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Horror Movie A Day: Quint visits HELLGATE (1989)
Take this, you zombie bitch!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day. [The regular A Movie A Day list has been frozen in order for me to do an all-horror line-up for October. I’ve pulled many horror titles from my regular “to see” stack and have ordered many more horror and thriller titles to make sure we have some good stuff. Like the regular AMAD column all the movies I’m covering are films I have never seen, but unlike the regular AMAD column I will not connect each film to the one before it. Instead I will pull a title at random every day and watch whatever the movie Gods determine for me.] Wow, what a bizarre movie. HELLGATE could be the lowest rated AMAD we’ve covered, clocking in at an impressive 2.1 out of 10 at IMDB. I wouldn’t say it’s that bad. It’s certainly no SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT, that’s for goddamn sure. This one at least had an editor that could put scenes together and a somewhat coherent storyline. And this one has boobs and gore, so there you go. But it isn’t that good either. How a movie with a zombie turtle, magic rocks, undead harpy ‘80s model chick and mutilated bikers can get really boring I have no idea. Basically, the title HELLGATE refers to a ghost town tourist attraction. Teenagers (played by late 20s and well-into-their 30s actors, of course) tell the story of how this town supposedly became haunted as a ghost story by firelight. We then get a flashback to the swinging ‘50s as a dickhead biker gang torment a diner, ultimately grabbing a horrible, but beautiful actress and riding off with her. They end up in the ghost town where the girl’s father intervenes. He happens to have an ax, so when he sees what’s going on, he tosses it right into the head of the main biker, who dies, but not before ramming his bike right into the girl, killing her. There’s a second biker that is a giant of a man, the muscle of the group. He’s obviously a bodybuilder, probably found by the producers at the local Gold’s Gym or in a Mr. Universe type contest somewhere. He’s the only survivor, getting a knife to the leg as he races off. We also learn that the grieving papa runs the ghost town and one day one of his employees finds a glowing blue crystal in the gold-rush mine attraction. The crystal seems to do a whole lot of things. It can zap shit and make it blow up or turn dead things into living things. When the old man first gets this crystal he zaps his goldfish which, for some reason, mutates into a giant fish, busting the small bowl before blowing up. Then a stuffed turtle gets zapped and bites half of the old dude’s face off. For the rest of the movie he has metal plate sutures on his face… I guess because he was a blacksmith in the tourist attraction… So, three of the four ‘80s teenagers are telling and/or listening to this story as their fourth drives up. The fourth is Welcome Back, Kotter’s Ron Palillo (Horshack), an LA douchebag (his character, that is… I can’t speak for the man himself as I have never met him) who picks up the ‘50s girl on the road. She’s pale, got ‘80s model hair and is apparently extremely horny. She takes him home, show him her tits and tries to get him to fuck her, but her father busts in and chases Horshack off with a machete. Apparently this siren loves Horshack for some reason never explained, and stops her father. Of course, they can’t leave well enough alone and when he regroups with his friends (and girlfriend, I might add) they go investigate this… even though they all know this ghost story and seem to accept it as being real. Yeah, they still go anyway. On their travels, they meet up with the biker who escaped who is exactly the same, but they powdered his hair with white chalk or something. He now works as a gas station attendant. I loved this character. I don’t know what they were thinking of with this guy. I can see what they must have intended, but I don’t know how the hell they ended up fucking his arc up so badly. He’s scared of this place, humbled by seeing his friends killed and isn’t a badass anymore, even if he still has a Schwarzenegger physique. He’s called into action and can’t help the kids. He’s too scared. But, of course, he finds it within him and shows up at the end… to save the day, right? Well, not really. What they do is give us the obligatory flashes of him pondering the situation, thinking it over in his garage, then deciding to act… he sharpens a machete, looking all heroic and shows up at the end so he can… Wave his arms around for 3 seconds. He jumps in at the perfect hero moment, machete in hand and the bad guy just looks at him, points the crystal at him and (spoiler) knocks him off the back of a car… while he just stands there screaming and waving his arms up and down like he’s trying to fly. And then he’s gone. I don’t get it. Maybe they were trying to be ironic, maybe it was supposed to be a joke or maybe they just didn’t have the budget to do what they originally intended. Or maybe they just suck as storytellers. Could be any of the above. The movie’s that retarded. There’s nice decapitation, all three leading ladies bare their breasts and there an attempt at a horror comedy balance, but they get it so wrong that it just deflates anything that might have worked. When it’s supposed to be scary, the leads don’t seem to be afraid or give any weight to the suspense. When it’s supposed to be funny most of the jokes fall flat. I can only lay the blame at the feet of the writer, Michael O’Rourke and direct William A. Levey (BLACKENSTEIN, SKATETOWN U.S.A.). They might have excuses (budget probably their main one), but I can only judge what the final product looks like. Final Thoughts: I’d advise not seeking this one out, but if you’re an ‘80s horror completest it won’t be much of a challenge to get through. There are enough staples of the era to get you through, but good filmmaking is not one of them. Or good acting, for that matter. Also, the film gets a demerit for showing me Horshack’s nutsack.

Here are the titles in the drawing pool for the rest of October: Wednesday, October 1st – Friday, October 31st: H-MAD! Horror Movie A Day! Check out the list here! Now’s the the time to pull the next HMAD! Next up is:

Little known fact: HE KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE was one of Tom Hanks’ first movies. This is a very interesting period of ‘80s horror, post FRIDAY THE 13th and pre-A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Looking forward to it. -Quint

Previous Movies: June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
August 3rd: Can-Can
August 4th: Desperate Characters
August 5th: The Possession of Joel Delaney
August 6th: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
August 7th: Start the Revolution Without Me
August 8th: Hell Is A City
August 9th: The Pied Piper
August 10th: Partners
August 11th: Barry Lyndon
August 12th: The Skull
August 13th: The Hellfire Club
August 14th: Blood of the Vampire
August 15th: Terror of the Tongs
August 16th: Pirates of Blood River
August 17th: The Devil-Ship Pirates
August 18th: Jess Franco’s Count Dracula
August 19th: Dracula A.D. 1972
August 20th: The Stranglers of Bombay
August 21st: Man, Woman & Child
August 22nd: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
August 23rd: The Young Philadelphians
August 24th: The Rack
August 25th: Until They Sail
August 26th: Somebody Up There Likes Me
August 27th: The Set-Up
August 28th: The Devil & Daniel Webster
August 29th: Cat People
August 30th: The Curse of the Cat People
August 31st: The 7th Victim
September 1st: The Ghost Ship
September 2nd: Isle of the Dead
September 3rd: Bedlam
September 4th: Black Sabbath
September 5th: Black Sunday
September 6th: Twitch of the Death Nerve
September 7th: Tragic Ceremony
September 8th: Lisa & The Devil
September 9th: Baron Blood
September 10th: A Shot In The Dark
September 11th: The Pink Panther
September 12th: The Return of the Pink Panther
September 13th: The Pink Panther Strikes Again
September 14th: Revenge of the Pink Panther
September 15th: Trail of the Pink Panther
September 16th: The Real Glory
September 17th: The Winning of Barbara Worth
September 18th: The Cowboy and the Lady
September 19th: Dakota
September 20th: Red River
September 21st: Terminal Station
September 22nd: The Search
September 23rd: Act of Violence
September 24th: Houdini
September 25th: Money From Home
September 26th: Papa’s Delicate Condition
September 27th: Dillinger
September 28th: Battle of the Bulge
September 29th: Daisy Kenyon
September 30th: Laura
October 1st: The Dunwich Horror
October 2nd: Experiment In Terror
October 3rd: The Devil’s Rain
October 4th: Race With The Devil
October 5th: Salo, Or The 120 Days of Sodom
October 6th: Bad Dreams
October 7th: The House Where Evil Dwells
October 8th: Memories of Murder
October 9th: The Hunger
October 10th: I Saw What You Did
October 11th: I Spit On Your Grave
October 12th: Naked You Die
October 13th: The Wraith
October 14th: Silent Night, Bloody Night
October 15th: I Bury The Living
October 16th: The Beast Must Die

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