[Review] Pinhead Goes To Space In Hellraiser IV: Bloodline

Director: Kevin Yagher (as Alan Smithee) | Writer: Peter Atkins | Released: March 8, 1996 | Run Time: 1h 25min

I’m a big fan of Clive Barker and his work. Hellraiser is probably his most popular film. It spawned a number of sequels, including Bloodline, a film that wasn’t well-received upon theatrical release. The film was penned by Peter Atkins who also wrote the screenplays for Hellraiser 2 & 3. It was written as the conclusion to the Hellraiser series. It would have been a fitting in, too, had it not been for films that came after. Bloodline is the last really good Hellraiser film in the series. After this film, the quality of the series fell off, and left viewers disappointed and wanting more.

Peter Atkins wrote one of the best screenplays in Bloodline. The story is unique because it’s an origin story and a satisfying ending to the series. As we all know, great horror slashers can never die. Studios won’t let them, and fans keep wanting more. If you don’t think so, just look at the Friday the 13th and Halloween franchises. I look at Bloodline as the conclusion to the original three films.

Bruce Ramsey stars as three different generations of the Merchant family. The Merchant ancestor created the Lament Configuration puzzle box for a “magician” named Duc de L’Isle (Mickey Cottrell) and his apprentice, Jacques (Adam Scott). Duc de L’Isle sacrifices a French lady (Valentina Vargas), summoning a demon to control and do his bidding. Once the demon, Angelique, arrives, she forms a romantic relationship with Jacques and quickly kills Duc de L’Isle. L’Merchant is in the process of designing the Elysium Configuration to destroy the demons. He tries to steal the puzzle box back but he is discovered. Jacques orders Angelique to kill L’Merchant, but not before Jacques informs the toymaker that he and his bloodline are cursed until the end of time because of the puzzle box he created. Little do they know, L’Merchant’s wife survives and travels to America.

Angelique grows impatient, and she sets her sights on America, seeking the Lament Configuration. Around 200 years later, John Merchant has built the building witnessed at the end of Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth. Jacques denies her permission, upon which Angelique kills him for “trying to stand in Hell’s way”. She eventually finds the puzzle box buried in a pillar in the basement. She seduces a guy into solving the puzzle box and summoning Pinhead, where they try and wreak havoc on the Merchant family. Pinhead tries to open a permanent gateway between Hell and Earth. Angelique decides she doesn’t want to return to Hell, so she gets Merchant to activate the Elysium Configuration and destroy Hell, which would free her. Well, the attempt fails and Pinhead kills Merchant before his wife can solve the box. Pinhead is forced back to Hell, taking Angelique with him. You can’t double cross Pinhead. Fast forward a couple hundred years, the last surviving Merchant confronts Pinhead and Angelique.

I thought the spaceship was cool. At first glance, I didn’t know what was going on with the spaceship’s design. It took me a minute to realize its true purpose. Once I recognized the spaceship for what it was, I thought it was a stroke of genius. There wasn’t much in the way of special effects, though. It’s the same old hooks and chains, ripping the flesh of the weak. I thought the makeup artists did a great job with the cenobites, but we didn’t get to see them nearly enough. We get the Chatterer Beast, half man and half dog, the Siamese Twins that eventually turn into Siamese Triplets, Angelique, and Pinhead. The cenobites didn’t make much of an impression, though.

The writing was great. Peter Atkins did a great job with the script. The acting was solid. Pinhead brought back his famous quotes about pain and suffering. I was fully invested in the history of the Merchant family. The story just felt rushed. It could have easily been fully fleshed out in two films. We only get to see the Merchant family in three different time periods. If the Merchant family is truly cursed, wouldn’t there be more incidents with the Lament Configuration puzzle box? Or am I just overthinking it? Please let me know what you think in the comments below.

You can rent/buy Hellraiser: Bloodline here.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Pinhead is back–And he’s out for more blood. The fourth terrifying chapter of the wildly popular Hellraiser series chronicles the struggle of one family who unknowingly created the puzzle box that opened the door of Hell.

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