Our reviews of Hellraiser: Bloodline / Hellraiser: Inferno (Blu-ray) (published May 27th, 2011) and The Hellraiser Collection (published October 31st, 2011) are also available.
Evil spans generations.
Everyone remembers the #1 family film of the 1980s: Clive Barker's Hellraiser! Yes, the wacky misadventures of pinhead and his cohorts thrilled audiences looking for old fashioned, down home dismemberment! Hellraiser was quickly followed by a sequel, Hellraiser: Hellbound, featuring much of the original cast. In the early '90s Paramount released the third sequel, Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth. Performing rather dismally at the box office, it would be a few years until Dimension films released the fourth chapter in this slice 'n dice series, Hellraiser: Bloodline. Directed by Alan Smithee (a faux name for a director who is dissatisfied with the final film, in this case special effects master Kevin Yagher), Hellraiser: Bloodline spans the 18th century to future space stations in search of the one and only diabolical Pinhead! Dimension Home Video opens the Pandora's Box known as Hellraiser: Bloodline on DVD.
Facts of the Case
Space. The final frontier. These are voyagers of the starship Enter…Whoops! Wrong sci-fi film. Pardon my flub.
In the fourth installment of the Hellraiser series, we find Pinhead (Doug "this is the only job I can get" Bradley) being released from his hellish puzzle box in the vacuum known as the Milky Way. On space station Minos in the year 2127, Dr. Merchant (Bruce Ramsey) is the last in a long line of descendants who originally produced the puzzle box that unleashed the legions of darkness, led by the diabolical yet uncompromisingly attractive Pinhead. Merchant lets Pinhead free only to be taken prisoner before he can destroy him once and for all. This sets up a nice sequence where we get to learn about the tortured past of the Merchant family.
In the 18th century, the puzzle box is built by one of Merchant's ancestors (a toy maker). Through the years we will see how this box creates much havoc for the Merchant family and the people around them. Along the way we get the chance to see all kinds of chains and hooks lacerate human flesh. It's the perfect film to watch during your Hungry Man TV dinner!
Soon we move to 1996, where Pinhead once again tries to…well, get more souls to inflict pain upon. Talk about a guy who needs to get a better hobby. Pinhead does his usual strutting around as he spews fourth such pinhead-isms as "human acquiescence is as easily obtained by terror as it is temptation." That statement is made while he is stroking a live pigeon, Godfather-style (I swear to all that holy that I am not kidding).
Will the tiny humans be able to rid themselves of the terror that is the Cenobites? Or will the world bow down to the man with Home Depot hardware stuck to his face?
Hellraiser: Bloodline starts off in space. As most horror film fans know, if a horror series didn't originate in space, it's not a good sign when a sequel takes place in the outer recesses of the galaxy. Leprechaun 4: In Space is case in point. However, Hellraiser: Bloodline fares much better than most outer space horror flicks. The good news is that Hellraiser: Bloodline doesn't just take place on a space station. It also jumps back into the 18th century, as well as 1996. This is one globetrotting movie.
For whatever reason, Hellraiser: Bloodline was disavowed by its director. I'm not sure why, as there have been countless other cruddy horror films made that are much worse than this film (Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth being one of them). Certainly Hellraiser: Bloodline is not a great movie (no, that kind of acclaim is reserved for much more intelligent, though provoking films such as The Return Of The Living Dead Part II). It is, however, a decent horror movie with nice effects.
The plot is actually interesting, and much more coherent than some of its predecessors. I especially liked the idea that a different box could be created to destroy the Cenobites (though as any horror fan knows, evil never dies, it just waits for the box office grosses to see if it will return). The script has nothing extra special in the way of dialogue or characterization, but who cares? As written by Peter Atkins (Wishmaster), the characters are mostly around to be pulled apart by chained hooks or a large, chattering dog that looks like Cujo turned inside out. All the characters are forgettable, save for Doug Bradley as Pinhead, who looks like he should be holding a skull and quoting Shakespeare. Nothing says terror like a monster with an English accent ("I'm going to rip your spine out and crap down your neck. Would you like some crumpets with that?").
Finally there are the effects, which are not too shabby considering this was a low budget feature (compared to most horror films). The space sequences, while not stunning, are impressive for this series. The devil Cenobite dog also shows that the creators of the film wanted to try and display something different than what had been done before. As a bonus, there's an obligatory scene where a woman straddles a man, showing the audience her world class knockers (the best special effect in the whole damn film).
Hellraiser: Bloodline is presented in 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen. Since this is a Dimension title, this movie is given no special treatment whatsoever. The fact that it's non-anamorphic is disappointing, though we should be on our knees and giving thanks that we even get a widescreen version of the film. The picture looks good, though many of the darker scenes looked soft or grainy. Colors were mostly bright and clear, though blacks tended to have a gray tint. Edge enhancement was spotted in a few areas, though nothing to detract from viewing enjoyment. A good to passable transfer from Dimension.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and was fairly impressive. Rear speakers were often used, especially during the outer space sequences. Dialogue was clean and clear, music and effects mixed evenly. Also included are some English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, for they too deserve to read such stunning dialogue as "ARRGGHH you're ripping my colon out through my butt!"
Just like many other Dimension titles, Hellraiser: Bloodline is void of any extra content, aside of some sneak peeks to the Scream trilogy box set, plus Children Of The Corn 666: Isaac's Return. So exciting that I've watched them both over eighty five times!
The Rebuttal Witnesses
What? For Pete's sake, it's a Hellraiser sequel. Come on, give a film a break. Yes, there is plenty wrong with it, but today I feel like being Mr. Nice Reviewer. It's better than most horror sequels to '80s slasher films, so that counts for a heck of a lot. Of course, Dimension sucks for putting no good extra material on the disc (not even the original theatrical trailer!), and should be smacked around with a 4x4 and a tube of Vaseline for such monstrosities.
By the way, author and Hellraiser series creator Clive Barker was an executive producer on this film, though I have the feeling his name was the only thing he really added to it.
This is a very pricey title (as most Dimension films are). It's over thirty bucks, so I can't advocate the spending of that kind of money for a film that has no extra material and isn't even anamorphic. Hellraiser: Bloodline certainly makes for a good rental, but unless you can find this in a used DVD bin someplace, don't plop down your hard earned cash for such a thin disc.
Hellraiser: Bloodline is acquitted on most charges, though it may be because I'm feeling extra lenient today. Dimension is found guilty of neglectful treatment of a movie that may not be great, but deserves a little better treatment than this.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Dimension Films
• Sneak Peeks
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