When you think of European zombie films Italy and Lucio Fulci come to mind right away. Or maybe Amando de Ossorio’s Blind Dead films from Spain. France however rarely does despite a fairly impressive output stretching from Jean Rollin’s Grapes Of Death through The Horde, Goal Of The Dead and even Angels Vs Zombies. Now Guillaume Beylard and Fabrice Martin give us The Black Gate. Is it a worthy addition to the list, or another Zombie Lake?
Sarah (Jeanne Dessart) and David (Nicolas Couchet) lost their parents at a young age. They were murdered while visiting Uncle Simon (Michel Coste) a brilliant scientist who also practises Black Magic. They were sent to different orphanages and only recently reunited.
Simon has sent Sarah a strange book that appears to be some kind of grimoire. They decide to take a road trip to his home to find out just what it is. At the same time three criminals fleeing the police stumble across the isolated house after encountering something terrifying in a deserted village nearby. It seems Simon managed to open a gateway to Hell. Soon they’ll all be fighting for their lives against the evil coming through the Black Gate.
Shot digitally with a cast and crew for most of whom this is their only credit, The Black Gate is an enjoyably warped B movie. The plot is a mix of black magic and zombies that made me think of The Beyond and The House By The Cemetery at times. And like those films, nothing really makes a whole lot of sense if you stop to think about it. Thankfully you never really get a chance to do that. The film just goes from incident to incident with a manic sort of energy.
The effects are a mix of rather bad CGI and effective practical gore. The zombie makeup looks like something from one of Fulci’s movies as well. It’s not overly elaborate but it’s well enough done. There’s also some old school animation at one point. The artwork is nice but it feels very out of place.
Obviously a labour of love, The Black Gate took six years to go from idea to finished film. The result is a fun homage to the golden age of Italian horror film, right down to the Goblinesque soundtrack. Unlike many of them though it’s subtitled rather than dubbed and the subtitles are a bit wonky in their translations at times. Overall though, if you liked the originals you should have fun with this. If the pacing and rather tenuous plotting of them turned you off then you may want to skip this one.
The Black Gate is available to stream and on DVD in North America from Bayview Entertainment and worldwide from TMAA Releasing. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more details and TMAA’s Facebook page for availability elsewhere.