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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Hellgate [Blu-ray]

 

(William A. Levey, 1989)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Distant Horizon

Video: Arrow Video

 

Disc:

Region: 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:31:03.499

Disc Size: 43,326,553,991 bytes

Feature Size: 26,250,565,632 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.00 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 3rd, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

• 'Road to Perdition, B-Movie Style' interview with director William A. Levey (36:30)

• 'Alien Invasion, Blaxploitation and Ghost-Busting Mayhem' filmmaker and fan Howard S. Berger on HELLGATE (13:06)

• 'Video Nasty' Kenneth Hall on the direct-to-video horror boom (8:20)

• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys

• Collector’s booklet featuring writing on the film by Lee Gambin, illustrated with original artwork and stills

• PAL DVD Copy Included

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Legends abound of ‘The Hellgate Hitchhiker’. So the story goes, a beautiful young woman was once brutally defiled and murdered by a biker gang. Now, returned from the dead, she wanders the roadside luring unsuspecting motorists to their doom...

Refusing to heed the warnings of locals, a group of college friends set out on a cross-country road trip looking for fun and frolics. But they get much more than they bargained for when they wind up in the abandoned mining town of Hellgate and hemmed in by hordes of the undead!

Providing gore and gags in equal measure, Hellgate recalls the good old days of early 90s fright flicks and challenges other gleefully twisted flicks such as RE-ANIMATOR and RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD for sheer grisly delirium!

 

 

The Film:

While waiting for a friend to arrive, three university students amuse themselves by telling ghost stories. Bobby tells the story of how back in the 1950s The Strangers motorcycle gang abducted Josie Carlyle and returned with her to Hellgate, a Western recreation town built by her father. Josie was killed as her father attempted to defend against the bikers. The father became embittered and misanthropic but then he found a crystal that was able to bring Josie back to life. In the present, one of the students is attacked by the father. The others disbelieve it so they travel to Hellgate to find the truth, where they are hunted by the father. Meanwhile, one of the guys falls in love with the undead Josie.

Excerpt from Moria located HERE

South Africa impersonates California here in what is one of the more surreal and nonsensical films I’ve seen in the last few weeks. I think Hellgate might have been intended to be a comedy. I’ll just leave it at “intended.” Anyway, the late Mr. Horshack (RIP) stars here as the forty year old college student who is late to meet his girlfriend and another couple at a vacation cabin somewhere near Truckee. As the others wait for him by the fireplace they tell ghost stories. It happens that the area where they are staying has a real doozy: a girl was kidnapped by a gang of bikers a few years back, and was accidentally killed in the chase. But it was okay, because her father found a crystal that shoots lasers that bring the dead back to life. Also, he already owned a ghost town attraction, so he filled it with laser crystal zombies. While this story is being told at the cabin, the wandering Horshack meets the dead girl on the road and she takes him back to the town so her father can kill him, because that’s what they’re into these days.

Excerpt from 90s Horror Movies located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Hellgate gets a top-shelf transfer to Blu-ray from Arrow in the UK.  The 1 1/2 hour film sneaks into dual-layered territory and has a max'ed out bitrate. There are some speckles but no real damage. It can be a shade inconsistent at times but I would suspect this is purely a factor of the available source. Colors are truer than SD could relate and there is no noise in the darker sequences. The 1080P supports solid contrast and some minor depth in the 1.78:1 frame. Arnold C. Horshack shows detail in his few close-ups and skinny Abigail Wolcott looks either smok'in or scary in 1080P. This Blu-ray provides Hellgate with a rendering beyond its cinematic value... to say the least.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The audio is transferred in a linear PCM 2.0 channels track at 1536 kbps. Dialogue has the limitations of the low-budget production. Sound effects are minimal without much bass impact. Some screams test the higher end and the film's music by Barry Fasman and Dana Walden seems forgettable but punctuating at supported sequences.  There are no optional subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

Extras :

Arrow remain very solid with the supplements. 'Road to Perdition, B-Movie Style' is a 46-minute interview with director William A. Levey. 'Alien Invasion, Blaxploitation and Ghost-Busting Mayhem' gives us 13-minutes with filmmaker and fan Howard S. Berger discussing Hellgate. 'Video Nasty' has Kenneth Hall on the direct-to-video horror boom - running 8.5 minutes. The package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys, a collector’s booklet featuring writing on the film by Lee Gambin, illustrated with original artwork and stills and there is a PAL DVD of the feature included.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Certgainly, Hellgate is one of the THE worst horror efforts from the 80s and 90s. Almost bordering on the weakest of all time. After a decent concept (vengeful, seducing, Zombie, hitchhiker) - it all goes to Hell (no pun) with ineffective dialogue/scripting, weak effects, reliance on T+A to replace some semblance of cohesiveness etc.  The Arrow Blu-ray provides a far better a/v transfer than the film deserves. Ditto for the supplements. I know there are those that thrive on this, generally regarded as, trash cinema - and this small group, the connoisseurs of schlock, we would be the ones I recommend the Blu-ray to. Most should pass. 

Gary Tooze

February 8th, 2014


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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