Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Anatomy Of Riverdale: Season 1






The creation of Riverdale all started with the publication of Afterlife with Archie, released in 2013. It was sort of a darker, edgier take on Archie and the gang set during a zombie apocalypse.
During that year, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who wrote Afterlife with Archie, alongside director Jason Moore was working on two pitches involving the Archie characters. One was a teen comedy in the vein of a John Hughes film. The other involved time travel which would star Louis C.K. as an older version of Archie. My money is on the former. However, those projects stalled and they decided to pitch it as a T.V. series instead. From 2012-2015, teen shows such as Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars were fading out and I guess the CW wanted a new teen hit. So that's when Riverdale was made.
To start the show in progress, they decided to go for a murder mystery in the vein of Twin Peaks, which seems to be popular nowadays. So the creators of the show had to kill off a major character who happens to be Cheryl Blossom's twin brother Jason. Okay, here's my take. This kind of concept isn't new. I just wished they would've tried something different. Maybe, build up the character before his death? One example of this is in the British T.V. series Night and Day where it focuses on the disappearance of a local popular girl, very much similar to Twin Peaks. But unlike Twin Peaks where it introduces the Laura Palmer character through flashbacks and dream sequences, in this show, the girl is the one who narrates the events of the story and therefore becomes a lingering presence among the main characters.
Now what they should've done with Riverdale could be equally as clever. Furthermore, let's talk about marketing. Let say, during this process, the makers of the show would have it as a mystery as to who would get killed off in the show.
This is where the pilot hits. Of course, Jughead being the aspiring writer narrates everything and introduce the characters as the show plays out and Jason is introduced as a typical arrogant jock but around this time, his demeanor changes as he anxiously informs his sister to meet out in the lake. Then before everything plays out like it should...Boom! The end of the pilot. Jason is found dead. I just thought that would add a little more flow to it and keep everybody invested in the show.
So, much like the show Twin Peaks and Night and Day, Jason's death is interconnected into the main character's lives.
Which will be my next focus.


Here's Archie Andrews played by KJ Apa. Archie's kind of meh. I didn't think KJ Apa was bad at his performance and he's good for what he's working with but Archie is what I call the Generic Male Lead. Of course, there is always a Generic Male Lead in teen dramas, however, Archie is a very vanilla protagonist. From what I gather, most of these types of male leads had a character to them, had a flair about them. But there's just not anything relatable about Archie or at least the writers didn't put any effort of trying to make him relatable. I know this show is trying to do its own thing and it's impossible to compare it to the comics yet the thing about Archie is that he was this shy, kind of geeky guy evolving into his true self. He's suddenly popular, has two girls pining after him, he's on the football team, he's a reliable leader, etc. But the point is, he's still his geeky, awkward, self.


Now I know it was inevitable for the makers of this show to cast a hunky male lead for the character of Archie. Unfortunately, his character doesn't ring true. I guess they're trying to make him into sensitive brooding type like Luke from One Tree Hill but it just doesn't work for me.  Part of his story arc involves whether he should play football or play music. The result is terribly predictable. To be honest, I don't think his music is even that good.


But here is where things get really disturbing. There is another story arc which involves Archie's affair with Ms. Grundy. I repeat. Archie has an affair with Ms. Fucking. Grundy. It's like some bad fan fiction has come to life. Granted, that she is not the real Ms. Grundy but it's still wrong on so many levels. Everything about this just seems...so forced. As if it was a way for the creators to try to make it edgy and sexy. "Oh no", they would say, "this isn't your grandma's Archie. We're gonna make this hot! We're gonna make this sizzling!" That makes it even more wrong and plus, isn't Archie supposed to be 15 or something? I mean gross! I don't even want to put that in my head. But I guess it's a way for the creators to give Archie a storyline since he was basically coming close to becoming a background character in his own show.


Like I said, KJ Apa's acting is good enough but he has nothing to work with. Archie doesn't have a personality. He doesn't have that spark, that wit, he had in the comics. In this show, he is anything but the typical generic, brooding, teen hunk.



Now let's get to Betty Cooper played by Lili Reinhart. I find Betty to be way more interesting than Archie. I think Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and his team put more thought into Betty by giving sort of an edge to her. Though, unfortunately, it's a rather cliche trope I've seen in too many soap operas. They give Betty...get this...A split personality. How typical. I never really got the whole Dark Betty thing but I'll get to that soon. I would say that Lili Reinhart does a solid performance as Betty. She often is able to give the Betty character more depth through her acting abilities than the writers do with their pens and their pads. To my surprise, I found Betty to be very relatable in the comics. She was way beyond this perfect girl next door archetype, she had a bit of spunk to her. Hell, there was that one time where Betty was dressed as a goth. I would often picture Betty as a cool, laidback, tomboy compared to the more sophisticated and glamorous Veronica.
With Riverdale's approach to things, they write Betty as a typical "Mary Sue" type and she is, as I would call, PPB. Prim, Proper, and Boring. They even go so far as dressing her in these retro 1950's outfits with the ponytail hairstyle. I don't know. Some part of me wanted her to play off as this laidback rocker chick like Watts from Some Kind Of Wonderful or spunky and independent like Joey from Dawson's Creek. Instead, they give her the trophy for Generic Girl Next Door, in which the writers are so quick to point that out. But at least they give her better storylines.


One of her story arcs involves her sister Polly. The story goes like this: Polly was in a secret relationship with Jason Blossom and *spoiler alert* Polly is suddenly pregnant. So Jason and Polly decide to run off and get married but it's too late. Polly is sent to a convent by her parents. It isn't long until Jason goes missing and, therefore, is found dead. It's not so much of Betty's storyline than Polly's but at least the writers give Betty something to do, branding her as a pseudo "Nancy Drew," while uncovering some family secrets, which involves *again, spoiler alert* Betty possibly having a third sibling out there (which for some odd reason, she's perfectly fine with).


Her second story arc is about her dealing with her dark side known as Dark Betty. Yeah, I don't really get this. I think giving Betty a split personality is such an asspull to me. It's like the writers would say, "Quick! We must give this Generic Girl Next Door something to do!" other than just developing Betty as an actual, fully realized character. The writers try to make her into a normal teenage girl but I guess that wouldn't make her interesting enough. So here we have Dark Betty. We only get a few and between when it comes to this split personality but in contrast to "Light" Betty's Peggy Sue getups, Dark Betty dons a black bobbed wig and wears sexy, dominatrix outfits. This whole concept comes off kind of cheesy to me. We're never given a chance to explore Dark Betty other than just being treated as Betty's alter ego who would come out during Betty's emotional outburst. If they're going on this route with Betty, the creators should at least treat it with more care.


So, overall, Betty is...okay. I wish the writers did more justice by utilizing her but considering how elevated Lili Reinhart's (and how she's better than this show) acting, Betty becomes better through her performance.


Now let's get to Veronica, who is my favorite interpretation of this character. The thing is, Veronica has good character development, you know, there's more to her. She is used to be this snobby rich bitch akin to the universe of Gossip Girl, but somehow between the downfall of her father's empire and subsequent arrest including bullying a girl to the point of exile, Veronica reinvents herself by gaining a new reputation at Riverdale. I like that. It makes her flawed but human.


However, there is the good and the bad with this character. Now Camila Mendes does a splendid job with Veronica. She definitely has a presence about her and a wit to match. But the problem is, the writers keep giving her horrible dialogue. It's like they're trying to make her sound woke to add through her witty oneliners, it comes as incredibly forced. Besides that, Veronica is actually one of my favorite characters on this show. She goes on sort of this redemption arc similar to Jen from Dawson's Creek (there I go with the Dawson's Creek comparisons but how can I help it?) and it works for her, garnishing the character with much more dimension than Archie and Betty.


Camilla Mendes was delightfully cast, blending in the fierceness and also the vulnerability of Veronica.


Here we have Jughead Jones played by Cole Sprouse. Oh boy, what a misguided character. The Jughead I know is the quirky comic relief who couldn't let go of childhood things and whose favorite food is hamburgers. But that's not what the creators went with the Jughead character. Instead, they made him into a brooding bad boy, the typical greaser. This doesn't work for me. I just don't see Jughead as a bad boy type. I wish they could've placed him off as the quirky comic relief like he was in the comics, similar to Seth from The O.C. or Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But no, he's now a mopey dopey outsider who's on the wrong side of the tracks. Jughead also serves as the narrator as he is writing a novel based on the events of Riverdale. It was somewhat interesting, though, it got a bit grating whenever I kept hearing his voiceover in every minute of the show.
So in addition to making Jughead more darker and edgier, the writers give him a tragic backstory. In this version, they turn his father F.P. into an alcoholic and a leader of a biker gang called The Serpents, which prompts his mother to leave off with his sister. This leaves Jughead in a predicament. While his father is out binge-drinking and indulging in a life of crime, Jughead is left homeless, usually living at a broken-down drive-in and crashing at the janitor's closet from school. Sure, this kind of storyline would make him sympathetic but I still wonder why the creators have to go this route with him. In conclusion, there is another issue I have with this character.


As the season progress, Jughead joins Betty in the investigation of Jason's murder while helping her run the school newspaper. This soon leads to a...romance. To be honest, I don't really see Betty and Jughead together and how it was done was really rushed. It would've been interesting if Betty was dating Reggie but oh well. Considering the chemistry between the two actors and how they're dating in real life, the matchup was bound to happen. But everything isn't all roses with Bughead (lol, really?), which leads me to one of the weaker episodes of this season, The Lost Weekend.
It goes like this: It's Jughead's birthday. So, Betty does a nice gesture and throws a small get-together at Archie's pad. But soon word gets out about the party and half of the school arrives. Jughead. Is. Not. Pleased. Which leads to one of the worst monologues I ever heard: Clip Here. It's cringy yet self-aware at the same time, breaking the fourth wall to the audience. It's like the writers just gave up at this point. Eventually, Betty and Jughead work things out once they see that they're both damaged.


Jughead's characterization is zig-zaggy. He's a cross between badass biker boy and quirky best friend, which is a weird mix. Cole Sprouse is...okay. He hits some places and then he misses it. I don't know, his performance is usually what strength the script gives him and the majority of his acting is mediocre at best.
Let's just say, I don't particularly gravitate towards Jughead on this show.


We have Cheryl Blossom played by Madeline Petsch. The writers seem pretty consistent with her character but then her personality always switches back and forth. I never can quite figure her out. Yes, I like underneath Cheryl's high-strung nature, she's actually in grief over brother's death. Though once you take a glimpse at her family life, Jason seemed to be the only that truly cared about her. I'll talk about the parents later. Oh boy, that's gonna be a lot.



Anywho, Cheryl's personality switches back and forth through her grieving. But it just comes off weird sometimes. Her emotions are all over the place. She's perky, she's sassy, she's mad, she's sad. It kind of makes me think she has some sort of mental disorder but judging from what kind of family she has, yeah, it's a possibility. Cheryl is sympathetic in some places but the creators frame her in a way where she comes off like a typical schemer. Let's not forget that she is grieving over her brother, getting involved in high school shenanigans would be the last thing on her mind.


Madeline Petsch's acting is a mixed bag. She hits the right notes when she's vulnerable but when she's sassy and high-strung, it's forced and robotic. Cheryl's dialogue is even worse than Veronica's, in which the script really wanes down her performance.
Although the portrayal of Cheryl was accurate to the comics, I wish the writers could've given her proper development.


Not much to say about Reggie Mantle played by Ross Butler. He didn't have much of a bigger role than I anticipated but like I said, the show would have given him more to do if he was dating Betty or somehow he was best buddies with Jason and they had a spat with each other which ties him to the investigation. He gets more screen time in the second season, though I wish they would've put more work into him in this season.


There's Josie McCoy played by Ashleigh Murray, who gets out of focus as the show goes on. She's introduced as a bit of diva at first but it stems from having an overbearing stage mom who happens to the town mayor and her jerkass dad who walks out on one of her performances. Other than that, Josie's storyline usually gets entangled with everybody else's, particularly Archie's, who wants to pursue music. Therefore, she mainly fades to the background for the rest of the show.


Special mention goes to Valarie Brown, who begins to date Archie in the middle of the season. Their relationship didn't feel organic to me and then out of nowhere, they just break up, mainly because Valarie felt uncomfortable with Archie escorting Cheryl at a dinner reception. It seems to me that they have been dating at least two weeks. All of this felt really rushed and I think it was the only way for the creators to set up Archie and Veronica together.


The biggest letdown of character accuracy is Chuck Clayton's played by Jordan Calloway. Considering that he was one of the few black characters in the Archie comics is turned into antagonistic, misogynistic jerk jock, raises a lot of red flags for me. In the comics, he is an aspiring comic book artist and all-around nice guy. Hell, he could've been Jughead's remaining friends after Archie ghosted him. But no, that's not what the creators choose to do. It was pretty jarring to see Chuck portrayed in such an unlikeable manner. By episode 10, he's almost pushed close to the point of being an actual villain of the show. I hear Chuck gets better later on in the second season but I still didn't think the creators made a wise decision.


Lastly, we have Kevin Keller played by Casey Cott. Kevin in the comics gained a lot of attention by being the first gay character in the Archie series but I get the feeling that the makers were going on the comic relief route with him and I just don't picture him like that.


Of course, he does have some storylines to work with as he is the sheriff's son and also has a relationship with one of F.P.'s gang members but the show never really utilize him well. For example (get ready for a Dawson's Creek reference), Jack Mcphee from Dawson's Creek was used sparingly. He wasn't the comic relief, he didn't have cringy one-liners, and he was portrayed as a self-actualized human being. So I wish the creators of this show would've taken a little more time to develop Kevin's character as his role in the comics was a very important one.
Now let's talk about the parents. Oh lord, this is going to take a while.
The only normal parents on the show are Archie's parents, Veronica's mom (for now), and Sheriff Keller.


Special mention goes to both Luke Perry (R.I.P.) and Molly Ringwald, who catapulted their fame as teen idols of the '80s and '90s, now in the central roles of Fred and Mary Andrews. Although they're divorced, Fred and Mary are still good parents as they want the best for Archie with good intentions.


Hermione Lodge played by Marisol Nichols is just trying to keep things together after dealing with her husband's arrest due to alleged mob connections. When it comes to her relationship with Veronica, they seem to be on the right track. Although there are some roadblocks here and there, they have a strong bond (for now that is).


Sheriff Keller played by Martin Cummins gets equal points for accepting his son's sexuality and also being a firm protector of his town.


There's F.P. Jones played by another '90s teen idol Skeet Ulrich is somewhat stable when sober but let's not forget, he's an alcoholic leader of a notorious biker gang that wreaks havoc amongst the town. So he's in the middle ground here.
But here are the bad apples of the bunch.


First, we have the Coopers. There's Alice Cooper played by Madchen Amick, who happens to be a Twin Peaks alum and Hal Cooper played by Lochlyn Munro.


Let's start with Alice. Woah, boy. Alice starts off as cold, controlling, and emotionally abusive at times. I can accept her as an overbearing mom but they made her be extremely unlikeable. But as the show progresses, her character gets better.


Though the real culprit in all of the Cooper family drama is Hal. At first, he comes off as a henpecked husband but that soon cracks through. Since he has a long family feud with the Blossoms, it was his idea to put Polly in an institution and even so far as to force Polly to get an abortion, which didn't go through. So yeah, Betty's parents are nuts. But they are angels compared to the Blossoms. That family is another bag of insanity.



We have Penelope Blossom, who is extremely emotionally and psychologically abusive towards Cheryl, and Clifford Blossom who seems to be emotionally unavailable and only cares about his maple syrup business. I don't want to dwell on the Blossoms too much as it will lead to clues in which I will discuss later.
Like I said, the writing is all over the place. There are times when there is a flow but then it stops and becomes clunky. Relationships are rushed, storylines are wrapped up out of nowhere, and certain situations are left unresolved. And let's not forget the cringy dialogue. It's getting worse in seasons 2 and 3. 




The directing is actually quite sleek and sets the tone for the show. I especially like the colors in the cinematography, particularly the lake scenes.
Speaking of tone, that's one of my main problems of the show. The creators are trying their damnest to make this show edgy and it comes off jarring. It's dark, dour and depressing. When it comes to the comparisons of Twin Peaks, that TV series was able to have lighter comedic moments to balance out the show's more disturbing moments. Riverdale tries that but not only the humor doesn't work, but it also comes in at the most inappropriate times. That also goes for the darker elements, in which the creators take it too far. This all leads to the final moments of the last two episodes.
*Major Spoilers*



So, it turns out that F.P. was the one who killed Jason since his letterman's jacket was found in F.P.'s closet. But it's actually revealed that F.P. was framed and he knew was framed. When Archie and the gang go into the evidence locker with Kevin, they start to examine it. Betty puts on the jacket and finds a flash drive hidden under the left pocket. To any wonder why the police didn't examine the jacket while it was in custody is anyone's guess. Oh well.



Once they uncover that it's actually video footage, it shows Jason being beaten and tied to a chair, presumably by one of the serpents gang who was found dead by drug overdose. But he suddenly leaves and the real culprit turns out to be...


Clifford Blossom himself! Turns out, he was actually running a drug ring to cover up his maple business while the serpents did his bidding. It's unbelievable. It's like they're trying to make this guy into a supervillain. But here's the real kicker. Once he appears in the video, Clifford pulls out a gun and shoots Jason in cold blood. Woah! That's when I thought the show was going way too dark. I knew when I read the Afterlife with Archie, it had a lot of blood, gore, and violence but this was way more out of bounds. Clifford kills his own son with no remorse. It's like the writers are trying to make the Blossoms into sociopaths. WTF! This would work if this was its own thing but not in the world of Archie. It's just too surreal.


So once the mystery is solved and as the police come to arrest Clifford, he is found hanging in his maple farm barn from an apparent suicide.


This leads to the last episode where everything is supposedly back to normal. Betty and Jughead are together, Archie and Veronica are together. Everyone's happy and light, blah, blah, blah. This episode was kind of drag and was just there to wrap things up.



But just wait! There's a cliffhanger in the end. Yes, a cliffhanger just comes out of nowhere. What happens is Archie and his dad are hanging out at Pops' when suddenly an intruder comes in with a gun. Once the intruder fires his gun at Fred, Archie races in to block his way and...boom! end of episode.
Okay, here are my thoughts on how the two episodes should've played out.
What if the killer turned out to be Hal Cooper. Judging from the intense animosity he has for the Blossom family, what if Hal was the one who knew about Clifford's drug cover-up and his connections to The Serpents, in which he uses to frame F.P. Then when it comes to the murder of Jason, it makes sense that he would have him killed because Jason, of course, had Polly impregnated and was planning to run away with her. Therefore, that also leads to Hal framing Clifford because of his criminal connections, which leads to Hal killing him by hanging and writing a confessional suicide note. Case in point, nobody knows where Hal is. And then, that leads to the cliffhanger. Now that would've had the audience enthralled. Just my suggestion.
Now here are my final thoughts.
Riverdale is okay for what it is if you ignore the fact these are Archie characters. I'm not trying to take this seriously or anything, I know it's a guilty pleasure. But the thing is, this would worked as its own original show or better yet, a remake of Night and Day. I don't think the first season of Riverdale is terrible, I mean it does have it's cheesy moments, but it's not god-awful. However, it is pretty run-of-the-mill for a teen drama, though not without potential. Unfornately, that potential gets wasted in the final few episodes, leading to the second season.
Oh boy, that means I have to review the second season. Yikes!
I'll see ya there!











Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Guys bear with me. This has got to stop!

Special Announcement: The Anatomy of Riverdale





Greetings all. Through early August and September, I will be doing a piece called The Anatomy of Riverdale. Yes, that Riverdale. I just have to say that I am a sucker for Teen Dramas and throughout my childhood, that's what I pretty much grew up with. The late '90s and early 2000s was a goldmine for stuff like this and I was all over it. I'm talking Buffy, Dawson's Creek, Felicity, Roswell, The OC, One Tree Hill, you name it. It was inescapable. Now we're at a place where most of these Teen Dramas want to be dark, edgy, sexy, and mysterious. Unfortunately, we have too many shows like this. Riverdale is one of those casualties.
Way long back, I did remember watching the first season, which was below average at best. Not bad but not great either. Then I stopped cold. I haven't really heard good things about the second season and the third season is beyond atrocious, however, I am going to put on a strong face and power through this. By the way, I've seen much worse.
Once upon a time in the easy, breezy days of the early 1990s, there was a little show called Melrose Place, which had the same over-the-top campiness of Riverdale. Do I think it's a good show?...no, not really. But is it entertaining? Oh, hell yeah. The show is not a classic yet people claim it is.
So on that level, I could see why Riverdale is appealing. Though I am not without pointing out this show's flaws and it has A LOT of flaws.
Okay, let's go back to most of the criticism of teen media during the span of decades:
In the 1980s, most people would call it cheesy.
In the 1990s and 2000s, most people would call it melodramatic.
In these days, most people would call it cringy. Yes, that's the word. Cringy.
Which is exactly what this show came to be.
So without further ado, let's dip into the bowels of Riverdale. Pray for me.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)





Although audiences (me included) were mixed on Hell on Earth, it still made money in the box office, which hinted at a sequel by the end of that film. The last scene of the third film showed a building designed as the Lament Configuration, sparking ideas for the fourth movie.
Clive Barker, as an executive producer, wanted a fresh turn for the series. Barker suggested a three-part film set in different time periods and Peter Atkins added the storyline of the Lemarchand bloodline with each ancestor appearing in the past, present, and future. The story actually had a lot of potential at the time and many great things could've been done with it. I mean this all involves Phillip Lemarchand, the maker of the Lament Configuration box. That's a pretty big deal and considering that Clive Barker was more involved than anything. He really wanted to make this work. So what the hell happened?
This all started with Miramax who got the pitch but without an outline, which is very important to have given how complex of a movie it was. It wasn't cut and dry. I can see that Clive Barker was very detailed into making this work because he's a very methodical writer and he is very intent on putting details in his work but given his history with movie studios, of course, they bought the pitch without an outline.
When Miramax was unwilling to provide the special effects the screenplay demanded, the film was scaled back. Gee, I wonder?
A slew of directors came into the call until Kevin Yahger stepped in. Since he had a hand in horror films such as the Nightmare on Elm Street series and the original Child's Play, Yahger took control of the director's chair. But, it wasn't long until problems arise.
Filming actually began in 1994. Cinematographers were switched, the assistant director had an emergency leave, several crew members got sick, and the art department was dismissed within a week. So yeah, that's not a good start.
The original cut was shown to executives in early 1995 and the reaction was not good. There was a call in demand for reshoots and Kevin Yahger was not having it. So, that was the beginning of the end. Kevin Yahger dismissed all involvement with the film, even going so far as to change his name to Alan Smithee. And that's when Dave Chapelle came in to 'fix' the movie after finishing the final touches on the mess that is Halloween: The Curse Of Micheal Myers. 
The result is...very disappointing and lackluster. I can see Clive Barker's vision in this but the execution is...just not good.


The Story: Far into the near future of the 22nd century, Dr. Paul Merchant abandons his crew ship in order to manipulate a robot to solve a Lament Configuration box.




Once he fails to do so, destroying the robot in the process, a group of armed guards takes him into custody. During the investigation, Dr. Merchant explains why he abandoned his crew ship.


It is due to a family curse that had plagued him from centuries ago. His ancestor happens to be Phillip Lemarchand, a French toymaker who created the cursed Lament Configuration. It was one of his proudest inventions since toy cubes were uncommon in those days. He pitches his new toy to the libertine aristocrat Duc de L'Isle, who delightfully accepts his offer, only unbeknownst to Lemarchand, L'Isle uses the puzzle box as a portal to hell.


Along with his assistant Jacques, they lure a local peasant girl to kill and skin her body, therefore conjuring the demon princess Angelique in her new form.


But then Jacques betrays Duc de L'Isle with him and Angelique taking joy in torturing and mutilating the French aristocrat. Phillip witnesses this and flees but only to be caught and killed by Angelique, carrying the curse of Lament Configuration.




Flash Foward to 1996 New York, Phillip Lemarchand's descendent, Architect John Merchant, has built a skyscraper that resembles the Lament Configuration. Now, immortals, Angelique and Jacques discovers John's invention. Unfortunately for Jacques, Angelique wants to work alone. So she kills Jacques and goes on her quest to find the descendant of the toy maker.


Along in her mission, she unleashes the hell priest Pinhead to further her plan. In the midst of terrorizing John and his family, Pinhead and Angelique is sent back to hell once John's wife successfully solves the puzzle box.



Now once again in the 22nd century, Paul Merchant has to warn the guards that Pinhead, Angelique, and their league of cenobites are out for blood and it's up to him to stop them.
Whew! That was a lot. As you can see I had to spoil some of the story to get the flow going but it is what it is. Like I said, it is a complicated plot to explain. Anywho, let's get to the cast.






You would think they would cast an actor to carry on a meaty role like this. I mean it's a triple role with many layers in each character but Bruce Ramsay just comes off as bland. It's not his fault because the script portrays him like a blank slate, a reactionary character if you will. He really has nothing to work with, not really expanding who each of the Lemarchand members is. The character development is just non-existent.


The character I found the most interesting is Angelique played by Valentina Vargas.


Valentina Vargas has a naturally alluring presence about her that made the character work and I believe she gives quite a strong performance. She has this command about her that clashes well with her sensuality. It's such a shame by the end of the film that her character is wasted as another one of Pinhead's minions. After all, Miramax has put in their money to have Pinhead headline the rest of the Hellraiser franchise.
To be fair, I found Angelique to be more of the main character than Phillip, John, and Paul, considering that she is the one who drives the plot with motivation. When I think about it, Angelique sort of remind me of a puesdo-Julia. Speaking of which, what if Angelique was Julia. This goes back to the developing process of the third movie where Julia was anointed as the queen of hell. So what if, through some cosmic circuit, Julia emerges in the 1700s as an immortal demon with her new skin? Just a thought I had to make the connection to the first two films more organic. In conclusion, I find Angelique to be far more interesting than the rest of the cast.



Oh my gosh. L...O...freaking L! Is that Adam Scott in a Hellraiser movie? unbelievable. The thing is Adam Scott is known for comedies like Parks and Recreation, Hot Tub Time Machine 2, and recently he's starring in the soapy dramedy Big Little Lies. As for his role in Bloodline, it's pretty small. Jacques starts off as a meager henchman to an evil aristocrat, only to betray and kill him to take over his riches. It does seem like it would be a much meater role but unfortunately, Jacques is kind of wasted and the movie never explains how he became immortal. Maybe Angelique anointed him as immortal? Oh, I don't know. Do you see how messy the script is? Jacques' role was actually bigger in the screenplay but somehow the makers of this film found him useless enough to have Angelique kill him off out of the blue.



It's nice to see Kim Meyers again after her stint in Nightmare on Elm Street 2. I like that she has earnesty in her presence even though her role is basically a cameo. She isn't given much to do until the end of the segment. She's the one who saves the day once she closes the box after her husband fails to break a deal with Pinhead with the cost of his life. All I have to say is, Kim Meyers did okay with what she was given.


I know Rimmer is less of a character than the rest of the cast since I see her basically as a Ripley-ripoff. But the interesting thing about her character was that she was originally to be written as a descendant of Kirsty Cotton and a possible love interest of Paul. Somehow, this got lost in translation during the rewriting process. It's not so much the romance subplot of this because the chemistry between Bruce Ramsay and Christine Harnos is nowhere to be found and it's unnecessary, even for the script. It's more so of the connection of Kirsty Cotton, which would've made the Rimmer character a tad more interesting.




Last but not least we have the incomparable Doug Bradley as Pinhead. Throughout all this movie's faults, Doug Bradley does what he does best. He gets so lost into his role as Pinhead, inserting a sense of authority and command in his performance. Which is why Miramax was so eager to place Pinhead front, line, and center. I know when people think of the Hellraiser franchise, Pinhead always come into their mind. But the point is, Pinhead isn't the meat of the story. He's not the focal point. The real main centerpiece of the story was, and always has been, the puzzle box. This movie had the chance to explore its origins. To be honest, the movie would've worked if it was an anthology series surrounding the puzzle box. But sadly that's not what came to be. By two-thirds of the film, Pinhead takes over. Not that I don't mind that but the lore surrounding the puzzle box is tossed out in favor of a slasher movie in space. If there was any mention of Leviathan, I'd probably give this film more compliments.


So the problem I have with Bloodline's handling of Pinhead is that within the first minute, his face flashes across the screen and already the space segment is put into motion without any buildup. And that's what I like in horror movies. It takes time to build up the monster. However, Miramax was so anxious to put Pinhead's image beyond the Hellraiser franchise, turning him to a basic mascot in stale direct-to-video sequels, which is wasteful to Doug Bradley's gothic Shakespearian eloquence that brought the character to life.
Now let's examine Pinhead's cenobites:


First, we have Angelique in her new cenobite form from where the skin of her head is split open like a nun's habit.


This is one of the coolest cenobite designs and it doesn't take away from Valentina Vargas' sex appeal. Even through her makeup, her presence and command shine through.


We have the twin cenobites which gives the design a unique artistic touch. Though I would say their introduction is a bit clunky. They start off as a pair of clumsy security guards who happens to be twins. Unfortunately, once they meet Pinhead, it doesn't end well for them. I think their introduction would've played off more organically if they were co-workers of John who just happens to stumble across the puzzle box which therefore turning them into the twin cenobites instead of just random Joe Schmoes who runs into the wrong place at the wrong time.




This is the most gruesome Hellraiser sequel so far. The violence is nowhere near cartoonish as the third. It is deep down to the bones raw and it even got passed through the MPAA! Yes, I will again give this movie another compliment for at least sticking to the feel of the first two films.








Of course, the directing isn't really anything to praise about. For most of the production troubles, it's one half of a movie merged together with another. Then we have worse special effects this movie series have to offer with the lousy addition of the chatterbeast who doesn't look all that frightening up close.



The dwindling budget sure does shows as most of the climactic scenes of the "present" segment takes place at a New York apartment. As you can see there really wasn't much scope to explore on. Whatever happened to the labyrinth of hell? It would've benefited the movie more.


Even in the "future" segment, everything seems lower budget than usual. Like I said, most of the segment is basically a slasher movie in space. Which leads me to the less than climatic ending in which I will discuss later.
Now let's get to the writing.
I know writer Rand Ravich had to tighten up most of the script but as you can see in the character section, it leaves out potential character development. The main character in each segment isn't really given much to do. Angelique, the villain of the movie, is who really drives the plot but then to leave her out in the cold for Pinhead to take over as the ultimate villain, losing the focus on each character to take over the story.  All of these character setbacks is what hinders the movie from letting it flow organically. Story plots and themes are just rushed without a solution. When it comes to a script and when things are rushed, it gives the result a lazy effort. For much of the film's running time, it is no more above than 85 minutes. Lots of important deleted scenes were cut out. Yeah, all that cutting down and tightening actually made the script rather weak.
Which brings us to the trivia section.
Disney at the time was pretty hesitant to land a deal with Miramax to produce horror movies. Disney was flying high with animated family hits like Beauty and The Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. So when the head execs at Disney agreed to the Miramax deal, they thought it would probably put a dent to their reputation if they were involved with these not-so-family-friendly films which included Mother's Boys, Halloween 666: The Curse Of Micheal Myers, The Prophecy, and especially the 90's cult favorite Scream.
Guillermo Del Toro was once offered a chance to direct but declined, which is a shame because it would given the film a special mythological touch. Del Toro's vision is what this film needed. If you got a director with the type of art cred like Guillermo Del Toro's to craft Clive Barker's creation, you are set for gold. Hopefully, in the future, this could all be but a possibility.




A slew of deleted scenes as pictured here and a and a clip here was left on the cutting room floor. There were promotional photos of cenobites in powdered wigs that never somehow made to the film.


There's also this really cool scene where Angelique invites a group of unlucky guests to a gambling party pictured here.
This was intended to be the end all, be all finale to the Hellraiser franchise since this was the final Hellraiser film to be released in theaters. But unfortunately, Miramax still wanted to gamble the series, milking it out pale and dry in the aforementioned direct-to-video knock-offs.
Last but not least, let's talk about the egregiously tacked-on ending, dissecting it from start to finish.


First off, Pinhead just appears out of nowhere in the scene. Where are Angelique and the Twin cenobites? Did they just disappear? Furthermore, you think there is going to be a battle of wits between Paul and Pinhead. However, it turns out that Paul isn't physically there. He was a hologram all along. Yes, that's right folks. Pinhead has been tricked by a hologram. When I think of Pinhead, he's much slicker than Micheal, much more cunning than Freddy, and much more powerful than Jason. Yet he gets easily tricked by a hologram.



Just like that, Pinhead gets defeated and the movie just abruptly ends  Wow, what a dumb ending, but who knows, it could've been worse I guess.
So that was Hellraiser: Bloodline, a film with a lot of wasted potentials. There was so much story put into this, so many ideas to explore but nothing ever came into fruition. It became an over-bloated project that was cut short, turning it into an incoherent mess. I wouldn't say this is the worst Hellraiser movie (I'll give that honor to Hellworld or Revelations), but it's not good either. The script needed care and it would've helped if Clive Barker was the director again. Who else but bring in the creator that started it all? Though it was never meant to be, leaving Bloodline down in infamy.
My Last Word: You could probably watch it out of curiosity but it's not worth a rewatch.