Gates Of Hell, The
Reviewed by Russell Dyball
Rating: 7.5 Beans
o enter Bad Movie Heaven, one must first pass through "The Gates Of Hell", Lucio Fulci's 1980 messterpiece of horror, Italian-style. For the uninitiated, the Italian horror genre works on the theory that:
Incomprehensible plot+maggots+bad dubbing+looooong meaningless pauses+more maggots+gore, made up of what appears to be animal intestines+still more maggots =sheer, unadulterated terror.
It all added up to something else entirely for me.
The plot, such as it is, involves the small town of
Dunwich, where a priest commits suicide, and somehow (it's never really explained) this act opens THE GATES OF HELL!!!!! Are you scared yet?
Oddly, the town seems evenly divided into two factions: the people who write off even the most blood-curdling sights and sounds with lame explanations, and those who are on the verge of a nervous breakdown whenever anything out of the ordinary occurs (sample dialogue: "Either I'm going out of my mind, or something very, very strange is going on!). The entire town is made up of Scullys and Mulders.
Even though it's a very small town, the characters tend to travel through the film in the own little cliques, never interacting outside their own group until the 2/3 point, giving a "Short Cuts" or "Magnolia" effect, where the viewer forgets that all these little stories he's been watching are actually all part of the same story. Only the porn movie music score connects the scenes to each other.
That, and the maggots. A whole storm of maggots in one scene. I'll give director Fulci his due; "The Gates Of Hell" has some of the most creative uses of maggots in Italian horror history. Shame I can't say the same for the zombie attacks...c'mon Lucio!
Three identical squeezing-the-brains-out-the-back-of-the-head scenes? A little creativity, please?!!!
Anyhow, the maggots hit the fan on All Saint's Day, when, as one character helpfully explains, "The dead are leaving their tombs". ("Aw, that's a load of crap", somebody replies. Exactly.) I won't spoil the ambiguous ending for you, but I will suggest you make sure you stay past the "huh?" of a climax to see the "double huh?" of a coda.
Open these "Gates" at your own risk.
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