In 1987 The Gate
was at the forefront of what came and went as a purely 80s genre: Kiddie Horror. Just like The Lost Boys
or The Monster Squad
of the same year, the idea was to let a couple of younger-than-teenage kids loose in a well-worn horror scenario and play it for as many laughs as scares. Its 15 certificate (PG-13 in the States) meant The Gate
had an enormous opening weekend, and a considerable shelf life. The kids in question here are a very young Stephen (Blade
) Dorff as Glen and his best friend Terry. After some tree felling in Glen's seemingly miles-square back yard they discover a hole full of precious rock. This is of course the Gate to a demonic dimension. As things start levitating, Glen's dog dies and moths get into the most awkward of places, it becomes obvious that the Gate is open! A teenage sister does little to help early on, but naturally the story develops into one about banding together under extreme circumstances. The make-up and stop-motion animation effects remain impressive in scope and there are a couple of frights still just on the right side of cliché. Since it was so successful, the writer and director went on to make an inferior sequel some years later.
On the DVD: Viewers should note this is a very murky transfer that's in an unspecified widescreen ratio. There's also an unspectacular (equally unspecified) sound mix. But a gallery of 10 photos and the theatrical trailer makes up for that, right? --Paul Tonks
Teenagers Glen (Stephen Dorff) and Al (Kelly Rowan) are kinda would-be geologists. The pair get all excited by the discovery of a strange crystalline rock in their backyard. With their parents away for the weekend the pair elect to start digging into the ground around it, unwittingly unleashing a terrible force into the world. They have discovered the gate to Hell and unless they can find a way to seal it, evil will walk the Earth forevermore.