1996, R, 85 min. Directed by Alan Smithee. Starring Bruce Ramsay, Valentina Vargas, Doug Bradley, Charlotte Chatton, Adam Scott, Kim Myers, Mickey Cottrell.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Wed., March 13, 1996
This fourth and, presumably, final entry into the ever-deteriorating Hellraiser series is by far the worst of the lot: a jumbled, unsatisfying, and ultimately boring glimpse into the past, present, and future of the notorious cenobite affectionately known as “Pinhead” (Doug Bradley, who once again gets the best lines). It's never a good sign when Smithee's name crops up in the director credit: the poor schnook's a non-corporeal patsy, taking the fall for the real director, who either would not or could not allow his good name to end up on drek such as this (think of Smithee as the George Kaplan character in Hitchcock's North By Northwest and you'll begin to get the picture). Enigmatic directors aside, Hellraiser: Bloodline is indeed something to be cautious about. The film opens within a giant space station in the year 2127. There, a descendant of Phillipe LeMarchand (Ramsay) -- the Parisian toymaker who, so long ago, created the deadly puzzlebox/gateway to hell, the Lament Configuration -- anxiously spins a tale concerning the history of Hell's Jack-in-the-Box, while Buzz Lightyear-types stand around looking glum. Who are these Rocketeers? No one knows, and Smithee's not telling. No matter, there's plenty of gore here, and a wonderfully horrific hellhound that combines the best bits of a pair of chattering teeth and a cancerous pit bull on crack with Don King's wacky temperament. Too bad that's the best Smithee has to offer. Hellraiser: Bloodline has been sitting on the shelf for some time now -- I recall genre press coverage of it well over a year ago, and now I know why. The real mystery here isn't that damned puzzlebox -- it's how in the hell this laughably bad sequel ever earned a theatrical release.