Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)


Hellraiser: Bloodline essentially acts as a millennia-spanning origin story for the pesky lament configuration box that causes everyone so many problems. It starts on a space station in the future, rewinds into the 18th century before finally arriving at 1996. I initially groaned and wondered “do I really give a shit about the origins of that box?”, then figured “fuck it, why not!” It’s pretty admirable that it only took them four movies to send Pinhead to space and conceptually you can tell they were at least trying for something here. I like that they just went nuts with this one and I always appreciate a well-meaning attempt to deepen mythology within a franchise. As much as I like the idea of this entry in theory, it isn’t entirely successful in execution.

The cenobites and Pinhead in-particular are rather scarce. In their place is a sultry, raven-haired seductress, who looks almost exactly like Noomi Rapace, dishing out all the pleasure and pain. There’s sex and sadomasochistic splashes, naturally, as well as a wiggy and sleazy Adam Scott, but everything lands with such a heavy, unimaginative hand that you become pretty bored by all the shallow attempts at attention-grabbing. This is the kind of movie where even the most minor plot beat arrives with an accompanying orchestral bang and crash on the soundtrack. It comes with the genre and territory, of-course, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. And when Pinhead does show up he is mostly free of any threat or presence. Doug Bradley tries his best, bless him, but the more verbose and articulate the character becomes the less interesting he is. He also has a cenobite dog in this one which is…cute?

I got a kick out of seeing Nightmare on Elm Street 2 heroine Kim Myers in the cast and make up artist-come-director Kevin Yagher clearly had a vision that was unfortunately tainted by meddling producers. Even though Yagher ultimately removed his name from the film, Hellraiser: Bloodline does retain Clive Barker’s spirit, though it’s fading fast. The space station setting isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds as this brand of industrial, icy sci fi goes really well with the bleak fantasy that is central to the Hellraiser mythos. Pinhead’s metal chains sure work well on a spacecraft and I wish they had committed to that idea more and set the entire movie in space. Better than Hell on Earth but there’s no doubt that this is the Hellraiser series on the wane.

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