Director Jackson Stewart Pays Homage to VCR Board Games and Classic 80s Horror with his New Film BEYOND THE GATES! Interview, Trailer and Confirmation of a VHS Release!
If you’re familiar with that wisecracking hooded ghoul named The Gatekeeper, you’re probably aware of the awesomeness that is the Nightmare VCR board game, and maybe even the slew of other VCR board games that were skulking about in the heyday of home video. Now, with the VHS resurgence in full swing, indie filmmaker Jackson Stewart is out to pay homage to those often clunky but always entertaining VCR board games, infusing their obscure legacy with cues from cult horror classics such as Poltergeist, From Beyond and Lunchmeat Land favorite The Gate. With the influence of these VHSuper-powers combined with his own distinct style, Stewart and crew are out to create a retro-fied horror flick peppered with some modern fright film aesthetics to create an exciting offering of amped up neo-nostalgia. They’ve even got the sultry cult favorite Barbara Crampton taking on the role of the vicious VCR board game host. Sounds good to me, man. Read on, my fellow Videovores, roll those anti-digital dice and take that tape trip BEYOND THE GATES…
Lunchmeat's favorite image of Director Jackson Stewart. Of course, we all know why.
Tell us a little about yourself, your filmmaking history and your crew. Is Beyond The Gates your first feature? Beyond The Gates is indeed my first feature as a director. I’d made several shorts in recent years and have been writing about every day from the age of 17. I co-wrote an episode of the CW show Supernatural. Steve Scarlata, my co-writer, produced Jodorowsky’s Dune. Amanda Mortimer, my other producer did Bone Tomahawk, Holidays and Some Kind of Hate.
The absolutely awesome poster for BEYOND THE GATES created by Sadist Art Designs and Brendan Wiuff. VHStep into it.
What’s the film all about? What can people expect from BEYOND THE GATES? Beyond The Gates is about two estranged brothers reuniting to close down their missing father’s video store. While they’re boxing everything up, they happen upon a strange tape in their dad’s back oﬃce that’s seemingly connected to a VCR board game. Sure enough, when they start playing it, things go oﬀ the rails. The movie has some nostalgic DNA in stuﬀ like Poltergeist, The Beyond and The Gate but doesn’t bank on your enjoyment of those movies as a reason to keep watching. We kept the filming style a little more in-line with those films while also adding a more modern texture where we needed to. I read a review recently where someone said “if you ever wanted just one more 1980s horror film on VHS — this is it”. It was a nice compliment and I hope people agree with it.
Pop that slab in the VCR, and let the game begin! A still from BEYOND THE GATES.
What was the inspiration for this flick? I imagine the NIGHTMARE and ATMOSPHERE board games had a pretty big influence on the creation? You also just mentioned Lunchmeat favorite THE GATE was a main influence? The main inspirations were of course games like Nightmare and Doorways to Horror — but there’s a lot of my own personal history with the characters in the movie. The Gate was a massive influence from the outset. The idea was to do a grown-up version of a movie like The Gate and to a lesser extent Lost Boys while telling a different kind of story. Aesthetically, those were huge influences along with The Fog and From Beyond.
A look at the original sales poster for BEYOND THE GATES from Cannes. This one ain't too shabby, either, Tapeheads!
How did Barbara Crampton get involved? She is producing and has a role, I believe? She must be a blast to work with… I worked briefly as an intern for Stuart Gordon around 2010 and met Barbara at a performance of Re-Animator the Musical (whom I stole some of this cast from). We became very fast friends and she did a couple shorts for me over the years while I was honing my directing chops. She came on as a producer about seven weeks before we started shooting and brought Sara Malakul Lane in and hooked us up with some other stuﬀ. Initially, she only came on as producer but she felt like the perfect connection to these movies Steve Scarlata and I grew up loving so she was a natural choice to fill the role of the VCR board game host.
THERE SHE IS! Man, we love us some Barbara Crampton! So VHStoked for this.
The video store in the trailer, is it still alive and renting? Yes, indeed, and they know proudly display a poster for Beyond The Gates in their foyer. It’s called Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee in North Hollywood. I highly recommend it. They have several movies that cannot be found on ANY home video format. Beyond The Gates (Teaser) from Channel83Films on Vimeo. Are you guys VHS collectors yourself? What do you think of the burgeoning resurgence of interest in VHS? Did it influence the production of this film? Somewhat… I pruned most of my collection down to the essentials that will never get put on DVD or Blu-Ray or things that have sentimental value to me. Steve has a fair number of VHS tapes. I adore the specialty VHS tapes these companies have been releasing like Magnolia did with VHS 2 and the recent House of The Devil VHS. The film premiered on June 2nd at the LA FILM FESTIVAL. How has it been received and what kind of feedback have you been getting? Overwhelmingly positive. I am very surprised - it felt like such a niche thing. Anytime I would tell someone about the movie as most folks have no clue what a VCR board game is. People are excited about it and I have had some of my lifelong heroes approach me after our screenings and tell me how much they liked the movie. It’s been an amazing experience so far. A few people have told the employees at Eddie Brandt’s how much they liked the movie and we’re hoping it can exist as some kind of prism into what renting video stores on a Friday night used to be like. Even The Hollywood Reporter and Variety gave the movie pretty solid reviews and they can be quite brutal. I’m happy.
Jackson Stewart receiving honors for BEYOND THE GATES at this year's L.A. Film Festival. Smell the inimitable bouquet of victory!
And here’s the big one, man: will BEYOND THE GATES be receiving a VHS release?! Absolutely. However, it will probably be limited. We are sorting out who will be nabbing those rights now. Where can we keep up with updates on the film? Steve runs our Twitter account (@beyondthegates_) and we have a Facebook at Beyond The Gates Movie, and our website www.BeyondtheGatesMovie.com – The Twitter is the most fun, though. Steve finds the coolest VHS ads and
Oh, you know we will, Jackson! Sounds like this flick is right up everyone’s rewind alley, eh, Videovores?! I VHSay so, indeed. We just can’t wait to see how the limited edition VHS release for Beyond The Gates will turn out, man. Will it come with a replica of the actual board game inside? Perhaps something like the Gargoyles VCR board game we all know and love? Only time will tell, Tapeheads! No matter how it manifests, the Beyond The Gates VHS release is sure to be a wonderful treat of a tape, so stay tuned to the Beyond The Gates official site and here in Lunchmeat Land to know when it’s ready to be fed to your VCR!