‘ …pray it’s not too late.’
The Gate is a 1987 Canadian supernatural horror feature film directed by Tibor Takács (Spiders 3D; Ice Spiders; Mosquito Man; I, Madman) from a screenplay by Michael Nankin. The movie stars Stephen Dorff, Louis Tripp, Christa Denton, Kelly Rowan, and Jennifer Irwin.
A sequel, Gate 2: The Trespassers, was released in 1990.
When best friends Glen and Terry stumble across a mysterious crystalline rock in Glen’s backyard, they quickly dig up the newly sodden lawn searching for more precious stones.
Instead, they unearth The Gate — an underground chamber of terrifying demonic evil. The teenagers soon understand what evil they’ve released as they are overcome with an assortment of horrific experiences. With fiendish followers invading suburbia, it’s now up to the kids to discover the secret that can lock The Gate forever…
The Gate is one of those late 1980s films that was generally the kind of bland and safe horror movie that was coming to dominate the genre at the time. But because a lot of 40-somethings saw this as children and have subsequently been unable to look at it without the rose-tinted glasses of youth, the film has developed an unlikely following, probably with the same kind of people who think The Monster Squad is a masterpiece.
Like that film, The Gate is essentially juvenile horror, with a twelve-year-old hero, Glen, played by Stephen Dorff who manages to open up a gate of Hell in his back garden, unleashing a horde of mini-demons, zombies and assorted ghoulishness. With his parents away for the weekend, it’s down to Glen, his older sister Al and geeky friend Terry to defeat the evil forces and close the gate.
Essentially, this is a Lucio Fulci-type story without the gore, grafted onto a sub-Spielberg narrative – Poltergeist is clearly the template for this sort of kiddie-level horror, with just enough shocks to make the older teens put up with it. It pretty much runs out of plot after the first hour, and then coasts along with a padded story until coming to a safe, threat-free finale. If you think that PG-13 horror is the ultimate achievement of the genre, then you’ll probably love this film.
In truth though, it’s very average, saved from being a washout by the impressive stop-motion demons, but very much of its time – and that was not a great time for the genre. This is by no means a terrible film, but ultimately, the best that can be said for The Gate is that if you have kids and want to introduce them to horror movies, this is – BBFC ratings be damned – a safe enough place to begin. But even then, Joe Dante’s equally family-friendly The Hole tells a not-dissimilar story with considerably more panache.
David Flint, MOV!ES and MAN!A
” …this film’s movie magic will make you appreciate old school effects like stop motion animation. As the CGI machine keeps rollin’ on, The Gate can remind us that computer graphics are still inferior to the creations of special effects wizards, such as the real creative force behind this film, Randall William Cook.” Canuxploitation!
” …the movie offers up enough memorable moments to work and despite having a pretty wimpy “hero” in Glen and having a so-so dispatch of our final, gigantic, demonic creature, the movie does sport a good series of “scare” moments and has extremely well done effects for its decade and budget range (those mini troll demons are pretty cool looking).” The Video Graveyard
“The Gate is a wonderful example of 1980’s horror. The concept is great, this was at the time when record companies were being scrutinized for having backwards messages in their songs, so the idea that a demonology grimoire being contained in a record albums sleeve is hardly far fetched.” HNN
Cast and characters:
- Stephen Dorff … Glen
- Christa Denton … Al
- Louis Tripp … Terry Chandler
- Kelly Rowan … Lori Lee
- Jennifer Irwin … Linda Lee
- Carl Kraines … The Workman
Vestron Video released a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray on February 28, 2017 with the following special features:
- Audio commentaries with director Tibor Takacs, writer Michael Nankin, and special effects designer Randall William Cook
- Audio commentary with special effects designer Randall William Cook, special make-up effects artist Craig Reardon, special effects artist Frank Carere, and matte photographer Bill Taylor
- Isolated score selections and audio interview with composers Michael Hoenig and J. Peter Robinson
- The Gate: Unlocked featurette
- Minion Maker featurette
- From Hell It Came featurette
- The Workman Speaks! featurette
- Made in Canada featurette
- From Hell: The Creatures & Demons of The Gate featurette
- The Gatekeepers featurette
- Making of The Gate featurette
- Teaser Trailer
- Theatrical Trailer
- TV Spot
- Storyboard Gallery
- Behind-the-Scenes Still Gallery