The last installment in the “Theatrical Era” of the Hellraiser franchise, and to be honest, only marginally better than Hellraiser III. Bloodline attempts an “alpha and omega” approach to the story, telling the origin of the Lament Configuration as well as the final battle against Pinhead and his Cenobites. An epic attempt which deserves an A for effort, but not so generous a grade for its actual quality.
Opening in the year 2125 onboard a peculiar space station orbiting Earth, the weird Dr. Merchant has apparently summoned the Cenobites with the Lament Configuration for purposes unknown. Soon after summoning them, Merchant is arrested by the US military, sent to investigate his over-taking of the space station. During his interrogation, Dr. Merchant retells the tale of his bloodline, beginning with the toy-maker, LaMerchand. Back in the 1700’s, LaMerchand unwittingly constructed the Lament Configuration for a madman who used its power to open a gateway to Hell. LaMerchand’s participation in this atrocity forever cursed his bloodline to be entangled with the puzzle box and the horrors it unleashes. Now, in the distant future, Dr. Merchant intends to use the power of the puzzle box against the Cenobites and close the doorway to Hell once and for all.
The origin of the Lament Configuration is taken loosely from the epic Hellraiser comic book series. Naturally, the origin was watered-down so that it wouldn’t offend a wider audience of people. In the comics, LaMerchand was a serial killer who used the fat of the children he murdered to polish the puzzle box he built. In the movie, he is a kind-hearted but naïve toy-maker. I suppose this can be rectified, considering that the origin as the movie delivers it is in the form of a story told by a distant relative of LaMerchand. And as we all know, many aspects of history are lost through-out time.
The effects in this movie are some of the worst in the series, I must confess. The make-up is fine, as are (most of) the traditional effects (puppetry, stop-motion, models, etc); it’s the primitive, circa-1995 CGI effects that are so painful to watch. Star Fox had better computer generated effects. Things like CGI puzzle boxes, robots, Cenobites and morphing effects are ridiculously fake in appearance.
The Cenobites in Bloodline are a slight step-up from the lame-os seen in Hell on Earth. Angelique isn’t very exciting, just a hot chick in leather with her skull exposed. The Twins look pretty good, though you don’t get to see much of them. The only real stand-out Cenobite in the whole film is the Chatter Beast, who admittedly, rocks out loud. He’s a giant dog-monster with chattering jaws; obviously inspired by the fan-favorite Cenobite from the first two films, the Chatterer. The puppetry on the Chatter Beast is both good and bad; you never really see his entire body moving at once, save for brief second-long CGI glimpses as he chases people down hallways. Never-the-less, he’s one of the better Cenobites in the franchise and one of the few outstanding parts of the movie.
Pinhead is heavily featured once again, though his dialogue this time around seems rather bland and forced. Doug Bradley delivers a fine performance, but the material he had to work with wasn’t the best.
Hellraiser: Bloodline is an overall bland entry in the series which spelled the end of the Theatrical Era for Hellraiser. It ignored many of the better parts of the source material in order to please a wider audience with weaker stomachs and put way too much focus on Pinhead, who, despite being its poster boy, is NOT the focus of the franchise. It’s worthy of a C- at the very most. Thankfully, the Direct-to-Video Era of Hellraiser is an improvement over the direction the Theatrical Era resulted in.