What happens when you mix a children's Halloween party, an abusive alcoholic stepfather who enjoys drinking in darkened kitchens and a stepson who's too much of a pussy to be successful at bobbing for apples? The answer is the greatest catalyst for a serial killer as well as the greatest opening to a movie ever. Well, at least the greatest opening to a shot on video Halloween themed Slasher flick titled Hollow Gate ever.
Written and directed by Ray Di Zazzo, who is best known for writing and directing 1988's Hollow Gate and absolutely nothing else to speak of, Hollow Gate is a shot on video Slasher that does in fact open with a scene that is quite epic. As little Mark and all his friends are enjoying an evening of fun, the lingering threat of a drunken abusive stepfather waits to ruin the evening for everyone. Things aren't going so bad at first; however, once the apple bobbing gets-a-going, the proverbial shit hits the fan when Mark's stepfather nearly drowns Mark when he is unable to come up with an apple. Naturally, this might seem like a bit of an overreaction on drunken abusive stepdad's end, but you have to realize that there were other kids, more specifically girls, who were able to properly dig their teeth into an apple. And I mean, c'mon bro, if a girl can bob for apples, anyone can.
Flash-forward ten years later, a couple are introduced as they're about to embark on an evening of lustful romance on a patch of dead grass in an open field. I suppose the backseat of the Delta 88 parked right next to them didn't cross their minds as an option, but then again the open air does feel pretty nice on one's backside. Anyway, after the couple copulate, they decide to make a quick pit stop at the local gas station to mess with the resident weirdo, Mark aka Mark the pussy who can't bob for apples and is only good at embarrassing his drunken abusive stepfather. Here's where things get strange (well, stranger); you see, the couple's idea of screwing with Mark is by doing sex shit in front of him, something that is supposed to embarrass him, I guess. But what these rambunctious sexual deviants don't know is, Mark isn't bobbing for apples anymore, and making a mockery of Mark only leads to their car being turned into a mobile Molotov cocktail, sending the sex-crazed couple on an explosive one-way journey to hell.
Flash-forward two years later (that's twelve years now, for those of you not keeping track), and once again Mark is faced with adversity, except this time it's from a sexy little dime piece who refuses Mark's advances. Big mistake, babe, because Mark don't take no for an answer, and this unlucky lass finds herself on the wrong side of dead. After this event, Mark is placed in a mental hospital for a period of time but is eventually allowed to leave under the care and guidance of his grandmother, where he will be cared for at her palatial mansion, Hollow Gate. While staying at Hollow Gate, Mark does appear to be well enough. He's been taking his meds, reading books, wearing v-neck sweaters, and even loving his sweet dear grandmother. All the makings of a sane, logical young man. Or so it seems…. Who am I kidding? Obviously Mark is not taking his meds, and the whole v-neck sweaters, reading books and loving grandma thing is just an act he's put on to gain the opportunity to kill! Which he does, in incredibly entertaining fashion, I might add.
After this massive setup that spans twelve plus years, Mark is free to reign terror on all those who dare come to Hollow Gate, more specifically the group of partying teens who (for reasons too insane/awesome to even attempt to explain in a review less than 10,000 words) are sent to deliver a bunch of costumes for the supposed Halloween party that Mark is throwing. What follows is some incredible over-the-top mayhem from Mark, as he slices and dices his victims while spewing out some crafty dialogue. And when I say crafty, I mean awful. And when I say awful, I mean incredible.
Every serial killer has his or her own hook, and Mark is no different. Not only does Mark dress up in the various Halloween costumes, he also likes to take on the specific identity of the actual costume itself. This leads to some pretty brilliant moments, as Mark hysterically assumes the personalities of a Texas rancher, an English foxhunter, a doctor, and a Vietnam era soldier, who has a habit of referring to everyone as "gooks." While being a fairly decent concept, this costumed approach is actually quite familiar to a film I reviewed, 1987's Bloody Movie (aka Terror Night), where the killer dispatches each victim while dressed up as various classic film characters. I actually really like this idea, but both Bloody Movie and Hollow Gate are not really the types of movies where good ideas can be properly realized.
As a shot on video Slasher film, Hollow Gate delivers the goods in a way that people with poor taste should certainly appreciate. Most of the deaths are as laughable as the emotional performances given by the "teen" actors (who deserve a review all to themselves). It's not too often you get to see a combine (which goes a whopping 5mph) used to chase down a victim. More significantly, Hollow Gate brings about what might be the very first ever on screen dog attack featuring golden retrievers. It's truly vicious, and never will I look at Brandon the dog the same way again. Nevertheless, as great as some of the kills are, and as magical as most of the characters and their dialogue can be, the king of this poopsicle is without a doubt B-Action film director Addison Randall, who plays Mark. This guy brings it in a way that nearly brought a tear to my eye, but thankfully I was able to hold it back. Otherwise my drunken abusive stepfather would have kicked my ass for being such a crybaby pussy.