Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
What's it about
Foolish parents decide to leave their young son and teenage daughter home alone for the weekend. Like kids tend to do, the little boy and his nerdly metalhead friend manage to open up an inter-dimensional portal full of evil demons which threatens the very existence of the planet.
Is it good movie?
This was a movie I absolutely loved as a kid, because it scared the living hell out of me. I'm sure my dad had me watch it when I was young, thinking that since there were kids in it, I wouldn't be too affected by it. I have never forgotten it to this day, and was thrilled when it slid across my desk because I've been waiting to see it again for many years but never had the opportunity until the folks at Lionsgate snapped it up for a nice DVD release.
Most movies you tend to re-watch these days have a tendency of letting you down when it counts. Effects are dated, performances are terrible and the magic just seems gone. I can state happily that The Gate really held up to my memories, and that's no easy feat. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that The Gate is actually a pretty darn good horror flick, especially if you're younger when you watch it.
I think what makes this movie so effective is that the main characters, Steven Dorff as Glen and Louis Tripp as Terry are both very believable and effective. Dorff is the innocent (but not wholly innocent) young man, while Terry is the conflicted (albeit somewhat nerdy) bad influence who causes all this stuff to happen. Of course it's ridiculous that kids could open up a gate to hell in their backyard- but the reactions of the kids are realistic almost across the board and that's what makes this one work.
There are also a lot of little things that kept me interested in this film. I loved the 'heavy metal' influence in this one. I love that the nerdy kid is acting out because he lost his mom. I love that the movie is quite mean- a dead parent returning to torment their child, the loss of a family pet, live parents coming back as monsters, that stuff was great.
Also, I need to give some serious credit to the effects crew, namely Randall Cook, who created the little demons who terrorize the kids in the later half of the film. There were several times when I was saying to myself that the effects were fantastic. I'm not sure if the demons were ever dudes in suits, but if they weren't and they were indeed all stop motion then that is truly a feat- the effects hold up very well, aside from a few close up shots. The strange inclusion of the 'workman' zombie and his fall where he turns into dwarves was just fantastic.
Although the ending left a bit to be desired, The Gate is everything I hoped it would be all over again and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Video / Audio
Video is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and the transfer looks a little soft, but a lot better than the original source material. This is probably as good as this will ever look, aside from a blu-ray release.
Audio comes in Dolby 2.0 and is sounds decent enough, but a lack of Dolby surround sound is disappointing.
First up is an Audio commentary with writer Randall Cook, Tibor Takacs, Michael Nankin and Craig Reardon. How could they not have dug up Dorff or Tripp or any cast member for that matter? This isn't a very good track, filled with repetition, narration and awkward silences.
From Hell: The Creatures and Demons of THE GATE runs about 15 minutes long and features some great little tidbits about the effects and how they were pulled off via interviews with Randall Cook and Craig Reardon.
The Gatekeepers With Tibor Takacs and Michael Nankin is another short series of interviews with the two men who worked their asses off to bring this one to life. I liked hearing Nankin's point of view, as he mentions how much darker the original drafts of the script were from the final version?
There's also a trailer.
This release comes just in time for Halloween, the perfect time to watch. If you've got kids who aren't big wieners, sit down and slide this disc in for a nostalgic throwback to when horror was scary and weird. Sure, the movie isn't perfect, the cover art is terrible and the extras aren't great, but it'll always hold a special place in my heart.