Fourth installment of Hellraiser series proves to be so bad that the director on record is Alan Smithee, the name used under Directors Guild rules when the real helmer refuses credit. The director billed in early announcements was special effects whiz Kevin Yeager – who retains credit in that category. Except for the most undiscriminating gorehound, pic is a pointless mess.
Story is framed by a confrontation on a space station in the year 2127. Paul (Bruce Ramsay) summons up spawn of hell Pinhead (Doug Bradley) with the emblematic puzzle box of the series. Paul is then taken into custody and questioned by the station’s doctor (Christine Harnos).
In flashback, we get the origin of the puzzle box in 18th-century France, involving an ancestor of Paul’s (Ramsay again), and then a story set in 1996 with another ancestor (still Ramsay), which takes up bulk of the movie. Added to the mix is Angelique (Valentina Vargas) who arrives to seduce some of the ancestors only to be brushed aside by Pinhead.
The chief problem is that the films have become an excuse for grotesqueries and sadism. The focus on leather, chains, hooks and blades makes Pinhead’s world a cross between a machine shop and an S&M bar. In contrast, the space effects, credited to Blue Studio, are quite good. The less said about the acting, the better.