The Legend of Hell's Gate: An American Conspiracy (2011) Poster

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A big piece of trash
kluseba16 September 2012
I lately watched this modern Western with a friend and as a big fan of the genre, I must admit that this flick is one of the worst Westerns I have ever watched and in general one of the worst movies I have seen in quite a while. The only reasons why this movie got two points are some gorgeous landscapes and the good choice of decorations and also costumes for the actors.

The rest is just awful apart of some beautiful actresses that though have only quite short roles. The movie lacks of a coherent story line and randomly follows a couple of poorly written side stories that are not even told until the end. The acting is quite bad and filled with stereotypes concerning the Indians or a strange Russian hunter where one might ask what he is doing in Texas after all. The characters have all no development or depth at all. The dialogues are the most awful thing and make this movie very hard to sit through. The characters simply talk a lot without saying anything intelligent.

The movie lacks of suspense and humour and also of action scenes. The film is composed of landscape scenes, endless dialogues and switches from one story line to the other. Sometimes, these switches happen so fast one quickly gets confused with the high number of secondary characters and the weird chronology of the movie while at other moments one stays half an hour with the same characters without anything going on at all. The few action passages are very poor and can be resumed to random shooting scenes where the actors feel very bored and wooden and die without big emotions at all.

There is nothing hellish or legendary about this flick and the note that this movie is based on true events is just a cheap way to attract some more viewers as most of this flick simply is pure fiction built up around a few nebulous facts. The short side story around the possible Abraham Lincoln murderer is the most laughable thing about this flick and it doesn't have anything to do at all with the rest of the movie. This part was only included to make American patriots watch this movie and they will be disappointed quite soon. One doesn't even get to know why the guy killed the president of the United States of America, we only get to see a weird barman played by some sort of cheap Johnny Depp copy getting drunk and feeling sick who then thinks he dies and reveals his killing secret only to wake up in perfect health the next morning and leave the city without any urge and problem after somebody has stolen his possessions. This bit seems to be quite random to you? Yes, it is and so is the entire rest of this big letdown. Just avoid this piece of trash at all costs and don't get fooled by the promising title or partially wrong advertisements.
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Acting let it down
sgroyle26 June 2012
What could have been a good movie was let down by bad acting,particularly by the Director/Actor. A terrible Irish accent and "hammy" at the best of times. Others weren't much better. I understand that this was a low-budget indie film and applaud the effort, but surely there's more acting talent than this. Apart from the acting, the events leading to the "main plot" do not get there until halfway through the movie and then fade away almost as quickly. What we are really watching is a movie about three bad guys on the run; and that could have worked,but didn't have enough character development to make us care.
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Nothing Legendary About This Oater
zardoz-1315 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Writer & Director Tanner Beard's western "The Legend of Hell's Gate: An American Conspiracy" boasts terrific scenery, evocative photography, atmospheric settings, and some fair acting by a motley crew of character actors and television thespians. Unfortunately, this dreary, low-budget oater wanders all over the range and lacks central dramatic focus. The characters are drawn with all the depth of a sketch, and the obstacles that they encounter seem more annoying than challenging. The story concerns three desperadoes who find themselves on foot in the wilderness after they shoot their mounts. They're lugging several jugs of stolen moonshine whiskey as they struggle to elude a posse as well as a mountain man. Nothing remotely memorable occurs in this PG-13 survival of the fittest yarn. Outlaw Will Edwards (Eric Balfour of "Skyline"), small-time railroad thief James McKinnon (Tanner Beard), and a conniving youngster named Kelly (Lou Taylor Pucci) evade a posse on horseback and commandeer a boat that belongs to a mountain man (Jim Beaver) who has just loaded it up with furs and whiskey. Later, this trio of ill-fated fugitives stumbles onto a camp of Native Americas and get them drunk so they can appropriate their one and only horse. Edwards and McKinnon leave Kelly behind as they strike out on their own. Meanwhile, a man who claims to be John Wilkes Booth (Henry Thomas of "E.T.") lies dying in a small Texas town. While he tries to convince a man that he is Abraham Lincolon's assassin, Kelly ransacks his room and steals all his memorabilia. Chiefly, the characters lack charisma, and Beard never generates any suspense and tension about their pursuit. The film concludes on a historical note about the actual story behind Hell's Gate, but even a last-minute history lesson cannot salvage this outdoor adventure is hopeless forgettable.
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kozykitten27 August 2012
This movie was boring and seemed to go nowhere. You keep waiting for the action to break out and it never does. It just kind of limps along the entire time. My husband gave up and went to bed. I stayed up and watched to the end thinking it would pick up at any time. It just never did. Rented it at Redbox, but felt completely ripped off even at $1.20. I would not suggest renting this unless you are completely bored and have watched everything else available. The acting was OK, not good or bad really, but that could have easily been overlooked with a decent story line. All the scenes just seemed very isolated from each other. The characters didn't really interact well either, it was very stilted.
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A very watchable and entertaining western. Better then most of the recent offerings. Surprisingly good. I say B
Tony Heck16 June 2012
"My name is not St. Helens, my name John Booth the assassin of Abraham Lincoln." Just outside Possum Kingdom Lake in Texas there is a cliff formation that is known as Hell's Gate. During the 1870's this place was home to notorious outlaws and crimes. When a young boy overhears a conversation involving the local bartender he thinks he found a way to get rich. He teams with two strangers in order to make it rich and famous. Being a huge history buff this movie seemed very interesting to me. It says based on a true story, but I'm not sure how accurate this actually is. I have been saying that the western genre has really fallen off in the last ten years. This one is still a definite B western, but it is much much better then most of the recent ones. The acting is iffy at best but the story keeps you watching and I was actually surprised at how much I was enjoying it. Overall, not a bad western at all. Very watchable and pretty entertaining. I give it a B.
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Good little western for the masses
Momo-361 August 2011
I had seen the short and then saw the film at the Newport festival. A good 'indie' western production and the ever glowing Summer Rain is always a favorite! Eric Balfour was interesting to see in this genre. Rest of the cast was good and nice to see some new Indian actors, who can act. All in all a good film considering the budget isn't nearly as much as big studio produced westerns. I would suggest it for those who love westerns, Eric Balfour, Summer Rain and conspiracy theorists. Great to see Henry Thomas - E.T. anyone? I know he's done other films but he had a meaty role finally. Something that was a bit of a stand out role, which he hasn't had a lot of. When and if it is the theaters, I'll suggest my parents to go see it. It's got a wide appeal as the cast is young and now with Cowboys and Aliens, the younger generation will start having an appreciation for westerns again.
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BOO! TERRIBLE. You probably couldn't pay me to watch this again!!
klzarilla8 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I am a big western fan, and haven't found too many that I dislike. However, I never watch modern ones because I assume none of them could be good. However, I rented this at a redbox cause I have watched everything else and I must say this is a TERRIBLE movie! I cant believe it has a single good review. Nor can I understand how a person could say they enjoyed watching this! I agree with many of comments I have read. You can even put a spoiler in this because there is nothing to spoil. This was advertised to be "based on true events," well I guess they weren't lying, but they just added a few different events together and put them in a movie. I kept watching and watching thinking the climax would come or it would get good but it didn't. I haven't seen a movie this terrible for a long time! It had no actual meaning. It was just a few guys that grouped together for no good reason and became thieves. In the end, it caught up with them, but not even for a good reason. They never even accomplished anything. The end didn't even tell you what happens to the survivor. It jumped from one scene to the next and you couldn't tell who was who or why something was happening or if there was a purpose for certain events. In the end, none of the events really tied together. The only good thing I can say is that the costumes were nice and there were some good looking actors/actresses. That is about it. It just totally lacked reasoning. Even if you are recreating an actual event in history, it should be something worthwhile and having a meaning to it. There was a comment about how this guy was an actor/writer/producer in this. That means nothing. The Irish accent was HORRID! Look at John Wayne as an example. Even though John Wayne is an all-time favorite actor in my book, he wrote, produced, and acted in The Alamo. The Alamo was kind of a low-climax movie, and there was no great surprise or exciting story ending, but it was to reenact something that happened in history. This movie was made years ago and still was MUCH BETTER. Although it didn't have a great suspense, big climax, or happy resolution, it still was enjoyable and made you have an appreciation for the story at hand. This was none of that! It wasn't even telling a story that was some important part of Texas' history. I am just rambling on, kind of like this Movie! I just am soo disappointed that I stayed up watching this for nothing!
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If at first you don't succeed ...
swimtwobirds6 August 2012
Some 15 years ago I wrote a piece 'eBooks: the future of storytelling' in which I speculated on how technological advance changes the way stories are told, indeed, changes the stories themselves. Amongst other then rather fanciful prophecies I foretold a device which would project odour to accompany a movie story. Now I see that this has at last become a reality; at least, this Hell's Gate really does smell - like an overused outhouse on a hot summer's day.

Any movie is a story; and a story must be coherent; this is not. Satyricon is not; it is a pastiche – but it took a genius like Fellini to get away with it. That Hollywood will spend millions on CG and explosions while at the same time keeping the writers' bill down in the thousands, and that begrudged, is well known. But for the rising indie, the rebel who seeks to displace the big guys, hopefully by artistic skill and quality, to produce a story based on a script jotted on the back of an old envelope is not the way to go. Your job is to tell a coherent story; do it with all of the ornamentation you can add, but never so much that its coherence is lost, or even threatened.

Scripts comprise actions and dialogue; there was plenty of action in this movie, some of it even meaningful, but of dialogue – well? Were we witnessing a new trend in movie-making, the all-ad-libbed attention addler? Could the 'talent' not remember their lines? Did they know what 'articulation' and 'enunciation' mean? Or could the handi- cams not pick up their voices? Not enough interest to do a few voice loops in post-prod? If Shakespeare had written a grunt for Hamlet to recite instead of 'To be or not to be' and the next 20 lines, the world of theatre would be a poorer place; yet this malodourous malevolence of a movie apparently seeks to promote the grunt as mankind's last word in oral articulation and verbal communication. The grunt, while having the merit of brevity, does lack specificity.

Another element required of a story is that its audience relates to it – they relate to the characters. Often audiences relate to the guy they see on the screen – the actor – instead of to the character; but that's Hollywood for you, either way those bozos make money. Indies don't have Cruises or Schwarzneggers in their budgets; but they can cast an actor into a suitable part and support that actor into dressing out and projecting the character, and its development, if they have the skill. Mr Beard, why didn't you do that?

With camera tripods so affordable, and good liquor so dear, how come the decision to use camerapersons apparently afflicted with the shakes and the staggers?

And what was the dreadfully delivered Oirish accent all about? Thousands of very talented Irish in the world (meself, for example), all with accents, many with acting skills, eager for a chance, and you have to offend an entire nation by putting this gratuitous foulness into your 'script'? Of course, since there is so little else in the script, perhaps the multi-talent-free 'writer', 'director' and (of course) his own 'leading man' felt obliged to put something in – anything! I suppose he called it 'color', or 'character' when he was begging dad-in-law for the backing.

I think the whole movie was best epitomised by the shoot-out scene in the bar and outside it – 'full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.' While we may be amused at the great waste of gunpowder as against the minimal resulting carnage – how very opposed to Hollywood is this! – we are ultimately not engaged because we have no idea who these people are, or why they are doing this – and so we frankly don't care. Which is the single most telling aspect of this movie that you project, Mr Beard: we don't care, most likely because you didn't.

Yet it's not a total loss; what merit came through incites me to say that I hope you try again.
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What the,,,,???
tbssic20 June 2014
Sadly the least I could give this (film?) was one star. Had there been anything less, I'd have clicked it. I've seen every cowboy ever made and this is right up there with the worst.

The best part of the movie was that a lot of it was so dark that I couldn't see what was happening. I understand that dimming the lights is supposed to set the mood but,,,, total darkness??? It was so dark that the plot was also hidden from view. I've seen the sepia thing done before, especially interior shots, to try to give the film a period, old time, down and out, depressed look but in this case, it came off as if it was a copycat move and pressing to make up for a lack of,,, everything a good movie should have. There may have been some good scenery shots but any parts of the movie that you could actually see, looked as if they were all shot on a foggy day, 10 minutes before sundown. The scenes jumped around so much that I couldn't make any connection. And the individual scenes were filled with,,,, filler; unrelated, irrelevant, clock eating junk. In all honesty, I watched only 45 minutes and I had absolutely no idea what it was about. There was no suspense, no drama, no continuity, no plot, nothing to keep me watching.

I know nothing at all about anyone connected with this movie, except Buck Taylor, so they may all be first timers. The production quality, sets and costumes were all pretty good. The acting, direction, editing and camera could use a bit of work but wasn't bad. It was easy to see that there was a lot of effort but,,, without light bulbs and a story,,, it was all for naught. I think they all should give it another try, but for God's sake,, next time,, wait for a story. See: Shane, High Noon, Unforgiven, The Tall T, Hondo.....
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Not good
T Dugger Dick29 October 2013
I wanted it to be good, because I like the Western genre, but this wasn't... I wasn't given any reason to like any of the characters... There were no memorable performances... I might even say it was as bad as "Grown Ups"... You might think maybe the lack of budget caused it, but I think the story couldn't have been saved by a larger budget... Other items to not...... The guy playing Doc Holliday tried to sound like Val Kilmer... It didn't work... The guy playing the Irish guy tried to sound like an Irish guy... It didn't work... Movie just seemed to end without rhyme or reason... And they spelled "Enid" as in Enid, Oklahoma "Edin" in the closing 'what happened to these characters' thing they put up to explain what happened to characters when the movie just ended.
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Movie with the World's Dumbest Mule
redwhiteandblue177619 February 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This movie should come with a warning label – "Don't even look for a plot." I enjoy westerns and always look forward to seeing newer ones. So I had great hopes. There were some positive points. Great scenery, costuming and they shot black powder revolvers so there was the correct amount of smoke. So much for the positive. There was NO plot, just a rambling from one scene to the next which may or may not have been loosely connected. I kept waiting for it to all get tied together, but it never did. That mule had to be the dumbest mule in the world falling off the cliff like that. I've worked with horses all my life and generally mules are much more sure-footed that a horse. I had to marvel at how fast the three amigos could run and leap through the woods, each carrying several huge bags containing jugs full of booze. And all the time, outrunning the pursuing horses. Amazing. Watch if you like movies with dark filtered scenes, dialog that's hard to hear and "stories" with no beginning no middle and no end.
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"I do not condone killing over wagers on my property."
classicsoncall16 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Thought I might have been missing something but based on the majority of reviews here, apparently not. The most frustrating part of the story was figuring out who the principal characters were supposed to be. That was finally cleared up about half way through, but with virtually no coherence to a rational story line. The Doc Holliday segment caught my attention for the mere reason that he charged $13.14 to pull a bad tooth; how did he come up with that fee? The business with John Wilkes Booth might have been more interesting if the theory that he survived after the assassination of President Lincoln had some credibility. And gee, do you really think a mule would lose his balance and fall off a cliff? Although thinking about it now, that might have been an appropriate metaphor for this picture. The Legend of Hell's Gate likely needs a new origin story.
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Great Job:This movie has the look and ambiance of Lonesome Dove without vulgar insinuations.
keechicreek18 April 2012
Movie Review of "The Legend of Hells Gate" by GW "Bill" Johnson I just saw Tanner Bearden's Legend of Hells Gate: An American Conspiracy. He wrote it; directed it; and helped star in it along with Eric Balfour who also covers the ground he stands on. Star watchers should get a bright red permanent marker and put a big check next to these young men's names. Bearden a 28 year old young man is gifted along with his whole family as I found out. In Texas we would say; "He'll do to swim the river with". This movie has the look and ambiance of Lonesome Dove without vulgar insinuations.

Bill Johnson Flat Rock Crossing on Big Keechi Creek, Texas
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