The Gate (1987)


Day 6 of 31

The Gate  (Horror,  1987) (15) D: Tibor Takács W: Michael Nankin P:  C: Stephen Dorff, Christa Denton, Louis Tripp. 1h 25m. USA.

Synopsis : Two young boys accidentally release a horde of nasty, pint-sized demons from a hole in a suburban backyard. What follows is a classic battle between good and evil as the two kids struggle to overcome a nightmarish hell that literally begins to take over the Earth.

TAGLINE : There’s a Passageway – A Gate Behind Which the Demons Wait to Take Back What Was Once Theirs.

the gaet

A slightly silly comedic horror,  based around a few kids who accidentally open the gates to hell and have to deal with the consequences without getting into trouble with their parents. The film seems to be inspired by a lot of events that were kicking around in the mid to late 80’s including the ludicrous Judas Priest backward lyrics case and just other general shenanigans.

For a long time I have seen this as a hell version of Explorers (1985) Where in the same way a bunch of kids go above and beyond to discover something truly amazing, the only difference being that Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix find some friendly kooky alien children whereas Stephen Dorff and friends find shape shifting demons looking for a sacrifice.

The early stages of the film are quite jovial in the sense that it’s just a bunch of kids messing around, there are some creepy dream scenes but as soon as the gate is discovered it turns into a fucked up nightmare. One of the best aspects of this movie is the Jason and the Argonauts (1963) style claymation demons that spawn up everywhere. It’s a super cool touch that should be used in modern movies, from memory the last time these were widely seen was Army of Darkness.

the gate

While the movie deals with the supernatural and the conjuring of demonic forces and the battle between good and abject evil, you can’t ignore that it’s also outlining many dangers about young children and evil metal music!! On the plus side it confirms that

There is a mind blowing scene when Ethan works out the whole freaky ideas about the rocket being a  symbol of love, light and purity, is the only thing that can stop the rise of the Old Gods. I have always wondered if this was if only slightly based on Lovecraft.

While the movie is a big mix of supernatural disturbances and creatures from hell, some of the bigger scares are quite psychological, and I’m not sure how the kids coped as i know I would struggle as an adult. There is a strong sense of wrong in the scene where the children think their parents have returned but instead they are the demons and they start to strangle one of them saying in a distorted voice “you have been bad” now that’s fucked up’

the gate

Once the troubles really kick off I can’t but help making comparisons to Evil Dead, (1981) the animatronic creatures and little beasties are all reminiscent of parts 2 and 3, on top of that the atmosphere is similar. You get a strong sense that if you didn’t laugh at some of the action you’d most certainly be more afraid. Considering the main actors are children and the content is pretty scary there are limits to what could be done with the script. It was totally nailed though, nothing is too out of place of uncalled for.  It’s like the Wonder Years on dope, one of the best quotes…

Terrence ‘Terry’ Chandler: We accidently summoned demons who used to rule the universe to come and take over the world.

Glen: Yeah, we found out about it from, uh, one of Terry’s albums.

While there is nothing all that remarkable about the actual soundtrack, there is a musical link within the earlier stages of the movie when certain creatures are being summoned a meta album is mentioned as it holds amazing insight into the summoning of  demons this album fictional but does bear the logo for the  Canadian thrash metal band Sacrifice.

The acting isnt amazing, was acting ever good in 80s horrors? everyone is convincingly scared and the biggest mention would be that this was Stephen Dorff’s introduction to movies and he’s only got worse. Tibor Takács was still in the earlier stages of his career and has only really made a few science fiction themed movies before the Gate, there was a bit of metal in his debut Metal Messiah (1978) and  its prevalent in the Gate also but it’s a side step from his normal theme but one that he kept since.

If you have a great imagination and remember that it’s children that are being harassed in this movie it will work wonders for you. It’s a no brainer but it the story flows well and is engaging throughout. On the downside and for those with no fun left in them, it’s not as dark and demonic as Hellraiser, there isn’t a twisted depth of hell and it’s prince’s portrayed through the film, it does have a happy warm feeling of camaraderie among the friends and a feel good ending which is a bit tacked on for good measure (was there an alternative ending?) but on the whole these are minor segments of a greater movie.

It’s hard to gauge who would really enjoy a movie like this, for all it’s weirdness and with it’s age it’s more of a tea time terror than anything else in this day and age, I don’t think kids will be playing albums backwards in their bedrooms to summon demons after watching it because they probably don’t know what vinyl is but there are some cute eye catching special effects that will keep most psychotropic/horror/surreal/vintage cinema fans amused.

the gate

V: While it’s not the scariest horror, it does have it’s quirks and so many connections with real cray events in history, there are the ties with metal music corrupting children and I’m sure it freaks out parents more than anyone. It’s a great laugh as well as having a profound effect on me when i watched it at young age it’s stuck with me as a golden oldie, definitely one of the more underrated gems from the 80’s.



Rating: 7/10

R: Subspecies (1991), Poltergeist (1982) , House (1986) , Night of the Creeps (1986), Night of the Demons (1988), House (1986), Pumpkinhead (1988), Evil Dead (1981).

L: Demonic Films, Haunted Houses,

5Best: Stephen Dorff

Post Discussion: TO COME


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