All Hellraiser Movies, Ranked | Screen Rant



The original is considered a horror classic, but the Hellraiser movies have definitely received a mixed consensus since the franchise’s inception. Hellraiser marks the directorial debut of horror master Clive Barker, an author who initially made a name for himself with his unique, gory horror tales on the page. After being disappointed with the adaptation of his short story, Rawhead Rex, Barker decided to make his own movie, securing a modest budget to adapt his novella The Hellbound Heart.

The Hellbound Heart centers on an unscrupulous man who tries to escape the sadomasochistic demons he summons with an ancient puzzle box. The resulting movie version, 1987’s Hellraiser, would become a word-of-mouth success, while also going on to make a horror icon out of the iconic Cenobite Pinhead. The fore-riddled franchise still demands a cult following to this day despite the quality of latter entries proving commercially and critically disappointing.

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From adventures in different dimensions, reanimation shenanigans, and even trying to make an antihero of Pinhead, the Hellraiser franchise has tried it all. The at-times horrifying film series certainly cannot be accused of a lack of imagination, featuring a mammoth 10 canonical installments to date. Here are all the Hellraiser movies, ranked worst to best.

10. Hellraiser: Revelations (2011)

hellraiser revelations pinhead

Hellraiser: Revelations was slapped together in a matter of weeks after, legend has it, an intern realized Dimension was on the verge of losing the franchise rights if they didn’t produce a new sequel. Revelations bears these hurried scars, with amateur acting, a paper-thin premise, and an overall low-budget feel. Pinhead’s original performer Doug Bradley refused to return due to the rushed nature of the production, and his replacement lacks the gravitas needed for the Cenobite leader.

9. Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002)

Hellraiser Hellseeker

Hellraiser: Hellseeker briefly got fans excited when it was announced Ashley Lawrence, the lead actress of the first two movies, was set to return, but Hellseeker would prove to be one of the most tedious entries of the series. Lawrence is essentially a gloried cameo, with a pitifully brief arc that will anger even the most ardent Hellraiser fans. To add insult to injury, the main character is an aggressively unlikeable caricature who wanders a film comprising about 90 percent hallucinations or dream sequences that fail to elicit a single scare.

8. Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005)

hellraiser hellworld henry cavill

Hellworld is one of the strangest of the Hellraiser movies, revolving around a group of friends who are invited to a Hellraiser-themed party. Essentially a generic 2000s horror movie with a silly twist, Hellworld does better than those below it on this list due to its tongue-in-cheek style. The cast, including a young Henry Cavill (Justice League) and Lance Henriksen, make Hellworld an enjoyable feature that packs a plethora of easter eggs and callback to earlier Hellraiser installments. This being said, turning Pinhead into a typical slasher still marks a huge narrative mistake, with earlier franchise entries canonically confirming that Cenobites cannot hunt of their own free will.

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7. Hellraiser: Deader (2005)

Deader retains a spine-chilling premise, following a grungy journalist who investigates a cult that claims to resurrect the dead. However, like most of the straight to DVD Hellraiser movies, Deader was an original script retrofitted to be a sequel – and it shows. The overall plot has little connection to the carefully crafted early Hellraiser mythology and, while it has a couple of creepy moments and interesting ideas, Deader still pigeon-holds itself as a mediocre horror tale.

6. Hellraiser: Judgment (2018)

The tenth and, to date, final Hellraiser entry, Judgment marks yet another low-budget bid to retain the dwindling Hellraiser franchise rights. Its reason for existence aside, Judgment elicits a slight improvement on Revelations, making an effort to expand the series’ mythology and featuring a solid performance from new Pinhead Paul T. Taylor. The Seven-style serial killer plot, however, still dissolves into boilerplate stuff as the film’s tiny budget at times rears an ugly head. Judgment does manage to deliver on a Hellraiser prerequisite though, namely featuring some unnerving (and gross) horror sequences.

5. Hellraiser: Inferno (2000)

hellraiser inferno pinhead

Scott Derrickson (Doctor Strange) made his directorial debut with 2000’s Inferno, the fifth entry and the first Hellraiser offering to be consigned to the dreaded straight-to-DVD bin. The preamble of its story follows a sleazy detective investigating a missing children’s case, before finding a connection to the franchise’s infamous puzzle box. Inferno marks a turn towards making the Cenobites more traditional, Christian demons, but while Derrickson directs with flair and produces disturbing imagery like an under-the-skin massage, his overall execution presents as clunky, with Pinhead’s lack of screentime also angering franchise fans.

4. Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth (1992)

Lament Configuration Building Hellraiser 3

Hellraiser III attempted to turn Pinhead into a Freddy Krueger-style figure, but while Doug Bradley is a hammy delight in the part, Hell On Earth is largely a mess thanks to its convoluted and nonsensical plot. The Cenobites, for their part, were turned into gimmicky monsters like Camerahead, a facet not helped by the film’s slog of a story. In fact, until the final act, Pinhead is far more interesting than the lead heroine, making it hard to root for her survival at all.

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3. Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)

Hellraiser Bloodline Pinhead

Bloodline has by far the most ambitious concept of the Hellraiser movies, being split between three converging timelines. The first story follows Philippe Lemarchand in 1796, the creator of the infamous puzzle box, and how his actions cursed his bloodline. The second story follows his descendant in a contemporary setting, while the finale takes place in a sci-fi hellscape version of outer space. There are genuinely creative ideas in Bloodline, but the film is still hampered by the small budget and sloppy re-edit failing that plague much of the franchise. Ultimately, this unnatural blend of sequel/prequel is a fascinating mess that lives long in the franchise’s blurred canonical memory.

2. Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 (1988)

Hellbound Hellraiser 2

Getting to the real meat of this list, Hellbound picks up from the end of the original, with Kirsty sent to an asylum after surviving the Cenobites’ wrath. This sequel greatly expands the premise of Hellraiser’s macabre world, bringing viewers into Hell – known as The Labyrinth – and revealing the being that commands it. It also features an origin story for Pinhead, which, like the original, features plenty of stomach-churning gore. Surprisingly, the filmmakers didn’t initially see Pinhead as the star, and returning villainess Julia was pegged to lead the franchise. The fan response to the character, and this solid sequel, however, soon changed their opinion permanently.

1. Hellraiser (1987)

Hellraiser 1987

Hellraiser was a shot in the arm for the horror genre in 1987, and brought Clive Barker’s unique and dazzling vision to the big screen. The main essence of Hellraiser‘s plot is essentially a love story, where a cheating wife agrees to help her cursed lover – her husband’s brother – regenerate from a stint in Hell by feeding him a string of victims. The effects and gore are shocking to this day, but the classy direction and music score elevates the material beyond its visceral ambition. Pinhead is very much a background threat in Hellraiser – he’s even credited as “Lead Cenobite” – but even in his brief screentime here it’s clear a new icon is born anew.

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