THE GATE (1987)
Directed by Tibor Takács
Glen and his best friend Terry accidentally open up a gateway to a hellish dimension and, with the help of Glen’s sister Al, must do everything they can to close the gateway and stop the demons before their parents come back from their weekend vacation.
Lionsgate’s Vestron Video have brought 80’s fantasy horror favourite THE GATE to Blu-Ray, with a whole host of extras, but does the film hold up after all these years?
Stephen Dorff takes the lead as Glen, a pleasant young boy with a fear of moths who stumbles across a geode in his back garden after an arborist has felled one of their trees. After showing his best mate Glen, the two decide to dig where it was found in the hope to find more that they can sell. Whilst they find what they’re looking for during the dig, they end up with more than they bargain for when they accidentally open a portal to another realm where ancient demons and Gods lie in wait, itching to break into our world. Needing sacrifices in order to fully open the gateway and enter Earth, the demons trick and play havoc with the two boys who resort to Terry’s rock music collection for answers. Could a vinyl by an obscure metal band hold the key to the secrets they’ve unwittingly released?
THE GATE has everything you could wish for in an 80’s horror based around a group of kids. You’ve got the big sister and her annoying friends, a rock record that when played backwards reveals dark secrets, a likeable bunch of protagonist kids and parents who are away from the weekend. Everything seems to tick the box for this genre of film but for one reason or another, it just doesn’t pack the punch it desperately needs to be a great movie.
The start of the movie, from when we see Glen having nightmares and discovering the ominous hole in his garden to when Glen’s sister Al invites her friends round for a party where they try levitation tricks, establishes the film quite strongly but it’s from here where things start to slip. Editing issues, where scenes seemingly jump from one to another without no real narrative or fluid transition (in some cases cheesy & cheap transition wipes are used), are a thorn in the side but it’s the screenplay and plot which seems to cause the movie to suffer, lacking a real conviction to really invest in. Though of course it would have been inspired by films like The Gate, the recent Aussie film Deathgasm has the weight behind it it needs to drive the story along, something which The Gate seems to be severely lacking. When the evil of the piece does arrive in this 80’s kid-driven horror, its not quite as impressive or scary as the minions that proceed it, such as the stop-motion miniature demons flooding their way into the property or the zombie-like creatures breaking out of the walls and closet.
The film does have its plus points and that’s the brilliant casting of Stephen Dorff as nervous Glen and Louis Tripp as his rebellious best friend Terry. They’re both likeable chums who each have their worries and fears as most kids do but are pretty gung-ho and care free most of the time getting up to all sorts with Glen’s favourite pastime setting off home rocket kits – something he can only do in the presence of sister Al (Christa Denton), who, as older sisters go, is a pretty decent sibling when she’s not weighed down by the annoying Lee sisters. Having Al in charge whilst their parents are away isn’t a bad thing for Glen until everything starts to turn sour, what with the gateway to hell in the back garden and all. With no adults around to help, not that they’d believe them anyway, Glen, Terry and Al must fight this evil on their own using Terry’s penchant for heavy metal and Glen and Al’s love of home-made rockets to help them.
On the surface, THE GATE has all the ingredients for a superb ‘family’ horror but unfortunately the quality and quantity included just doesn’t make for a movie to feast on.