Review for Hellgate (Dual Format)
Hellgate is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. I should end the review there. I shouldn't even bother explaining the threadbare plot, because the film certainly doesn't bother trying to explain it. I actually sat here for nearly an hour after watching it thinking: What did I just watch? What happened? What the...?
A group of three teens are telling spooky stories one of which is about the Hellgate Hitchhiker which is not about a hitchhiker at all. Cue flashback to the 1950s where a girl, Josie, is kidnapped by a bikergang in one of the creepiest and most ludicrous scenes so far in the film and they take her to the nearby town of Hellgate. This is where the actual plot and what you see is a little askew, but she is murdered and her father uses a magical crystal to bring her back to life, not before trying it on a goldfish and a turtle.
On his way to meet the other three, Matt encounters Josie (Who I have to admit is superhot and not shy about her body in the slightest) and she attempts to seduce him. Escaping after her father turns up with the magic laser-blasting crystal he finds his friends and tells them what happened. They go to investigate Scooby Gang style and this leads to them finding the town of Hellgate is filled with reanimated corpses.
Here is where the film really falls apart into the ludicrous as the four try to escape before they are also turned into the reanimated dead.
Where do I even begin?
At times, I sat watching this film thinking 'It must be spoof' it must a 'wink at the camera' spoof of all those zombie films we had seen. But it's not. It's not a spoof, they are playing this straight and yes there are some moments that I'm guessing are for comedy such as going cross-eyed during oral sex, but that's not to say they are funny. It is scenes like this that make me go 'You know if they had gone all out with the spoofy/comedy elements then it might have at least been watchable'. But it's not, the tone is all over the place and at times I can't quite tell whether I'm supposed to laugh, be scared or just groan at the awfulness. Mostly it's the last one.
The effects are painfully bad, from the visible wires on the bats, to the awful makeup to the primitive animation effects and animatronics . There's nothing on the film that screams quality and it looks like a film that even the Asylum would be ashamed of.
Acting from everyone is abysmal and that's me being kind. Abigail Wolcott who plays Josie is amazing beautiful and doesn't hurt that she spends most of the film naked, but even Director William Levey admits that she couldn't act. THEN WHY DID YOU HIRE HER???
Levey's directing and the script by Michael Rourke are painfully bad and I am still unsure what they were trying to achieve with this film. What was it supposed to be? It was neither scary like Romero's Dead films, nor comedic like O'Bannon's Return of the Living Dead. It was just in this dead zone of nothingness and I defy anyone who can tell me that they enjoyed it.
Special Features included are three featurettes about the film and really they do not convince me of anything in regards to why this film was deemed worthy to release. Road to Perdition, B-Movie Style is an interview with Director William Levey about making the film. If anyone who wants to see nearly forty minutes of delusion you need to watch this. You would think that this guy just made Citizen Kane and not quite frankly one of the most poorly executed films I have ever seen.
He also spends most of the time going on about how the film was made in South Africa during the Apartheit regime and then begins to discuss this and the electing of Nelson Mandela which was a little confusing and I'm not sure whether he is suggesting he had something to do with it. I truly hope not.
Alien Invasion, Blaxploitation and Ghost-Busting Mayhem is Howard S. Berger reflecting on the film. Berger is a Film Scholar and FIlmmaker who seems to claim that you need to watch between the age of 6-12 (I'll just hop in my time machine then?). When you consider how much nudity, blood and guts and violence is in this, this is very strange statement to make. He also has the audacity to compare it to some of Lucio Fulci's work which is utterly insane. Throughout it seems like his point is that this is one of those 'cult' films that has found an audience over time, but I thoroughly disagree with that on every level.
Finally Video Nasty in which Kevin J. Hall creator of the Puppetmaster series looks at the video boom. Despite the title, it has nothing to do with the 'video nasty' problem in the UK and I can't imagine why this is being referenced in regards to this film. What is most bizarre is the fact that it has NOTHING to do with Hellgate. NOTHING! It's not even referenced in the slightest and I almost think that this is an extra that was supposed to be on a Puppetmaster set and has just been put on the wrong film?
What is worse about these is the constant use of the Head in a Fridge gag which is actually Director Levey. I can't quite tell whether they think this is the best scene, or the funniest scene or whether they just think this is the best way to explain the film, but either way it is certainly not the best thing about the film. And not one I want to keep being punished with!
Hellgate is an awful film. Not so bad it's good, but so bad that I wish I hadn't wasted my time watching it. No amount of nudity can excuse the fact that this is a film that is poorly acted, poorly scripted, poorly directed and overall in every other aspect poorly made. This is a film that belongs locked behind a hellgate.