The WTF? Worst Films Extravaganza Presents: Hellgate (1989)

William A. Levey

Ron Palillo - Matt Coleman
Petra Curran - Pam
Joanne Ward - Bobby
Evan J. Klisser - Chuck
Abigail Wolcott - Josie Carlyle
Carel Trichardt - Lucas Carlyle
Lance Vaughan - Charles "Zonk" Taylor

Genre - Horror/Zombies

Running Time - 91 Minutes

Score - 0.5 Howls Outta 4

It's been a while since I've really posted a review where I've really tore the film I'm reviewing apart. Maybe it's just been plain luck that I've actually been watching decent movies not bad enough to warrant my wrath for the last few months. Or maybe I've been trying to avoid bad cinema period. Maybe it's the primary reason why I've felt burnt out and unmotivated when it comes to reviewing films. The lack of crappy films dried up the juices from flowing.

But sometimes a film comes along that unexpectedly surprises you at what a big piece of smelly shit is really is behind the celluoid. A film that gets you thinking. A film that makes you want talk about it. A film that's so bad that people deserve to know to avoid it, or for you bad cinema loving people out there - hunt down for it. Now I love bad movies, but there are some that just deserve a new asshole. And the 1989 zombie flick, HELLGATE, is one of them.

And like your traditional zombie movie, HELLGATE has not only resurrected my juices for reviewing. It has also resurrected the WTF? Worst Films Extravaganza Vault!

Welcome back,
Your dreams were your ticket out.

Welcome back,
To that same old place that you laughed about.

Well the names have all changed since you hung around,
But those dreams have remained and they're turned around.

Who'd have thought they'd lead ya (Who'd have thought they'd lead ya)
Here where we need ya (Here where we need ya)

Yeah we tease him a lot cause we've hot him on the spot, welcome back,
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.

Sigh...thank you HELLGATE. Your crappiness has opened my heart. Who knew I'd have the lock and you would have the key?

Some teenagers [a.k.a. actors in their thirties who look every bit their age but refuse to act it] sit around a fireplace talking about some really interesting [note: sarcasm] legend about the town of Hellgate. Apparently in the 1950s, some bimbo named Josie (Abigail Wolcott) ends up getting kidnapped by some biker gang at a diner. They take her back to Hellgate and her father (Carel Trichardt) kills some of the bikers and his daughter by accident as a result. Years have passed and some strange crystal that looks like it was stolen from the Fortress of Solitude apparently shoots beams that revive inanimate objects. The father uses the crystal to bring Josie back to life, but Josie isn't the same person. She now wanders at night, stopping surprised drivers and bringing them into Hellgate.

One of the "teenagers'" friends, Matt (Ron Palillo from Welcome Back Kotter), is one of these surprised drivers who's been seduced by the undead Josie. Although he manages to escape, he and his friends decide to head into Hellgate to see if the legend is true and what's really going on there. Zombies, ghosts, and 91 minutes of pure crap - oh my!

I have three words for HELLGATE:


HELLGATE only got my attention since it was the B-side on the DVD that also held the film I last reviewed, THE PIT. Other wise, I wouldn't have bothered with this piece of undead shit. I've honestly seen low-budget flicks with more heart, soul, and terror in one minute of running time that HELLGATE holds in its entirety. Let's see why HELLGATE should have stayed six feet under.

The screenplay by Michael O'Rourke makes no fuckin' sense. What the hell am I really watching here? A zombie flick? A ghost story? The rehearsal of rejects who weren't hired for the 1989 season of Saturday Night Live? I'm guessing HELLGATE was a zombie movie because people were brought back from the dead for whatever reason. And while I like the premise for the film [the whole 'crystal resurrects people and makes them explode' and the 'ghost story at the beginning actually turning into something that was happening to the same characters simultaneously'], the execution was severely flawed and just ends up making a ridiculous film that's not even all that funny to watch. It was like O'Rourke vomited a bunch of ideas into a bucket and decided to use all of them to create a film. Less is more, remember?

The issues with this film may possibly be endless. The characters are as interesting as watching paint dry. Hell, they're supposed to be teenagers but look like their parents instead. And the female leads weren't really all that attractive. It probably would have helped the experience if they were. The dialogue is atrocious. One, the actors can barely pronounce much of what they have to say. And the lines they recite make the protagonists look like total morons. Why in the hell would I want to watch these idiots for 91 minutes? If the dialogue was funny, HELLGATE would have been a pretty fuckin' cool B-flick. But it's not and renders the whole thing pointless.

I also have issues with this crystal that resurrects the dead. It was never consistent. It brought Josie back to life. It also turned her into a big-breasted slut who seduced men on the road [that was actually a positive for this film]. It turned a goldfish into a large puppet that exploded. Same with a turtle. I had no idea what this crystal was and why it did so many different things. I mean, why did Josie survive while everyone else combusted? It just did whatever the fuck it wanted to do. These scenes were probably the silliest and funniest portions of the film because they made no sense and were so ridiculous. Too bad these scenes were few and far between.

Also, nothing really interesting or exciting happens in this movie. The last act of the film basically has the "heroes" just walking around Hellgate while a magician pops up and entertains them with a can-can dance or something. There are also blue-tinted zombies walking around too but they don't really do much of anything but walk and stare. This ain't DAWN OF THE DEAD, folks! Shit, this ain't even WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S!

The film also had time issues - BIG TIME! The events pretty much take place in one night. I had no idea a person could get lost on a road, get seduced by a zombie to the point where he willingly goes to her house, almost has sex with her, escapes from her crazy dad, tell the story to his friends, fucks his girlfriend in one of the most awkward sequences I have ever seen in my entire life, has a midnight snack, goes back to town, fends off the undead, and gets seduced again until his friends save him in the span of three hours. Amazing. I wish I had that much action within 28 years!

Speaking of action, who in the hell thought Ron Palillo was this big stud who deserved a cringe-worthy nude sex scene and have almost every woman in the film want him? IT'S FUCKIN' HORSHACK!! NOT VINNIE BARBARINO!! I'd be surprised if his right hand even finds him attractive! Up your nose with a rubber hose with this ridiculous sub-plot!

The "special effects" of this film were pathetic at best. For a zombie flick, there was hardly any blood. There's a decapitation scene, gunfire, and someone who spits up blood after being choked to death. But that's it really. Where the fuck is the brain munching? The skin chewing? My splinter-in-the-eye scene? Hell, I'll take a fuckin' shark at this point! If you're a gorehound, you will be severely disappointed with this film.

The direction by William A. Levey is terrible. There is no flow. Nothing is consistent. Levey doesn't believe in using close ups, which is like a no-no in horror flicks [we want to see the reactions of our characters to feel what they're feeling]. I'm surprised he actually left his name on the film and bragged about this crap to his friends. Well I'm sure any guy who directed films called BLACKENSTEIN and WHAM BAM THANK YOU SPACEMAN has barely a drop of dignity left. His editors as well did a shitty job. For a badly chopped and badly cropped film, even three editors weren't enough to make a coherent piece. That's fuckin' sad. Levey never directed after HELLGATE. Gee, I wonder why?

The acting was just as bad in HELLGATE. Even though I dissed him earlier, Ron Palillo is really the only actor of note in the film. His acting is the only one above average, making his annoying character less annoying than the others. The other actors were horrible and wooden. Their characters didn't die fast enough for me as far as I'm concerned. For a zombie movie, it's sad that the only "dead" people were the actors themselves.


- Don't bother telling girls monster stories if you're alone with them in some romantic mountain cabin. They'll just find the stories more disgusting than scary. Unlike 1 NIGHT IN CHYNA, which is both scary and disgusting at the same time.

- Don't mess with a weapon expert's daughter. You'll be axe-ing for it. And probably receive a splitting headache in the process.

- Black chicks dig Horshack. Apparently they need cream in their coffee. Fill 'er up!

- Some dude found crystals that are able to reanimate the dead. If only they'd work for Vanilla Ice's career. I guess that wasn't nice, nice baby...

- When the crystal's beam targets a human, their skin begins to melt. I'm guessing Michael Jackson has been to Hellgate more than once.

- Zombie chicks are really slutty. My stance on necrophilia continues to grow after every "undead" movie I watch. SCHWING!

- You should always be cautious at a haunted location. Some guy with a cleaver will decapitate you. That's no way to get ahead.

- The highlight of Bobby's experience at Hellgate was watching a bad comedian/magician who introduced girls doing a French dance. Can I officially say that HELLGATE is a piece of shit? Oh yes I can-can! Oh yes I can-can!

- Josie flew through a window via a shotgun. I'm sure that wasn't her first time having something long and hard fire at her. It would explain how she paid for those implants...in 1950!

Well it had to happen after all these months. I finally watched a horrible film and its name is HELLGATE. This is definitely one of the worst zombie flicks I have ever seen [and will never see again]. HELLGATE is a boring, uninteresting, unscary, and poorly constructed "horror" film that should be avoided at all costs. Unless you want to see a giant rubber goldfish explode into Gordon's Fish Sticks, take a U-Turn away from HELLGATE.


  1. I forgot how much I enjoy your scathing reviews. . . :-)

    This movie sounds completely awful - I will, for sure, stay away from this one - thanks for the warning!

  2. Truly a terrible film, I mistakingly watched it for the same reason after finding the 80s gem The Pit on the same disc, but I had to fast forward through it, which I have only done with Vacancy 2 and MAYBE 1-2 other flicks. Great review, barfy film.

  3. This movie was horrible but not the worst ive ever seen. I liked it because it was so cheesy.

  4. I thought the 2 girlfriends were kind of cute, especially the short haired one (Joanne Warde, who was born in Johannesburg South Africa in 1966. She has a beautiful exotic look to her that leads me to believe she is multiracial)
    While the script is cringeworthy at times, the campy spookiness of the overall atmosphere makes it a great movie to watch on Halloween... Perhaps while smoking a joint.


Related Posts with Thumbnails