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Case Number 02173: Small Claims Court

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Hell's Gate

Artisan // 2001 // 92 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron (Retired) // September 11th, 2002

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All Rise...

The Charge

There is no escape.

The Case

A sicko sleaze service station attendant kidnaps a middle-aged actress portraying a high school girl, strips her of her dignity (and clothes), and ties her to a wrought iron bed to administer a little electroshock tough love. After zapping her with 40,000 volts, she remembers that she was Jack the Ripper's girlfriend, and he was a foul strumpet in need of an emergency spleenectomy. These past lives clash in a torrent of blood (and groans from the audience) and our menopausal Miss escapes and "ten years later" transforms into the even more matured Patsy Kensit. Locked in an asylum for killing prostitutes, she meets dunderheaded Dr. Trey Campbell, and thinks she has finally found her long lost hacky Jack. (See…there is all this past life/reincarnation/Shirley Maclaine dog dung going on here.) When the dense headshrinker drags his undead wife and pigletted daughter on a vacation to Capilla Blanco (White…Chapel. Get it?), our deluded dingbat goes on a psycho killing frenzy. She slices and dices her way to the seaside village, using incredible dumb luck, coincidence, and a trip to a lipstick lesbian bar to aid her death spree. Upon arriving, she turns from murderous cow into the Empress of exposition as the whole story is told ten more times in hopes that everyone finally understands just what the wench is going on.

If that plot description sounds a little confusing, have no fear. Hell's Gate is even more convoluted. It opens like The Ribald Adventures of the Grease Monkey and the Graduate, and then veers off into a horrible faux slasher film with sequences in dopey period costumes to add ambience and additional bewilderment. The whole "Jack is back" past life idea is stoopid, with the notion of the Ripper having a FEMALE accomplice sounding about as realistic as Kensit playing someone in her mid 20s. Whatever acting skill or beauty she had in the past (and it's obviously in the DISTANT past) has left her in a cloud of rock star marriage excess and tabloid headlines. Not that any amount of yellow journalism could help this film. The main problem with Hell's Gate is that there is no horror. It is not scary or suspenseful. Kensit's character, Agnes, shows no qualms about killing anyone and everyone to get to her goal (the doctor and his family). However, the minute she gets within a whiff of their (un)happy household, she turns into a Duffy, the Procrastinating Slayer. Endless minutes go by while she talks and thinks and plans and stalks and hems and haws until we just wish she'd gut the suckers and head over to London to see the Queen. The 1888 dream/fantasy sequences are thankfully infrequent and reek of the "freshen your drink, guv'nah" school of British history and accents. And that bizarre gas station/electrified past life regression opening will have you grabbing the keep case to see if you bought the proper title.

Artisan does an honest job with this DVD package. It offers excellent sound, with a distinct "distant waves crashing along the shore" effect in the Surround mix. The image is satisfactory (if decidedly full frame) with only very minor compression issues toward the end. And you even get some suitable extras. But this disc would have to mow your lawn, offer you a full blown sensual massage with warm Kukui nut oil, and make you a Chicago style deep dish pizza before it would even approach being purchasable. It is an exceptionally dreary film. It wants to be Friday The 13th meets From Hell, or Fatal Attraction mixed into Murder by Decree. But with its absurd plot, static acting, and lack of scares, the best it can be is Audrey Rose with bawdy cockney songs. Those evil people in the world, mired in sin and awash with iniquity can be guaranteed a view of the portals to Hades when they pass away. And only those who drown their soul in vice should ever witness Hell's Gate, if only to experience what awaits them in the afterlife. Before they are reincarnated as Hitler's Speedo.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 25

Perp Profile

Studio: Artisan
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Bad
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• Director and Cast Filmographies
• Trailer
• Photo Gallery
• Interactive Menus


• IMDb

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