The Gates Of Hell (2008)

OCTOBER 12, 2008


Isn’t there any sort of law, especially in this day of remakes, against titling your horror movie with the same name as another, well known and beloved horror movie? The Gates Of Hell is NOT a remake of Lucio Fulci’s classic, and in fact isn’t even a zombie movie. Hey everyone, I’m writing a movie about cannibalistic ghosts in the snowy landscapes of Minnesota. It’s called Nightmare On Elm St.

Anyway, instead of zombies, our villain is a mutant freak from the Victor Crowley/Antropophagus school of terror, and our heroes are, *sigh*, a group of eager filmmakers looking to make a documentary about the scary shenanigans that supposedly occurred in creepy Victorian mansion in the middle of nowhere #457974. And of course, the director wants to ensure his “cast” gets scared enough to sell the film, so he hires a buddy to put on a rubber mask and fuck with them. But hilariously, the guy never even gets around to that, he’s pretty much the first to die.

To its credit, the movie doesn’t waste too much time getting going, we have a body count of five before the 60 minute mark. But director Kelly Dolen and co-writer Justin Dix might go TOO fast, as there are only 6 in the group, so the final half hour is a snoozefest, because there’s only one guy left, and if he’s dead, the rest of the movie would be kind of sans, er, things. Not sure why he chose to structure it this way, but it’s a bit odd. A pretty nice twist is thrown in for good measure, and that helps a bit, but it’s still a script that needed some spreading out.

And no one cares about slasher victims being original, but can PLEASE give the “horror movie filmmakers” idea a rest? Not only am I sick of seeing kids with cameras (thank CHRIST this isn’t a found footage movie; in fact I don’t think more than one minute of the film is shown from a consumer camera’s POV), but it also leads to terribly outdated Scream style humor. When a trapdoor is discovered, someone mentions that it’s like Evil Dead, and the response is “We’re not in a horror movie.” Christ. I almost threw my popcorn at the screen (but I was hungry so I didn’t).

Needless to say, once they start dying, the meta-humor is dropped entirely, and some minor black humor takes its place. There’s a terrific bit where a guy is chained up on the fence that they need to get through in order to escape, and one of them has to reach INTO the hole in the guy’s torso to pull the lock out from behind his corpse. Awesome. Also, I like that they need to drive their truck through the fence, they fail. The car gets totaled; the fence stays intact. Hahaha, suckers.

The highlight of the screening actually came during the post screening Q&A, when some guy in the audience had the balls to ask Dolen if it was intentional that the characters were so stupid. He also wondered if the film was “supposed to be cheesy”. Now, I’m all for having a pair and being honest, but I actually think this was kind of inappropriate. Dolen is obviously from another country, and flew in to see the film with an audience and take time to answer questions. No one forced him to do that (he was the only feature director all day to be in the audience), and I guarantee he wasn’t being paid either, so I think folks should have a little more tact. If you don’t like the movie, fine, but don’t try to embarrass the guy when he’s taking time out of his life to talk to you. There is a time (later) and place (the Internet) for that type of thing!

What say you?

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