Horror Movie Review: Hellgate (1989)

Directed by William A. Levey and starring Ron Palillo, Abigail Wolcott and Carel Trichardt, Hellgate is nonsense, utter nonsense. It has a horribly confused plot and an utterly insane final third. Normally this might make the movie entertaining but that’s not the case with Hellgate.

The plot…at least the parts that can be made sense of surrounds Josie Carlyle (Abigail Wolcott), the Hellgate hitchhiker. As the legend goes and as it is being told to us by a group of young adults, Josie was attacked and kidnapped by a biker gang.

They take her to the nearby town of Hellgate with bad intentions on their mind but Josie’s father came to rescue her. In his attempt to kill the bikers, Josie is killed and her father is hurt.

The surviving biker gang leader manages to escape and we’re told that he vowed to never befriend any strangers again. This is the first ‘what’ moment of the movie as it’s such a dumb throwaway line that seems to paint the bikers as good guys. Just dumb.

Anyway, many years later some random drunk guy finds a magical crystal in a cave that has the ability to bring things back to life. The man brings it to Josie’s still grieving father who has remained in Hellgate even though it’s nothing more than a ghost town.

They test the crystal out on a live goldfish turning it into a grotesque monster that explodes. Before testing it out on a dead turtle which reanimates. Seeing the power of the crystal, Josie’s father figures he can use it to bring his daughter back to life. Even the reveal that the crystal’s power is evil doesn’t halt his intentions.

Josie is brought back to life and for some reason she now seduces men on the highway. Bringing them back to Hellgate whereupon her father kills them.

When one would be victim manages to escape and meet up with his friends (the ones telling the story of the Hellgate hitchhiker) things get complicated. He wants to go back to Hellgate and find out just what is going on. So his friends agree to come along for the ride.

Once in Hellgate though they find it’s not quite a ghost town but rather more of a dead town. One where the dead don’t stay in the ground. Also there are ghosts and Josie just wants to spend the rest of the movie topless.

To say things go off the rails is an understatement. Hellgate was a confusing mess before the group arrive in the town but once there, it’s nearly unwatchable. You’ll feel like you fell asleep and missed huge swathes of the movie but you didn’t.

If the mess of the plot wasn’t bad enough, well…then there is the acting.

The performances are the real horror of this movie. There isn’t a watchable moment between any of them and their dialogue is as wooden as the buildings that make up the town of Hellgate. It’s occasionally fun just through the sheer hilarity of it but laughing at bad acting is not a way to recommend a horror movie.

All that being said, through the sheer stupidity of it all, some may find this nonsense entertaining. Not us though, it’s just far too messy to be anything but a bad movie.


  • Carl Fisher

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