May 26, 2024

Hellraiser IV: Bloodline – Good, But Could Have Been Great

Hellraiser IV Bloodline (1996)What do you think happens to the puzzle box in the Hellraiser series when its victims are gone? We’ve seen many men and women stabbed by chained hooks and drug inside. But once the victim has been claimed, what happens to the box (known as the Lament Configuration)? Why are the victims always sitting indian-style and shirtless, and how do they know to be sitting indian-style and shirtless? How does it get to that old salesman or bum? Obviously, if the demons have the ability to control who has the box, then burying it in a building (Part 3) or locking it away (which I assume happens during the events of Hellraiser: Bloodline) will do nothing to stop that.

Hellraiser: Bloodline is the fourth installment of the Hellraiser series, and is a personal favorite of mine. The first 2 installments followed a young girl named Christy that had the worst stepmother in the world. After Christy escaped hell’s grasp (brought on by others’ greed and wants), the series is brought from Britain to the USA in Hellraiser 3. In this one Joey, a television reporter investigating a strange death in the hospital, is tormented by Pinhead after he is released by a sleazy club owner. She buries the Lament Configuration in the foundation of a skyscraper being built.

In Bloodline, we are treated to the box’s origins, a present day story, and its demise hundreds of years from now.

The box was created by a toy maker, Philip Lemarchand, in the late 1700s. It becomes the portal to hell when a wealthy aristocrat summons a demon (Angelique) to do his bidding. Philip sees this, and tries to get it back. He also makes a design that will bind the demons forever, but cannot physically create it.

After the Lament Configuration is taken to America, we flash forward 200 years to present day. We are reintroduced to the building that Joey buried the Lament Configuration in, and learn that that its designer is none other than Philip’s descendant, John Merchant. Angelique decides to reintroduce herself as an old family friend, and summons Pinhead to assist her. John realizes that he has been cursed by the Lament Configuration (which summons hell), but that he also is blessed with the Elysium Configuration (which destroys hell).

Again, we flash forward 200 years to a lonely space station (and back to the beginning of the movie). John’s descendant, Paul Merchant, has opened the box inside of some vault with a robot. Pinhead and the other cenobites are trapped inside, and it’s obvious he has a plan. Unfortunately, he is interrupted by several officers show up and arrest him for stealing the station. While imprisoned, the door to the vault it opened.

As I have said, Bloodline is a personal favorite of mine. But to this day, I get confused as to what actually happened in the movie and what I read in the original script (which you can read here courtesy of The original script started with Philip Lemarchand instead of the space opening (The studio was mad that Pinhead would not appear until the second half of the movie.). It was definitely much more detailed in this section, and answers many of the questions generated by the actual theatrical version. In it, there is a demon carnival and some crude cenobites. When he get to John (present day), we learn that Angelique enjoys being on the outside of hell and attempts to manipulate John into destroying hell so that she may be free. Paul’s version is essentially the same except the other cenobites get more screen time and it’s not just the Pinhead show. I honestly don’t know if I would enjoy this version so much had I not read the original script one rainy afternoon. It is phenomenal, and worth the read.

I hate the casting of Angelique. The actress (Valentina Vargas) is not a bad actress at all. In fact, she nails the character for the most part. She’s just miscast. She doesn’t exude the sexuality the role requires. She’s quite stoic in these situations, and that hurts (especially when she’s seducing characters). She just comes off as creepy unfortunately.

That's not the face of seduction.
That’s not the face of seduction.

In Part 3, many of the characters we knew were converted to cenobites. Bloodline continues that trend, and it becomes slightly tiring. Nightmare on Elm Street suffers from the same flaws in the later films as you knew how the kids were going to be killed as they are introduced. Pinhead is not, nor will ever be, a stand alone slasher (which the sequels in the nineties all attempted to make him). With that being said, the cenobites are awesome as usual. Many of the kills are done off screen (especially the end), but the ones we did see are good.

This movie always leads me to additional questions in the Hellraiser mythology as well. Why does the Lament Configuration open the door to hell while the Elysium Configuration destroys it completely? Shouldn’t it be more of a permanent lock? Is something created in it’s place? Either way, I still love Hellraiser: Bloodline. It is one of the better entries to the series (top 3 at least) and it does try to tackle a very complex story. It’s unfortunate that the film version missed so much of the script I adore, but it’s still definitely worth a look.


I love horror movies, and I have since I was young. My favorite genre is the zombie genre, but it has completely been overdone in the last few years. I'm not a big fan of the horror movie formula, and I love it when a director turns it on its head. Please follow me on twitter (@_trapjaw_) and like me on facebook (scaretissuetrapjaw) for updates and to be immediately informed of new posts/projects.

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