Hellraiser: Bloodline

In retrospect, I'm surprised that Hellraiser: Bloodline is as cohesive as it is.  The film's bedeviled production history is well-documented, but if you've been living 'neath a puzzle box for seventeen years, I'll give you the cardinal footnotes.  Special effects czar Kevin Yagher signed on to direct Pinhead in Space.  After countless scuffles with studio heads, he capitulated in disgruntled dissatisfaction and abandoned the project (his credit went to "Alan Smithee," Hollywood's go-to pseudonym for embittered filmmakers).  Halloween 6 marksman Joe Chappelle interceded to wrap principal photography.  I don't need to remind you that he was no stranger to Dimension's meddlesome infractions, so I'm sure he knew how to use his juke swerve to avoid certain landmines.

Three, maybe four cuts of Bloodline exist.  There were rewrites up the rectum, and in terms of box office staying power, the sequel/prequel hybrid left a crater the size of a phytophagous chalcid wasp in its wake.  I don't suppose it would help put things into perspective by mentioning that said wasps are microscopic little shits, would it?  Well, they are.  I don't even remember seeing TV spots for a fourth Hellraiser entry.  As a matter of fact, I was under the impression that it was a direct-to-video release until we acquired our first dial-up modem in 1999.  But none of this minutiae speaks to the quality of Bloodline itself.  Considering the circumstances, I find it to be a visceral triumph over a vested bureaucracy.

Crude tampering be damned, this is a well-groomed horror picture.  Is it too ambitious?  Possibly.  Is the acting patchy in spots?  Affirmative.  Are there bizarre plot specifics that are never addressed?  Holy clit Jesus, yes.  And yet, I was sated by an epic-as-fuck storyline that was easy to follow and introduced a multitude of vibrant, prismatic characters.  You have to be willing to suspend disbelief to enjoy Bloodline.  Deep thought is forbidden as soon as you press play.  Yeah, the original Hellraiser is quite cerebral (the same goes for Hellbound), but we're in goddamn outer space here.

Clive Barker traditionalists did not take kindly to Pinhead's foray into futuristic science fiction.  Most fans are quick to slander this flick to shreds, and I understand their ridicule.  Our lead cenobite is less reserved and more...Krueger-y.  Hellraiser: Bloodline is content to be a popcorn thriller.  I'm cool with that, seeing as how I don't have any sentimental ties to the series or its source material.  I approve of the rampant gore, I approve of the raw sexuality (Valentina Vargas can execrate my soul anytime) and I approve of the accelerated pacing.  What can I say?  I'm easy to please, especially when it comes to soda and beef jerky.

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