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Hell's Gate

Casting saves Hell's Gate from being just another trashy, inept B-grade slasher. Not that the actors in Hell's Gate deliver performances of any note, but their eerie resemblances to much better actors manage to engage where the narrative does not. Patrick Muldoon, who stars as Dr. Trey Campbell, is the thinner, taller spitting image of Will and Grace's Eric McCormack, and his mannerisms are so similar to the TV star's that it's easy to imagine the two as close brothers. Amy Locane, as Trey's wife Carly, is Kirsten Dunst, stretched a bit widthwise and then scrunched (and uneasily stuffed into Christina Applegate), a bit more compact, but their facial expressions are the same, as is their slumping, incredulous posture. Patsy Kensit, as Agnes Thatcher, briefly recalls the hottie who rolled around with Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon 2, but not as cute. Now she looks more like a has-been Brit-pop groupie clinging to what's left of her striking, but deteriorating, looks. Anyway. Hell's Gate (released theatrically as Bad Karma, which it deserves) is a poor, cheap, and derivative psycho pic that tries, incomprehensibly (and apocryphally), to tie itself into Jack the Ripper lore. Exploitation fans might find enough to sate their deviant hungers (torture of naked teenager in first 10 minutes, gruesome eye gouging, tongue-biting and organ ripping to come), but more sophisticated viewers (the kind who are, say, older than 14) will just find it boring. Nonetheless, the beautiful location shooting in Galway, Ireland is inviting. Artisan's DVD features a full-frame transfer (1.33:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround audio. Trailer, keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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