The Gate…how appropriately titled. This movie is what I’d consider a gateway horror film for kids. It may be too scary for some, but it doesn’t have the mature content of many other horror films from the decade. It’s good, clean demonic fun. For horror buffs, The Gate will do more than satisfy with its impressive arsenal of special effects from Craig Reardon (Poltergeist, The Goonies). The little demons that scamper around and terrorize the child characters are the most impressive effect. They’re brought to life through a combination of fluid stop-motion and suit actors. Unlike other films that prominently use stop-motion as an effect, The Gate integrates it well with the live action.
In a year that produced an obscene number of great horror films, The Gate manages to stand out from the pack thanks in large part to the aforementioned special effects and the lead performances from a young Stephen Dorff, Christa Denton, and Louis Tripp. Their chemistry and the pacing ensure this to be an engaging watch even when there are no demons in sight. Once the gate is opened though, the movie enters the next gear and delivers the kind of thrills only 80’s horror can provide.
Currently, The Gate can be found on Amazon Prime. It’s free if you have a Prime membership. It can be rented from most other streaming services as well. If you’re willing to put up the money, The Gate can be found on DVD and Blu-Ray through Vestron Video. The special features on this release are comprehensive and must-see if you’re a fan of the movie.
The Monster Roster:
- The Ancient Demon — a giant, stop-motion monstrosity that would’ve made ol’ Ray Harryhausen proud. Presumably a being capable of destroying the entire planet, but fortunately for all of us, it prefers sparing easy targets and taunting them rather than doing anything truly destructive.
- Little Demons — the two-foot freaks from hell. These buggers may not be able to do much on their own, but an army of them could change a light bulb–provided they have the means to reach said bulb. The ultimate hype squad.
- The Workman — when the little fellows aren’t getting the job done, it’s time to turn to a professional. Enter the zombie workman, a character manifested from a story Terry tells Glen. Is the story true? Since we later find out the workman is the equivalent of a dozen little demons in a trench coat masquerading as a zombie, I’d say no.
- Miscellaneous Entities — Other evil manifestations are unleashed in Glen’s house, such as Glen’s parents who have easily crushable faces or demon arms under your bed that will steal your socks right off your feet. They exist more to screw with the kids than to be a legitimate threat. Keep an eye out for zombie Terry…heh-heh.