Clive Barker‘s freaky Hellraiser franchise explores the world of the S&M inspired Cenobites, demons who thrive on pain for pleasure that you can only discover by opening a strange ancient puzzle box. The initial film, released in 1987, led to a plethora of sequels to expand the story of Pinhead in bizarre ways. And, with Hulu’s Hellraiser film starring Jamie Clayton, there will soon be 11 movies in total. So, let’s do a fun movie ranking of the Hellraiser offerings we have so far. Come with us… for we have such sights to show you.
10. Hellraiser: Revelations (2011)
This super low-budget entry from 2011 only opened at one theatre in the whole country and was shot for under $300,000 in two weeks. The first movie without Doug Bradley as Pinhead, rumor has it that the Weinstein Company only made this schlocky stinker so they could keep the rights to release a much-hyped remake. And we know they kept that tradition going with our next entry.
9. Hellraiser Judgment (2018)
While it is only marginally better than Revelations, this film skips ahead as it understands the cenobites far better than its predecessor. Sadly like many later stage Hellraiser sequels it relies heavily on a police procedural narrative as three cops get entangled in a battle between good or evil. Also the textual religious focus shifts the shape of the film away from previous Hellraiser movies. For better or worse.
8. Hellraiser: Deader (2005)
One of two Hellraiser movies somehow released in 2005, Deader tells the story of a woman exploring a suicide cult in Romania that worships a man who claims he can control Pinhead and the Cenobites. It’s a hokey horror watch that’s worth it just for the over the top performances from the central cult of Cenobite fans.
7. Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002)
Hellseeker sees the return of Hellraiser’s original final girl, Kirsty Cotton, in a ridiculously twisty mystery movie. After an opening act car crash, we meet Kirsty’s trifling husband Trevor, who may have orchestrated the whole thing to murder his loving wife. This movie has more outrageous twists than a Lifetime movie and is a wholly silly experience. Basically a must watch for B-movie lovers.
6. Hellraiser: Inferno (2000)
The first of the series to go direct-to-video, this entry began the trend of relying on genre tropes outside of horror, with this film more than incidentally borrowing from the Mickey Rourke classic Angel Heart. A murder mystery with a (glaringly obvious) twist, this film introduces a third act reveal that would become a regular occurrence in later movies. Which we suppose means you could call this one a trendsetter!
5. Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005)
Our most “it’s good actually” pick of the later Hellraiser movies—and the second from 2005—this outrageous cyberpunk tale exists in a meta world where the Hellraiser franchise has spawned a popular MMO. It also features one of the best mid 2000s tropes in horror: A RAVE! This blistering B-movie sees Lance Henriksen invite “teen” gamers to a very deadly party only to meet a gruesome fate. Also did we mention that it features a very young Henry Cavill as one of the raving gamers??
4. Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)
The Halloween 3 of the Hellraiser franchise focusing on the creation of the puzzle box, this spectacular movie follows the creator of the Lament Configuration and his mission to enslave a demon. Spanning from the 1700s to the distant future, this is an ambitious entry that could have become a horror classic if helmed by Cronos-era Guillermo del Toro. It also stars a pre-fame Adam Scott in a great wig!
3. Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992)
This sequel would have taken the number-two spot if not for the sprawling and sometimes jarring subplot about a WWI soldier who just happens to be Pinhead. With Doug Bradley pulling double duty, the movie gets distracted from its enjoyably corny nightclub centric plot where we join a peppy journalist who discovers a sculpture from the Cenobite realm. All that said it’s still an iconic horror sequel!
2. Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
This solid sequel rejoins Kirsty, who gets dragged back into Hell after initially escaping. But because she’s a smart and sassy final girl she manages to find their humanity and use that to escape. Made back to back with the original this feels most akin to Barker’s brilliant bloodbath. The creative team clearly decided to lean into the popularity of Pinhead as this is one of the more Cenobite heavy films.
1. Hellraiser (1987)
Clive Barker’s original horror classic unquestionably takes the crown in our Hellraiser ranking list. It’s a groundbreaking low-budget film that pushed boundaries of visuals, practical effects, and storytelling. The abstract moments create a timeless watch; the movie still stands up. Sadly, Barker unintentionally signed away his creator rights when he made this movie so we’ll never see his bigger vision for his celluloid Cenobites.
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