Hell's Gate, aka Bad Karma (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Bad Karma was adapted from a novel written under a pseudonym by Douglas Clegg. The plot is covered in some depth here at Clegg's home page. Here is what Clegg had to say about the film:

"I saw the movie version of my novel, Bad Karma ... a script that makes very little sense ... there are some fun spots in it, and it's definitely a good popcorn horror movie where you can laugh and be a little scared, as well. But there are some awful parts to it, as well. Can't have everything in this life..."

The film begins with the biggest body double scam in history. Patsy Kensit plays two characters, Heather/Agnes. In the opening scene, Heather/Agnes is tortured while strapped to a bed stark naked. This scene delivers about five minutes of nudity, including plenty of frontal action, in good light. But the actress is not Patsy Kensit.

Cut to a mental hospital. The real Patsy Kensit is strapped to a bed, and two residents are discussing her case. One comments that she doesn't look like her pictures, and the other says "oh, yeah, after she did so-and-so, she completely changed her appearance". (And, I might add, developed a London accent)


the Patsy Kensit role double is stark naked for about the first 5 minutes of the film

a Ripper victim is seen topless

a topless prostitute is seen in one of the 19th century flashbacks

Not only was that a body double scam, but that opening scene could have been cut without losing one thing from the movie. It was only peripherally related to the main body of the film. To word it another way, it was gratuitous nudity, perhaps the most gratuitous, totally unnecessary nudity in film history. No wonder Patsy refused to do it.

When the movie actually starts, after the nude torture scene, you will probably be in a state of utter confusion. Although Patsy does play the part for the rest of the film, it doesn't get much less confusing, because many of the characters have both 19th and 20th century lives.

The movie plot goes something like this: Jack the Ripper had a female accomplice. She killed Jack in a fit of jealousy, but they cannot be together for all eternity because they did not die at precisely the same instant. Since she screwed this up the first time, she has to find the Jackster in their future incarnations, and kill him at the same moment she kills herself.

Or something like that.

The reincarnated Jack, of course, doesn't know who he is until Patsy reminds him. He's a family man and ... oh, yeah, he's also her psychiatrist.

Oh, brother.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Full-screen format

This film is embarrassing to watch. I once wrote that Amy Locane had been very good in some earlier movies and I didn't understand at the time why she doesn't get more work. Now I understand. She plays the psychiatrist's wife, and she doesn't deliver a natural line reading at any time in the film. Patsy is sorta OK, but she relies on about two "evil" facial expressions, and you'll love her attempt to speak with a Georgia accent when she tries to pick up chicks in a lesbian club. (Not worth explaining.).

There is quite a bit of nudity, and some quite graphic gore. Ripper and Patsy have this thing about removing people's vital organs, and a lot of this is done on-camera. Slasher genre fans may find it watchable, but I doubt it, and others should avoid it completely.

The Critics Vote

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The People Vote ...

IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a D.

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