THE GATE (1987)
Director: Tibor Takács
Starring: Stephen Dorff (Glen), Louis Tripp (Terry), Christa Denton (Al)
Terry: I got something to show ya…They’re called Sacrifyx and my Dad brought it from Europe…and it’s got all this stuff in it! See, these guys were like really serious about demonology and it’s like they’re trying to warn you!
Terry shows Glen record album
…See, these guys knew. They wrote their own music. They got their lyrics from this thing called the Dark Book…that’s like the Bible for Demons!
Glen shakes his head incredulously
This was surprisingly great. After watching just the opening dream sequence I was certain The Gate would stay high on my current list of must-sees. I remember this movie kicking around when it came out, but somehow never got around to watching it. I suppose by 1987 I’d already graduated to Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw, etc. and the classic “parent’s go out of town so it’s up to the kids to save the world from supernatural monsters” didn’t hold much appeal. Anyway, seeing it now as an adult I absolutely loved it. Think Evil Dead meets Adventures in Babysitting.
The basic premise is that a tree removal unearths a passage to an underground realm of demons. Parents go out of town leaving the kids alone. Then, through a series of random events the kids inadvertently release the demons into the real world.
A big part of the allure of this film for me is that it captures what it was like to be a suburban middle school kid in the 80s in a surprisingly nuanced way. From awkward kid trying to be cool Glen’s (Stephen Dorff from Blade, Cecil B. DeMented, Leatherface, etc.) obsession with model rockets, to Terry’s (Louis Tripp) innocent fascination with metal, to their shared disgust for Glen’s sister Al’s (Christa Denton) new wave friends…I don’t know, even though the film is silly by nature, there’s just something honest in the way the characters interact that make them totally believable and really brought me back to the heights of excitement and depths of anxiety of my middle school experience.
There is nothing not to love about this film: the lighting, camerawork, effects, and animation, and acting are top-notch. But it’s director Tibor Takács’ (I, Madman, Metal Messiah) pacing that is absolutely masterful. Every time you think the rollercoaster ride is coming to an end and all will end well, The Gate ratchets your cart back up the hump for another plunge. (DC)
Nate Wilson: NW Devon Cahill: DC Matt Average: MA