Of the major slasher franchise to come out of the Golden Age of Horror from roughly the mid 70s to the earlu 90s, Hellraiser has suffered arguably the worst. The original Clive Barker classic remains to this day a genre defining film, the sequels are of varying quality. The tale of an evil puzzle box which can be used to summon demon like creatures known as Cenobites which then take you back to hell with them.
While SPOILER some of them stink, some of them are pretty great. They are definitely worth watching if you are willing to put up with the inconsistency. Not to mention some great before they were stars appearances from actors like Adam Scott of Parks and Recreations and Henry Cavill aka The Man Of Steel. So let’s open the puzzle box and get to ranking the films.
Number Nine: Hellraiser: Revelations is quite possibly the worst sequel to a major horror franchise ever. I mean this with every bone in my body. It’s worse the the remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street. It’s worse then Leprechaun 4: In Space. Yeah that’s right it’s worse then the movie so bad it was the nail in the coffin of a franchise which revolved around a little person pretending to be a Leprechaun who killed people using pogo sticks and magic. It was only made to keep the rights with Dimension in hopes that they could finally get the long stalled remake underway. It doesn’t have Doug Bradley as Pinhead. And what is worse is they didn’t even find someone who could full off a decent impersonation. In a franchise that’s been direct to video for over a decade, this sequel completely and utterly shits the already blood soaked bed.
Number Eight: Hellraiser: Deader with a title like this (I mean how is one more dead?) the movie doesn’t stand much of a chance. Telling the story of a reporter who goes to Prague to investigate
a hostel which is the front for an international murder club a death cult. It’s not offensive to my very being like Revelations but it isn’t really much good either. Like all the direct to video sequels in the franchise, this movie started as a horror spec script and was rewritten to include Pinhead and the puzzle box. And it is very obvious given how little connection this has to the mythos of the Cenobites. A confused hot mess but it still gets points for Doug Bradley as Pinhead.
Number Seven: Hellraiser: Hellworld has the honor of being one of the few films in a major horror franchise to exist outside previously established continuity. Instead of taking place in a world where Pinhead is summoned with a mysterious box, this one takes place in the ‘real world’ ala Wes Craven’s A New Nightmare. In this world, the Configuration is a computer game. The film has a fun premise and isn’t actually terrible. And of course the addition of horror icon Lance Henrickson to the film ups it’s cred. All in all I like this one even if it isn’t a proper Hellraiser film in the true sense.
Number Six: Hellraiser: Bloodline is kind of a disjointed mess. It is great in the sense that we get to find out the history of the Lament Configuration puzzle box. It’s not good because for some reason everyone thought Space was the perfect place to escalate slasher films to. In their attempt to expand the mythos they loose what makes these films so good.
Number Five: Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth This movie is the definition of mixed bag. It has some really great moments with regards to the back story of Pinhead. It also features some big missteps such as the inclusion of Pinhead in the day light. Much like Drag Queens, Pinhead looks best at night. It does manage to keep continuity with the previous films, but doesn’t deliver on the scares and thrills of the first two films. Number Four: Hellraiser: Hellseeker This movie is essentially Hellraiser: Inferno with the addition of Kirsty Cotton’s character. It gets bonus points for meeting back up with the franchise’s first final girl. The movie also delivers a solid horror thriller with a nice twist. It isn’t as strong as Inferno, Hellbound or the original but it is a lovely low budget love letter to the franchise. Haters are gonna hate, but I really enjoy this one. Even if they only paid Ashley Laurence enough to buy a new fridge.
Number Three: Hellraiser: Inferno For the first direct to video sequel, this installment is actually pretty amazing. It’s got good effects, a solid storyline and fantastic direction by Scott Derrickson who went on to direct movies like Sinister. It also happens to star Craig Sheffer aka Boone from Clive Barker’s Nightbreed. Man I love me some Sheffer. This is definitely the best over all film from the crop of direct to video sequels. It makes you wonder if each of the sequels had been directed by soon to be star horror directors, would Revelations have sucked so hard?
Number Two: Hellbound: Hellraiser II I loves me a sequel that starts right at the end of the last film. This film is perfect because it takes the viewer to Hell itself. And Hellraiser’s version of the Underworld remains one of the best depictions of the netherworld in a horror film. Not to mention the twist of having Kirsty in a hospital where she is believed to be insane by everyone except the evil doctor obsessed with unlocking the puzzle box and opening a gateway to Hell itself. Featuring even more gore, violence, and even more exploration into the world Barker created, Hellbound is the perfect companion for a double feature with Number One on this list.Number One: Hellraiser Nobody beats the original. Seeing this movie for the first time was a defining moment for my love of horror films. It was brutual gory violent and very much adult. It wasn’t about sexy teens at slumber parties or sleepaway camp. It’s about a woman so unhappy in her marriage and so hard up for some lovin that she resurrects her dead lover and feeds him human flesh so that he might one again clear the dust off her criminally under used lady bits. There is a reason this movie is a classic of the genre. That reason? It’s mother fucking Hellraiser you don’t need a reason!