First Quarantine Entry: Hellgate

Nice try. I'm not renting you.

Hellgate (1989)

When promoting your horrible film to possible renters, it’s a good idea to point out that you  have some connection to earlier and better films.  The box for Hellgate proudly proclaims that it’s “From the special effects masters behind Hellraiser and Hellbound”.  I wonder where they got the idea for the title of the film, though.

Anyway, I’m not entirely sure who on this movie crew was involved with the first 2 (two) Hellraiser flicks, because the FX in Hellgate are pretty damn silly and unimpressive.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s actually more than one box design for the Hellgate VHS and I walked right past both versions when I was younger. I wasn’t really into torturing myself or others with crappy  horror movies, too much, when I had to pay for rentals. I preferred renting Evil Dead II for the 350th time to losing my 3 bucks on trash. Times have changed, the internets offer a wider array of choices than any store could hold and things can be seen for free.

So, this movie is brought to us by the late New World Pictures. The same guys who gave Godzilla 1985 a decent theatrical run back in..what year was that? I’ll think of it later, while I’m doing something else, I’m sure.

The film begins with a three (3) person group of the most unattractive people I’ve seen committed to celluloid in a while. A guy is in the middle of telling what sounds like a pretty lame scary story to the two umm ladies? he’s with. The chicks will have none of it (and I don’t blame them) so one begins to impart the tale of Hellgate, which isn’t much better.

Settle in. It’s kind of a long story. Actually, it’s not. The movie just takes almost 40 minutes to finish the damn thing up and move along to the story we actually “paid” to see.

In the 50’s, a motorcycle gang zooms into town (accompanied by doo-wop music, cuz, you know, it’s the 50’s) and scares off patrons of a diner by simply yelling at them to leave. (If it’s that easy to have some alone time, I’ll have to try that at the urinals, next time. Stage fright. *ahem*) A girl (meaning a woman “acting” like a girl) with a freakishly long neck comes in to pick up a cake for her daddy. The bikers will have none of that, so they commit the silliest attempted rape scene in history and take her to the local Ghost Town attraction called Hellgate. As they further harass the girl, her daddy comes out to see what the ruckus is about (and probably hoping they brought his cake) and everybody dies except one biker, who gets a knife to his leg, and Daddy.

To be honest, a lot of goofy shit happens to cause all these deaths, but it would just be too convoluted and confusing to explain. Watch it, yourself, and enjoy, you bastards!

Back to the thrilling story of Hellgate… Some time later, an old dude goes into the authentic gold mine to fix it up, where he is annoyed by a fake bat, which he clonks with a shovel. He finds a crystal that shoots a cartoon beam at the bat, which..wait a minute. That was supposed to be a real bat? Holy shit! Yeah, the bat “comes back to life” and proceeds to… I’m sorry. Really? That bat wasn’t SUPPOSED to be fake? Jesus.

The fearsome bat!

Old dude goes to talk to the Daddy (who is seen mourning the loss of his daughter by staring longingly at her Glamour Shot ©. I had no idea they had those in the 50‘s) about what just happened. He thrillingly imparts the full story of the attack of the fearsome bat in detail.

Let me be abso-fucking-lutely clear about what is happening, here. We are watching a movie in which someone is telling a story where a character in the story tells another story to someone else. I think the acid just kicked in.

Daddy holds the crystal which shoots its cartoon at a fish bowl. The water bubbles and…  Here we go! GIANT EXPLODING MONSTER GOLDFISH PUPPET! WOO!!

Thank you, special effects masters of Hellraiser and Hellbound!

Seeing how well that worked, Daddy points the cartoon at a stuffed (meaning taxidermitized) turtle, which he laughs heartily at as it … Moos at him and then kisses, I mean bites his cheek. The turtle then explodes, somehow leaving bloody guts behind.

I guess Daddy is so excited at the positive results of all this reanimating that he accidentally shoots the cartoon at his old friend who then melts and maybe explodes. (The movie is not clear on this.)

So, one exploded mutant goldfish, one exploded stuffed turtle and one melting (maybe exploded) man later, dad is so stoked that he uses it on his dead daughter, I guess. Cuz there she is walking at night and she now has the power of cartoons in her eyes.

Did I mention that the hero of the movie is Ron Palillo? Horshack?

Our hero.

Yeah. Umm.. Okay, then.

She uses her new powers to make Ron’s car overheat so that he almost hits her and then feels obligated to give her a ride. Brilliant!

We’re in the present, again, btw. I may have forgotten to mention that, since the movie doesn’t like to keep the audience informed.

He takes her to Hellgate and isn’t going to leave until he knows she’s alright. She tells him to leave. He says okay. She says no, stay. He does. What in the hell? She tries to seduce him, but he loves his girl (remember those chicks and that dude telling the story? Ah, fuck it.) so she tries harder and daddy comes in to blast him.

Ron runs out to his car which will not start (it’s not even making any sounds, so I wasn’t sure what he was trying to do, at first, until he mentioned it). Dad shoots his cartoon at the ground which explodes right in front of our hero, who doesn’t even seem to notice, in the next shot. Finally, as he’s driving off, dad shoots something in the back of the car. Ron drives off with his arm casually resting on the door, as if he’s out for a refreshing drive through a park and wants to tan that arm.

THRILL!! as he calmly putters off.

Finally arriving at the house of spooky stories, Ron’s’ friend gets upset that his favorite ski is now ruined (THAT was what got blasted in the car! Thanks for sharing your secret with me, movie!). He really makes a big deal out of it. Ron correctly points out that his friend is an asshole. However, the way it is worded and all the attention that is focused on this exchange tells me that this will be stated again, as some sort of recurring “joke”. (Nix from the future: I was right. Hooray for me.)

Next, AGGGHHH!!! No, movie! I did not want to see naked Horshack, dammit! Oh, and you’re going to have a whole scene with naked Horshack! You sick bastard!

My eyes not having melted, I am able to witness a truly infuriating scene where Ron’s girl wants to know if the spooky lady was cute. And it goes on for ever. Back and forth. Over and over. I want to kill myself.

Here is an embed of the scene. You have to watch until you see this wonderful shot.


Seriously, you cannot stop the video one second before or else you will not be able to experience this wonder of modern script-writing.

So, Ron and the girls head to the diner where Ron gets to revisit his classic “asshole” shtick. Because the apex of hilarity is calling someone an asshole.

The surviving biker


now has silver spray-paint in his hair

After! (psst! He's older now.)

but still has a gash in his pants right where he was stabbed almost 30 years ago. Does this guy not know how to sew? I could swallow that he couldn’t buy a new pair, as this ‘town” appears to consist of only a diner, a gas-station and an abandoned Ghost Town. But, hell, couldn’t he just staple them together? Super-Glu? Fucking chewing gum?! I suppose it doesn’t matter, as the movie forgets to have him do anything for the next 30 minutes except sharpen objects designed for cutting things.

An hour into the film, our group of 4 idiots finally head to Hellgate. For some reason. I really can’t remember why. Something about Ron finding whoever did something or… They’re going easter-egg hunting, okay? Happy?

My memory gets a bit hazy here as random shit happens for no rhyme or reason and I’m not watching it a third time.

Zombies come after the four as they’re looking at a bunch of classic cars, so they trot off to a building. Horshack, err, Ron makes his big speech about how he’s sorry for getting them involved, but he needn’t have bothered, in my opinion. Nobody seems to be all that freaked out immediately after they escape anything.

Asshole gets decapitated, which causes his hair to magically go from blond to curly silver old-lady hair.


Asshole’s girl sees herself in a line of can-can girls and has a rope lightly pressed against her throat, which causes her to spit up a lot of blood.

Special thanks to Leon Beven for this choreography. I wonder if he was involved with Hellraiser and Hellbound.

Ron and his girl go to the house where he was seduced and his girl opens a fridge. There is a mans head in the fridge, which screams “Aaaahhh! I don’t want my body!”? to which she replies “Pull yourself together” and politely closes the fridge.

WTF? When did this movie decide it was a comedy? There really hasn’t been any clue that this was supposed to be a spoof. Did they cut together a rough cut of the flick, see that what they had wasn’t scary and then decide it should be funny? That came out of nowhere.

Girlfriend gets a knife stuck between her arm and chest. Oh, sorry, she gets stabbed. I thought she was just holding it with her arm, there. My fault, movie. I shouldn’t question the highly talented special effects masters of Hellraiser and Hellbound. The spooky chick gets shot, the biker shows up to wave around a machete and hatchet


and get blown away by the cartoon. Dad is crushed under a roof. Ron puts on his awesome sunglasses as he and his girl drive off to the haunting rock version of Beautiful Dreamer.

That's better.

But wait! This is the 80’s! Ron sees  a hand holding the crystal in the rear-view mirror and the cartoon shoots out and bounces off the mirror and what in the holy fuck is going on, movie? You’re not even trying, anymore!

Damn. I’m truly glad that is over.

Let me just throw some random things at you and see what comes to you: hooker-duty, Beautiful Dreamer, English-zombie-comedian-announcer, Beautiful Dreamer, gratuitous close up of a fully-clothed breast,

Acti….Oh. Cinematography!

Beautiful Dreamer, exploding mutant goldfish, can-can girls, rock version of Beautiful Dreamer, ragtime piano player,

It's comin' right for us!


Our hero.

That’s what this movie is like. Random shit thrown at a screen hoping to become a horror flick.

It’s shot badly, the dialogue is terrible, the acting hurts and the FX are laughable. There’s not one thing to admire in this thing except that it actually got made.

I joke about Ron Palillo, but the guy actually CAN (can) act. Sort of. He was pretty good in Friday the 13th VI, before he had his heart punched through his chest. But it appears that whoever was behind the camera didn’t know exactly what they were trying to do and it shows in all of the actors performances.

Rating: 1 ½ out of 5

Virus Contagion Level: 3 out of 4

Good for some unintentional laughs.

(Thanks to Horrorprincess100 for the Toobs which allowed me to get the screen captures!)


About Nix

Dreams are hauntings in our heads.
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2 Responses to First Quarantine Entry: Hellgate

  1. Spawn says:

    If I ever saw Amanda make that face while I was “down periscope”, I think I’d run around the house, cock-flapping, looking for a weapon while screaming “KILL IT! KILL IT WITH FIRE!”

    Sometimes I wonder why we watch theses thing. I’ve seen some good-bad movies, but you subject yourself to some really bad-bad movies. I don’t think I could suffer through this.

    It’s comin’ right for us! Oh mah G.

    • Nix says:

      I don’t think I’ve seen anyone in real life make that face to imply satisfaction or enjoyment. Just…Blech. And this was a tough one. I’ve never really thought about “why” I do this. Weird.

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