HELLGATE (1989) Reviews and overview

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‘Beyond the darkness terror lives forever’

Hellgate is a 1989 (released 1990) American-South African horror film directed by William A. Levey (Blackenstein) from a screenplay by Michael S. O’Rourke (MoonStalker; Deadly Love). It was produced by Anant Singh (The Mangler; City of Blood).


Main cast:

Ron Palillo (Trees 2: The Root of All Evil; Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI), Abigail Wolcott , Carel Trichardt, Evan J. Klisser, Joanne Warde, Frank Notaro, Lance Vaughan, Victor Melleney.


In 1959, a motorcycle gang (who actually appear like they are from the Seventies) kidnap a young woman, Josie, from a diner and kill her in a nearby town, Hellgate.


Many years later, the girl’s rich father is given a magic crystal that can bring dead objects back to life.


He uses it to re-animate his daughter and lets her seduce any young man that comes to visit the small town. Meanwhile, two student couples spend some of their vacation near the town…


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“Is it satire? Black comedy? An honest approach to horror? Because of this uncertain demeanor the movie has a certain trashy charm. The writer seems to be inspired by sitcoms or something as the screenplay has these “witty” lines that fail in invoking Seinfeld or Married with Children. During the most “suspenseful” of scenes the characters have no problem taking a break to make a joke.” Vince Fontaine, Slasher Studios


” … Hellgate is so batshit insane and its plot makes so little sense that even explaining the film’s plot becomes a messy string of confusing words and ideas.” That Was a Bit Mental


“While Hellgate has some cool moments towards the end it’s too little too late.  The pacing is absolutely atrocious and it takes way too long to get going.  I felt myself getting more and more bored with every bad joke they threw out.” Zak Greene, Wicked Horror


The uneven tone doesn’t help either. When you’re making a horror/comedy, the least you can do is succeed on one count, but Hellgate doesn’t even come close on either front. The only laughs I got were unintentional, stemming from the cheap-o effects (and the giant fish) and the movie is never the slightest bit scary or suspenseful… Brian W Collins, Horror Movie a Day



Hellgate is a very strange film. Despite having a sense of anything goes, it also drags quite a bit and you may well find yourself straying to the fast forward button. The budget is obviously very low and probably the kindest thing I can say about it is it reminded me of Jess Franco trying to direct a version of Norman J. Warren’s Bloody New Year.” John Llewellyn Probert, House of Mortal Cinema


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“… the group encounter manifestations and monsters in an old Western ghost town and the film degenerates into a succession of (sometimes entertaining) tricks and jokes.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror

“In one brief and entirely gratuitous scene, all the town’s dead rise and stalk them en masse, but then quickly disappear again. Apparently even zombies find it boring.” Peter Dendle, The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia


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Choice dialogue:

“You live here? Along with Herman Munster?”

[Firing shotgun] “Take this, you zombie bitch!”

Filming locations:

South Africa

Plot keywords:

students | bikers | diner | shotgun | kidnapping | ghost town | mine | bat | mansion | crystal | turtle | gore | death | nighttime | jeep | mist | cemetery | cabin | coffins | candles | rose | zombie

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