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Hellraiser IV: Bloodline

Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996) Movie Poster
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  •  USA  •    •  85m  •    •  Directed by: Kevin Yagher, Alan Smithee.  •  Starring: Bruce Ramsay, Valentina Vargas, Doug Bradley, Charlotte Chatton, Adam Scott, Kim Myers, Mickey Cottrell, Louis Turenne, Courtland Mead, Louis Mustillo, Jody St. Michael, Paul Perri, Pat Skipper.  •  Music by: Daniel Licht.
        It's the year 2127. Pinhead, the evil cenobite of the series, has found himself on board a space station in outer space, run by scientist Dr.Merchant. Dr. Merchant's mission is to close the gates to hell forever. Because his ancestor, a toymaker in the 18th century, built the evil puzzlebox that opens the gates to hell. And through the generations, the family of the bloodline has tried to stop it. But now, Dr.Merchant has built the reverse box. The box that will close the gates to hell instead of opening it.

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   Length:  Languages:  Subtitles:
 1:27
 1:25
 
 

Review:

Image from: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996)
Image from: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996)
Image from: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996)
Image from: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996)
Image from: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996)
Image from: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996)
Image from: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996)
Image from: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996)
Image from: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996)
Image from: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996)
Image from: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996)
Image from: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996)
Image from: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996)
I realise that there is a good deal of controversy about a director successfully applying to the Director's Guild and having his credit removed from a film that has been altered beyond his vision. And this movie begs the question: was the director's vision of this film going to be better than the version that the studio released (after changing it against Yagher's wishes)? Who can say for sure. One thing is very clear when watching this movie: the premise is very interesting and alone it demands a better treatment. I'll analyse what I think is going on with this movie.

We have to skip the futuristic introduction; it looks nice but is confused. We don't know enough about the why, and only some of it is revealed at the end of the film, this despite the story being told from the POV of the future protagonist. This leaves us with two choices: either ignore the introduction or fill in the narrative ourselves (the latter leads to disappointment later on as our imagination is clearly better). Either way, we forget what we see and optimistically we find ourselves in Renaissance France.

Act I: France, opens well and sets a tone of spookiness that captures the suspense aficionado. The footage is quite beautiful, if macabre, and is in line with what we would expect to see. Clearly though, something has been excised from this Act of the film because the relationships between the characters change without warning towards the end: the entailments from what we are told previously do not coincide with where the Act leads (which just gives us loose ends, or unresolved plot-lines). It is jarring for the viewer, not so much because of the material, which is jarring to say the least, but as it seems a little rushed (which adds to the sense that something is missing). That much could be forgiven if the film settles into a pace that can be followed without too much trouble, but this is where HellRaiser: Bloodline collapses and never recovers.

Act 2: New York. This is a mixed up cutover from Act I: the sudden end of a relationship which sees the initial antagonist, Angelique, heading to New York to locate the toymaker, who has meanwhile constructed a building that acts as a big containment device for Cenobites (in a manner not unlike the Lament Configuration it seems). Bizarrely, there is no reference to the building or to its strange setup until we are in it, following some erstwhile security guards to their timely ends. But then there is something about a kid as bait, and a wife trying to save herself from a Cenobite dog (werewolf?). And Angelique is suddenly forced into becoming a Cenobite. Is that what is happening? Obviously on this detail I am lost. She comes across as a Julia-like character in Act I and for most of Act II but is then inexplicably confronted by Pinhead and seems to turn into a Cenobite herself... is this usually what happens now in these movies? Seems at odds with HellRaiser folklore to me.

Act III: Future Space Station. This part looks like it was filmed on the "Event Horizon" or some similar spacecraft and is stylish. HOWEVER, by this time the chop and slop we are being served doesn't add up. We don't understand why Dr Merchant is being hounded by the thugs with guns, or worse still, why the hell are those goons so utterly incompetent? In any suspensehorror setting, it is much more exciting when the guys with guns are intelligent and well-trained, but still no match for the bad guys (ie: the Cenobites).. on that point compare with "Aliens".

The main thing this movie suffers is not even just that the pace is messy, which it is, but that the relationships between the central characters and the various plot devices are totally shattered and mismatched. Who would put such a shoddy piece of work together? I think we can all guess that meddling by the studio played a big part in this. (Cast your thoughts back to "Brazil" and how much better the Director's vision turned out to be).

As far as the HellRaiser franchise is concerned, this movie is a low point, about as bad as it gets (along with the slightly better HellRaiser III: Hell on Earth, which I guess is what started the trend towards cluelessness on the part of the production team). I am all for HellRaiser movies, not necessarily being related to any central or ongoing non-Cenobite characters, but at least give us a consistent and structured story to work with!


Review by boyalien from the Internet Movie Database.

 

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