The Gate (2001)

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19 July 2017 | lor_
Dead serious Adult Cinema, with top-notch performances
Though I consistently disapprove of Jonathan Morgan's familiar sentiment expressed in the video's "Making of" short subject that he's aiming for award nominations with this project (even reciting which categories will deserve the accolades), if that's what it took to inspire him to do a great job, then hooray! This is one of his best movies, even better than his similar earlier classic "Crazed" starring Serenity.

Alexa Rae plays an accused murderess stuck in a strait jacket and padded cell at a mental hospital, where unscrupulous Dr. Archer (Mike Horner, smooth in NonSex role) is experimenting on her. Story attributed to Morgan and his talented partner Martin Brimmer/Rodger Jacobs (there is no screenplay credit) has elements of both thriller and mystery, with an excellent surprise plot twist and sudden ending.

A large cast of extras fills out the loony bin with patients, and Wicked Pictures lists all of them in an unusually fulsome end credits crawl. Chief male lead is Joel Lawrence, giving a technically brilliant, over-the-top performance as fellow inmate, reciting at Howard Hawks- speed complicated monologues and like the rest of the cast encouraged by Morgan to go through as many tics and twitches as possible. If you thought Sam Fuller's unique "Shock Corridor" was out there, you haven't seen the entertaining exaggeration Jonathan achieves here with his cast.

(Coincidentally, I had recently watched Lawrence debunk the need for any acting or dialog scenes in porn in his interview in the BTS for the DVD of Jerome Tanner's 1999 release "Of Love & Passion". He claims the usual "conventional wisdom" that the fans only want sex and skip the rest, yet here he is two years later replete with a personal acting coach on set delivering a complex, powerhouse acting turn with mucho dialog. Go figure.)

I won't spoil the story with detail, but significantly the cast stays true to their characters even during the sex scenes, unusual for "anything goes" porn production. Kylie Ireland is styled plain as the head nurse and delivers a torrid sex scene with orderly Lee Stone, and Bridgette Kerkove definitely lives up to her predicted AVN Best Supporting Actress nomination with the best acting I've ever seen from the gonzo icon, well-cast as a wise-cracking, cigarette-smoking fellow inmate.

In the "Making of" short, Morgan takes us through the five-day shooting schedule around Columbus Day of 2000, and his frequently consulted daily call sheet listing scenes to be shot lists the project's shooting title as "Voices". Plot premise has our not Joan of Arc heroine Alexa hearing voices in her head, and the release title "The Gate" stems from her imagining a gate to the next life (I thought a gate to Hell but that's not exact) that set the morbid story into motion. Given the clear and present emphasis on anal sex scenes here, they might well have retitled the show "The Back Door".

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Adult | Drama | Thriller




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