- Hellraiser: Bloodline (Hellraiser IV: Bloodline)
- Directed by Kevin Yagher and Joe Chappelle
- March 8, 1996
A man whose ancestor was responsible for the creation of the puzzle box seeks to put an end to it all.
Hellraiser: Bloodline plays more like a filler flashback episode of a TV show than it does a theatrical release. It’s not without its interesting points but on the whole it’s just kind of bland and basic. It lacks elements that made the first two special and solidified Pinhead’s place in pop culture.
Much like in Hellraiser III gone are the rules which govern the puzzle box and summoning of the cenobites. You no longer need a desire to experience the pleasure/pain mix that they offer. Here they just show up and slaughter people for their own shits and giggles. And that is the primary weakness of the story. It turns these purveyors of pleasure and pain into just another themed killer of the era.
In this story we get a female demon named Angelique (Valentina Vargas) who is summoned by a French magician named Duc de L’Isle (Mickey Cottrell) to inhabit the flesh of a peasant girl. It looks like she is going to be somehow paired with Pinhead but in the release we got she’s not really Pinhead’s equal or opposite. Rather she’s another one-off monster.
Two rivals, one challenging a usurper as implied by some dialogue. Instead we get some banter and flowery dialogue but ultimately Angelique is subservient to Pinhead. He is the star of the series but if you introduce a character like her that goes nowhere you are just stretching out the runtime.
At the end of Hellraiser III we got a shot of the lobby of the building where the reporter had hidden the puzzle box. It was implied that the puzzle box somehow reformed the building to resemble it. Here it was actually the architect of the building that designed the building to look like that so the puzzle box ending up there was a coincidence? Part of a plan? The world may never know.
I don’t know if you call that a plot hole but it is a really big unanswered question. If it was all part of some kind of supernatural plan with forces guiding events that would reframe number three completely. If it’s part of one big coincidence it would once again reframe number three and make things kind of stupid actually.
And how exactly does the puzzle box get the power to open a gateway to the Cenobite Hell dimension? Was it infused with that power? If so when? The toymaker Philippe Lemarchand built it to L’Isle’s specifications but that only appears to be its configurations. The more I think about it I feel like this was another script with Hellraiser added later on.
Reportedly this movie had a troubled production to the point the first director demanded his name be taken off of this and honestly it shows in the quality. It just tosses a couple of random elements together and hopes that if they shake it up enough and add some gore and a known horror commodity that it’ll make magic and it just comes off as forgettable.
Doug Bradley returns as Pinhead and as usual he does a spectacular job. There is a lot less wittiness than in the last film. However he does talk a lot. In the first two he spoke when necessary but here he goes on whole monologues. I know at this point he was a popular horror character but by tossing out his speaking when necessary point they diminished him. He is supposed to be mysterious and intimidating but if you babble you kind of know where people are standing.
Part of this movie is set on a space station and unfortunately the 90s were often a low point in special effects. The effects didn’t even look good back then but now it looks far worse. The old ways were on their way out and the new ways were coming in and that period of overlap just looked ugly. Not the space station set itself is much better. I swear those floors were concrete. It’s very dark but courtesy of high definition television you can see that the sets are minimal.
The story takes place in three time periods: France during the 1700s, the 1990s of the then present day, and how can you forget the 22nd century. The descendants of the toymaker who designed the puzzle box to the specifications of the rich French magician are now tasked with undoing the evil. Somehow it’s a blood memory just because. No real explanation.
Interestingly this movie supplies a finale to the Hellraiser universe. It’s the beginning and end of the story. It covers the Lament configuration’s origin (though ultimately it means nothing in calling the Cenobites) as well as Pinhead’s ultimate demise. It also kinda opens the question of if Captain Elliot Spencer is in Pinhead at all or if a demon is wearing a skin suit.
Hellraiser: Bloodline is a good idea and could’ve been something special but instead it’s just an excuse for gore and violence in a mediocre story. It’s a movie that’s only okay. You won’t be disappointed when you watch it, but you really won’t have a strong desire to visit it again. It’s just one of those things that you can skip.