Hellraiser IV: Bloodline, 1996
directed by Kevin Yagher
starring Doug Bradley, Bruce Ramsay, Kim Myers
The last of the Hellraiser films to be released in theaters credited “Alan Smithee” as the director, and unsurprisingly Hellraiser: Bloodline is pretty terrible. For those unaware, “Alan Smithee” is a common pseudonym for directors looking to disown a terrible project. Here we go. It’s tough to see a movie shift so much so quickly in terms of style, and it’s odd to see a series start to emphasize backstory when you’re just four movies in. Bloodline continues the mistakes of third and becomes a weird, almost prequel, that drags along without really providing anything interesting. Just like the third movie, it takes until the final twenty minutes to really see anything remotely positive, and if you’ve made it that far you’ve probably started to go numb.
Anytime a film franchise suddenly shifts to space, there’s probably a little bit of desperation involved. For Bloodline, it’s the fourth film in a series and obviously too soon. It took Jason Voorhees ten films to reach space, and in real time that film came 21 years later. The most frustrating part is that Bloodline doesn’t even commit to the space setting, it’s mostly used for a vehicle of flashbacks that go right back to the French revolution and eventually a modern setting. It’s an ambitious idea, and for a low-budget horror movie, it shockingly fails. Featuring a very young and awkward Adam Scott, as well as Kim Myers (Nightmare on Elm Street 2) Bloodline feels throughout the early portions more like a bad dinner theater than an actual horror movie.
It’s thoroughly disappointing that the Hellraiser series actually produces worse movies than this. Bloodline was actually the first of the series I ever saw, late night on cable and knowing nothing about the series other than Pinhead, and it felt as convoluted then as it does now. This is the last of the film series where creator Clive Barker was involved, and it’s scary to think it could get any worse. So much of the series’ potential relies in the villains, the dark atmosphere and puzzling labyrinths, all of which is completely neglected in this mess.