Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996)

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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.

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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.

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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.

2.5

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7 thoughts on “Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996)

  1. I haven’t seen this once since it’s theatrical run. I remember being quite excited reading about it and Yahger in Fangoria. At the time I had no idea who Mr. Smithee was and I was quite confused.

    Is 3 really that bad? Again, I haven’t seen it since it was relatively new, but I remember enjoying it much more.

    • Maybe if you isolate 3 and 4 from the first two, they’re not that bad. But in a series, they’re just not worth anyones time. They’re released years apart, under different production companies and casts, and stylistically are just lost. At least with other horror franchises, you loosely know what you’re getting and can’t be disappointed too much. Here, it’s just a Hellraiser skin slapped on the latest pile waiting to go out.

      • I felt like the third one was a decent attempt to make the franchise more accessible to general audiences. Sort of like they did with Chainsaw 3 two years before. Both movies were fun enough. 4 was a disaster, which tends to happen when no one involved can agree on what a movie should be. After that, I’ve only seen a few here and there. I think one had Ashley Laurence again, but I can’t remember which one. Dimension never even tried to hide the fact that they were making quickies just to hang on the the franchise

      • That’s actually an interesting point about the third Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie, it really had a different, more mainstream feel to it. I thought about briefly summarizing the way major horror franchises have shifted away from their original movie in one of these reviews, but probably only would have brought up how weird and tongue-in-cheek the second TCM is.

        There is another one with Ashley Laurence, which I’m guessing would probably be the highlight of the rest. Not sure if I’ll be able to comfortably sit through them.

  2. I have yet to see this one as the third film convinced me to watch anymore pass that point if I wish to still hang on to what I enjoyed about the Hellraiser series. I know there been several other films and mention of a remake but I refuse to watch.

    • A completely logical stance that is impossible to disagree with. The remake I think is in development hell, as many of the sequels must have been at some point. The series really is a rough viewing, and I’m going to try to get into the direct-to-video sequels, but don’t know if I’ll be able to stomach it.

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