aka: Hellraiser: Bloodline
Director: Kevin Yagher, Joe Chappelle
Starring: Bruce Ramsay, Valentina Vargas, Doug Bradley, Charlotte Chatton, Adam Scott
This year, the past, the present and the future will all meet at the crossroads of hell
Dr. Merchant is on a mission to close the gates to hell forever. He comes from a long line of toymakers and it is actually his ancestor from the 18th century that is responsible for building the original Lament Configuration that had the power to open the gates and release the cenobites into our world.
Merchant has been able to make a reverse box that he will use to save humans from the terrible torture brought on by the cenobites, but the cenobites knows what the toymaker is up to and will do whatever they can to stop him before his plans are put into motion.
Hellraiser 4: Bloodline, or Hellraiser in Space as it is also cruelly called, tries to tell the backstory of the puzzle box. We go from the 18th century, to modern day and into the future with the Merchant family line and how this puzzle box has affected their bloodline through the times. It is a very ambiguous story to tell and sadly due to studio interferences, budget problems, re-shoots and re-editing, the movie ended up being anything else than an epic saga of the Lament Configuration.
The trouble with the production became so bad that director Kevin Yagher disowned the final version. The studio was unhappy with the fact that Pinhead first makes his entry over 40 minutes into the film, so they brought in director Joe Chappelle to do some re-writing and film some new scenes. This made Yagher use the generic pseudonym Alan Smithee on the theatrical version.
All the production troubles do show in the final product as this is a messy and choppy movie. The scenes don’t really connect together or feel cohesive and the story becomes hard to follow, if you even attempt or care to do so. The idea of doing several timelines in one movie can work, but they would have to have a longer running time and make the different time periods feel connected. Here all the characters introduced in each timeline just come and go, reducing them all to just simple victims to be slaughtered off.
If there is anything I should praise with this film it is that it does have some good visuals. Yagher comes from the special effects world and that does show in several scenes here. Other than that, I didn’t find much to enjoy with this film the first time I saw it back in the 90’s or when I recently revisited it now.
Hellraiser 4: Bloodline is a terrible film. It might have one of the more interesting concepts of the Hellraiser sequels, but the final product is too messy for anyone to enjoy. It is a missed opportunity that was ruined by the studio and it turned out to be the last Hellraiser film with Pinhead of the box in focus of the story.