‘Beyond The Gates‘ is the first feature film from Jackson Stewart, an indie horror movie I’ve been super excited about for a long time. Last night I dropped the seven bones on Google Play to check it out. What originally really excited me about this movie was it’s central focus on a sinister VHS board game from the 1980’s called…you guessed it “Beyond The Gates”. These creepy VHS games were pretty popular back when I was a kid, so of course I automatically dug the nostalgia factor that this one had to offer from the start. I also was quite happy to see Graham Skipper (The Mind’s Eye, Almost Human) as one of the leads and also horror icon Barbara Crampton (From Beyond, Re-animator, We Are Still Here) as the creepy host of the VHS board game.
This one has a lot going for it from the get go and it’s quite an intriguing little mystery. Long story short, two brothers come to find that their alcoholic father has gone missing leaving behind his business, an old video store that he started back in 1992. Ah yes, the local video store, what great memories I have of those. Well as the brothers meet up to box up video tapes, close shop and reminisce about their childhood they discover the old VHS board game in the office.
Things get stranger when they realize the VHS tape from the game was the last thing their father had watched before he disappeared. This begins a series of bizarre events as the brothers and one of their girlfriends decide to give the game a try. I don’t want to give away any clues of the story, it’s a pretty engaging movie and a great dramatic story of two brothers finding peace with each other and their past. There’s a lot in this movie that I can relate to personally and that honestly is the strongest aspect of ‘Beyond The Gates’. It’s got a lot of heart.
I did like this movie, however it could have been one of the best horror movies of 2016 if perhaps it had a bit more of an imagination with the horror side of things and hey maybe a bigger budget? The horror aspect of this one kinda let me down. There were a couple of cool scenes that seemed like they were warming us up for a knock out finale. Sadly that knock out never really arrived, in fact the finale seemed like something that we might have expected to see around the half way mark. The movie had a 3 million dollar budget and personally I think they could have stretched it a bit and really given us a more surreal adventurous final act. I’ve seen movies with smaller budgets go a lot further than this. To me it seemed like a good movie that maybe ran out of money near the end of filming. The potential for some truly crazy stylized 80’s horror was definitely there but it lacked the imagination to give fright fans a truly memorable experience.
Overall I liked this movie more as drama and if I’d have known ahead of time that that’s more of what this was I’d be a little less critical of the horror aspect of things. That being said I still give it a thumbs up for a sweet yet creepy story that knows how to pull at your heartstrings. Check it out!
I checked out the ‘The Mind’s Eye’ the latest feature film from up and coming horror director Joe Begos last night and it was well worth the seven bucks spent on Googleplay for the rental. As I mentioned in a recent post it’s been described as the perfect sequel to Cronenberg’s classic “Scanners”. I’d say that’s a great description of what you’re in store for with The Mind’s Eye. The movie set in 1990 certainly feels like it was indeed made back then and set in the same Scanners universe. It’s a mean, gritty little movie that’s packed with exploding heads and gore a plenty. There’s no comedy mixed in either which is nice when a director is taking some chances delivering a no B.S. action movie on a low budget.
It follows two people on the run from a sinister government organization who’re hellbent on weaponizing the their telekinetic powers. The movie’s over the top villain, a normal man who’s figured out how to harvest their powers for his own however is hot on their trail along with a gang of goons ready to be torn to pieces. It’s a simple plot and maybe not the most original concept as the movie clearly borrows from ‘Firestarter’ & Brian De Palma’s ‘The Fury’ but you know what? That’s totally ok-because ‘Stranger Things’ was amazing and really a just a full on rip off of similar movies as well. We’ve also got Graham Skipper back in the lead who previously starred in Bego’s first flick ‘Almost Human’ along with Larry Fessenden in the role of his father. I never tire of seeing Larry show up in my horror movies, he’s a great addition to this one as well though his role is quite brief.
The cool thing about this movie is that it really does feel like it’s been plucked from the late 80’s. Begos uses his effects wisely and nothing that he does feels like it would have appeared in a movie after 1990. You won’t get any CG here everything is done by way of practical effects making everything feel way more organic and real world. While not being a better movie than Scanners (But better than it’s many sequels) it certainly feels like a lost sci-fi/horror movie from the era, one that you might be hunting down today for a rare vhs copy of.
As cool as all this is there are points in the movie where you’re hoping for the psycho-kinetic battles to go a bit farther than they did. Begos doesn’t give you much new to chew on here and I was hoping a few times for things to get a bit more batshit crazy towards the end. Perhaps if Begos was given a bigger budget he’d have been able to expand on the genre rather than keep it evenly at bay. Either way if you come in it not expecting anything more than a cool ass movie that feel like it was made back in 1990 you won’t be disappointed. I’ve a feeling we’ll be seeing Joe Begos rise to the top of the horror genre in the next few years, I’ll definitely be there again for his next movie.
Here’s something to check out this weekend, a brand new release if you’re craving something on the retro side of science fiction horror. The Mind’s Eye is the second movie from Joe Begos and it looks like another winner. I dug his first movie “Almost Human” which was neat little alien flick that also had that retro 80’s vibe to it part Invasion of the Body Snatchers and part Fire in the Sky. Now we’ve got his undenialble homage to Cronenberg.
Borrowing a more than it’s fair share of Scanners, boasting a lot of exploding heads and psychic warfare this movie sounds like a damn good time for a Saturday night. Add to all that another awesome movie poster (Almost Human had a great one too) and some Larry Fessenden to the cast – This one is on the top of my list of new Horror and was just released yesterday for a limited theatrical run and VOD!