Don’t bother to press play



I’ll keep this short.  In 1958, WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST hit theatres.  It’s a great title for a flick in which nothing happens.  59 years later, BEYOND THE GATES proves that Nothing Happens flicks still get made, and they’re never any fun.  BEYOND THE GATES is full of lifeless performances, flat cinematography and a lame conflict between two brothers and a VHS board game.  Those are among its sins, but the sin that condemns it is just how boring it is.  And for that sin, it cannot atone.


Two brothers show up after their dad’s disappearance to close shop on his retro video store.  The elder brother is a knockoff of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, subdued as if he’s on a morphine drip, but no less annoying.  The younger brother is a directionless drifter;  I know this because he has a beard that’s grown out just past a five o’clock shadow.  They mill around the store boxing up VHS tapes, droning on in conversations that go nowhere.  I suppose I should explain what a VHS tape is, for those younger readers who have never seen one.  That explanation would be more exciting than anything that occurs in this flick, but I’ll leave you kiddies to look it up on this new invention called the “internet.”  Fake Sheldon’s girlfriend shows up, pictures fall off shelve (likely suicide attempts to get out of this flick), and more and more Nothing Happens.  The bros find the keys to dad’s office, a forbidden place, and discover a VHS board game, which dad has obviously played.


This discovery is supposed to incite action, but no action is to be found.  Ghostly Hostess played by Barbara Crampton on the tape instructs the bros they have to play the game.  She should have instructed me before the opening credits to watch something better.


50 minutes into this 1 hour 20 minute film, there’s a graphic explosion of violence that belongs in a whole different flick.  It’s got guts literally being pulled out of a live dude.  It’s followed by several other graphic scenes, none of which fit the first 50 minutes.  It’s almost as if the writer and director knew they were boring their viewers to death, and decided to torque things up.  It fails.  It’s gratuitous and ill-fitting, and comes way too late to do anything but make things atonal.


Barbara Crampton is on a bit of a comeback the last few years.  I hope she’s enjoying it, but I wish she’d pick better material than this waste and WE ARE STILL HERE.  It’d be nice for me to review one of her new flicks that I could actually recommend, as opposed to one that draws references to WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST.  Now that would be happening.


–Phil Fasso


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