Cemetery Gates (2006)

Cemetery Gates (2006)

Trespassers will be eaten!

A genetically mutated Tasmanian devil is released into a woodland cemetery by the two eco-activists who stole it from its laboratory. This is unfortunate for a group of college students who have chosen the cemetery as the location to shoot their low-budget zombie film.

 

Cemetery Gates has clearly been designed as some sort of throwback to the 80s low budget home video flicks and there’s plenty of evidence that the makers of the film have seen their fair share of horror films. With its low budget, a slightly camp approach, a good old fashioned man-in-a-monster-suit and plenty of splatter, Cemetery Gates tries a little too hard to impress but it the end product never really matches up to it’s aspirations.

“It will kill seventeen people in ninety minutes” proudly boasts the trailer. This is all well and good if there were more than a handful of main characters but as there aren’t, this means that the film trots out as many non-characters as possible to be ripped to shreds. You know the type of non-character I’m on about – people without names, introduced in the film in one scene and literally killed by the same scene without so much as a whimper. There are hillbillies, stoners, joggers, cemetery workers and more who all cross paths with the monster with obvious consequences. They have no bearing on the story. They don’t contribute anything to the film except die a horrible death. It’s just an endless array of fodder for the Tasmanian devil to devour and it gets boring. How I am supposed to care about these people if I know they’re going to die about two minutes after being introduced into the film?

The first-rate gore effects look fantastic in the kills, with heads being smashed into fences and arms getting torn from sockets. But after a while, they lose their shine because there’s just too many of them. Whilst an effect looks good the first time, it soon outstays its welcome after the third repetition. There’s no suspense or build-up to the attacks, the Tasmanian devil just stumbles across a newly-introduced character and then proceeds to tear them a new one. In many respects, this just sums up the entire film which is basically a gore set piece fan’s dream. Unfortunately this does not make for a good viewing experience as there’s nothing of substance to hold it all together. The gore and set pieces were clearly priority here, with the script trailing in last place.

Not helping matters is the fact that the film is shot during the day so you’ll get a good, regular look at the monster. We all know it’s a guy-in-a-suit but this isn’t the problem, it’s just the fact that you can tell it’s a guy-in-a-suit without hesitation! Couldn’t they have shot the film more at night or dusk when there was a little less sunlight to illuminate the suit? They could have kept the monster partially hidden or submerged in darkness – anything to hide the suit a little more. Having it run around in broad daylight is asking for trouble, especially when the camera tends to linger upon it. However, I’ll take this rubber-suited monster over a CGI creation any day and it shows no mercy to anyone that it comes across. I would have just liked to see a bit of intelligence used in how it was shot on film.

Cult horror actor Reggie Bannister (famous thanks to his role in the Phantasm series) is on hand to provide the necessary ‘name’ in the cast. He looks as bored as I felt in his role as the scientist who created the Tasmanian devil and tries to keep a straight face throughout proceedings despite clearly knowing the film is a load of rubbish. The rest of the cast are terrible – most of the people on show don’t even get names as I’ve alluded to in the review. Kristin Novak only gets a brief mention because she provides the token nudity.

 

Cemetery Gates is gory and at least shows that there is some potential from the director as his heart is obviously in the right place. But when there’s hardly any story, no real structure and a lot of people running around being killed off without anything resembling characterisation, there’s only so far the blood can stretch before it wears thin.

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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