Wednesday, November 23, 2016

He’s Called Pinhead, Not Outer Spacehead, or Thoughts on Hellraiser 4: Bloodline

It’s never a good idea to take your horror franchise and put it on a spaceship, but that doesn’t movie producers from doing it, and it won’t stop me from watching the inevitable train wreck.  Hollywood has a history of blasting their comedy teams into space with movies like Abbot and Costello Go to Mars (1955) and The Three Stooges in Orbit (1962), and 30 years later they got the bright idea to try it again with Pinhead in Hellraiser 4: Bloodline (1996).
The film opens on a remote space station with the Lament Configuration puzzle box being opened by remote with a terminator exoskeleton-robot.  This is my first and biggest complaint, I’m certain the Lament Configuration needs to be opened by human hands, flesh and blood are essential.  The whole point of the Lament Configuration is that it senses desire, and calls the Cenobites; The Order of the Gash, angels to some, demons to others and outer-dimensional BDSM proponents of black vinyl and chains.  But it’s actually a fake out story told in retrospect that starts in 18th Century France and follows the origin of the Box, so if you’ve ever wanted to know and aren’t interested in reading the Clive Barker source material, this is the movie for you. 
Canadian actor Bruce Ramsay stars as toymaker Philippe Lemarchand in 18th Century France, architect John Merchant in the ‘90s and mad scientist Paul Merchant in 22nd Century Space in three connecting stories about the family who has been fighting Pinhead through the centuries because of their bloodline, get it?  Philippe Lemarchand is the finest toymaker in France who was commissioned to make the box for some Satanic French libertines.  In 1996 New York, architect John Merchant designs a building that functions as a giant Lament Configuration and in the future Paul Merchant designs a spaceship that coincidentally, transforms into a giant puzzle box, in space.
Hellraiser: Bloodline introduces a new Cenobite, Angelique, as portrayed by Valentina Vargas, who you may remember as The Girl from The Name of the Rose (1986) and Bonita in Luc Besson’s Le Grand Bleu (1988).  Doug Bradley returns in his most famous role, but Pinhead doesn’t really need an elaborate origin story and the more you explain, the less scary he becomes. 
Hellraiser: Bloodline also has the dubious honor of being the first and to date only film I’ve seen directed by Alan Smithee, who you may or may not know is a pseudonym used by the Director’s Guild of America when the director disowns a project.  The actual director was Kevin Yager, a special effects artist and designer of the Chucky Doll from Child’s Play (1988), in addition to Freddy Kreuger’s makeup and the Crypt Keeper from HBO’s Tales From the Crypt (1989).   With higher production values than say, Leprechaun 4: In Space (also 1996, it was a good year for this kind of crossover) and some state of the art 90’s CGI (and by state of the art, I mean laughably primitive), the movie will appeal only to die-hard fans of the Cenobites.





my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).