Thursday, June 20, 2013

Series Review - Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)

Oh, you suffer beautifully.

Hellraiser: Bloodline, the fourth chapter in the Hellraiser saga, reveals the story of Lament Configuration and Philip L’Merchant, the man who designed it. It’s an interesting film, spanning from the 1700’s to 2127 AD, where the film begins. While it delves heavily on the history of the box and how it came to be, we still see Pinhead with a new team of Cenobites who are hell bent on destroying L’Merchant’s ancestor before he can destroy them first. 

In this review series we left off with Hell on Earth, and you know that my thoughts were less than satisfactory. I was much happier with this film than I was with its predecessor, read on past the break to get the synopsis and to read my thoughts! 

Title: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline
Director(s): Kevin Yagher (credited as Alan Smithee) and Joe Chappelle (uncredited)
Writer(s): Peter Atkins
Producer(s): Nancy Rae Stone
Starring: Doug Bradley, Bruce Ramsay, Valentina Vargas, Kim Myers, Adam Scott, Christine Harnos, Charlotte Chatton


The year is 2127. Paul Merchant, a descendant of the inventor of the Lament Configuration, is deep in outer space. He has a robot solve the box and summon the cenobites so that he may destroy them once and for all. As soon as they are summoned, he is interrupted by several guards who are arresting him for taking over the ship. This leads Paul to tell the story of his bloodline, in an attempt to get Rimmer, the leader of the guards, to understand why he must finish his work.

He tells the story of Philip L’Merchant, his ancestor who created the box for a wealthy aristocrat who had a penchant for the dark arts. After Philip discovers that his box was used to summon the cenobite slave Angelique and inhabit the body of a woman who was murdered, he attempts to steal the configuration back and create a new configuration used to destroy the cenobites called the Elysian Configuration. 

We fast forward another 250 years. In the 1990’s we see John Merchant, another of Paul’s ancestors, who designed the building that we see at the end of Hellraiser III. John is haunted by dreams of Angelique, and he doesn’t understand what they mean. He keeps the drawings that Philip made of the Elysian Configuration framed in his office, as he knows that he must complete this design, although he is not sure how. 

After Angelique uses some poor soul to summon Pinhead, Pinhead begins the quest to end the Merchant bloodline and continue his mission of bringing hell to earth, but first he must get his hands on the Lament Configuration and use John to build a bigger box, and a bigger gateway from hell.


While Bloodline is by no means a perfect film, I do think it was much better than Hell on Earth. You have your standard cheesy acting, new cenobites that really aren’t all that great and the feel of a straight to DVD release but the story seemed to flow much better and there really weren’t any parts that made me say, “Really?”. 

My favorite aspect of this film was that we got to see so much of the history of the box. We got the history of Pinhead in the last one, we got to see his humanity, but now we got to see the origin story of the Lament Configuration; where it came from, why it was designed, who designed it and how it can be, well, is defeated the right word? I don’t think so, but I’m just gonna roll with that. 

I actually didn’t even mind the whole space aspect all that much either. If there’s one thing that Jason X showed me, it’s that slasher-based horror films don’t quite do well in space. Luckily maybe 20 minutes of the entire film took place in space, the rest took place on Earth.

Let’s get on to the P’s and C’s:

1. The Backstory.
As just mentioned, the backstory was pretty cool. We got to see Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation, Step Brothers) in one of his earlier roles (which was just hilarious) playing the villainous Jacques. We got to see the first time that the box was used, and what it was used for, very cool. 

1. Acting.
The acting was sub-par at best. Once again, Pinhead was one of the few highlights and there really aren’t many ways that Doug Bradley can mess it up, but everyone else was just, meh. Angelique was decent, better as a Cenobite than as her normal self. Kim Myers, who plays John’s wife Bobbi, is also meh. You may remember her from A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, and that one lady who happens to look exactly like Meryl Streep. I guess over all, the acting wasn’t terrible. It was just meh.
2. The slump. Other people probably have a different word for it, I call it the slump. And what I mean by the slump is that level that every franchise reaches when sequels get pumped out, not out of desire to continue the story, but more so that a few extra bucks can be made. Hell on Earth can be made an exception because it’s a part of the trilogy, but you can definitely feel the slump in this one. 

Overall, not bad. Not great, but not bad. Like I said, I enjoyed it more than its predecessor. Would I recommend it? Well… are you a Hellraiser fan? If so, then yes. If not, then no. 


-Rg Lovecraft

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