Beyond the Gates is a cult classic in the making. A messed-up riff on Jumanji, the film revolves around a pair of brothers who stumble across an old VHS board game while sorting through their missing father’s things. Intrigued, they fire up the game and are plunged into a terrifying inter-dimensional nightmare where they must play to save their father’s soul.

Heaven for nostalgia junkies, Beyond the Gates proudly wears its 1980s influences on its sleeve, with horror legend Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, From Beyond) even making an appearance as the game’s host. And as we loved the film so much, Fandom reached out to co-writer and director Jackson Stewart to find out what movies, games and books inspired his twisted trip down memory lane.

The Shining

Jackson Stewart: Stephen King’s novel is a terrific read that’s nigh impossible to put down and very, very different from Kubrick’s masterpiece. Jack Torrance in the novel recently lost his teaching job after assaulting a kid who slashed his tires and has the additional baggage of having hurt his son while he was hammered. He’s a good father who has some serious demons and will do anything to overcome them. Gordon’s character was a combination of Jack Torrance, David Sumner in Straw Dogs and some of my own troubled history. The movies I always respond strongest to center around characters who have made big mistakes and are willing to do anything to fix them.

Phantasm

Jackson Stewart: Without a doubt, the biggest influence on Beyond The Gates. If you haven’t seen this, seek it out immediately. There’s a surprisingly small number of horror films centered around brothers, and Jody and Mike’s attempts at bonding while grieving after their parents’ deaths has always been emotionally relevant and something that I missed in the sequels. John and Gordon’s uneasy relationship and the difficulty they have connecting seemed prime for our story.

Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest

Jackson Stewart: The wrongly maligned entry in the great Castlevania franchise. Picking up years after the events of the first game, Simon Belmont is tasked with finding specific clues in order to lead him to Dracula’s remains, resurrect him and reverse the curse the Prince of Darkness placed on him. The hints and mechanics are obscured by townspeople providing vague, oddly translated clues as to where your next items can be found and I felt it was appropriate for a VCR game of that era to center around similarly obtuse hints. All of Evelyn’s lines and the gameplay aimed to be bizarre upon hearing/seeing it and would make sense upon second viewing.

Buffalo 66

Jackson Stewart: Vincent Gallo’s feature film debut has long threatened to overtake Taxi Driver as my favorite movie of all-time. There’s a certain dry comedy to this film that we carried over into our early dinner-table scene along with some of the awkward emotional connections we must overcome with those we might not have seen (or even met before).

Poltergeist/The Gate

Jackson Stewart: Yes, I’m cheating and putting two movies on for my last choice. Both Poltergeist and The Gate served as huge influences on an emotional/story/visual level that I can’t short-change either of them. The lighting in Poltergeist and The Gate both cued our dimensional gateway and the eerie, supernatural effect provided in some of the night-time scenes.

Additionally, both movies center around families and friendship and what you’re willing to do to save your loved ones. I’m obsessed with both of these movies and I can’t say enough good about them. They were quite relevant to the story Brian Sowell (my DP) and I wanted to convey visually.

Precision Pictures presents Beyond the Gates on Digital from February 13 in the UK, and DVD on February 20.
Chris Tilly
At this point my life is a combination of 1980s horror movies, Crystal Palace football matches, and episodes of I'm Alan Partridge. The first series. When he was in the travel tavern. Not the one after.