Blu-ray Review: Beyond the Gates

Once upon a time (or the ’80s if you want to get specific), people who wanted to watch a movie at home, they’d have to go to a store and rent a VHS tape. The stores were like libraries was the clamshell boxes lining bookshelves. There were rules to the cassette tape format including rewinding or not rewinding the tape upon return or you’d get fined. Plus you couldn’t leave it in your car or it would melt. Along with movies, a few enterprising people figured out how to incorporate the VHS tape into board games to make people roll dice and hit buttons on the VCR remote. It was a magical, analog, standard definition time. Beyond the Gates taps into the magic with a tale of two brothers, a missing father and an evil VHS game.

Gordon Hardesty (Graham Skipper) has returned home with his girlfriend (Brea Grant) in order to put his father’s estate in order. Seems that dad just vanished from the face of the earth. The dad had invested his life and dreams into his VHS tape rental store which remains untouched since his disappearance. Gordon doesn’t have to deal with this all on his own. He has his brother John (Chase Williamson) to sort of help him sort through the dad’s stuff. John is the not quite as responsible brothers. There’s a few things worth a little cash, but there’s little money in used VHS tapes. Among the possessions they find a copy of “Beyond the Gates,” a VHS board game that appears to have been played. The brothers make the wrong choice and start to play the game. On the VHS tape is the alluring Evelyn (Chopping Mall‘s Barbara Crampton) who basically is taking them to the gates of Hell. The boys can’t stop playing because they sense their father is trapped in the game. Are they risking their souls to play a demonic version of Jumanji?

Beyond the Gates is a fun little film that seems like an extended episode of the ’90s horror anthology Tales From the Darkside. The effects are imaginative as the brothers get deeper in the game. The house transforms as they move the pieces around the board. There’s quite a few bloody disgusting moments especially when they have to locate keys in rather disturbing place. Barbara Crampton steals the film as the game’s VHS hostess that tempt the brothers into the game. It’s easy to see why they’d move pieces when she appears on the TV screen. Perhaps the coolest effect in the entire film is the massive store filled with VHS tapes. Ten years ago such a sight would have been interesting. But now in the age of streaming, it’s deep nostalgia to see shelf after shelf crammed with VHS tapes. Beyond the Gates is an enjoyable and shocking take on a bygone format.

The videos is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings the details in dad’s old VHS store. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD MA so that you can hear the bumps and spooky sounds as the game takes over the house. There’s also a 2.0 DTS-HD MA mix. The movie is subtitled in English and Spanish.

Audio Commentary With Director/Co-Writer Jackson Stewart, Actors Barbara Crampton And Jesse Merlin, Director Of Photography Brian Sowell, And Co-Writer Stephen Scarlata
Audio Commentary With Director/Co-Writer Jackson Stewart And Actors Chase Williamson, Brea Grant, And Graham Skipper
Audio Commentary With Junk Food Dinner Podcast Hosts Kevin Moss, Parker Bowman, And Sean Byron
Audio Commentary With Director/Co-Writer Jackson Stewart And Production Assistant Dan Fisk
Behind-The-Scenes Featurette
Deleted Scenes
Premiere Q&A – Moderated By Famed Horror Director Stuart Gordon
Sex Boss Short Film
Theatrical Trailer
Retro Beyond The Gates Commercial is the best as the blood flies on unsuspecting players.

Scream Factory presents Beyond the Gates. Directed by: Jackson Stewart. Screenplay by: Stephen Scarlata & Jackson Stewart . Starring: Graham Skipper, Chase Williamson, Brea Grant & Barbara Crampton. Rated: R. Running Time: 84 minutes. Released: May 2, 2017.

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