War is Hell: Making Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth by Danny Stewart review

By David Dent

I’ll be honest. An intensely detailed book about the making of the first ‘Hellraiser’ sequel that I found disappointing was always going to be a reviewing challenge. Why devote such a lot of time and effort on a film which, let’s be honest, is no classic?

But delving into Stewart’s exhaustive, and more than occasionally exhausting, look at the trials and tribulations of making the movie did at least make me appreciate the pain and suffering involved in producing product within the crazy old movie industry.

Stewart is honest that ‘III’ is a ‘personal fave’ and over the course of 300 pages ropes in a significant amount of the key cast and crew figures to explain their involvement in the movie. There’s a very revealing opening essay by Peter Atkins (who co-wrote the original screenplay) detailing the genesis of and production hell surrounding the development, and with replacement director Anthony Hickox, who was warned by Barker, an on/off consultant throughout the project, that he didn’t want any of the director’s trademark horror-comedy hi jinx for the third ‘Hellraiser’ outing.

‘Pinhead’ himself, Doug Bradley, shows in a lengthy interview the amount of back story work he put into the character (this was the first movie to offer an origin story for our spiky Cenobite), and there are numerous other interviews with cast and crew offering different perspectives on the film. Stewart peppers this account with a large number of behind the scenes stills and artefacts that give a real sense of a project in development and the love for the whole franchise.

Stewart’s book reads more like a production scrapbook than a formal ‘making of’ document, which isn’t a criticism. If anything, it demonstrates the labour of love expended by the writer in drawing the various voices together. The real question here is possibly ‘did it make me appreciate the movie more?’. Well yes and no. I still don’t rate it as much as Stewart does, but a rewatch will certainly increase my sympathy with the people who made it happen.

War Is Hell: Making Hellraiser III by Danny Stewart is available now from BearManor Media.

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