MOVIE REVIEW : ‘Hellraiser: Bloodline’ Has More Diabolical Designs
“Hellraiser: Bloodline” is the fourth in the Clive Barker series centering on a kind of Rubik’s Cube capable of unleashing unspeakable evil. Not surprisingly, it needed all the help it could get to offset the sense of diminishing returns that set in after the 1986 original, a genuine sci-fi horror classic.
A dialogue polishing by Barker, plus his own direction, might have made a crucial difference. What it got instead was a script inescapably convoluted by the need to justify a third sequel. Writer Peter Atkins stretches mightily from the 22nd century, back to the 18th, then to the present and finally, back to the future.
His script needed authoritative, clear direction but wound up with the fatal touch of “Alan Smithee,” which is the name Hollywood uses when the actual director--or directors, if one replaces another--doesn’t want his name on the picture.
In any case, in “Hellraiser: Bloodline” (which went unscreened for critics) it’s 2127, and Paul Merchant (Bruce Ramsay) has hijacked a space station in a desperate attempt to destroy once and for all the Lemarchand Configuration Box, designed by his ancestor.
Flashing back to the 18th century we meet that ancestor Philippe Lemarchand (also Ramsay), a skilled toy maker who innocently devises a beautiful puzzle box with pierced brass designs for a famous magician, a diabolical nobleman (played by Mickey Cottrell as a deliciously decadent fop) who is somehow able to use it to unleash a host of demons from hell. Most notable among them is Pinhead (Doug Bradley), whose bald head is literally a pincushion. Moving on to the present, prominent Manhattan architect John Merchant (again Ramsay) has to do battle with the demons.
Ramsay is game, but the only standouts in a mediocre cast are Cottrell and Bradley, who, as before, brings out the pathos in the monstrous Pinhead. Like the other sequels, “Hellraiser: Bloodline” goes in for elaborate special effects and decor, but the film is murky and morbid, laden with a heavy dose of grisly sadomasochism that’s more repellent than intriguing.
* MPAA rating: R, for strong horror violence and gore, and for some sexuality and language. Times guidelines: It includes much cussing and graphic violence.
Bruce Ramsay: Philippe/John Paul
Doug Bradley: Pinhead
Mickey Cottrell: Duc de L’Isle
Valentina Vargas: Angelique
A Miramax/Dimension Films and Trans Atlantic Entertainment presentation. Director Alan Smithee. Producer Nancy Rae Stone. Executive producers Clive Barker, Paul Rich. Screenplay Peter Atkins. Cinematographer Gary Lively. Editors Rod Dean, Randolph K. Bricker, Jim Prior. Costumes Eileen Kennedy. Music Daniel Licht. Production designer Ivo Cristante. Art director Ken Larson. Set decorator Tim Colohan. Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes.
* In general release throughout Southern California.