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E.C. McMullen Jr.
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"Do I look like someone who cares what God thinks?"
Even though my friend and esteemed colleague, Feo Amante, already covered the films HELLRAISER and HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II, I feel it is my duty to bring them back into the discussion somewhat to add context to my review. We won't be going into any real details, just enough to bring up pertinent points where it concerns aspects of HELLRAISER III: HELL ON EARTH (1992), my review, and all the films after that. I will most likely leave HELLRAISER: JUDGMENT (2018) out of this discussion, as I plan to do a review of it later on.
There was an intimacy that was shared with the audience in the first two films, like you and the film makers had a dirty secret between the both of you and it wasn't spoken of in polite company outside of your inner circle. The first film, more so than the second.
In HELLRAISER, not much of any real import took place outside of Larry (Andrew Robinson) and Julia Cotton's (Claire Higgins) house.
The True Villains of that story were the humans, not Pinhead (Doug Bradley) and his Cenobites. They were merely priests of pain & pleasure, sent to see people like Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) get their just comeuppance.
In HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II, the Cenobites took a more hands on approach, whether it was for bad or good. It's here where I truly believe the train that was known as the HELLRAISER franchise really started becoming derailed. There were also too many moving parts as compared with the first film.
Creator, writer and director for the first movie and the book, THE HELLBOUND HEART, from which the source material derived, Clive Barker, had a less active part the second go around, and served only as an executive producer. Many say Barker's greatly diminished role played a major part in future films tanking at the box office or being sent straight to home video. Most of the blame, however, can be laid at the feet of the production company Mirama, by churning out substandard fare and sticking Pinhead in these flicks just so they could hold on to the rights of the HELLRAISER series, when they had very little in common with the property.
It didn't work very well.
The Cenobites are supposed to be emissaries of Hell. They are Demons to some, Angels to others. Both are terrible creatures by their very natures. They are not just hanging out, hopeful and jockeying for a spot on the stage at a comedy club. Make no mistake, my friends. They are monsters. They don't care if you find them humorous, or not. They are there for your fucking soul. Tickling their funny bone isn't going to save you from an eternity of exquisite pain.
Now that this is all out of my system,
HELLRAISER: BLOODLINE starts in the distant future in the Year of Our Lord, 2127. On a space station, the creator of the craft, Dr. Paul Merchant (Bruce Ramsay: KILLING ZOE, CURDLED, ISLAND OF THE DEAD, DOOMSDAY PROPHECY) has built the station for one solitary purpose, despite what his handlers thought to the contrary. He wants to obliterate Hell once and for all and believes he has the means to do so. Merchant has a robot solve the Lament Configuration box to summon Pinhead and his Cenobites. He succeeds in this, but before he can carry out his mad plan, he is interrupted and tossed in a cell on the station by a cadre of heavily armed soldiers. One of the soldiers, Rimmer (Christine Harnos: JUDGMENT NIGHT, DAZED AND CONFUSED, HOLLYWOOD CONFIDENTIAL) allows him to tell his story on why he is doing what he has set out to do. And so, he begins.
Merchant's story goes back to his ancestors, one of which, 400 years earlier, Philip Le Marchand (also Ramsey), a toymaker in France, creates the Lament Configuration for a mysterious, degenerate, nobleman/sorcerer, on a commission. After being paid, Le Marchand sees some terrible black magic ritual being performed with his "toy" being at the center of it all. Later, he goes back to the chateau where this satanic tomfoolery went down to cut that pony off at the pass and winds up getting more than he bargained for.
Flash forward to the 20th century, John Merchant (still Ramsey) is a whiz kid architect who has nightmares of a beautiful demon, Angelique (Valentina Vargas: THE BIG BLUE, SOUTHERN CROSS, BLOODY MALLORY) that was summoned many years before by the sorcerer, Duc de L'Isle (Mickey Cottrell: ED WOOD, APT PUPIL, HOME THE HORROR STORY) whom the puzzle box was originally built for.
Angelique makes her presence physically known at an event in Merchant's honor and promises him all sorts of things if he will build the design that his ancestor, Le Marchand drew up centuries before. Eventually, Angelique gets one poor sap to open the Lament Configuration and Pinhead appears. He causes all sorts of havoc with Merchant and his family, before he is sent packing once more, until future events, which carries us around, full circle to the space station.
The soldiers there to collect Dr. Merchant are systematically picked off by the Cenobites, unaware they are playing right into the "mad" doctor's trap.
This movie to many could be passed off as simply "Pinhead in Space" but it is so much more than that. I love Horror films that take place in space like ALIEN and EVENT HORIZON. I also love period piece Horror films like INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE and BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF (2001). HELLRAISER: BLOODLINE fits both rather nicely, as well as a modern-day Horror flick.
Kevin Yagher (SFX work on FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER, RADIOACTIVE DREAMS, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY'S REVENGE, TRICK OR TREAT , A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: THE DREAM WARRIORS, THE HIDDEN, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER, CHILD'S PLAY, 976-EVIL, FREDDY'S NIGHTMARES [TV], THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA , THE APPLEGATES, THE BORROWER, DEFENSELESS, TALES FROM THE CRYPT: DEMON KNIGHT, CHILDREN OF THE CORN III, DR. JEKYLL AND MS. HYDE, RUMPELSTILTSKIN, VOLCANO, THE DENTIST, TALES FROM THE CRYPT: BORDELLO OF BLOOD, SLEEPY HOLLOW, A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS, ÆON FLUX), the credited director of HELLRAISER: BLOODLINE, disowned the film and used the alias, Alan Smithee, because of cuts made to the film behind his back. Yagher quit and Joe Chappelle (HALLOWEEN VI: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS, PHANTOMS, DARK PRINCE: THE TRUE STORY OF DRACULA), was brought in to finish the movie*.
Does it have its flaws? Sure. But name me a flawless Horror film and I will show you at least three things that will make you a liar.
Four Shriek Girls