1987. 88 minutes. Rated PG-13.
“Demons aren’t gonna ring the doorbell!”
The Gate taught me some very valuable things: have a friend that listens to European death metal, always carry a gift of love, and NEVER see this hairstylist.
Two local neighborhood kids, Terry (Louis Tripp) and Glen (Steven Dorff), find a geode after their tree house is demolished. As they continue digging up the backyard for more treasure, they accidentally stumble upon the demon gate that will bring hell on earth for all time (just a typical day when kids went outside to play, rather than stay in the house playing XBox 360). When Glen’s parents go away for the weekend, his fifteen year-old sister, Al (Christa Denton), is left in charge. During the parties they have, as most teens would when their parents are away, the demons tempt them into completing the ritual to fully open the gate. The only warning comes from Terry’s favorite death metal band, who disappeared without a trace after writing a demonic album. Unfortunately, the party goers accidentally open the gate. The album tells them that the only way to stop the demons is through a gift of love. Another piece of advice from this movie is: never throw out that bedside table Bible, because it will come in handy.
Is this movie for kids? I’m not sure. When I mention this movie to people, everyone remembers the visually scarring eyeball hand.
This movie is full of scenes that will stay with you, such as when Terry thinks he is hugging his mother, but it turns out to be a dead dog. Or, blood symbols dripping on the walls, zombie construction workers, and demons that turn into maggots. Did I mention they can also get you from under the bed? They don’t make kid horror movies like this anymore. The only one that comes close is Coraline, where the parents had button eyes. I’m very upset that this movie is being remade in 3D according to IMDB. The initial pictures and buzz seems like it will follow in the footsteps of the spooky original. We will have to see if it becomes more like an Eli Roth shock and gore movie rather than the campy kid predecessor. Hollywood remakes tend to disappoint. Remember Fright Night? I’m not getting my hopes up. I’ve also just learned that Michael Bay is going to remake the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They’re going to be aliens from space (shall I cry now or later?).
The rapport between Al and Glen reminds me of most sibling growing pains. Glen misses firing rockets off with Al, who is too busy hanging with her friends and shopping (and, apparently, throwing parties) to notice him anymore. Glen looks to neighbor Terry for companionship, but after the recent death of his mother, Terry is becoming a troublemaker.
The same can’t be said for director, Tibor Takács, who went on to direct movies such as Mansquito, Ice Spiders, Megasnake, and a few Red Shoe Diary episodes (which is about as raunchy as you could rent at Blockbuster back in the day, or so I’ve been told). Maybe he shouldn’t have turned down that job doing Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. It might have turned things around for him.
Regardless of his future mistakes, Tibor can be appreciated for this film. It has it all: action, suspense, friendship, dealing with loss, growing up and 80s fashion (I guess we could call that contemporary fashion now). Another fun thing to note is the movie is shot entirely inside the house, in Terry’s room and in the backyard. After reading The Cat in the Hat for Dr. Seuss’ birthday recently, I realized both The Cat and the Demons show up uninvited, and make the house a complete mess. How are those kids going to explain a melted telephone and a giant hole to hell in the living room?