Hellraiser 4: Bloodline
Written by Peter Atkins
Directed by Kevin Yagher
Phillipe L'Merchant (etc)...Bruce Ramsey
Three generations of the L'Merchant family fight against the minions of hell in three different time periods--18th century France; 1990s New York City; and an intergalactic space station in the year 2127. That's right: Hellraiser in Space, and although that is normally the death knell of any given franchise--not to mention when a film is credited to the imaginary Alan Smithee--this one is surprisingly not bad.
In the 18th century, we get to witness the creation of the puzzle box at the hands of a toymaker, and the dark evolution of it at the hands of a vile magician. We are also introduced to the sexy hellspawn Angelique, who is bound to do the bidding of magician's apprentice Jacques--whose bidding seems mostly to be all manner of sexual depravity.
In the 1990s, Angelique and Jacques still live, and the bloodline of the toymaker lives on. Angelique seeks to destroy him because within his bloodline lies the secret manner in which to eradicate her and her kind.
In the far flung future, in the farthest reaches of space, the final member of the toymaker's bloodline has solved the mystery of how to destroy the demons. Rather than wait around until they rear their ugly heads, he calls them forth into the biggest cenobite trap in the entire galaxy.
This is a frustrating film, because although it isn't terrible, it could have been and should have been much better. The scenes set in the future are, of course, reliant on high technology that doesn't yet exist. The problem is that these effects are created with modern technology that does exist--and technology changes so rapidly that these scenes immediately become dated.
The acting is decent all around, as are most of the gore effects, but there aren't nearly as many as we have come to expect. Things have been toned down a bit to make room for the storylines--which would have been fine, had the storyline not been so choppy. It seems like a lot had been left on the cutting room floor, and had it been reduced to two generations instead of three, there would have been room to make a more cohesive plot. There was the hint of a power struggle between Angelique and Pinhead that I would have loved to have seen, but there was little if any payoff there.
Still, I love a film that deepens the mythos of the franchise and this certainly accomplishes that, not by concentrating on any of the characters, but rather by concentrating on the puzzle box itself which is possibly more iconic than even the grisly visage of ol' Pinhead. Perhaps a director's cut of the film will surface some day, and we'll get a chance to see the movie that this was supposed to be.
"Walk now amongst us!"