looking forward to reading it. Below is some of the artwork from the comic, and I must also say sorry for the poor scans, the comic was a tough one to use my scanner on.
So there you have it. While I have some very fond memories of the film, this comic adaption is bland and sadly not very good. I really hate that this comic was bad as I was really looking forward to reading it for this year’s Halloween countdown. I also wish I would have kept that old VHS copy of the film looking back now because how I got it and who bought it for me made that something special. I should also thank Bell, Book And Comic for having this in stock and should also note that Epic Comics was a sub branch of Marvel. Well next up on our countdown to Halloween is something really cool as we take a look at Innovations’ comic adaptation of the classic film Psycho! So until then make sure to watch some horror films, support your local horror host, rent a movie from your town’s video store and read a horror comic or three and for the love of God, please don’t open any strange puzzle boxes.