Break On Through to the Other Side – Hellgate (1989)

Hellgate is a film that makes little sense, with no one direction being set and thus the movie simply meandering all over the place, no rhyme or reason. The opening sequence fails to connect up with the rest of the picture and then it time jumps and becomes some sort of movie about ghosts and a town that acts like a circus sideshow with a strange relationship between ghoul dad and his spectral daughter. Factor in some bikers, dead and alive, the same ghost girl who was pure as the driven snow when among the living and now not so innocent being dead, a narration sequence that makes no sense as it was abandoned, magic quartz and even more and what ends up on screen is a mixed bag of scenes and concepts that while nonsensical, somehow still manages to capture the attention of its viewers.

Historically since its release, the acting in the movie has been lambasted as awful to worse than awful, but it is not all that bad when one considers the material. Perhaps if the writer of the film had simply stuck to some sort of linear path and picked one thing to focus upon, the movie would not have become the kitchen sink of pictures, with anything and everything thrown in for whatever reason.

The special effects are surprisingly all right, most of it being simple makeup, a little smoke and some cheap looking laser beams and while it does not sound all that good, the film managed to be fairly atmospheric in nature. Not suspenseful or scary in any manner, but moody and a little dark. For a horror movie, it would have been nice to see a little more out of it, but given what was going on, how much more could the filmmakers have thrown in?

While most might want to check this out as the title implies some sort of frightening experience to be had with devils or demons or whatever, it is anything but. It is not a good film, but neither is it all that terrible. What it does end up being is an interesting exercise in patience and logic with at least one or the other failing the viewer long before the movie reaches its conclusion and all that is left being to sit back and let it take you over until its eventual end.

2 out of 5

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