August 1, 2012

Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996)

"In the 22nd century, a scientist attempts to right the wrong his ancestor created: the puzzle box that opens the gates of Hell and unleashes Pinhead and his Cenobite legions."

I was watching "Hellraiser IV: Bloodline" when the power went out last week. In fact, I was only ten minutes from the end, but I didn't have my laptop battery charged enough to finish watching it. Four hours later, the electricity came back on, but it has taken me until now to rewatch the whole thing again just in case I missed anything important. I hadn't.

"Hellraiser: Bloodline" (or "Hellraiser IV" as I prefer to call it) was the last of the real "Hellraiser" movies before they became so in name only with Pinhead merely turning up at the end. It was also the last "Hellraiser" movie to get a theatrical release. I waited to see it on VHS back in the day even so.

It wasn't that I had anything against the "Hellraiser" franchise which prevented me from going to the cinema but purely personal reasons. As much as I loved horror movies and had begun my professional reviewing career in magazines at this time, I also had a job working as a contractor for the company who made some of the machines which created the special effects in "Hellraiser IV". The posters were all over the factory as if it was something great so, initially, I was quite keen to see it. The trouble was that I fell foul of a nasty piece of wannabe bullying scum while I was in that job, and he blighted the whole thing.

I don't have anything against the company itself even though their machines were ridiculously overpriced, and they never offered me a real job with them, but, in my lower moments, I still remember how I dreaded going to work in that place every day because of one individual. If I hadn't had more important things on my mind, or if I'd realised how it was going to haunt me years later, I should have punched his lights out several times over and enjoyed the catharsis. There aren't many people who I truly hate (I think there are really only half a dozen who I wish the worst things possible for), but that idiot is still one of them.

Anyway, I'm getting a bit too personal here and I hate doing that on this blog. You aren't really here because you want to read about me, are you? I hope not because you'll be very disappointed. I remember reading somebody's blog profile which said, "I review horror movies. The End." That's how I prefer to keep things too.

"Hellraiser IV" has to be one of the most disappointing sequels which I have ever watched. It turned out to be an absolute turd of a film with so many obvious cuts (coupled with rewrites and re-edits behind the scenes which weren't quite so apparent) that I'm surprised that it ever got released at all. A lot of promotional material which was sent out and published by the horror magazines at the time had nothing to do with the film at all, or, if it did, the scenes which everyone was raving about were never completed. What happened to the Cenobites Ball where they were all dressed up in powdered wigs?

The Cenobites did so little in this film except turn up and stand around that you can tangibly feel a lot of parts of the original story missing. Weren't they supposed to have a bigger involvement in every aspect of the Merchant family's history? The whole thing about "the blood remembers" was such a load of crap. Remembers what exactly? How to make a puzzle box?

I used to think that Valentina Vargas who played Angelique was sexy, but having scrutinized her, actually she really wasn't. The actress who played Rimmer (not the same character from "Red Dwarf" obviously) was much better looking. I don't know her name though and can't really be bothered to look it up as I've never seen her anything else anyway.

Another recognisable face for all the wrong reasons was Courtland Mead, the kid with the thumbsucker-mouth who was also in "The Shining" TV miniseries. He didn't do much either except become a hostage of Pinhead for all of five seconds. Apart from Doug Bradley as Pinhead, I still have absolutely no idea who any of the other actors were.

It's only from the opening credits that I even know how Bruce Ramsay had the triple role of Phillip L'Merchant, John Merchant and Paul Merchant. That was great for him because I've never seen him in anything else before or after. I did check out his IMDb page and found out that he is Canadian so that explains everything really. Most Canadian actors don't tend to travel well or achieve worldwide fame. I have no idea why that is.

At slightly over an hour and a quarter long, "Hellraiser IV" felt like a TV episode more than a theatrical release. It was very quick over the ground, looked cheap, and the plot was little more than letting the Cenobites out of the box then using a bigger one to send them back to where they came from... but in space.

I don't think Clive Barker had much to do with this movie other than having originally created the characters. He certainly didn't write it or direct it. The kills were feeble (some even occurred off screen), the "Hellhound" was too easily disposed of, and, as I've already said, all the Cenobites really did was look creepy rather than actually do anything.

Maybe "Hellraiser IV" could have been a good film if it hadn't been hacked to pieces, hadn't had its directors changed, and hadn't suffered from a ton of studio interference. Maybe, though, "Hellraiser in Space" just wasn't a very good idea to begin with.

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