Retro Review: Hellraiser: Bloodline

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Whenever I watch Hellraiser: Bloodline I can’t help but feel a sense of loss. Not for myself, but for the makers of the movie. After the series went a little bit off the rails with Hell On Earth, the filmmakers were adamant to make a better movie that rose above the average sequel and return the series back to its former glory.

The project got off to a great start when Clive Barker decided to make his return to the series (after having little to no involvement with Hell On Earth) with a story idea that got everyone excited about the movie. Peter Atkins would once again return as screenwriter and create the best Hellraiser script to date. And FX genius Kevin Yagher was brought on board to direct the film. All the pieces were in place to make an excellent movie. Everyone felt this was going to be something special. Now the only thing they needed to do was shoot it.

But sadly, this where everything started to fall apart.

I’m sure a lot of you know the crazy history of what happened to Hellraiser: Bloodline, so I’m not going to get into the specifics of the situation for this review. I’ll save my personal thoughts on that for another day. I can only comment on the movie that was finally released, and considering all the negative things that happened to the project while making the film, I still find myself enjoying it.

I’m going to breakdown my review of Hellraiser: Bloodline into three different categories: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Even though I enjoy the film, it’s FAR from perfect.

The Good:

Peter Atkins original script –

Like I said before Peter really delivered a wonderful script based around Clive’s idea. Even though the final version doesn’t come close to representing their original intentions, there are “moments” in the film that capture the magic of what they wanted. I highly recommend hunting that down if you haven’t read it.

Doug Bradley as Pinhead –

I know I might sound like I’m beating a dead horse here, but Doug Bradley once again rose to the occasion and stole the show as the Black Pope of Hell. It was also good to see the character back to true form after Hell On Earth took the character down a more comedic route. If anything that’s one thing that the film got right from the original script. Pinhead was all business here. He was dark, brutal, and to the point.

Angelique –

Valentina Vargas as the demon Angelique was another interesting addition by Atkins to the Hellraiser universe. The original idea behind her character was a lot of more interesting but Vargas brings a quiet menace to the role that makes her a formidable foe for Pinhead. She holds her ground just fine against him.

The Music –

Daniel Licht’s epic score not only reminds fans of the past scores by Christopher Young, but he also creates something fresh and new. Each segment has its own style of music that was different from one another. The music in the 18th century scenes are wonderfully creepy when the demon of Angelique is being summoned by Duc de L’Isle.

The Chatterer Beast and Twin Cenobites:

These are two of my favorite favorite cenobites in the entire series, especially the Chatterer Beast which was actually played by an actress named Jody St. Michael. I always thought it was a mechanical effect controlled by a remote. Kevin Yagher’s company was the mastermind behind this wonderful creation and I hope if he can take anything from the movie it’s that he did a great job pulling this creature off.

Pinhead’s Death:

Overall the ending is pretty crappy, but I will say the death of Pinhead is pretty cool. I love the “Amen” line he utters right before the space station blows up.

The Bad:

Philip Lemarchand/John Merchant/Paul Merchant –

The three versions of the Lemarchand’s bloodline are what suffered the most throughout all the changes to the story. There’s no growth to the characters because we already know that the past and present versions are going to die which kills any sort of suspense the story could’ve had. This caused a big problem for me because he’s the main character that drives the story and we should care about him. By the end I didn’t care if he lived or died. I don’t blame any of this on actor Bruce Ramsay. It’s my personal belief that he was a fan of the original vision that both the writer and director shared and when things started to change he stopped caring about the character and the movie.

Plot Holes –

There are also moments in the film that don’t make sense. For example, in the following scenes when Lemarchand goes back to get the Lament Configuration, we see that Jacques and Angelique have killed Duc de L’Isle. But why? What made Jacques turn on him? This is a glaring plot that always gets on my nerves.

Auguste – This character actually had more of role in the original script but once again when changes were made to the story he was made practically irrelevant in the final film. Now he’s reduced to a one note role that’s used to move the story along when he tells Philip he should create an alternative solution to the Lament Configuration.

The Ugly:

Sloppy Editing –

The editing in this film is atrocious! Especially during action scenes with the Chatterer Beast. You’d think it would’ve been better considering that there were three(!) editors that cut it together. Just horrible!

Turning the Cenobites into Slashers:

Another thing that turned me off was how the cenobites were turned into common killers. These beings aren’t slashers and this was an obvious mandate by the producers because they wanted more gore for gore’s sake. At least writer Peter Atkins wrote them in very imaginative ways that went beyond the basic hack and slash fare.

Hellraiser: Bloodline could’ve and should’ve been so much more. The original script was amazing, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. But instead of dwelling on our losses, overall the film still works and I enjoy it much more than most of the other Hellraiser sequels after it. For me this was the last true Hellraiser movie and where the series ended.

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