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The production values for this film which places the doors of hell in a
must have been extremely low; probably even lower than in Umberto Lenzi's
'Black Demons' (aka Demoni 3) he made two years later.
There is not much going on in the film, and Lenzi doesn't even seem to try to deliver some thrilling atmosphere. At least there are some cheap but effective gore scenes that are strikingly similar to the gore FX in 'Black Demons' (the guy who did those is maybe only capable of faking gouging out eyes and splitting skulls with axes - who knows?).
And yet this mess is quite entertaining. It could be that the German dubbing is reason for my opinion, because the (uncut) German video version boosts such a bad dubbing that it delivers lots of unintended humor to please the viewer. This is pure trash, and people who want to see good films by Umberto Lenzi rather stick to his violent police thrillers of the 1970s.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Well - HELL'S GATE is no CANNIBAL FEROX, that much is for sure. It is
entertaining in a turn-your-brain-off-and-laugh sort of way - so it may
be of interest to Italian horror fans...just don't expect a FEROX-style
A group of spelunkers go down to help out their buddy who's been hanging out in a cave for 78 days as part of some sort of record. During the last hour of his underground incarceration, the record-setter freaks out and starts screaming that someone/thing is trying to kill him - so his buddies decide to try to get him out. A pair of meddling college kids looking for an underground tomb join the group and they all go in search of the missing cave-dweller. They find him and he starts talking about being stalked by some sort of force. Meanwhile the college kids find the tomb they're looking for, and they find that the area is cursed by the souls of seven monks who have to murder seven heretics in order to free themselves of the curse. Of course, the spelunkers start getting picked-off by the vengeful spirits - or so you think...
HELL'S GATE is fun on a few levels - there's some OK gore in one or two scenes, and there's a few unintentionally hilarious scenes - one of the group actually asks one of the others what year it is when trying to calculate the 700 year cycle of the curse. At another point, when one of the group is killed by spiders and the gang is trying to figure out what killed him - the "doctor" says that it looks like insect bites, maybe of the kind that would come from bugs FROM THE AMAZON??!!!??? I'm not even gonna try to figure out the reasoning where Amazonian bugs would travel to a cave in Italy just to attack someone - but who knows. Anyway - not a total flop of a film, but definitely nothing extremely notable. It kept my interest for the most part so I'll give it a slightly better-than-average rating. The ending is a bit stupid and cliché - but I'm used to that as well...6/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Umberto Lenzi reaches deep and scrapes the bottom of the barrel
thoroughly with this low-to-no budget horror set in caverns beneath an
ancient church. With only a minimum of gore and absolutely no technical
merit, this dreadful movie will test the patience of even the most
dedicated horror completist.
A man who has recently broken the world isolation record in a labyrinthine cave encounters seven ghostly monks who, seven hundred years after their execution during the inquisition, attempt to free themselves from damnation by killing seven hereticsthe record-breaker and his would-be rescuers.
With a mind-numbingly awful script, leaden acting, bargain-basement effects and an ending ripped off from Lenzi's own Nightmare City (the whole film is a portent imagined by the heroine), this little-seen film is a chore to sit through.
Two early deathsa skull smashing and an eye gougingshow some promise, but what follows is tedious in the extreme. Arachnophobes may find several scenes featuring tarantula attacks difficult to watch, but considering this movie is from the man who gave us the legendary (and extremely violent) Cannibal Ferox, Hell's Gate is a real let down.
Umberto Lenzi will always have a place on my list of favourite directors. His Eurocrime films are second to none; and the director also delivered a handful of brilliant Giallo's, as well as some classic films in other genres. However, towards the end of his career, it would seem that he stopped caring and thus began putting some of the worst rubbish to come out of Italy. With the exception of Welcome to Spring Break, Lenzi didn't make a single half decent film after Cannibal Ferox; and Gate of Hell does nothing to improve that record! The film fits into that whole 'hell on earth' "genre" which was made popular by Lucio Fulci's The Beyond in 1981. The plot focuses on a bunch of cave explorers that find a gate to hell under the Earth's crust, with disastrous(ly boring) results. Seriously, this has to be one of the very worst films of its kind - there's absolutely NOTHING of interest in the whole film. Not even the special effects offer any entertainment...not that the film is particularly gory anyway. It really does just drone on for the entire torturous running time and there's absolutely no reason to bother tracking this dross down.
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