Saturday, 8 March 2014


After discovering an ancient crystal that possesses mysterious life-returning qualities via a laser shock, a disgruntled father uses it to bring back to life the daughter that was accidentally killed by a bunch of unruly bikers.  This rather sexy walking corpse periodically picks up 'strangers' who wonder too close to their town (dubbed 'Hellgate') with the intention of knocking them off, until one of them reawakens her affections.  I think that's what it's about anyway!

Tagging onto the tail end of the eighties video revolution Hellgate is a periodically silly horror comedy with a mishmash of ideas that somehow seems recently to have unfairly been labelled as the worst film of all time by newcomers to the genre, who I can only guess don't seem to understand eighties horror sensibilities.  Of course, it's no fantastic piece of work, but as something that entertains on at least an occasional basis, it certainly not a pile of steaming turd either.  It actually, I would argue, has a few things going for it.  Aside from the pretty cruddy crystal laser, the special effects (which include a nifty reanimated turtle and an exploding goldfish) are pretty impressive whilst not necessarily winning any Tom-Savini awards.  It also contains a touch of nudity and gore, and even a few laughs, not too far away from the territory of many other American eighties horror comedies really.  If I would level any criticism at it, it is that the acting can leave a little to be desired, plus the main characters are not as charismatic as, say, the posse of punks in Return of the Living Dead.  And then there is that rather screwy stage host that appears for a couple of minutes before a surreal dance show.  But really, people, it aint that bad.  And I'd rather stick this on than much of the PC dross that drips forth from Hollywood anyway, to be honest.
Arrow's Blu-ray/DVD combo is limited to 1000, probably realistically given the small target audience for something like this.  But grab it quick if you want it.  Transfer-wise it is excellent, looking a million times better than you would ever expect something like this to.  Audio quality is delivered via uncompressed stereo but limited by its 1989 origins - still, it sounds okay.  You also get towards an hour's worth of featurettes (slicing out a good portion of that for unnecessary integrated film clips), something of a surprise for a low-key title such as this.  There is also some nice new art on the cover, and original video art on the reverse if you're not keen on that, and even a booklet containing an essay.  As is often the case these days, Arrow have delivered a fantastic package for a title that you would never have guessed would ever get it.  Definitely one for fans of American eighties horror.

P.S. At time of writing it was still available direct from Arrow, so before you go and pay some profiteering nincompoop on Amazon or ebay, check there.

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