Tag Archives: Lament Configuration

Hellraiser IV: Bloodline

As you are introduced to a strangely shaped spaceship in the middle of outer space in the year 2127, do not be alarmed. Don’t even let that pesky roman numeral four fool you in the title. This is not Star Wars. This is Hellraiser 4: Bloodline. This movie goes in a significantly different direction than the previous three in a lot of ways. New characters, an origin/background plot, and a director who didn’t even want to be given credit for the movie. You read that right. Kevin Yagher, the director of the film who left before it was finished decided to use the Hollywood pseudonym, Alan Smithee.

Does that suggest that this movie is bad? It may or may not. Although it got mixed reviews, there are some positives. I’m a sucker for an origins episode of a show or movie, and this is one entire, long flashback. And then a flash forward. The reason Mr. Yagher left this movie is because of the conflicts with script/plot and an unnecessary push for Pinhead to appear way before it was ever

The faceoff: Paul vs Pinhead

necessary. I would tend to agree with this approach, because most of the movie fell flat for me. How was this the first movie with a theatrical release?

Let’s get down to the bare bones plot with this one. So in the year 2127, there’s this famously brilliant scientist named Paul Merchant (faint echoes of Paul Muad’ib?) who is holding up on this space station he created. Seeming to be a bad thing, a crackpot squad of mercenaries travel to the station in order to thwart his “dastardly plan”. Merchant (Bruce Ramsay) is easily apprehended, and he tells a squad mate, Rimmer (Christine Harnos) his entire lineage sob story.

Rimmer gets told a sob story...

This is the point in the movie where things get interesting. Philip L’Merchant (still Bruce Ramsay) is a French toymaker, credited with creating the first box, the Lament Configuration. In creating it for a French nobleman obsessed with dark magic, Duc de L’Isle (Mickey Cottrell) unleashes Hell. Literally. In the form of a demon named Angelique (Valentina Vargas), it is up to the cursed Merchant line in order to create the Elysium Configuration in order to stop Pinhead and the other demons from wreaking havoc.

And, in this way, we are given three sections of the lineage of the Merchants. There’s its origins with L’Merchant, there’s the modern day, 1980’s John

This is the...dumbest of the Cenobite creations.

Merchant, and the futuristic, about to end all this B.S. Paul Merchant. At the same time that having all the Merchants being played by one man was a strange thing, it also strangely works. Bruce Ramsay isn’t the best by any means, but, for this movie, he gets the job done. He does vary his acting personalities and gets across that he is playing three different men throughout the years. I wanna point a little interesting fact out right here. Adam Scott, co-star in such acclaimed movies as Knocked Up, Step Brothers, and Piranha 3-D, makes an appearance as Jacques, the man who betrays his master like a coward. Of course you bring Doug Bradley back as Pinhead because, come on, it wouldn’t be a Hellraiser movie otherwise.

That crazy old Duc...

With less grit and graphic imagery than originally intended, this movie sits solidly among the others, but more as a distant cousin than anything else. This movie suggests a fixed point ending to Pinhead and the Cenobites, unlike any other movie. These undead, Hellish beings should never be killed, and it should be up to the perpetuation of this fantastic series to do so. There has been a new one released recently, Hellraiser: Revelations in 2011, which shows the series isn’t gonna quit yet. And I’m all cool with that. So look forward to a review of Hellraiser 5 in the near future, I’m really looking forward to it myself. An okay 4.2 out of 10.

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Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth

And this is where the Hellraiser series begins to fall flat. Bought by Miramax, an American company. Pinhead crosses the ocean and finds his feet on shaky ground in Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth. Claiming that “Hell has come to Earth,” this installment enters the club scene of New York in the early 90’s. (Or some such city…) With Clive Barker becoming a co-producer and a basis for the series, this is where the Jenga tower gets wobbly.

In this part of the series, Kirsty is no longer involved. She did her duty to send back the Cenobites to Hell and gains a well deserved rest. It is now her testimony on a couple of psychiatric tapes that give clues to the new main female protagonist of the film. Pinhead has been rent in twain and his former self as Captian Elliott Spencer and his id as Pinhead (both Doug Bradley as classically usual) are about to throw down. It is up to young reporter Joey Summerskill (Terry Farrell) to reunite the two.

This really was the best scene though. Yay sacrilege!

Basic plot? Here goes. J.P. Monroe (Kevin Bernhardt) is a pimpin’ playa hatin’ psycho club owner of the aptly named Boiler Room. (This club was incidentally the most expensive aspect of the production and was filled with cast, crew, and friends.) In order to exude this strangely masochistic feel, J.P. gets his hands on the pillar of souls from the last movie, containing Pinhead’s veracious killing streak. After sucking in one of J.P.’s sluts, Pinhead emerges, asking for more souls to release him from his prison.

J.P.'s pimpin' Pillar of Souls!

Meanwhile, Joey Summerskill is on the case! Like a modern day Nancy Drew, Joey walks the bad streets of her newly formed beat, somehow stumbling on this supernatural case of torture. With the chance meeting of J.P.’s main squeeze Terri (Paula Marshall). Once they discover the secrets of the Lament Configuration, things get weird. Although, Joey has been having some strange Vietnam flashbacks of her father dying in Vietnam. I don’t know the time frame on this movie, but I really am not seein’ it.

The bastardized Cenobites pull Joey's hair!

With a whole new crew of Cenobites (because all the originals died in the last movie, but come back in the fourth for no reason…), these rip-off cyborgs must be stopped at all costs and Pinhead must be stopped from his sacrilegious ways. I wasn’t so sure about the ending, but hey, this movie was the weak link.

I dunno about this movie, it was just strange overall. After having so much fun watching the first two, the third kind of burnt me out on the series. What makes the next one even better is a little secret about the director (I can’t wait to tell you all!). With Clive Barker as a backseat driver in this series from this point on, it makes it hard knowing he is not the driving force behind what’s going on onscreen. The acting became worse, I cared less about the characters, and the only good thing that came out of this one in the series was a bit more development with Pinhead’s character. Leave it to an American company to make a great horror series lame (insert every Asian horror movie and its destruction when turned into an American remake).

With that in mind, I am not disappointed with the Hellraiser series overall. This one had a bit less gore and animatronics, but just a bit. The kill scenes became comedic, and the Cenobites were bastardized American versions of Chatterbox, Butterball, and The Female. With the amount of over the top gore in this movie, I felt short changed. It gets a bit better in Bloodline, but not a whole lot. Hopefully the stride will be regained in 6… But I gotta give Hell on Earth less than 1 or 2, it’s a saddening 3.8 out of 10.

I will survive.