Director – Tibor Takacs
Cast – Stephen Dorff, Christa Denton, Louis Tripp, Kelly Rowan, Jennifer Irwin, Deborah Grover, Scott Denton, Ingrid Veninger, Sean Fagan
Release Year – 1987
Reviewed by John of the Dead
The Gate is a film I have always heard about but never made a good effort to give it a watch. Friends of mine told me to be gentle with it, as it is somewhat geared towards a younger crowd with its PG-13 rating, and that is honestly why I enjoyed this film so much. As a child I had a strong fascination with anything horror, and this film brought back great memories and provided a great feel-good atmosphere for me as a result. Despite the PG-13 rating The Gate manages to still deliver some great horror, and that is the reason why this underrated late 80s film has the cult status that it has.
After a thunderstorm uproots a giant tree in his yard, youngster Glen(Stephen Dorff; Botched, Blade, FeardotCom) and his buddy Terry come across a giant hole in the ground containing and unseen evil. When Glen’s dog dies a mysterious death and is subsequently buried in the hole, a hoard of pint-sized demons unleash a hellish world in Glen’s home as they seek two more sacrifices to attain the power needed to bring hell on Earth. With their parents out of town for the weekend, Glen, his sister Al, and Terry are forced to fight a nightmarish battle that they wish was only a nightmare.
Boy was this a fun flick to watch. It was obvious from the get-go that this would not be a film to take too seriously, and the fact that its protagonists were all minors, two of which under the age of 10, solidified that. The idea of using children was a great idea in that it allowed me(and most likely all other viewers) to put themselves in the same situations and imagine what they would have done at that young age. All of this was made even more fun with the awesome storyline involving the demonic hole in the ground, which of course young curious kids will mess with 100 out of 100 times. In fact, I personally found myself in such a situation when a strong hurricane uprooted a tree in our yard when I was a child. Sadly there were no demons involved, but if it ever happens again you can bet your ass I will shoot a squirrel and bury it in the hole and await the carnage. It takes a while for things to get going, with the entire first half of the film focusing on development, and I honestly did not mind that one bit. For one, the first half consisted of engaging material used to develop the story, which included the simple yet genius idea of having the Glen and Al’s parents leaving them alone for the weekend. This left them without an immediate outlet for help, and added to the fun atmosphere given we can all relate to how fun it was to stay in our home without parental supervision for the first time. I’ll admit that I was a bit concerned towards the end of the first half as to when the horror, if any, would ever kick in. well, once the second half got going all we got was nonstop horror, and in awesome fashion. We are given all hell when the pint-sized demons make their way into the home, and the storyline kept things fresh by delivering other atrocities as well. Giant monsters and even a few zombie scenes added to the awesomeness, giving the viewer a strong kick to the face during this non-stop action packed latter half of the film. Of course, the fun feel never relents as well, and I applaud writer Michael Nankin for throwing in each of these awesome elements as well as several twists and turns that had me glued to the screen and enjoying every minute of it.
Director Tibor Takacs did an awesome job with the direction in this watch, and is equally deserving of Nankin’s praise for how awesome this flick turned out. His execution is fun and quirky, which went very well with the child-influenced storyline. His atmosphere is incredible, and he makes excellent use of the home used for 90 percent of the film’s scenes. It is big, wide, and once things get going becomes quite scary with Takac’s excellent usage of shadows and dark corners. Also used are loads of fog and eerie lights, which made for that visually awesome 80s feel that I truly miss these days. I mentioned that once the second half of the film got going that the horror kicked in full force, and Tibor is the reason it came in awesome fashion. We get superb live-action FX and great gore, with the look of his creatures awesome and to the best that the budget would allow, which was pretty darn good if you ask me. His execution of the creatures and zombie scenes was great too, and he delivered horror to a high level that I never expected to see in this underrated effort.
Overall, The Gate is an awesome flick that delivers a feel-good horror effort sure to please those who grew up loving horror films. Everything in the film is relatable, and it allows you to envelop yourself into the film and enjoy the awesome goods that Michael Nankin and Tibor Takacs bring to screen. It takes a while for things to get going, but once they do get going we get nonstop awesome horror sure to please all fans of the genre.