Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)
Release Date: March 8th, 1996 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Kevin Yagher Actors: Bruce Ramsay, Valentina Vargas, Doug Bradley, Charlotte Chatton, Adam Scott, Kim Myers, Christine Harnos
he year is 2127 at Space Station Minos, where designer and scientist Dr. Paul Merchant (Bruce Ramsay) is captured by a squadron of soldiers, led by Commander Edwards (Paul Perri), interrogations officer Rimmer (Christine Harnos), and trooper Carducci (Pat Skipper). Intent on getting to the bottom of his crew’s evacuation and getting quarantined in a cabin, Rimmer listens to Paul’s story of the evils his ancestors unleashed on earth. 18th century French toymaker Phillip L’Merchant (or “Lemarchand” from the novella, here also played by Ramsay) handcrafted the “Lament Configuration,” or puzzle box, decades earlier, for murderous, sadistic client Duc de L’Isle (Mickey Cottrell) and his assistant Jacques (Adam Scott). The demented duo strangles a peasant girl (Valentina Vargas) and skins her body. Reciting demonic incantations, Monsieur L’Isle summons forth a princess of hell to inhabit the human shell to do his bidding.
When Phillip discovers what L’Isle is planning, he plots to steal back the puzzle box to prevent further misuse. But the succubus has taken control, destined to torment L’Merchant’s offspring for years to come. In Paris, 1996, John Merchant (Ramsay in his third part) is identified by the undying female demon, now more than 200 years old, called Angelique, and still accompanied by assistant Jacques. She journeys to New York where John is accepting an architectural award and opens the gates of hell to mobilize Pinhead (Doug Bradley), the satanic demon archfiend. She attempts to steal his blueprints for the creation of a new portal, but, along with Pinhead, is again banished to her otherworldly domain. Back in the present, it’s up to Dr. Merchant aboard the Minos to once and for all destroy the doorways to hell.
It only took three “Hellraiser” movies before the franchise decided to head for outer space. The sets aren’t terribly displeasing, making use of darkened, lonely corridors riddled with pipes, steam, and metal grating. Like the lead character’s interests, architecture plays an important role in creating fascinatingly unsettling locations for horror movie clichés. Pinhead’s lair and nightmarish labyrinth of deathly hallways show greater, more imaginative details. Atmospherically, this final theatrical entry into the series is grandly superior to “Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth.” Even Pinhead’s dialogue is noticeably more infernally poetic. And, although it’s penned by returning writer Peter Atkins, this convolutedly edited (several flashbacks are sloppily inserted), centuries-spanning, part prequel, part sequel episode surprisingly makes more sense than the last two pictures.
The special makeup effects have marginally improved since the previous chapters, with more bloodthirstiness and outrageous gore occupying the screentime. It also brings back the inclusion of worms, maggots, and other crawling insects for nasty excess. The cenobite troops, as molded by Pinhead’s torturous tools of hell, are exponentially more creative than in the previous outing, aiding the upgraded visuals and graphic bloody violence. Several of the designs are once again worthy of creator Clive Barker’s original vision, such as the twin mutants and a cenobite dog (called the chatterer-beast, used to mimic typical monster movie thrills), but the introduction of science-fiction concepts alters most of the preexisting entertainment of dreamscape-bound hellions attempting to cross into earthly dominions; a spaceship is just no place for demonic fantasy.
– Mike Massie