This movie is quite a difficult one to review as it’s actually quite a likable movie, but inconsistently so. I will do my best to elaborate, but in all honesty the summary at the end of the review will hopefully tie together my seeming schizophrenic opinions of this film.
The plot sees an urban legend come true in the town of ‘Hellgate’. When a guy is left entertaining two girls in a remote cabin the group end up transfixed on the local legend of Hellgate. The legend tells of a sweet and innocent girl who is abducted by a biker gang from a diner, ironically driven back to the town where she lives, dropped off in front of her house, and then killed in a bizarre brick wall motorcycle incident which has to be seen to be believed! Her father, upon witnessing the event, fights off the gang and apparently to this day “doesn’t like strangers”. Then, in an equally bizarre twist one of his workers finds a bizarre crystal in the town’s mine which can bring people back from the dead, zombie like.
Naturally the group end up in the town and find the legend is true. It sounds coherent, just about, but really, the film is a mess from a technical point of view.
This movie seems to be one of those which simply lacked any form of quality control. All the pieces are there, the ideas are good, the script passable in parts, characters, story and so on are all on par with other movies of the time - it is just all over the place. Characters who are terrified one minute, the next they are all mucking about. Location shifts which have little or no relevance, a timeline which makes no sense what so ever, and a number of the most random scenes I have ever seen in one movie!
But is it a complete write off? Well no.
It is simply cult, through and through. Some people will really dig this sort of movie, as it is a textbook exercise in the creativity, and more appropriately, flexibility that independent filming is all about. Want a slow motion shotgun scene, then write one in. Is it necessary in any way? Of course not, but write it in any way it’s all good stuff. Not seen tits for about 15 minutes then it is titty time - but he knows the girl is dead, and evil, oh, and his friends keep dying, and his girlfriend is just outside the door - don’t matter, I want tits on screen and I want them now!
It’s nothing that would make it in the mainstream, but then it never was intended this way. ‘Hellgate’ is the buffet of movies - nothing of any particular quality, just a broad selection of everything, so find something you like.
And that is true, as all said and done I enjoyed this movie. The exploding model animals, the inflating and then exploding people, the aforementioned shotgun blast, the camp make-up on the zombies, the semi-attractive women and the over macho male attitudes. The effects were pretty good throughout and the incoherent plot just kept on delivering content that the pace was consistent.
Overall the release of this movie is going to endear some who probably have remembered key scenes in the movie fondly and hopefully win some others over. It is probably best compared to movies such as ‘Motel Hell’ where it delivers a lot of decent material, just not consistently enough to be considered a classic of the genre. Either way, Arrows stunning release of this movie is the best it is ever likely to get - and limited to 1000 copies - so if you’re curious then go get it before it’s gone, get drunk, and give yourself one hell of a mind-fuck.