vhs visions: beyond the gates


Back when I started the month off with Graham Skipper’s Sequence Break, I mentioned that I preferred the movie he starred in rather than the movie he directed. Jackson Stewart’s 2016 indie Beyond the Gates isn’t anything groundbreaking or amazing, but there’s something I dig about its endearingly awkward crack at ’80s VHS board game nostalgia.

In Beyond the Gates, Skipper plays Gordon, who meets up with his estranged brother John (Chase Williamson) to sort through his missing father’s old video store and put a bow on some family matters. In the process they find an old VHS board game called Beyond the Gates, and together with Gordon’s girlfriend Margot (Brea Grant), they fire it up and dive headfirst into its sinister trappings.


At the heart of the game is a mysterious woman played by Barbara Crampton (From BeyondRe-Animator), who beckons them to dive deeper, even when the path to saving their father comes at the cost of a handful of innocent lives along the way. The deaths are few and far between but goofily gory, and the music plays on the faux video nostalgia that drives the project.

The end result doesn’t really attempt to hide how cheap it is, but it still looks better than a lot of its contemporaries. The performances are fine, and there’s just enough weirdness under the skin to make it interesting. I like Beyond the Gates enough to own it, even if I find it difficult to classify why, exactly, it’s better than something like Sequence Break or Satanic Panic. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and it also doesn’t play ironically, so I’ll chalk it up to the dopey earnestness of it all.


I love that Crampton is the only person featured on the poster despite the fact that she only exists on a small black and white tube TV for the entirety of the runtime.

Halloween 2019 Movies:

1. Sequence Break
2. Deadtime Stories
3. Hell House LLC
4. Body Bags
5. Pumpkinhead
6. Friday the 13th Part III
7. Child’s Play 2019
8. Ghoulies II
9. Satanic Panic
10. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
11. Demons
12. You’re Next
13. Frankenstein
14. The Ranger
15. The Fly
16. Train to Busan
17. Halloween III: Season of the Witch
18. Army of Darkness
19. Lake Mungo
20. Popcorn

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