Film Review: The Gate (1987)

Release Date: May 15th, 1987
Directed by: Tibor Takacs
Written by: Michael Nankin
Music by: Michael Hoenig, J. Peter Robinson
Cast: Stephen Dorff, Louis Tripp, Christa Denton

Alliance Entertainment, New Century Vista Film Company, 85 Minutes

Review:

“We accidentally summoned demons who used to rule the universe to come and take over the world.” – Terry Chandler

I used to love this film as a kid. Granted, I haven’t seen it since the mid-90s but I always thought it was pretty cool and it introduced the world to Stephen Dorff when he was still just a child.

It hasn’t aged well, not that that is a bad thing, the film just feels very B-movie 80s (maybe C-movie) and the special effects are a mixed bag.

Primarily, the demons in the film are created using stop-motion animation. It doesn’t look bad but it does looks dated now. Truthfully though, these effects were executed really well for the time and in some scenes, it does come off as real and it still works. However, scenes like where the giant demon bursts up into the house look like some old school Ray Harryhausen effects but they still look cool, at least for Harryhausen fans.

The story itself is interesting. In a nutshell, a couple kids accidentally open a gateway to Hell in their backyard thanks to a Satanic rock and roll record. The rest of the film is them fighting off the demons while trying to shut the gate, once and for all.

The problem I have with the film now, which apparently didn’t bother me as a kid or a teen, is that the pacing is really damn slow. Half the film is a build up to the demons actually showing up and that doesn’t happen until your midway through the film. Then everything seems a bit rushed from that point forward.

While the monster content of the film is pretty awesome and the action plays well, the ending is weird and really nonsensical. But I didn’t care about that sort of stuff so much when I was younger and a lot of 80s horror filmmakers focused on the cool shit and not so much on whether or not the movies made a lot of sense.

The Gate probably won’t wow audiences today and it is lacking the sort of 80s childhood nostalgic vibe that exists in pictures like The Monster Squad and Stand by Me.

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