Awfully Good: The Gate

The Gate (1987)

Director: Tibor Takács
Stars:Stephen Dorff, Christa Denton, Louis Tripp

Is there a plot?

After an old tree is removed from his yard, a young boy discovers it was hiding a gateway to Satan and his minions. Now…all Hell is going to break loose.

I bet somebody celebrates Arbor Day next year!

What's the damage?

Before he discovered drugs or the joy of vampire immortality, a young Stephen Dorff starred in this campy 80s horror flick which I somehow completely missed as a kid. But thanks to our intrepid readers I have now discovered the glory that is THE GATE.

Ben always had great hand-eye coordination, but nobody knew his secret.

THE GATE is cheesy and weird, but I give it points for creativity and execution. Directed by the insanely named Tibor Takacs (who went on to helm such gems as MANSQUITO, MEGA SNAKE and ICE SPIDERS), the film chugs along according to formula (the one where the kid hero is left home alone with an older sibling) until all hell breaks loose…literally. That means little demons, melting parents, flaming phones and other problematic events. The effects are actually pretty good given the time period, especially the minimal creatures. The demons are created by a mix of stop motion, puppets, men in suits and forced perspective and the results work surprisingly well. The sequence where the man hits the ground and turns in to a dozen little creatures was pretty creepy. (Not as much as Busey-Gate Demons though.)

Dammit, they stole my band's name!

Stephen Dorff is fine but pretty generic as the lead kid. However, Dorff is dwarfed by his extremely nerdy and goofy friend Terry. Terry is probably the best Awfully Good dork since the "Oh my Gooooood" kid from TROLL 2. He wears a short sleeve jean jacket that says "Killer Dwarfs." He knows exactly what's going on with the portal to Hell because he learned about it from his heavy metal albums. Plus, he looks really, really funny whenever he gets scared. Evidence:

The "I think I just pooped a demon" look. I know that look all too well.

THE GATE had me until the final act, after the "first" ending, when things start getting inexplicably weird. After mistakenly thinking they successfully banished the hellbeasts back from whence they came, the kids soon discover the demons have combined to instead take the form of…a construction worker? The "workman" is apparently the figment of Terry's imagination brought to life and, just like his creator, is incredibly lame. Is an elderly foreman really the scariest thing you could give us? I'd rather see the demons in their normal form, instead of some easily escapable geriatric zombie. (My guess is the filmmakers ran out of time and/or money for the little creatures and wrote them off as Workman.)

And they wonder why girls have self-image issues!

Okay, so the Captain Planet demon guy manages to capture everyone except Stephen Dorff. Our hero then comes face to face with the final Demon Lord, a giant slug dragon with Sarah Jessica Parker face, who opts to lightly pet and molest Stephen Dorff before going about his other business for reasons unexplained. (Huh?) Dorff then takes this opportunity to grab a model rocket to shoot it at the Demon Lord to kill it and send it back to Hell. (Wait, what?!) This actually works because the model rocket represents "light, love and purity." (WTF?!?) How exactly does a model rocket represent love and purity? Was this kid doing things to his rocket that the authorities should know about? I don't get it. Oh, then Stephen Dorff's sister, friend and dead dog come back to life. The end.


"Best" Line

The trash talk here is just embarrassing.

"Best" Parts

1) Meet the 1987 Parents of the Year award recipients.

2) Nerd vs Mini-Demons, place your bets!

3) A scene showcasing the impressive effects!

Nudity Watch



Get Dorffed! Buy this movie here!

Play Along at Home!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • Mini-Demons appear!
  • A dead dog is mistreated
  • A model rocket is launched

Double shot if:

  • Someone fags off


Thanks to Randal, Ricky and Fran for suggesting this week’s movie!

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email and give him an excuse to drink.

Source: Digital Dorm
Tags: awfully good



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