Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)

hellraiser bloodline poster 1996 movie
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 5/10

Interesting concept for the story

Doesn't feel like it develops enough

Movie Info

Movie Name: Hellraiser:  Bloodline

Studio: Dimension Films

Genre(s): Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/B-Movies

Release Date(s): March 8, 1996

MPAA Rating: R

hellraiser bloodlines terminator robot puzzle box

It’s the Terminator vs the Cenobites!

In 1796, Philippe Lemarchand (Bruce Ramsay) has created something that he never expected.  The Lament Configuration has been commissioned by a man named Duc de L’Isle (Mickey Cottrell) and L’Isle’s motives are less than pure.  Breaking through the dimensions, Lemarchand’s box has opened a portal to Hell and unleashed something that will curse his family forever.  In 1996, architect John Merchant (Bruce Ramsay) has reawakened his ancestor’s mistake with a new building whose structure resembles the Lament Configuration, and Merchant’s actions could endanger his family.  In 2127, Dr. Paul Merchant (Bruce Ramsay) has prepared for the final battle with Pinhead (Doug Bradley) and his Cenobites that has been brewing for centuries…and Hell is coming!

Directed by Kevin Yagher (who disassociated himself with project leading to an Alan Smithee credit) and additional directing by Joe Chappelle, Hellraiser:  Bloodlines (also known as Hellraiser IV:  Bloodlines) is a science-fiction horror film.  Following Hellraiser III:  Hell on Earth in 1992, the movie faced production problems and conflicts and was met with negative reviews.

hellraiser bloodlines chains hooks

When stealing souls, if a human isn’t big enough, you have to throw him back

The Hellraiser franchise was one of my early introductions to “gore horror”.  Clive Barker’s vision of pleasure and pain was edgy, dirty, and terrifying.  The first few films were rather interesting…the third film wasn’t so much.  Hellraiser:  Bloodlines tried something completely different (which I admire), but it also struggled to find its direction.

The movie initially was supposed to be more “human” fronted.  The producers of the movie demanded more Pinhead and Cenobites which led to conflicts and reshoots.  The idea of a “bloodline” for the movie creates an interesting arc, but it also doesn’t feel completely fulfilling.  The story frequently jumps back to the 2127 timeline, but none of the timelines feel completely integrated despite sharing actors and characters.  I do like the sci-fi horror and still feel that sci-fi horror is one of the more untapped aspects of the horror genre.

Bruce Ramsay is kind of bland as the Lemarchand descendant.  He plays each character rather the same and I think it would have been interesting for each generation of the family to be more distinctive.  Doug Bradley of course is the “heart” of the Hellraiser franchise as the stoic and evil Pinhead.  He has mastered the role by this point and seems a bit lazy in it…but that also fits the character because Pinhead is bored with trying to push his pleasure-pain barriers for centuries.  The movie also has a small role for Adam Scott who was just starting out at the time.

hellraiser bloodlines cenobites pinhead doug bradley

Yeah…I have a posse…I’m pretty bad ass

Visually, the movie does have a budget (something that isn’t true of later Hellraiser films).  In 1996, some of the space stuff was rather high tech and also goes into the whole horror-science-fiction aspect which works with the film.  The Cenobites are always fun, but I like the original batch of Cenobites from the first film.

Hellraiser:  Bloodline isn’t great, but it also doesn’t deserve the hate it received upon its release.  The movie marked the last real hands-on involvement of creator Clive Barker.  The film does provide closure for the Hellraiser series while also leaving “holes” where sequels could pop in (Pinhead has decades between the fights in the movie).  I like that it tried something different instead of just providing the same over and over again.  Hellraiser:  Bloodline was followed by Hellraiser:  Inferno in 2000.

Related Links:

Hellraiser (1987)

Hellbound:  Hellraiser II (1988)

Hellraiser III:  Hell on Earth (1992)

Hellraiser:  Inferno (2000)

Hellraiser:  Hellseeker (2002)

Hellraiser:  Deader (2005)

Hellraiser:  Hellworld (2005)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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