"He, he...sorry, I just couldn't resist using that title for my review....anyway, have you ever had the urge to dig a hole in the ground when you were a kid? I did and I did, have the urge, and dig a hole, that is...all I found was a ceramic pipe (which I accidentally cracked), but that was about it. Had I seen The Gate (1987) prior to digging that hole, I may have chosen not to, as there are things under the Earth best left undisturbed...
Directed by Tibor Takács, whose credits include mostly television work and a few films like I, Madman (1989) and Deathline (1997), a Rutger Hauer vehicle of little consequence (it was all downhill after his most excellent role as Roy Batty in the quintessential sci-fi film Blade Runner), The Gate stars Stephen Dorff, in his first movie role. His most notable appearance for me was in the vampire thriller Blade (1998), as the villainous, murderous Deacon Frost, who later became the Blood God (he was such a nice young boy, and now look at him...) . Also in the film is Christa Denton, who mostly appeared on television in the 80's, but also appeared in A Million Ways to Die (1986), a pretty good B-film worth checking out, and Louis Tripp, an actor of few credentials, but who can also be seen in the film Detroit Rock City (1999), as The Nerdy Kid (I'm not kidding, that's how it's listed).
The film opens with Glen (a very young Dorff) witnessing the removal of a large, old tree from the backyard of his parent's house. Soon after, Glen's friend Terry (Tripp) comes over, and the pair find part of a geode, a hollow, usually spheroidal rock with crystals lining the inside wall, in the up heaved Earth. Terry, ever the troublemaker (every neighborhood has one...he's the kid who kept bugs in jars to see how long they could live without air or tied firecrackers to cat's tails...we find out later the reason he `jest ain't right' is probably due to the fact his mother passed recently), talks Glen into digging up the yard to look for more geodes as Terry figures they could become rich as people paid good money for them, sometime `up to 100 bucks'. Ahh, to be young and ignorant...well, I'll settle for one as I'm loaded with the other...you decide which...anyway, as they dig, a huge hole opens up, and it turns out to be a portal to a realm of demons, but the portal has yet to be opened fully. That happens later, inadvertently, as certain events occurs, to which the boys determined this by reading the extensive liner notes on one of Terry's heavy metal albums (the band was called Sacrifix, with their main schtick being dabbling in the dark arts). Well, strange things begin happening, and activity from the hole increases, so I guess it's pretty lucky that Glen's parents are away for a few days, leaving him in the care of his sister, Al (Denton), short for Allison, I believe, because all hell is about to break loose, literally. So what do these pesky demons want? Why, to take control of the Earth, for their own nefarious purposes. Nice going Glen and Terry...I suppose you've doomed us all to eternal damnation and suffering with the pointy pitchforks to the nether regions and such, and I don't even want to think how you're going to explain all this to your parents when they come back...
The film was pretty well done, and much better than one might expect. The acting and dialogue seems a bit wooden and shallow at times, but there seems to be a real honesty and heart emanating from within the characters, and little or no attempt to `Hollywood' them up, trying to make them more than what they are...these are characters you could known, been friends with...the plot moves along nicely, and while there are a few holes here and there, I found none so large as to make me roll my eyes or drive a bus through. The movie has the effect of drawing you in, creating interest in the likeable characters (I felt empathy as Glen looked over some old photos of the family dog after it passed, reminiscing about a friend now gone. While meant to evoke an emotional response, it didn't appear to be an obvious attempt, which I appreciated). The special effects, while not state of the art, even back in 1987, were actually very professional, which is a bit surprising given the minimal budget I'm sure this film was working on...
I saw this film on cable back in the late 80's, and it kinda stuck with me. Why? It's hard to say. It wasn't terribly scary, or very bloody, but it does have its' charms. Maybe it's the sense that the movie isn't trying to be more than it is, forgoing the over-the-top theatrics for a bit of substance and its' general sense of overall fun. Also, I think the fact that most of the people working on and in this movie seemed to be at the beginning of their careers, and hadn't really had an opportunity to be subverted and perverted by the system, Hollywood, that is...there is a certain amount of predictability within the story, but it was easy to overlook, as the excitement the movie draws from the viewer is fairly constant, at least once the plot elements are established. The picture quality on this release is surprisingly good, but I was disappointed to see that only the full screen format was included on the disk. Also, there is nothing in the way of special features. All in all, this is a four star film, but given the lackluster release, I have go with a three star rating. By the by, there was a sequel to The Gate, released in 1992 called Gate II: The Trespassers, with only Tripp reviving his original role.
It's About Bloody Time!
Demented D | The Middle Of The Pit | 09/29/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have the original pressing of this on DVD, which is in full screen, but now I can finally have the widescreen version. So, if you're looking for a horror movie with tons of gore and blood spewing everywhere, this movie is not for you. This movie is for teenagers, and that's when I saw this movie. I watched it in theaters, and I was hooked. The movie has everything; humor, great special effects, and a lot of the actors are good. I won't write a summary of the plot, since there's one already provided by Amazon.com, so I'll just say that if you don't mind a bit of camp and some cheesy dialog, this movie is for you. I know I'm buying this the day it comes out.
Afterthought. After comparing both the original full screen version and this newly released version, I can without a doubt say that this is truly the wide screen theatrical version. Thank you Lionsgate for releasing it its true form. My hat is off to you."
Stanley Runk | Camp North Pines | 10/21/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What horror fan didn't catch this movie on HBO or USA back in the day? I haven't seen this film in over 15 years, but when I did see it, I saw it MANY times. I recently watched it again to see if it was as fun as I remember. Usually watching a movie years later that you loved as a kid is a bad move coz you tend to be disappointed. After all, through the eyes of a child you don't look for or hang on to the inaccuracies. You're able to accept a premise no matter how far fetched, and acting no matter how bad. While I saw a bit of both, I was pleasantly surprised that the movie still retained all of it's fun factor. I still really like it! I'm gonna give you a quick rundown regardless of what the schmuck below says: Glen(a very young Stephen Dorff), and his teenage sister are left alone to mind the house while mommy and daddy are gone. After a storm, they discover a big hole in the backyard that we quickly find out is a gateway for demons to come through and take over the world. We find this out coz Glen's buddy Terry, who lives next door, just happens to have an LP by a metal band called Sacrifyx(only available as an import by the way). Sacrifyx's album sleeve and lyrics tell the whole tale. Thank God for 80s metal albums and their spookish shenanigans, you never know when they'll come in handy(this film was obviously made in the period where listening to a heavy metal band was seen as only one step away from blood orgies and human sacrifice. Thanks Geraldo for jamming that point home!). Soon Glen, his sister, and Terry(not to mention two annoying friends of the sister) deal with various spooks and beasties in an effort to close the gate. The most memorable creatures being the mini-demons that scuttle around and bite you if they get close enough. While obviously silly(I won't give it away in case you forgot, but the way the demons are defeated and the gate gets closed is rather dumb and makes no real sense), and not terribly frightening, this movie is actually very entertaining. This was back when a PG-13 rated horror film could still have balls and a decent amount of gore. The whole mythology of the demons is pure Lovecraft. Those familiar with Lovecraft will notice this immediately with the whole concept of older gods who once ruled the earth that want to return and reclaim it. Considering the low budget and nonexistence of CGI, most of the miniature effects for the small demons look quite impressive today. The large demon, while obviously stop motion animation, looks kinda creepy. At one point Glen discovers he has a living eyeball in the palm of his hand, and it makes you wonder if Faith No More stole something from this movie. Of course the acting isn't all fantastic, not all the fx are perfect, and some of the plot points are ridiculous, but who cares? We don't expect it to be perfect. Add to all that, a Masters of the Universe shirt, Iron Maiden and Slayer posters, and you've got a great trip down memory lane. If it's been a while, I'd make it a point to see this one again soon."
The Stuff That Screams Are Made Of!
T. M. Gallagher | Canberra, Australia | 04/20/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The Gate is a fantastically frightening supernatural thriller that will have your kids hiding behind the sofa more than once. A worthless first half is thankfully redeemed by some very impressive special effects in the second half and a terrific sense of atmosphere endures throughout. It's an old film (circa 1987) but The Gate still holds up well and is worth a look. Of particular interest is the fact that this is Stephen Dorff's first film role...and one of the better creature features of the 1980's. It's definitely what 80's 'B' grade horror is all about...heroic kids in way over their heads and going toe to toe with apocalyptic evil. Man...it's so horror nostalgic it brings a tear of joy to my eye, but the thing that made this particular movie great was it's emphasis on subtle creepiness rather that just straight out shocks and gore...and whilst some of the acting, clothes and hairdos leave a lot to be desired (hey...we're talkin' the 80's here kids) it's so much darn FUN to watch...even today. Now don't get me wrong...this film is as cheezy as they come and all you 'Freddy vs. Jason' fed youngsters out there will probably think that it's lame...but for us gen 'Xers' this is cult- classic gold. And, man...was that girl Alexandra HOT or WHAT?! Raaghrr!
By the way if you're a fan of this film you may want to keep your eyes open for the 3D remake that is apparently on it's way to a cinema near you! Randall William Cook (the special effects supervisor who worked on The Gate way back in 1987) will be directing the updated version! Expect to see it sometime in 2008/ 2009."
Good cheap thrills, especially for younger viewers
A. Gammill | West Point, MS United States | 09/07/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Like so many products of the 80's, The Gate succeeds more on nostalgia than actual entertainment value. But that's not to say it isn't worth watching. In fact, it's probably one of the best films of its kind: Low-budget, mid-to-late 80's PG-13 horror with a then-unknown cast, and a generous amount of special effects.
What also strikes me about it, years later, is that the story itself more resembles an old-fashioned monster movie than a teen horror flick. I still get a kick out of watching the basic plot (kids inadvertently unlock a gateway to another dimension, unleashing demonic critters) tick by like clockwork. And it's all fairly inoffensive, though there are still a handful of decent scares.
Even without the nostalgia factor, I think this is a fine kid's horror film. Great for a Saturday matinee or a Halloween marathon paired with TREMORS or Fred Dekker's THE MONSTER SQUAD (for which a DVD release is long overdue). "