Hellgate (1989)

hellgate poster 1989 movie review
1 Overall Score
Story: 1/10
Acting: 1/10
Visuals: 1/10


Almost so-bad-it-is-good but mostly just bad

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Hellgate

Studio:  Distant Horizon

Genre(s):  Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  May 1989 (Cannes Film Festival)/August 8, 1990 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R


There’s got to be a morning after…

A small mountain town holds a secret.  In the ’50s, a girl named Josie Carlyle (Abigail Wolcott) was killed by greaser bikers.  Her father Lucas (Carel Trichardt) discovered a crystal able to raise the dead, now Josie wanders the roads looking for unsuspecting victims to bring back to Hellgate.  When Matt (Ron Palillo) gets lost on his way to meet his friends Pam (Petrea Curran), Chuck (Evan J. Klisser), and Bobby (Joanne Warde), he meets Josie and takes her home.  Realizing that the legend might be true, Matt and his friends set out to save Josie…with horrible consequences.

Directed by William A. Levey, Hellgate is a low-budget horror film.  The movie was packaged with The Pit in a double feature on DVD but has since gone out of print.


Feel my flaming axe of justice!!! (fortunately my hand is coated in non-flammable gel).

Because no one demanded it, you get Ron “Horshack” Palillo in a movie that is almost a soft-core porn horror film.  The hodgepodge movie really doesn’t have much direction, planning, or scares.  It verges on so-bad-it-is-good…but really is just so-bad.

The plot of the movie is all over the place.  It starts out as a ghost story set-up with a Fifties theme and then it turns into this weird sorcery story involving a glowing crystal that brings back people from the dead (or turns them into mutants in the case of the giant fish).  The Josie character also doesn’t make much sense since she is at sometimes a nice girl on the road and other times an evil she-beast.  You add this weak plot with a group of the dumbest twenty-something characters (plus a group of bad supporting characters from the diner), and you have a horrible movie that just drags for its hour and a half.


So the blue crystal turns goldfish into mutant exploding fish…

Ron Palillo just isn’t a leading man and definitely not a sex symbol.  Despite this, he’s the best actor in this movie (and that isn’t a compliment).  Everyone just reads their lines, and not only does it look like a soft-core porn, it sounds like a soft-core porn with all the actors delivering flat, uninspired dialogue in a wooden way.

The movie is very soft focused and wispy.  Occasionally the sets of the films look ok, but generally everything looks rather cheap.  It isn’t aided by the fact that it is an ’80s movie with very ’80s special effects done on the cheap.

Hellgate is bad…real bad.  It is hard to tell if the movie makers knew that it was bad or not.  Sometimes Hellgate is listed as a comedy, but I really don’t know if it was intended to be.  If you are going to watch it, watch it with a group and just enjoy making fun of it…it has MST3K written all over it…minus the porn.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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