Another Drunken Monkey Review - Hollow Gate (1988)

Drunken Monkey Movie Review: Hollow Gate – Halloween Edition

Listen up, you primitive screwheads. It’s almost Halloween. We here at the Monkey House have given tequila shots and Mad Dog to every primate and simian in residence. So buckle up for a wild ride as we review 1988’s Hollow Gate.

DISCLAIMER: As this movie is almost as old as I am, there will be spoilers. Just get drunk like we do and it won’t matter.

Deciding On Your Costume

Hollow Gate is the tender story of young Mark, whose father nearly drowns him at a Halloween party because Mark can’t get his teeth around a bobbing apple. Obviously the boy is failing at life so dad needs to teach him a lesson. That trauma lives with Mark for ten years until he simply can’t stand it anymore and just needs to take revenge on everyone at Halloween.

Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense but as Mark’s parents are both dead and he lives with his rich Granny, I guess ‘everyone’ is a surrogate…?

I mean, your dad didn’t actually kill you, Mark. Get over it.

Prepping Your Costume

So, technically, that description is slightly wrong. Yes, we do jump ten years ahead to see Mark as a murderous adult. But we only witness one double homicide after he blows up a couple who made fun of him or something obnoxious and, honestly, good for Mark. Then we jump forward again two years where Mark harasses a young woman to go out with him and when she refuses, he kills her.

I’m not exactly sure what these three deaths have to do with Halloween but…okay, Mark.

Obviously (maybe?) the girl’s family is terrified to press charges so the judge orders Mark to continue living with his rich grandma while he’s put on meds by a psychiatrist and watched around the clock by doctors and nurses. With the defense lawyer, prosecutor, AND judge being dubious that this is the right decision, they go ahead anyway.

Because what could possibly go wrong?

Wearing Your Costume

So the meat of Hollow Gate, if you will, consists of two pairs of 18-year old kids driving over the state line into Oklahoma where they are ALCOHOL LEGAL. Apparently there’s some famous rager that goes on in the state where all the kids gather to party and drink. Totally worth the drive, I’m sure.

{SIDE NOTE: All 50 states were required to raise the legal drinking age from 18 to 21 in October of 1986 and all states finally complied by the summer of 1988. And Oklahoma actually raised the age limit to 21 in 1983. As this flick is supposed to be Halloween of 1988, I’m not exactly sure why these kids would drive two hours to Oklahoma where the legal drinking age was the same in whatever state they came from. Did the writers mistake this for Canada or something?}

While checking out a cool hot pink sparkly wig to possibly buy for the party, one girl realizes she can’t afford it. But the costume manager overhears this and offers it for free if the group agrees to deliver a huge order of costumes to an estate down the road. Who’d pass that up, amitrite?

Everyone. The answer is everyone.

Hollow gate (1988)
I just love not getting paid for hard labor, don’t you?

I bet you’ll never guess whose estate it is, who ordered the costumes, and who’s been off his meds since the medical staff was dismissed two weeks earlier…

Mark has killed his grandma and he kills three of the teens while wearing a different costume for each. (You know, for someone who hates Halloween, he sure goes all out for it.) Anyway, before he can slaughter that last little underage drinker, the cops figure out what’s going on – via a random not at all contrived set up – and shoot Mark down.

And I mean that literally because Mark collapses on top of the lone survivor of his murderous rampage. She is, rightly so, traumatized by this and ends up in the looney bin, imagining Mark is still out there and coming for her.

You see, Mark? THAT’S how you do trauma, you lame ass.

But it’s over, right? The unconscious form of Mark in the hospital, who slowly opens his eyes before the end credits roll, begs to differ.


Where You Went Wrong

As you might imagine, this was a rough ride. Just like your mom. I suppose writer/director Ray Di Zazzo did the best with what he had (all but maybe two or three cast members have no professional head shots accompanying their IMDB profiles) but he never wrote or directed anything else so I can’t really speak to his talent. Clearly I was not expecting a classic like Halloween but I do have some expectations for quality.

The copy of Hollow Gate I watched looked like a bootleg uploaded to YouTube. It was also hard to decipher the quality of the cinematography compared to its initial release 40 years ago. The audio wasn’t great either, particularly post production redubbing or sound effects. A lot of that was just wonky and off beat.

Acting was less than stellar but I’ve seen worse. Though the actor playing Allen, the boyfriend of the final girl, certainly offered his best attempt at winning an Oscar, and the costume shop manager was a little stereotypically ‘fabulous’, and Mark was channeling Gloria Swanson, chewing up every scene like it was dog’s rawhide treat, most everyone else came off a bit more natural or just a titch awkward.

Now the writing…ugh. That had to be the worst. Too much telling and not enough showing. Unlike your mom. We learn of lot of back story through many, MANY character expo dumps or ponderings aloud; random tidbits are thrown around but never revisited (Mark being suspected of killing some kids or Mark’s parents’ deaths – especially since his grandma said Mark’s father would “get his eventually”.) Too much of the “Oh no, he’s coming to kill me. I guess I should just stand here and fret about what to do!” It all just felt uneven, amateurish, half-assed, and weak.

Now, I’m gullible as fuck and you can suspend my disbelief with a three week old wad of chewing gum and embroidery thread. But I looked at my watch way too many times throughout this film, frustrated by plot holes, bored with unimaginative writing, or laughing at the absolute ridiculous kills – except for Mark setting his hungry Golden Retrievers onto Allen, who then eat the hapless teen since Mark hadn’t fed them for a while. Because of COURSE he hadn’t.

Hollow Gate – Maybe Next Year

Overall, not a good flick. Definitely below average. If you have the choice to watch or stick your hand in an active blender, make sure your insurance is up to date and covers catastrophic injuries.

half margaritas

.5 margaritas (but only for the cute dogs)

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