Director – Kevin Yagher, Alan Smithee, Joe Chappelle
Cast – Bruce Ramsay, Valentina Vargas, Doug Bradley, Charlotte Chatton, Adam Scott, Kim Myers, Mickey Cottrell, Louis Turenne, Courtland Meade, Jody St. Michael, Louis Mustillo, Paul Perri, Pat Skipper, Christine Harnos, Wren T. Brown, Tom Dugan
Release Year – 1996
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I was not looking forward to hitting the “Play” button on this one, mainly because I had heard that after Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, which itself not a great watch, the series really tanked and hit rock bottom. Nonetheless, my desire to review the entire series forced me to take the plunge with this, and surprisingly enough enjoying this piece much more than I expected. While still not a superb effort and coming with much controversy, Hellraiser IV: Bloodline attempts to finally give us the history behind the ornamental box Pinhead seeks so dearly, with thanks to mostly-positive direction we get large doses of awesome gore-soaked horror as well.
It is 2127, and talented scientist Dr. Merchant(Bruce Ramsay) has finally come up with the solution to right the wrongs created by his ancestor, a famous toy maker in the 18th century, who built the very puzzlebox used by many to unleash terrible pain and hell on Earth to those unlucky enough to come across it. Dr. Merchant, on board a large space vessel, summons Pinhead for a final battle between the demon and Merchant’s ancestors who fell to Pinhead before him.
Yeah yeah yeah I know, before Jason Vorhees was in space Pinhead was in space, but that conversation is for another time. Hellraiser: Blodline was completely unnecessary, as are most horror sequels, but I could not find myself uninterested in the storyline provided here; namely the story surrounding Dr. Merchant’s ancestors and how they all tried to fix the mistake made by the toymaker centuries before them. I am a fan of history, and this effort comes with much history for us to follow, and that aided heavily in my liking of this film. Aside from following the Merchant lineage throughout the ages we are not really given anything new, but I did not mind that one bit thanks to the numerous kills sequences written into this piece, with most of them coming in utterly awesome and gory fashion. While Hellbound: Hellraiser II and Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth writer Peter Atkins(Wishmaster) was credited with the screenplay, the film underwent numerous rewrites (written by Rand Ravich) that abandoned much of the true awesomeness that was written into the original screenplay. Surprisingly enough I still enjoyed the final screenplay, but it was lacking in comparison to the original, which was more brash, visceral, dark, and creative as well. Of course this final writing product did not come without faults, as it came with numerous faults that I was mostly forgiving on, but nonetheless could have resulted in a much better film had they been fixed somehow. Most of the faults lie in the usage of the characters involved and the wishy washy unbelievability of the story, but I expected faults going into this one, so that may have helped.
Director Kevin Yagher did a mostly-positive job with this one, giving us good atmosphere and positive execution of the horror involved, which included several full-frontal live-action gore sequences that made for a hell of a good time. However, due to the rewrites and the studio chopping up his film to meet their criteria he completely abandoned the project, and Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers director Joe Chappelle was brought in to finish the film. Thankfully, it seems Chappelle did well in his somewhat limited and uncredited role as I never once noticed a change in directing style, just a continuous onslaught of Pinhead-delivered pain that had me licking my lips and not giving a damn about this “controversy”. We get some truly unique kill sequences that I had never before seen employed in the genre, and the directing excellence of these sequences made for the biggest reason behind this film’s mostly-positive rating and not an abysmal one as other horror sites have rated it. Sure it could have been better, but was it really THAT bad? My attention span does not say so, and neither does my quest for some good fun horror, regardless of where it comes from.
Overall, Hellraiser: Bloodline is a mostly-positive horror effort not nearly as bad as others make it out to be. Sure it comes with many flaws and was completely unnecessary to begin with, but nonetheless it gives us a cool take on the Hellraiser series by giving us a historical ride regarding the mysterious puzzlebox that untimately results in much Pinhead and gore-induced action. Controversy aside, the direction is good and gives us a full-frontal and live-action horror experience, which was the film’s biggest selling point and the reason why you should consider viewing this piece if you are a fan of the series or want to experience a slew of truly awesome kills.