Monday 3 February 2014

"Hellgate" - UK BD/DVD review

William Levey’s camp 80s classic “Hellgate” is being released to a special edition Blu-Ray and DVD this month, courtesy of Arrow Films.
Set in rural Texas, some guy called Matt (Ron Palillo, who horror buffs will recognise as the guy who got killed at the start of “Friday the 13th pt 6 : Jason Lives”) is trying to find the remote holiday cabin his friends are staying at, when he is stopped by a ghostly looking girl standing in the middle of the road.
He agrees to take her back to her father’s house, who runs the nearby “Hellgate” ghost town, tourist attraction. But is exceptionally creeped out by the people who appear to be hanging round the place, and with good reason.
It seems that many years ago, back in the 1950s, a group of bikers kidnapped and brutally killed the owners daughter and since then, local legends have it that he found a way of bringing her back to exact a brutal revenge on the bikers. Rumours persist she stills prowls the back roads at night looking for unwary travellers to prey on.
Fortunately he manages to drop her off at her fathers place without incident and find his friends holiday cabin. But after hearing rumours about the place, in which he discovers even the local sheriff won’t go near it unless he has to, decides to take his friends there to find out what’s really going on.
Of course, ignoring local legends is never a wise move in a horror film, and the group find themselves being picked off by various undead carnival attendants as they run around the place, trying to find the way back out.
Filmed in South Africa, using a combination of local and American actors, the movie is basically a twist on the old ghostly hitch-hiker tale. I wasn’t sure whether the film was meant to be funny, or if the cheesy humour was unintentional, but it was good fun either way.
Extras on the disc include..
"Road to Perdition – B movie style". Interview In which director William Levey explains how he got involved with the project, shooting in South Africa as well as discussing some of his other films and even provides an interesting insight into what it was like living in South Africa, after moving there during the Apartheid era.
"Alien Invasion and Blaxploiation". A 12 minute feature in which film critic Howard S Berger looks back at the film and gives his opinion on the movies of William Levey.
"Video Nasty". Film maker Kenneth  J Hall, reflects on how the demise of the Drive-in theatres and the video boom of the early 80s changed how horror B-movies like Hellgate were made and marketed.
A nice set of extras, but I would really have liked for them to have included the original theatrical trailer on here too, which is sadly absent from this release.
The case also contains a collector’s booklet featuring writing on the film by Lee Gambin, illustrated with original artwork and stills and the sleeve contains reversible artwork, giving you a choice of the original VHS box art, or newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys.
"Hellgate" might be no cinematic masterpiece, being from the same guy who gave us “Blackenstein” (so you know what you’re in for). But if you love campy horror B-movies, you can’t go wrong. The film is released in a Blu-Ray and DVD combo pack and is strictly limited to 1000 copies only, so if this sounds like your idea of fun, get in there quick!
Buy the UK BD/DVD combo pack at

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