Goon Review: Beyond the Gates (2016)

(HEARETH YE, HEARETH YE: THIS POST WAS SUBMITTED BY MR. ANDREW “GOON” PETERS. ALL OPINIONS CONTAINED THEREIN BELONGETH TO HE, AS I, YOUR HO-STESS, LOVE THE SHIT OUT OF THIS FILM..Opinions be-eth like aresholes, though, so let’s see what Mr. Peters has to say…even if he’s, like, sooooooooo wrong. 😉 xoxo)

Who remembers VHS board games, huh? I sure do. They were short in time, obviously because of the VHS run times, where players were often given tasks or challenges to complete or face the consequences. These used to give me so much anxiety as you and your friends scrambled frantically, pitted against each other in a race against the clock, collecting items along the way. My first exposure to these was Nightmare which was hosted against a hooded Emperor Palpatine knockoff called The Gatekeeper. He would openly mock you and scream at you, scaring the piss out of you unless you weren’t the one being yelled at in which case, then it was hilarious. As time progressed, his voice morphed and he looked more decrepit, giving the game a very tense and scary atmosphere. Hey, Atmosphere was the name of sequel (yes, even board games had sequels), but I don’t remember that one nearly as much. By that time, my sister had been playing Party Mania, Mall Madness and my personal favorite, Dream Phone. What can I say, I like VHS board games. Besides, seeing my sister get angry when I was winning the cute boys rather than her was priceless. I still have all these games, but unfortunately I don’t get to play them as much, mostly because nobody else wants to. On the rare occasion whenever I have company and I present it to them, I have to take it out of my cabinet that creaks open and blow the dust off of it like I’m uncovering a relic from another time.

Beyond the Gates is an indie film that tries to capture that magic, but ends up more using VHS rentals and VHS board games as side notes in a family drama. When I first heard about the premise of the film and saw the neon pink and blue artwork I thought that this is the kind of movie for me! Maybe it was because I was expecting something else, something that would please my nostalgic sense for the VHS days or maybe my expectations were too high. I went in thinking I was going to get a playful movie (maybe in the vein of something like Monster Squad) with two goofball brothers puttering about a video store, but instead what I got was an indie melodrama with low key performances and misplaced gore. It definitely wasn’t what I expected and not for the better.

Gordon and John, two estranged brothers played by Graham Skipper and Chase Williamson, reunite to clear out their father’s VHS store after he’s been missing for over half a year. Luckily for the plot, their father is a drunk who disappears from time to time when he’s going on a bender. Rather than have it be a mystery, something the film could have really been creative with in exploring, they decide to go with the ‘drunken dad that vanishes occasionally’ trope to move things along and not to raise any questions. That’s only one of the few missed opportunities in the beginning. For starters, I know the brothers are supposed to be estranged, but this comes off like they have never met before. The interaction between the two is beyond weird and more off putting, like trying to affectionately hug a total stranger. In fact, this is sealed when they share a more than awkward hug. The next thing is the video store itself is barely explored. You could have walls of VHS for the sharp eyed nostalgia hunters while the brothers discuss odd movies and their experiences with them, something I’m sure the targeted audience could relate to, but it’s all merely looked over as the two mumble their problems vaguely, nearly sleepwalking through their performances, although to be fair, Chase Williamson seems like he’s trying.

Things change when the two uncover a VHS board game called Beyond the Gates. Curious, they pop in the time and right away something seems off. The still incredibly sexy Barbara Crampton is the host of this game, trying to give a sensual, yet mysterious performance that comes across as dull, inviting the players to take a change if they so dare. A flickering screen causes them headaches and they shut the tape off, but John decides he wants to hang onto it. The design of the game itself was pretty cool, looking like it was scratched together with cheap art pens. It really reminded me of all my folders and notebooks in high school after I would draw all over them. But enough of something that could be interesting, let’s get back to some more cliched drama as the two head home. Gordon has his girlfriend Margot who supports him in a loving way and actually tries to be there for him, despite his past demons. His past demons though, not that interesting seeing as he used to be a heavy drinker. It’s mentioned a few times or hinted at, but the film never actually does anything with this. John, on the other hand, has his friend Hank who is somewhat of a date rapist scumbag simply because he was there for him when his dad bailed.

This is where the film actually comes through in terms of character development as you really see how John needed Gordon. Their mom died when they were younger, so their dad resorted to drinking and that’s when the divide began to happen between the two. John eagerly wants to be close to his brother again, who seems to have nearly no interest (at first). You also get the feeling he clearly doesn’t like Hank and doesn’t want to be around him, but Hank has been by his side when his brother wasn’t, so it’s almost like he’s his friend out of disappointment or anger. I have to really give Chase Williamson credit here for bringing a really decent performance.

Curious once again, they decide to play the board game and this is when the gears start turning a little quicker. Slowly, the trio realizes the game is something more sinister as darker events take place, like a few localized deaths. Realizing what is happening, it’s revealed to them that their father disappeared from playing the game and in order to save his soul, they must complete the game… which nobody has ever done. Now, once they start playing the game, you’d figure they would be trapped playing it until it’s complete, but you’d be wrong. At least here. They occasionally stop to have dinner or even go to bed and honestly, it really destroys the pacing and tension it was creating. The stake were becoming higher and really interesting and creepy things were going on, but hey, people gotta have a family dinner after all or run errands. It doesn’t seem like they are in any hurry to uncover their father’s fate or even save his soul.

Beyond the Gates tries to capture the whimsy of growing up in the ‘90s, perhaps playing in your board games in your basement or perhaps using your imagination to pretend you are in a more wizardly world, but ultimately fails. It’s too bogged down in trying to be emotionally deep and frightening instead of actually being either. It really tries to bring some real emotion to the screen through the tragedy of the character’s’ history, but spends too much time beating a dead horse of a cliche leaving it feeling uninteresting for the most part. To the movie’s credit, it does try and it’s not like it’s a total abject failure in those aspects, it’s just that it spends too much time on them when it should be doing something else. Like, exploring the world of the board game, for example. I did like the aesthetic of the game and it did somewhat remind me of the games I used to play and while Barbara Crampton does give her dialogue a sultry tone, she isn’t given anything else to do aside from cackle here and there. I figured she would have broken the fourth wall occasionally to taunt the brothers, much like The Gatekeeper from Nightmare. Speaking of that, one thing I did like is much like how The Gatekeeper progressively becomes slightly more decrepit looking through Nightmare’s playtime, Barbara Crampton’s eyes are blackened more and more. I actually didn’t notice at first and I thought it was a nice subtle approach to low budget solution to that. They also used neon lighting at times and a gate that appears in their basement that seemingly goes into a void of blackness, which is extremely moody and does capture a wild imagination of not knowing what to expect next. Unfortunately, those moments don’t happen too often.

Knowing that their had to be consequences to playing the game, the movie adds in some gore which really feels misplaced in a movie like this. The same goes for the cursing and I know it sounds peculiar for a grown adult to be complaining about gore and swearing, but it doesn’t feel like it should belong here. If anything, it takes you out of the world the movie is desperately trying to create. Seeing as it’s trying to exploit your nostalgia, you figure it would want to appeal to the more childlike senses you have. Aside from being bogged down in a lot of drama, you then throw in a mixed bag of mature themes, so the kid in me feels thrown off. I don’t know, maybe I’m being extremely naive, but I feel like Beyond the Gates could have benefitted from being a little more tongue in cheek, perhaps a little more playful. It wants to appeal to your childhood memories, so I feel like it should have acted perhaps a little more childish, maybe a Monster Squad or Goonies type of feel as these guys played this board game. I dunno, it really feels like a missed opportunity.

The Blu-ray from Scream Factory, in a partnership with IFC Midnight, does have quite a few extra features if you feel so inclined to check them out. If audio commentaries are your thing, Beyond the Gates has four of them. Seems a bit much for a movie that most people are probably only going to watch once and may not be interested in what could be said about it. I know, that sounded mean, but honestly I do find this kind of thing very cool and adds value to the price. There’s also a look at some behind the scenes, a few deleted scenes as well as a premiere Q & A. A short film called Sex Boss is included, which I didn’t check out, but my favorite by far was the retro commercial for the board game itself, Beyond the Gates. Now, this is the spirit the rest of the film should have been in tone with, dammit.

While I don’t hate Beyond the Gates, I don’t necessarily like it either. I wouldn’t mind watching it again and hopefully upon a second viewing, I won’t be seeing the things I felt it should have been, but maybe appreciate it more for what is. However, what it is feels more like a better concept than it was a movie.

December Birthdays: #NeverForget ;)

December is rough time to have a birthday, dear fiends! As great as the Ho-rrorday season is, some birthdays get overshadowed because this time of the year. To make up for this, we’re celebrating the totally awesome December horror birthdays today in one big ol’ post! We wish all these wonderful ghouls the best and we hope they have/had the most spooky-cool birthday imaginable! 🙂

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TONY TODD: DECEMBER 4, 1954

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If there is a man we can describe as the modern Christopher Lee, it’s certainly Tony Todd. Standing at a Sasquatchian 6′ 5″ and possessing a wicked charisma, Mr. Todd is certainly worthy of his reputation as a legend of fright! Mr. Todd’s compelling performance as the titular boogeyman in 1992’s Candyman is the kind of Monster that elicits both fear and an odd sort of sympathy like only the truly great movie creeps can. The great monster would go on to play a plethora of great monsters and madmen, including the eternally classic duo of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde! We dare you to say his name five times!

SHIRLEY JACKSON: DECEMBER 14, 1916

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The Undisputed Queen of Horror Literature! Ms. Jackson is primarily known for The Haunting of Hill House (the basis for The Haunting) and The Lottery, a truly chilling short story. Genre geniuses Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and Richard Matheson have all cited Jackson as an inspiration on their own work and she remains the High Priestess of Printed Chillers. While all of her morbid fiction is prime fright fare,  I highly recommend We Have Always Lived in the Castle, one of my all-time favorite novels. The first paragraph is one of the greatest openings ever written and a great example of her peculiar style:

My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenent, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.

 

Thanks for haunting us, Ms. Jackson!

The first paragraph is certainly one of the greatest openings ever written:

SARAH PAULSON: DECEMBER 17, 1974

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Sarah Paulson is one of three performers to appear in every single season of American Horror Story and she always emerges as one of highlights in a show bursting with sensationally macabre delights! Throughout the course of the show, she has portrayed a psychic, a perpetually teary-eyed ghost, Siamese Twins with a dark past, a witch, and other victims of the strange and macabre. She also starred on American Gothic in the mid ’90s, so Ms. Paulson is no stranger to the world of Terror-Vision. Of all her wonderfully oddball performances on AHS, it’s her dual performance as the conjoined Dot and Bette in Freak Show that made her a favorite of ours here at Kinky Horror. Two heads are better than one!

FREDDIE FRANCIS: DECEMBER 22, 1912

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Here’s a fellow with an eye for horror! While Terence Fisher was Hammer’s Master of Terror, Freddie Francis certainly has an impressive collection of British shockers to his name. His works include 1971’s Tales from the Crypt for Amicus, Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, Evil of Frankenstein, Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, and Girly.  In addition to his Hammer and Amicus terror tales, Mr. Francis had an excellent career as a cinematographer, even winning two Academy Awards! Mr. Francis was also the man who gave The Elephant Man its eerily beautiful look in 1980. For six (including the wraparound) excellent tales of the macabre in one, Check out Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors! Looking creepy, Freddie F.!

DICK MILLER: DECEMBER 25, 1928

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Dick Miller is a National Treasure to anyone with a healthy love for exploitation, blood, and gooey ghouls! With his craggy face and distinctive voice,  he has graced (and saved) a seemingly endless amount of B-movies with a blue-collar charm all of his own. Horror aficionados will certainly remember his turn as Walter Paisley in Roger Corman’s A Bucket of Blood, a true classic of splatstick!  Even if you don’t recognize the name, you’ve certainly seen his lovable mug before, as Mr. Miller has appeared in such classics as The Terminator, The Howling, and Gremlins. The affectionate and ever-popular descriptor of “that guy” was practically coined for Miller. Appropriately enough, there is a documentary called That Guy Dick Miller that serves as wonderful tribute this legend and we highly recommend it to both fans and newbies alike. Nice to know That Guy!

BARBARA CRAMPTON: DECEMBER 27, 1958

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Barbara Crampton is one of the dreamiest, screamiest scream queens to ever haunt the screen! From her early (and still excellent) work in Re-Animator and From Beyond to her work in modern fare like You’re Next and Beyond the Gates, it’s clear that this scare idol is going strong and will continue to her decades-long reign!  Ms. Crampton is one of horror’s best-loved actresses and an inspiration to us here at Kinky Horror. For fans looking for a new Crampton masterpiece, check out her truly excellent turn in We Are Still Here, a modern creeper sure to turn your hair white! Keep up the ghoul work, Ms. Crampton!

F.W. MURNAU: DECEMBER 28, 1888

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The Master of Shadows! F.W. Murnau was once called “the greatest poet the screen has ever known” by French film theorist and director Alexandre Astruc, and his dreamlike imagery certainly backs this claim up. Murnau was like a painter, more concerned with the mood and images than the dimensions of his characters. His cinematic paintings have lost none of their power today. Why, just look at enduring popularity of his Nosferatu, his unauthorized adaptation of Dracula! That film is the golden standard of the German Expressionist Accustomed to the weird and eerie, Murnau also directed versions of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Faust, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Unfortunately, HIs Jekyll and Hyde and Hunchback are lost to time, but his Faust survived and is highly recommended. Hail Murnau!

BARBARA STEELE: DECEMBER 29, 1937

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The Scream Queeniest of All Scream Queens! Barbara Steele is up there with Vincent Price and Peter Cushing in the realm of fright legends! Her piercing eyes cut through you like a machete and her dark presence will stick with you long after the credits roll! She’s worked with Vincent Price, Roger Corman, Mario Bava, Joe Dante, and many other titans of terror and she can hold her own with the best Horror has to offer. Her performance in Black Sunday is iconic in every sense of the word and continues to haunt the best of us to this day. Ms. Steele has a gazillion slasherpieces her name, but we highly recommend Long Hair of Death, a lesser-known gothic chiller with great atmosphere and a killer ending that does Wicker Man before Wicker Man! Long Live the Queen!

“They’re Coming to Get You, Barbara(s)”.

Hiya, Ho-rror Ho-mies!! 🙂 I took a few days off to spend Cryptmas with the fam, but now it’s time to start creeping my way back into the real world (and posting mode! :)). This week, two of the Screamiest, Dreamiest Queens of all time both celebrate birthdays: Ms. Barbara Crampton (December 27) and the ultra-legendary Ms. Barbara Steele (December 29). I can’t think of a better cure for any potential post-Ho-liday blues than lusting after these greatly gifted, gore-geous ghouls…Happy Birthdays, Blood-Soaked Beauties!! (Both of you clean up really well… ;)) xoxo

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Ps- I was lucky enough to get to dork it out with both these lovelies this year. <3

 

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News Bleed: The Caroline Munro Forever Goddess Edition. :)

Hiya, Ho-mies!! It’s a fabulous Freddy Friday, and I’ve got a severe Age of Ultron hangover (I’m going to see it again tonight…Ho-pefully that’ll cure it ;)), so let’s get right to the News Bleed, shall we? 🙂

In a shocking turn of events, Avengers is doing not-so-shabbily at the box office… 😉 MTV

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Daryl DiXXXon’s Silent Hills is officially dead…TIME TO RIOT!!!!!!  The Verge

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In other Badass Ho-tties News, here’s your first look at the new Casey Jones. 🙂  IGN

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Barbara Freakin’ Crampton is producing a Ho-rror filmed BASED ON OLD SCHOOL VCR BOARD GAMES and filmed (partially) at Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I love this woman so much!!! :))  Dread Central

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Captain Spaulding, Spike, and Shooter McGavin: Together at Last. 🙂  Horror Society

I am so jealous of all the Kinky Ho-s at the Stanley Film Festival right now!!!  Shock ‘Til You Drop

If anyone feels like buying me Ed Wood’s Plan 9 Studio, I solemnly swear to be your very BFF forever and ever!! 😉 LA Weekly

Speaking of awesome things to throw all teh munny at, this Caroline Munro radness eXXXists, and Oh Yes, She Will Be Mine!!! 🙂 Monsters in Motion

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If You’re Thinking of Looking Now…DON’T. 😉  Hollywood Reporter

Goblin Reborn (and still kicking ass!!! :))  Bloody Disgusting 

I seriously need to go to Sweden. 🙂 ThemeParkAdventure

Ok, Night Terrors Geniuses…I’m in!!! 🙂 CNET

Thank you for giving us so much awesome, Mr. Andrew Lesnie.  🙁 Variety

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So I don’t leave you on that bummer note, enjoy Kristen Wiig‘s full frontal glory. 🙂  Drunken Stepfather 

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On a personal note, if you want to check out Candie’s Harem, an eXXXtremely low budget Ho-rror film I did voiceover work for (long story… ;)), here ya go. 🙂

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Have an awesome weekend, and enjoy your Freddy Friday, my boo-tiful lil’ Kink Ho-bots!! 🙂 xoxox

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My Very First KH #WCW!! :)

Hear ye, hear ye, Fright Fanatics: I’m starting a new “Woman Crush Wednesday” feature on this site. (Try not to blow your load too hard over that uber-exciting announcement, please… ;)) There are a LOT of Awesome Women of Ho-rror I want to pay tribute to, and I figure if this weekly ritual is good enough for infallibly entertaining Instagram, it’s good enough for KH… 😉

My inaugural choice for Woman Crush Wednesday (henceforth referred to as #WCW) is my very absolute favoritest Scream Queen of all time and history, Ms. Barbara Crampton. bc8

( *swoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon* <3 <3 <3 :))

I’ve loved the absolute shizzle outta this lady since my first viewing of Re-Animator, so much so that I even subjected myself to viewings of The Young and the Restless back in the day purely just to see/support her. (That, my fiends, is dedication!! ;))

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(The picture of true Ho-rror… ;))

She’s my very first #WCW/ Ultimate Scream Queen because not only is she gorgeous (to this day…I mean, have you seen You’re Next??? :)), but she seems to have a genuine love/appreciation for the genre, has never been one to shy away from gettin’ nekkid (yay for us!! :)), and her work with Stuart Gordon alone is enough to prove her peerlessness. Plus, she’s got one of the best actual screams of all time, which is a very important quality for a Scream Queen. 😉

Thank you, Ms. Crampton, for being so (Castle) Freak-ing (From) Beyond amazing!! You have always been (The) Bold and (The) Beautiful, and always managed to keep my (The) Young and (The) Restless Pulse Pound(ers)-ing, with absolutely no need for a Body Double. Your beauty and charisma has put me in a perma- Trance(rs), and I’d be more than happy to be stuck in a Hotel or even a Chopping Mall with you any time!! (#PoeticBrilliance ;))

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(Had to include a nod to Castle Freak because it was one of the first films I ever saw that had the guts -ha!- to  #FreeTheWiener…Literally! ;))

Have a Wonderfully Wicked Wednesday, Ho-rror Ho-mies!! 🙂 xoxo

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