One of my favorite stories to tell people is about the first movie I remember watching. I was 4, and I asked my dad if I could watch the movie he had rented. Of course, this was Hellraiser. Thinking that I would get scared and leave, he just laughed and agreed. To his surprise, I loved it. This set the tone for my taste in the film (and, well, this blog series).
What separates the Hellraiser series from other hell-related movies is that there are no demons. Instead, hell is occupied by cenobites (seen above). The term cenobite is used to describe members of a religious order; in this case, their religion is the overlap between pain and pleasure -- "the beauty of suffering". This overlap that includes extreme physical mutilation and murder. The only thing stopping the cenobites from occupying our world is a puzzle box known as the Lament Configuration.
So, why Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996)? To be sure, the first two films of the series set the stage for extreme sadomasochism and shock, paving the way for Eli Roth and other purveyors of the so-called torture-porn style of horror. But what I appreciate about this fourth film is that it expands the scope of the cenobites' reach. Instead of being limited to a specific time (like the late 1980s), Bloodline includes the past, present, and future. The idea of being physically tortured for an indefinite amount of time is bad enough, but to know that people are being tortured for literally hundreds of years raises the stakes from really bad to HOLY SHIT awful.
Is Bloodline a good horror movie? Not necessarily. Its bizarre yet brief death scenes are much more thought out than the film's plot, and the cheap visual effects leave a lot to be desired. However, it has a definite place in the Hellraiser canon, particularly as the last film in the series in which creator Clive Barker participated. And, like most horror movies, it has its own before-they-were-famous celebrity appearance. This one's for you, Adam Scott!