Every Hellraiser Movie Ranked From Best To Worst
The Hellraiser franchise is seeing a resurgence thanks to games like Dead By Daylight and an upcoming reboot.
There's a new Hellraiser movie coming--for real this time, after years of false starts and production rumors. We've even got a brand-new Pinhead cast. There's also been a miniature revival of the series happening quietly over in the asymmetrical horror survival game Dead By Daylight, which recently introduced Pinhead and Chatterer (via cosmetic) as playable killers. It's an exciting (and anxiety provoking) time to be a Hellraiser fan.
It's also neary Halloween, making it the perfect time to take a closer look at the Hellraiser franchise as a whole. There have been--well, a lot of movies. 10 in total, dating all the way back to 1987, and while many of them are…not great, to put it lightly, they all hold a special place in the hearts of many a horror fan. Sure, Pinhead and the Cenobites may not have the same slasher ubiquity as someone like Michael Myers or Jason, but what they lack in fame they make up for in sheer originality. Afterall, how many franchise movie monsters are also, ostensibly, occasionally, franchise movie heroes. Or, at the very least, franchise movie anti-heroes. But either way, the Hellraiser franchise is a wild ride worth taking the time to explore.
So, we've waded into the murky, hellish waters and taken a closer look at all 10 Hellraiser movies, ranking them from the very best of the best, to the ones you'll be better off watching as a joke.
1. Hellbound: Hellraiser 2
It's unusual for a horror movie franchise to feature a sequel just as interesting, if not more so, than the original--but Hellraiser is a member of this exclusive club. Hellbound introduced an incredible amount of worldbuilding to the franchise and featured even more incredible practical effects, a pretty high bar when you consider just how many amazing practical sequences the first movie included. But, more importantly, Hellbound also worked to make the Cenobites themselves into actual characters, an effort that was sadly mostly pushed aside in later installments.
The original Hellraiser movie is a horror classic for a reason. It's endured for almost three decades thanks to its incredible monsters, jaw dropping effects that still hold up even today, and engaging concept. The Cenobites themselves aren't the villains of the movie, and while Kirsty may be a final girl, it's escaping her uncle Frank rather than Pinhead and his cronies that really earns her the title.
3. Hellraiser: Bloodline
Okay, here is where things start to get a little, uh. Let's say "campy." It only took Hellraiser four movies to get to space, which is basically the horror equivalent of jumping the shark. But, we're going to give style points regardless--not only did Bloodline send the Cenobites to space, it also sent them to the '90s, and to Revolutionary France. Also, Adam Scott (Parks and Rec) was here in a truly terrible wig for a hot second. It may not be good in the traditional sense, but it's definitely fun.
4. Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth
Hell on Earth had the opportunity to pick up some of the world building pieces that Hellbound established, but instead, opted to go a bold new direction. In this movie, a corruption of Pinhead abandons all the character work of movies 1 and 2 and attacks a very '90s night club, making such memorable Cenobites as CD, a Cenobite with CDs in his head. We have to love this one for that alone.
5. Hellraiser: Judgement
A surprising late game entry into the franchise, Hellraiser: Judgement came out in 2018 and while it absolutely has (multiple) flaws, we can't help but love it for its honest attempts at expanding on the worldbuilding of Hell by adding some new, weird monsters into the mix. Also, there's some clear inspiration taken from movies like David Fincher's Seven going on which is a lot of fun if you allow your disbelief to be suspended appropriately.
6. Hellraiser: Hellseeker
In 2002, the franchise made an attempt (a very loose attempt, but one nonetheless) to connect things back to the original movie and its sequel by bringing back Kirsty, the final girl of the first two films. Is it that good? No, not really, but we love Kirsty and we give this one point for trying.
7. Hellraiser: Hellworld
Just hang on a second, hear me out on this one--the concept here is an early aughts MMO that is also a portal to hell that can summon the cenobites. Yes, it's stupid, yes it looks terrible and is incredibly dated now, but come on. It's fun.
8. Hellraiser: Inferno
You'll recognize director Scott Derrickson from the first Doctor Strange movie, but he got his start doing direct-to-VHS horror like Hellraiser: Inferno. Fun fact, this wasn't supposed to be a Hellrasier movie originally--and once you know that, some of the uh, more interesting choices here start making more sense. Also, Inferno has the dubious honor of being the first Hellraiser movie in which creator Clive Barker didn't even have a cursory involvement which also explains some things.
9. Hellraiser: Deader
Another installment that Barker was totally uninvolved in, Deader is about a cult and some ritualistic murders in Romania--it probably could have been cool if it were made with a bigger budget and weren't so mired in the aesthetic of 2002. But as it stands, this one doesn't really hold up.
10. Hellraiser: Revelations
You know there's a problem when the star of the series, Doug Bradley, who originated the role of Pinhead, declines to participate because production seems "too rushed." We appreciate this movie for trying to get back to Hellraiser's roots (which is to say, having people skin other people and then wear their skins like giant Halloween masks) but otherwise, it's just not that great. Also, the new Pinhead certainly did look like this.