HELLGATE (1989, directed by Michael O’Rourke)

I’m a slow reader guys, so despite the title of this blog, there will be plenty of horror movie reviews too. If you feel in any way misled, then please write to the complaints department, which is handled by Boris the Pug. I’ll warn you now, he doesn’t give a shit about your petty missives.

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And so to Hellgate, a late 80s supernatural horror that is one great big mess.

Except it nearly wasn’t! The first 10 minutes or so raised my expectations so much higher than I had ever, errrr, expected. It opens in generic fashion, with some horny college students (I say students, but they look positively geriatric) telling ghost stories around a fire. So far who cares.

Then BAM! It cuts to a flashback. 1950’s doo-wop music plays! The frame is filled with greasy, unattractive biker types! It’s shot in dreamy slow motion! It’s so absurd, so unexpected, that it’s oddly beautiful in it’s own kitschy 80s-as-50s way. It reminded me of John Waters’ Crybaby, and that’s high praise indeed.

The bikers arrive at a diner and promptly kidnap a young girl, who is introduced to us with the classic side-boob shot favoured by all the great directors.


Then there’s an astonishing helicopter shot following the bikers through a western ghost town. By this point my jaw is on the floor. As a horror fan of many, many years, I have to sit through about 7 or 8 bad horror films until I find a good one these days, a diamond in the rough. Could Hellgate be one of those hidden gems?

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Then a man with a face like a melting waxwork throws an axe into someone’s head, and I think YES! THIS FILM CAN DO NO WRONG!

Then, at the 20 minute mark, someone uses a laser to mutate a goldfish and the whole thing falls apart.

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Goddamit guys, we were so close! But with the flashback out of the way, the incredibly convoluted narrative begins, some claptrap about a crystal that can bring the dead to life (or make shrubbery explode), a spectral hitchhiker, and a town full of ghosts.


I’m worried I’m making this sound like fun. It’s not. Probably the last laugh to be had occurs at about the halfway mark, and it’s this girl’s sex face.


The ending is just a tiresome chase around the ghost town. There’s a murder during a French Can-Can dance, but by that point you’ll be too tired to care and just praying for the topless ghost to murder the 40-something lead and make the whole thing end.

And by the way, did you know you can kill a ghost with a shotgun?


Sadly, despite the promise shown by the opening, I can’t recommend this one to anyone.

WHAT BORIS THE PUG THOUGHT: There’s a moment where an offscreen dog howls in the night, which caused Boris to jump up at the window and start barking. Other than that, he preferred to chew the tail of his toy hippo. How’s that for a bad review, Hellgate?

OVERALL: 2 paws out of 5

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4 Responses to HELLGATE (1989, directed by Michael O’Rourke)

  1. lysette says:

    How have I never heard of Hellgate? Despite a 2 out of 5 – I need to watch this!


  2. Doesn’t seem like any of the pics even belong in the same movie, lol! Although the mutated goldfish does seem interesting…


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