Posted: 10/13/2008

 

Hell’s Gate

(2001)

by Del Harvey




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Director John Hough has pieced together a slasher film which feels like a patchwork of other films, thanks in large part to its overarching concept. That concept is that Jack the Ripper had a girlfriend and together, they’ve been reincarnated. Their current forms are as a shrink named “Trey” (Patrick Muldoon) and his mental patient, “Agnes” (Patsy Kensit). How such a concept got a green light is the big mystery here. What we see is something that has the flavor of multiple films, including Dead Again, Time After Time, and Fatal Attraction, among others.
The film opens with a flashback to a younger version of Agnes stripping out of her parochial school uniform before slipping on a pair of skintight and see-through panties. This perverse fantasy is taken one step further when a hidden predator jolts her with a car battery until she recalls her past life as Jack the Ripper’s GF. (Nevermind the logic behind a psychotic such as the Ripper being able to have any kind of normal relationship in the first place.)
Fast forward to a Patsy Kensit-aged Agnes biting off an orderly’s tongue and escaping from the asylum. She sells her body to get across country in pursuit of the mysterious Trey, who is traveling with his wife Carly (Amy Locane) and daughter Theresa (Aimee O’Sullivan).
And so the film goes, bouncing back and forth in time via the overused flashback sequence. Thanks to the weak concept, the poor execution, bad special effects, weak acting, and even weaker direction, we end up with an unintentionally funny bit of almost horror, sprinkled with sensational flashes of softcore porn, and punctuated with scenes of murder and mayhem which are unfortunately laughable.
The biggest problem is that it’s not quite bad enough to be camp. It comes close but, even that that, the film fails pathetically.

Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.



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