Clive Barker is a genius, one with a seriously twisted mind. His literature work is often astounding stuff & many of his stories have been translated to the big screen but to mixed results.
Ask any horror fan to name some of Clive Barkers’ work that has ended up as a movie & chances are you’ll hear ‘Candyman’, ‘Book Of Blood’ & ‘Hellrasier’. The latter of those was adapted from a short story called The Hellbound Heart’ & is is considered one of the most famous horror movies ever. It also introduced us to the devilish characters of Pinhead & the Cenobites.
Played by Doug Bradley in all but one of the movies, the character is synonymous with pain & suffering. Something fans of the series can attest too if they’ve sat through all ten of the franchises films.
Yes, there have been 10 Hellraiser movies with the last being released as recent as 2018. So what about the series? Are they all as terrible? Well below is our definitive ranking of the series. Based on our scores taken from the original reviews. Unlike many of our other definitive rankings most Hellraiser movies can be watched in any order. The only two that we would advise watching back to back are the first two as the story is tied together heavily.
The rest? Go nuts.
10 – Hellraiser: Revelations (2011)
Our Score: 2/10
Hellraiser: Revelations is the ninth entry into the once great Hellraiser franchise and at least for now appears to be the final movie in the series. Revelations was produced in a matter of weeks and not surprisingly due to the quick turnaround time, series star Doug Bradley declined to participate, making this the first entry in the series in which he does not play Pinhead.
One of many problems that exist in Revelations.
A pair of college students on a trip to Mexico disappear, a year later their families comes together to remember them but end up finding out more then they ever bargained for.
Revelations is an awful Hellraiser movie but with its short run time and impressive gore there is certainly entertainment to be found if you enjoy B horror movies. Check out our full review here.
9 – Hellraiser VIII: Hellworld (2005)
Our Score: 3/10
Hellworld was filmed back to back with Hellraiser: Deader and released the same year (2005). The Hellworld script is based on a short story called “Dark Can’t Breathe,” which means that it originally had nothing to do with Hellraiser but was reworked in an attempt to sell the movie based on its name.
Hellworld takes place in the “real world” where the Hellraiser movies are just that, movies. What makes this world different from our world is the fact that everybody loves all the Hellraiser movies and knows everything about them. Everyone loves the movies so much that they play a game called “Hell World” an MMO like “World of Warcraft” based off the series!
Hellraiser: Hellworld is a terrible Hellraiser movie and that’s because out of all of them its barely even a Hellraiser movie at all. It had some potential but as the viewer we’re really given no real reason to care about any of the characters anyway. It’s hard to understand most of what happened in this movie and that’s actually because none of it did happen so what’s even the point anyway? Clive Barker must have been truly pissed that they put his name on this one. Check out our full review here.
8 – Hellraiser VII: Deader (2005)
Our Score: 5/10
Hellraiser: Deader is the 7th instalment in the much loved Hellraiser franchise. It has been admitted by director Rick Bota that Deader’s script was a previously existing screenplay that had elements of the Hellraiser lore thrown in at the last moment. What a surprise.
The movie centres around the character of Amy Klein; a news reporter who’s willing to go the extra mile to get the hot scoop. She ends up infiltrating a cult that has very tentative links to the Hellraiser lore.
Hellraiser: Deader is by no means a bad movie but as the viewer it’s hard not to notice the two movies fighting it out to decide which is more dominant which only leads to confusing the audience. As a straight to DVD movie it’s not that bad but when you really sit back and think of it as a Hellraiser movie you only see lost potential. Check out our full review here.
7 – Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996)
Our Score: 5.5/10
It begins at a Space Station in the year 2127. Paul Merchant, the man who built the station, has a robot solve the deadly puzzle. However, several guards capture Paul before he can finish his experiment. While being questioned Paul reveals that he is part of a distant bloodline that spans many centuries and attempts to explain what he was trying to do.
This is an origin story.
The makeup and effects are quite decent and the acting is pretty solid all round but nothing special.
Hellraiser: Bloodline continued the formula of ‘Hell On Earth’, it’s an entertaining movie with a decent plot but fails to be much more than that. It lacks the grittiness of the first two movies and fails to be scary even in the slightest.
Some of the deaths are some of the best in the series and the torture scene involving the twins is a highlight. Check out our full review here.
6 – Hellraiser: Judgment (2018)
Our Score: 6/10
Nobody knew what direction to take the once adored series in, until 2018. Hellraiser: Judgment is the 10th chapter in the seemingly never ending Hellraiser film series. It was released on February 13th, 2018 direct to video and via video on demand.
You can have the effects but it’s more often than not the other half of these movies that suffer and Hellraiser: Judgment is no different. The storyline surrounding the Carter brothers and their investigation of a bunch of strange murders feels extremely generic. It isn’t unlike other storylines we have seen from previous entries in the franchise and it suffers in similar ways. They are trying to create something interesting but it ends up feeling rushed, clichéd and extremely forgettable. The whole movie has a Saw like vibe to it.
Overall it is a huge improvement over some of the other movies that released before that. However, it doesn’t come close to earlier films in the franchise. It has some interesting ideas and the effects are very impressive. Still, it’s let down by a rather mundane story that could have easily been something else altogether. The opening is the strongest part of Judgment, even if it feels like some kind of fan film.
5 – Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992)
Our Score: 6/10
The revelation of Pinhead’s former humanity in Hellraiser II has resulted him being split into two different forms: His former self, World War I British Army Captain Eliot Spencer, and a manifestation of Spencer’s, which takes on the form of Pinhead. While Spencer ends up in limbo, Pinhead is trapped, along with the puzzle box, amongst the writhing figures and distorted faces etched into the surface of an intricately carved pillar.
The pillar is bought by the rich and spoiled J.P. Monroe, owner of a popular nightclub called The Boiler Room. It’s not long before events occur that mean Pinhead is released unleashing ‘Hell on Earth’.
Hell on Earth took the Hellraiser franchise in a whole new direction. Straying away from the gritty, dark & scary horror movies that the first two were. Seeing Pinhead as much as we do kills any mystery and fear that we as the audience feel, less would certainly have been more here.
It is fun to watch and does still have the element of quality effects and a great soundtrack. However, if you take those away there isn’t much left.
Hellraiser 3 feels really rushed at times and I think that’s most evident when you notice that the posters for the first and third movies are exactly the same except for an altered background…now that’s just lazy. Check out our full review here.
4 – Hellraiser VI: Hell Seeker (2002)
Our Score: 6.5/10
Because this is the sixth sequel of the Hellraiser series and another straight to DVD sequel at that you might think that the quality of this film won’t be at a very high standard but you’d be wrong.
Trevor (Dean Winters) and Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence) are out for a drive along the countryside when tragedy strikes. While kissing in the car, they swerve off the road to avoid hitting another driver and their car plummets off a bridge and into a river. Trevor manages to get out of the sunken wreckage with no problems but Kirsty’s seatbelt seems to be stuck and she is trapped inside the car.
Trevor than wakes up in a hospital some time later and is visited by a police officer who says that Kirsty is missing. The police officer explains to Trevor, much to his surprise, that these events occurred over a month ago. He is suspect number one in her disappearance but he just wants to unravel the mystery of her disappearance. A mystery that goes back to Kirsty’s past from the first two movies.
Hell Seeker is a very solid entry into the series. Pinhead’s appearances are kept to a minimum which is good and the scenes in which he does appear are done really well. You can definitely tell that the budget was much tighter here as we don’t get much in the way of gore and there’s just something off about Pinheads makeup.
If you’re hoping for a return to the glory days of Hellraiser & Hellbound then you might be disappointed. It’s really interesting seeing the story unfold and piecing everything together at the same time as Trevor especially during the awesome reveal at the end. Check out our full review here.
3 – Hellraiser (1987)
Our Score: 8/10
One of the most famous horror movies & the starting point of the franchise. The story goes like this; a man named Frank buys a mysterious puzzle box from a rather shady merchant and later returns home and begins to solve it. After the sides of the box are manipulated just so, Frank is hurtled into the realm of the Cenobites, strange creatures who introduce him to unbearable pleasure and unspeakable pain.
The house is soon inhabited by his brother Larry along with his wife Julia who we later learn once had an affair with Frank. While attempting to move a mattress upstairs Larry catches his hand on a rusted nail and then tries to find Julia to help him and where does she just so happen to be? Well, in the attic where Frank died of course.
As the blood from Larry’s hand trickles onto the floor we see that it is absorbed by something under the floor boards. Unknowingly to them all, that small amount of blood is enough to regenerate some amount of Frank’s living body. He has escaped from hell, and hell doesn’t like that.
Hellraiser is a timeless/legendary horror classic that puts any modern CGI heavy horror movie to shame, especially when you consider the small budget it had. This is a classic for a reason and it’s one of those movies that is truly deserving of the title.
I can see now why Steven King thought Clive Barker was the future of horror; Barker has a way of making horror beautiful in a twisted & demented fashion. Check out our full review here.
2 – Hellraiser V: Inferno (2000)
Our Score: 8.5/10
Hellraiser movies are meant to be gritty, dark & psychological horrors. Movies that assault the senses in terrifying fashion and that’s exactly what Hellraiser: Inferno does. It succeeds where previous sequels had failed and gives us the Hellraiser movie we’ve all been waiting for.
Joseph Thorne is an intelligent yet corrupt Denver police detective. He regularly indulges in drug use and infidelity during the course of duty. While investigating what appears to be a ritual murder, Thorne discovers a strange puzzle box. He takes it home in order to indulge his fascination with puzzles. After solving the box, Thorne begins to experience odd hallucinations. Such as being seduced by a pair of mutilated women and being chased by a chattering creature with no eyes or legs.
Thorne also makes a connection between the murder and a killer known as “The Engineer”. Who is suspected of having kidnapped a child. Thorne goes in search of the Engineer, who in turn begins murdering Thorne’s friends and associates. Always leaving behind one of the child’s fingers at every crime scene.
Inferno explores the possibilities of redemption. It’s the Hellraiser movie that we’ve been waiting to see. Giving the viewers back the version of Pinhead that they loved from the two original movies. Inferno is a fantastic psychological crime horror & it’s certainly the best sequel after Hellbound by a country mile. Check out our full review here.
1 – Hellbound: Hellraiser (1988)
Our Score: 9/10
After the success of Hellraiser (1987) it was inevitable that sequels would follow. Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) was the first effort. The action picks up just hours after the end of the first movie as we embark on another nightmare inspired by Clive Barker.
The movie opens with a photograph of a man dressed in military clothing. We then see the same man in a room alone attempting to open the mysterious puzzle box. The inevitable eventually happens and we get a sequence of the man being tortured by chains. Leading to nails being hammered into his skull, any guesses who that might be?
Hellbound continues the story of Kirsty Cotton but adds more flesh to the bones of the Cenobites. While also introducing new terrors.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II is quite possibly one of the best horror movie sequel of all time. Pinhead is the main attraction here and the director knows this. Attempting to give the viewer some much needed back story on the character. Everything to do with his and the other Cenobites origins are fascinating. Somehow this movie managed to surpass its predecessor. The level of horror and gore and the effects are the best seen.
Once again it’s supported by a brilliant gothic soundtrack that kicks into gear right on cue. The main reason why Hellraiser II is better than the original is because it gave more memorable moments. The exchanges between Kirsty and Pinhead are awesome. Doug Bradley is as amazing as ever as the iconic pin headed one.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II does the unthinkable and surpasses the original. With its amazing prosthetics and gore effects and gives us a really interesting look into the origins of Pinhead. Check out our full review here.