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The Gate

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When two young boys find and remove a mysterious crystalline centered rock from a hole in a suburban backyard, they are both quickly motivated by feelings of impending fortune and eagerly dig up the newly softened soil in search of other precious stones.

What they discover instead, is a gateway into a hellish, demon-filled dimension. A terrifying subterranean world where an ancient god known only as the Demon Lord has been imprisoned for billions of years along with his horde of tiny, devilish minions, all waiting for the chance to be set free and claim the Earth as their own.

After unwittingly performing the rituals to free the demons, the boys suddenly realize their horrifying mistake, and all hell literally breaks loose, forcing them to fight for their lives against a dark and powerful evil that threatens to transform the planet into a living nightmare.

Can the boys discover the secret that can shut The Gate forever? Or will there really be a hell on Earth? Time is running out. Pray it's not too late!

An interesting addition to the creature feature genre, 'The Gate' was introduced to the movie going public way back in 1987 and was a surprise box-office hit in Canada, among others.

Despite a shoestring budget and an incredibly short theatrical run (two weeks in total), the Canadian supernatural thriller almost tripled it's production costs in it's first week of release... And to producer John Kemeny that was money in the bank. "To put it in perspective, 'The Gate' was released the same year as 'Ishtar' -and came within $10,000 dollars of beating it!" he said.

Now, whilst 'Ishtar' is considered to be one of the greatest box-office flops of all time, The same cannot be said of 'The Gate'. Indeed, the production values appear incredibly low and the acting, at times, sub-standard... But the sheer atmosphere coupled with surprisingly good special creature effects saved this little low budget gem from the dud movie scrap heap and video sales and rentals subsequently elevated it to cult status among genre fans during the 1980's. (An elevation that caught the attention of the film makers and resulted in a direct to video sequel entitled 'Gate 2: Return to the Nightmare').

Screenwriter Michael Nankin cited his own strange encounter with a disembodied 'voice' as the inspiration behind the story for The Gate... An encounter that, even to this day, he still maintains is true. Director Tibor Takacs handled the supernatural material flawlessly, a feat that earned him the mantle of 'the Canadian Spielberg' and assured him a healthy (if only short-lived) directorial run in the horror/fantasy genre. The Gate also introduced us to (a then 12 year old) Stephen Dorff who today is a major Hollywood star, appearing in such films as 'Blade', 'Judgment Night', 'Backbeat' and the recently released 'Alone in the Dark'. Dorff played the title role of 'Glen' (a role which earned him the respect of his peers) the young boy who's home is invaded by demons but who eventually overcomes the odds when he discovers that the love he has for his best friend, Terry (Canadian child actor Louis Tripp) and sister, Alexandra (actress Christa Denton) is more powerful than anything that hell could conjure up.

I believe that it is this element, the underlying theme of the importance of family, friends and the love we should all have for them (not the supernatural aspects) that make this film a real winner.

Look past the obvious when you are watching this movie... It's the hidden aspects that make it a gate worth opening.

Verdict?

The Gate is a fantastically frightening supernatural thriller that will have the kids hiding behind the sofa more than once.

A worthless first half is thankfully redeemed by some very impressive special effects in the second half and a terrific sense of atmosphere endures throughout.

An old film, (circa 1986), but The Gate still holds up well and is worth a look. Of passing interest as Stephen Dorff's first film and one of the better creature features of the 1980's.

Notice any mistakes? Review

Strengths: Impressive special effects. Well crafted sub-plot dealing with the importance of family and friends.

Weaknesses? Poor acting (in some scenes) gives credence to the old adage, "Never work with children!"

Our rating: 7.9 out of 10


Review Written by Adam Gallagher:  Contact  |  More Reviews by Adam Gallagher
The Gate