2 1/2 Stars
In full disclosure I have a close connection to the Hellraiser series. Outside of the literary architect Clive Barker, writer Peter Atkins has done the most work on the franchise, having written three installments. Mr. Atkins is a distant relative of mine, so for years I have avoided reviewing any of his cinematic works. They may be genre flicks, but they have always held a unique quality for me.
I received a copy of the Hellraiser: Bloodline script in the summer of 1993. This might as well have been gold, is was that valuable to me. I studied the pages, memorizing nearly every line of dialogue (a feat that annoyed my buddies when I recited them in the theatre opening night) and the structure of the screenplay format. It was a colossal learning experience for a budding filmmaker even at 13 years old. So, it was with dismay I followed the events of the troubled production and the twice delayed release date changes, to finally see the film in the spring of 1996.
In Hellraiser III we got the backstory of the main cenobite, Pinhead (Doug Bradley). This outing we are given the history of the puzzle box and the bloodline of the toymaker (Bruce Ramsay) originally tasked with the assignment of creating the design. The story bookends itself in a futuristic setting aboard a spacecraft, but the majority of the film takes place during the baroque period of French history, and modern day Paris.
Hellraiser: Bloodline is not the disaster that’s implied when a director removes his name from a finished film. In this case, original helmer Kevin Yagher disowned the project after Miramax recut his footage and added additional scenes under the direction of Joe Chappelle.
The horror genre was at another crossroad in 1996. Conventional icons that had dominated the multiplexes during the previous twenty years were crashing at the box-office. Freddy, Jason, Michael Meyers and Pinhead were considered creatively exhausted properties. As usual when critics proclaim horror as a forgotten genre a massive hit emerges that turns troupes on their collective ear. Unfortunately, that movies wasn’t Hellraiser: Bloodline, but another Miramax release, Scream.
Director: Alam Smithee
Stars: Doug Bradley, Bruce Ramsay, Valentina Vargas